Kill Them with Laughter, Kill Me with Peanuts
Allergies make you vulnerable. In my case, more mentally than physically, despite the physical severity a peanut poses. The piece below takes the reader inside my mind as I fear for my life.
He told me before the show, “Beware of where you sit, you might get exposed.”
He told me before the show, “If the slightest thing feels off, let me know.”
He told me before the show, “Don’t touch your eyes, ears, mouth, or nose.”
As the words wafted into my mind, I followed suit behind. Each presentiment my father spoke inscribed itself over the bone which entombs my brain. Autopilot kept my expression engaged. It was indeterminable from my face that I was not in the same plane. The circus tent and austere lights faded into a stasis state of twilight.
Abruptly, awfully, a peanut could end my life. A trace, a crumb, a flake, could replace my lungs with blades to cut the circulation to my fragile frame. My metal train refused to refrain. What place had more of a risk of contact than a circus, where the nut is the most iconic snack? I felt a weight on my back. If my spine did not, my mind would crack. It might have fractured. My eyes were backward. I forced them to face front.
Oh look, there’s an elephant.
I fought to stay present. The clown got soaked in rain, and I wondered if they were in pain behind their painted face. I wondered if that made me a clown. I suppose I was funny every now and then. People certainly thought so when they found out a nut could be my end, joking it’d be fun to use an epipen. Not to me, but I laughed anyway. I put on my red nose and big shoes, and entertained.
Oh look, there’s me on stage.
Reality was cloaked in an imaginative haze which was impenetrable by the strength of my partial-present gaze. Transfixed by trepidation, I watched my distant figure dance. It touched what it shouldn’t have. My brown hand began to fringe with blue. The clown was trying to perform through, but ultimately asphyxiated. Anxiety marked my time of death, yet I survived.
This isn’t real. This isn’t real.
I fought to reattach to reality. My ears strained to comprehend the cacophony of voices and vibrations. My eyes struggled to regain focus, or anything acutely adjacent. If life was a party, I was in the bathroom. Completely consumed, yet distant. Hidden away, too afraid to risk it. Staying safe and alive only desensitized the threat to die.
A tap tore me out of my mind. The show was over, I realized. My father asked me how I was. I claimed I was “fine.” However, the side of my right thumb revealed my lie, as newly raw skin made contact with oxygen. Under the other was a little packet of wet wipes that was absentmindedly folded in on itself multiple times. Compactified, comparable with my corpse. Muscles tensed, with a crushing inwards force.
The lights rose and crowds crammed the doors. I lifted my baggage and stood from my seat. Although I made it out alive, I hung my head in defeat.
In my creative writing class at school, I was tasked with creating a personal memoir. Initially, I struggled to draw upon a memory that had a sufficient impact on my life, as I tend to hide those moments in the veiled corners of my mind. The next day, as I arrived at class, I noticed there was a Reese’s wrapper on the floor by my desk. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence for me to have to move myself in avoidance of peanuts. I switched seats nonchalantly. As I sat, contemplating my topic with the persistent threat of peanuts, an old memory unveiled itself; the one highlighted in “Kill Them with Laughter, Kill Me with Peanuts.”
I prefer to write sequentially, as I find it helps to form a rhythm within the words. However, I reached a point where I wanted to rearrange some parts of the piece. The paragraphs presented themselves as a tangled Slinky, worsening with every hasty alteration. Yet, after a few days of working through the piece, I was finally satisfied. A few edits and revisions later, I felt proud to share it with the world.
Jillian Daneshwar is a writer from New York City. She writes mostly poetry and short stories. She is a recipient of the Adelphi University’s Poetry Day, Citation in Poetry (Freshman). In addition to writing, she loves science and robotics.