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Chinemerem Ikwuanusi

It is more than the warmth that burns across your face and body. More than the sheen that builds on your forehand and the tip of your nose, or the beads of sweat gathering on your arms and legs. You can feel your heart hammering in your chest.

Your throat tightens and everything is stiff and achy. The words come out strained and nervous, pulled out from between your quivering lips like rope.

You’re conflicted: should I look down and risk the chance of falling – clumsy legs entangled and arms sprawling – or do I look up to meet the thousands of eyes, who don’t notice me, but who you think do. It’s not vanity, it’s paranoia. Like a viscous, portentous and black liquid oozing into your view, your mind and every thought. It’s thick like treacle and yet moves like water and consumes everything.

The crowds are closing in on you. A mod of throbbing faces, contorted and sneering. Your hands are jittery and your breath is shaky, eyes watering. The wind is still.

No, it’s much more than this. It’s something that incarcerates you. It becomes your life. It keeps you on a tether, agonising, like an out of control animal, generously given enough rope to hang itself.


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