from “My Body – A Wunderkammer”

I pictured the inside of my brain as something like a burrow, a labyrinthine system of contorted tunnels with hairpin turns. Ordinarily, the passages were roomy, pale and dry, like tunnels worm-bored through chalk or bone. When my head ached, those walls became an angry red, and swelled until the passages shrank to fistulas. I tried not to think. Thoughts were dirt, and collected in greasy seams in the walls, and inflamed them. If I could trepan myself, I thought, and fit a nozzle in my skull, I would run a hose into my brain. I could almost feel the cold water stretching its insistent fingers into the labyrinth. That would cure me. Or a high wind, blasting through. One night, I went out on the back porch and screamed until blue pressure lights dazzled out the stars. What was that? my mother said. I thought it might help my headache, I said. Did it? she said. No, I said.

Shelley Jackson

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