Before

Before

Maybe she needs to cancel the event in its entirety, she considers. Throbs, aches, pressure, tension, her eyes threaten to pop out of their sockets; her mind feels determined to burst through the minuscule space her skull so inadequately provides. Hustling and bustling, the clinking and the clanging, the murmur and twinkles downstairs as people, strangers prepare her home for the purpose of entertaining, a gleeful night of celebration, the celebration of an accomplishment. Dark and cold, she continues to lay in the dampness of a shirt that has been collecting sweat all night.

Something whispers through the darkness. She tosses and turns in miserable contemplation about cancelling on all those people who probably don’t even want to attend a shindig in the name of vain, self-promotion. Her entire face feels the uncomfortable pull and pressure of the migraine searing through her mind, threatening to ruin everything. I was so good, she thinks to herself as she lists all of the trigger foods she painstakingly avoided, recalls every workout completed in order to quell the onset. She did everything right, prepared herself, body and soul, for the express determination to not feel exactly the way that she feels, at exactly the time she predicted such an inconvenience would most likely occur.

She rolls over. The queasy ache in her gut that seems to be exacerbating the headache that ultimately makes her nauseous and queasy returns with the movement. She reminds herself to relax and takes ten deep breaths in along with ten controlled exhales. Slowly, she opens her eyes and gazes at the clock. 1030 it reads. Of course, it’s too late to cancel, and so, she decides she must rally. In her nightstand drawer sits a stash of saltine crackers and Reese’s nut bars. There also, a bottle of Excedrin, Advil, Tylenol and a roll of Tums reside. She convinces herself to sit up and sip a drink of water. Everything feels worse. She knows she needs to stand in order to get a good sense of how bad this round truly is. She pinches the bag of saltines to convince two crackers to slide out the opening and takes a bite from a Reese’s nut bar, the one already opened and half-eaten. She stands, walks over to the farthest window and draws back thick, heavy curtains. Her eyes strain and pulse as if someone’s pulling at her eyeballs from behind in an attempt to relieve them of her skull. She blinks as her eyes water from the discomfort.

Outside, she can see the group of hired people setting up a tent for the festivities. She still feels unsure about the trigger of her migraine, so she sits cross-legged on the floor, allowing the light of day to shine on her face. She closes her eyes. Placing her right hand behind her back, she tilts her head to the left, gently pulling at the top, right side of her head with her left hand. Five deep breaths in, five deep breaths out. She repeats the process to the right and then again to the left and right but with her face turned to the top of her shoulder for the second set so that she can stretch that tricky portion of neck at the center of the trapezius muscles. Relief eludes her. Excedrin it is, she decides, and eats the two saltines.

Returning to her bed, she reaches for the bottle labelled Excedrin, drops two into the palm of her hand, and swallows them with water. She pours herself another glass of water from the two-liter bottle atop her nightstand and forces down the entire thing. With a few more sets of conscious, meditative breathing, she sets an alarm for 1400. Upset and wracking her mind for some answer to what she did so wrong, she reminds herself to relax and climbs under the covers. Shirt still a little damp, she removes the thing, flings it onto the floor and falls into a confused, desperate sleep.