Expression

He’d felt it building up for months: that terrible, inescapable need; the dark pit, deep in my core, that told me he was going to need to vomit. He ignored it, at first, in the hope that it would go away. Sometimes that worked. Most of the time, if he just concentrated on something else hard enough, the nausea passed, and he was able to continue on.

Maybe he did this too many times. Maybe his body chose to rebel because he’d never allowed it to express itself in the way it desired.

Whatever the cause, it began deep in his stomach at a low burn. It felt lower than his stomach, actually, but not in a way that indicated his intestines; no, it felt deeper, not lower, as though it inhabited the root of his very being.

It started off weak, as weak as a tiny ember taking root in a bed of dry grass, and he suspected that, during its initial genesis, he didn’t even notice it. It built up over the course of a week until he could no longer either fail to notice it or ignore it. It didn’t burn fast and hot, like the kindling of a campfire. Instead it built slowly and insidiously in power until it became a true, rumbling nausea.

He had experienced heartburn before, and nausea, of course. Everyone vomits at some point, particularly in childhood. This stood out, though. No matter how hard his mind pressed down upon that nauseous core, it refused to give way and disappear. It seemed only to grow harder and firmer from the pressure.

Over the months he began to feel almost as though he’d swallowed some hot, noxious stone, which refused either to go away or to pass up or down. He swallowed frequently, now, for the nausea had begun to creep up his esophagus, and he feared that at any moment it might come pouring out.

When he was able to fall asleep, despite the ongoing discomfort, he had a recurring nightmare; or at least, nightmares with a recurring theme, in which, in all sorts of surroundings and with all different people from across his life, he was chattering on when suddenly, instead of words, vomit came pouring out of his mouth.

It came to the point that he began to wish he could throw up, if only to relieve himself. He despised vomiting. It was uncomfortable and messy and unbecoming of him. It made him feel weak and disgusting. Still, if it rid him of this ever-present fist grinding its knuckles into his stomach, he was willing to do it.

It didn’t come when he willed it, and he hated himself for that. He spent — wasted — so much time over the toilet, flexing is abdominals, hoping to force it out with strength of will or, failing that, his muscles. He excused himself from his cubicle. He stepped away from dinner. He spent up to an hour every night before bed just willing the vomit to come so that the nausea would end. He even thrust his own fingers into his throat, and to no avail. He only gagged.

The nausea became a searing pain that never quit. He woke each morning in a delirium, unsure of how he’d ever slept at all, and disoriented by the vivid, disturbing dreams that visited him in the night.

Leaning over the toilet, his fingers dug into his thighs, bruising the flesh and the muscle as he tried to draw the pain elsewhere, if only to relieve his stomach for a brief moment. It didn’t work, because the naused has spread up into his limbs and all the way down to his fingertips like thrumming pulses within his nerves. He vibrated with it. He imagined his pores opening and vomit pouring forth from his arms and legs and feet and fingers, because it felt as though, at any moment, that might happen.

It was one morning, as he prepared himself for work, that the nausea suddenly increased in a huge wave, rather than the steady, inexorable flow to which he had grown accustomed. He was in the shower when it struck, wet, naked, and exposed.

It came upon him so suddenly, just as he had shut off the water, that he barely had time to react. His knees weakened and he slipped, barely managing to catch himself before his body struck the floor. He grabbed the handle on the side of the tub in so tight a grip that his muscles cramped up and his bones ached.

Then his stomach convulsed, and he finally vomited.

It poured out across his chest before he could right himself. He didn’t have time to act on his revulsion. He scrambled to right himself as his body continued to heave its contents forth. He wanted desperately to throw up into the tub, rather than all over himself.

He crouched with the vile, chunkey liquid dripping from his chest and chin as his entire body seemed to constrict, squeezing out its contents into the bottom of the bath. It streamed outward, his stomach collapsing inward as that second pulse continued for an unfathomably long time.

He desperately sucked in a breath before the next heave came upon him. His vision began to darken, not just from the lack of breath, but from the sheer pressure his body exerted on itself, pushing its contents into the outside world. The muscles of his arms and legs clenched. His fingers gripped at the bar beside the tub, the edge of the tub; his toes curled uselessly against he slick wet floor.

It felt as though rubber bands were being placed on his fingers and toes, squeezing them tightly at the ends and then moving further and further up their lengths, squeezing harder all the while.

As the next bout flooded forth, the constricted pulsed up his feet and hand and into his lower limbs; and the next bout brought it further up, and the next, until it felt as though his limbs were being squeezed into emptiness by some crushing, outside force that acted upon them as surely as it gripped his stomach, squeezing it into a hard, empty, burning pit.

Each convulsion emptied him further, making him lighter, less full of mass and more full of… nothingness, he supposed, though he couldn’t think clearly through it all. Even his mind had begun to empty out with the contents of his stomach, until both it and his body felt so weightless he dreamed that they were floating away.

Then with the final heave his body, now nothing more than his bones and the flesh that draped across them, fell to the bottom of the bath into the pool of everything he had expelled. Yet the expression upon that cooling husk was not a rictus of pain or discomfort, but a faint smile of relief at finally having rid himself of the nausea.

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