I bolt up into a sitting position on the side of my bed. Drenched in sweat, my head shaking, my body stiff with adrenaline and my chest tight and barely breathing. “Oh no”, its coming again. Another one of those damn panic attacks. The one’s I’ve dealt with for 11 years now. I jump into action. Deep breathe in, hold four, breath out eight. Two more times. And as I start to relax, my mind does instant replay.
It’s an important night. In a beautiful, hotel conference room. Writers and painters rushing everywhere getting ready for their big night. Painters checking their easels and adjusting their work. Writers re-reading silently to themselves the story or poem they’ll perform. I’m dressed professionally in a white blouse and black, pencil skirt with black stilettos. Nervously checking to be sure the guest speakers are here, the podium has the microphone, and the wait staff is serving water and wine. I sit down at a large, round table with crisp white table clothes and an amber colored chandelier hanging above illuminating everyone sitting around me….. my family and friends. It’s a beautiful night.
The speaker steps up and as she does, she starts to announce the artist’s names. My sister Monica starts talking to me about something un-related and I tell her “Shush, be quite they’re starting”. I look back to the podium and the speaker says my name. I’m shaking my head “No, stupid woman. Not me, the artists….. all of them”. As she speaks my name and starts rambling about my life, her voice turns muffled and I can’t understand. I see them unveil the large painting beside her, which I clearly recognize as my own. It’s a painting of me. Nude, my body curvy and full. I’m crawling through beautiful, abundant wild flowers. It’s one of the most beautiful oil paintings I’ve ever done.
The speaker’s voice comes back and I hear her reading the ending of a poem I wrote about this painting. Something about……. “Carry me protectively into the wind, or burn me bravely from the outside in with molten fire”. I’m listening and just then, I see the flowers melting on top of my body.
By: Yvonne Zepeda