Charlie Horses in the morning

It’s like a low-budget slapstick comedy movie.

I’m in my room. A close-up on my face. I wake up, eyes wide. My eyes are drawn down, towards my legs. A rustle, and the bedsheets over my face.

My face is contorted. My mouth opens, but no sound comes out except a slight “tsss.” The morning is blue through the curtains, and my hands are dark. They clutch my legs, as the worst cramp imaginabel to man takes over my calves.

Seems a little dark.

I get on with the day, after shaking it off. I go to bed.

I wake up. My eyes widen. My face is in agony. My left leg. It’s like an icicle was driven into the muscle and subsequently twisted around until it broke off into little shards, each one piercing further into my calf.

Stay in your seat. Go on your tiptoes.  Now raise your legs up, so that you’re pointing your toes forward – like a ballet dancer. Flex your calves. Now imagine that you’re never able to unflex them. Imagine it stayed contracted forever. Like a cramp that doesn’t go away.

Now imagine that you set your alarm for 8:30am tomorrow morning. It’s 11pm. You fall asleep. You open your eyes. It’s earlier than usual. And you point your toe forward.

It’s happening. You try to stop yourself – you try to move your leg around. It doesn’t work. It’s already began. THe cramps. Your calf is stuck in that position. “F -” you sputter. It’s like a golf ball has been lodged into your calf. You feel like an amputation would be better than this. Less drawn out. Less holding your beath, less wheezing, less waiting –

You know that little “agitated foot-tap” movemnet that you see everywhere? Bus stops, clinics, desks – everywhere. Now, just speed up that movement about 20 times. And do that for 2 minutes.

You can’t do it. Your legs don’t go that fast. You can try, but you’d probably have to transcend space and time first. It’s not physically possible. THe most you can do is get close. And when you do get close, that’s when you’ll feel it. The “Charlie Horse.” Your legs are gyrating faster than your brain can even comprehend, and they’ve vaguely transformed into a brick. If you touch it, you’ll feel nothing but a solid surface. A rock. A rock that’s emanating pain throughout your calves, and only your calves.

Like you get tackled, but your nervous system redirects it all to that one calf. “It’s not fair,” you say. You think that it should distribute the pain evenly. You think that it’s not working the way it should. You think you’re going to file a complaint to the manager.

“Very well,” it says. You nod your head, but you have no idea.

The nervous system is not a good guy.

You wake up the next morning, and you’re clutching both legs at the same time. How, you think. How can it do both legs at the same time?

And at that point, you can’t think about anything anymore. You’re still conscious, because it wants you to feel the pain – it wants you to suffer. Why? Because existence is pain.

At least, that’s what I think. That’s how I reason having my eyes wide open at 6am, both feet pointing towards the ceiling, head thrown back, panting harshly in between heaving breaths and wheezes. My calves are sore. Don’t laugh.


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