SELF-TAUT by Chelsey Clammer

Chelsey Clammer

I spend fifteen minutes of my life negotiating with an egg. Again.

How its hard-boiledness acts like a six-course meal. I have to sit down. Not at the table—too dizzy for that—but on the hardwood floor—quick—back against cabinet. Chew, masticate until it’s mush. Then, the careful, slow mini gulps as I convince myself not to gag. Salty dry yolk, the toughness of white. A slow process just to help work out the knot that’s not in the pit of my stomach, but its entirety. I blame stress that has started to reincite my relationship with restriction. But I resist, fight to get those seventy calories within me.

I will stand in a few moments to wash the too-much mass down with fizzy water and a few sips of creamer dressed in coffee—another attempt at nutrients.

It was three a.m.—no, four, the time change—when my taut stomach woke me with gnawing pains. A usual event of late. Eating has become hard work. A challenge in the act of swallowing. My body heat rises with the entrance of protein. I stay seated on the kitchen floor for now, knees up to my chest. Digest. Allow the slight chill to sprint under my flesh as I break out in a subtle sheen of sweat. A shimmering heat of success. This is me eating. At least, an attempt.

Chelsey ClammerChelsey Clammer is the award-winning author of the essay collections Human Heartbeat Detected (Red Hen Press, 2022), Circadian (Red Hen Press, 2017), and BodyHome (Hopewell Publications, 2015). Her work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, Brevity, and McSweeney’s, among many others. She teaches online writing classes with WOW! Women On Writing and is a freelance editor.

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