She arrived, uninvited, during the chill of winter. She crossed my threshold, that old woman I didn’t expect, invading my body and taking a piece of my life. She grabbed hold of me, took possession of my youth and spent months skulking between the synovial linings of my joints, imprisoning me within her lifeless cocoon. Inside the dusky web of her nest, I lived in shadows, feeling my strength and energy slip away. My strong joints crumbled to weak tender organisms, no longer capable of keeping up with my life. Mornings became my bitter enemy, the struggle of getting out of bed under the web of exhaustion, while my rusty joints refused to yield to the motion of my body. The rain pounded down on the roof and she swamped me with burning inflammation designed to kill my spirit and age me before my time.
In the early days of spring, when the trees burst into blossoms, I peeked through one drowsy eye and saw a luminous light trickling through the skin of the cocoon. I reached out with my swollen hand and stripped away the membrane; the sunbeams burst through and warmed my stilted body. I peeled away the deteriorating ruins of the old woman’s shell and stepped into a new life. The old woman rose with me, but didn’t have the power she once yielded. A new strength emerged within me, and I taught myself a new way to live, despite the spectre of her living in my body. I learned how to fight against her troublesome nature.
The sun’s rays kissed my vampire skin as I sat on the patio welcoming the birth of a new world and the birth of the warrior inside me. I smiled as I flicked from my skin the insignificant remains of the husk that changed my life.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.