Thursday 10 October 2019. Morning

An illness. A cold. Enough to keep me from working, from writing, from swimming.

A week. Some days. Of resting, of sneezing, of coughing. Of birthdays. My best friend’s, my ex-boyfriend’s. I wish them both happy new years, they both reply, only one of them means it and only one of them gives me anxiety.

Monday was tough. Back to work, to write, to exercise. All was out of shape. I’m so close to finishing the second draft of my novella. I’m getting sick of it the way I was sick of myself last week.

Back to health, I sleep worse. I think of the past absolute and the future uncertain. I think of the book, my baby I have such high hopes for, and how it might just disappoint. I’ve lost all control.

Thursday I wake up, life too much to be contained inside my skin. I make myself meditate. I make myself get up and go out. In the sunrise I cycle through Cambridge’s pink skies. To the river I steer, and the kayak man is there.

He apologises for his absence; he’s been ill. I say I’ve been ill too. It’s the first swim for two weeks for both of us. We go in together, he pants and I scream swear words. The skin that couldn’t contain my fears and ambitions is on fire in the cold. My contours are clearly defined. My self is clearly contained. We swim, talk about work and energy. We get out before we turn white. And as I cycle away still aflame, the idea of how to save the novella arrive with the clarity of childbirth after weeks of pain. There it is. The answer to narrative and character development and definition.

It was in the water the whole time. I just needed to go in and get it.

October morning Cam. Photo by Jessica Zarins, 2019
October morning Cam. Photo by Jessica Zarins, 2019

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