Friend of My Heart

Friend of My Heart

Friend of My Heart,

I am on phone with my mother when it starts: the thumping of my heart as if it wants to tear away from my chest. The tightening of the knots in my stomach as if they want to disappear into my skin. The spreading of the cold in the soles of my feet throughout my body, as if it wants to freeze me to death. The stuttering of my speech as if the words stuck in my throat are too heavy even for my own tongue.

I am on phone with my mother when it starts; the rapid breathing and shortness of breath, as if my body is finally giving into the shackles that have been holding me for quite some time.

So that as my mother continually asks, “Why are you drifting away? Do you need help?”, I continue to stutter, my head starts to revolve, until a bead of sweat finally breaks behind my left ear.

I am on phone with my mother when I begin to cough, non-stop, chocking on my own spit, fuelled by anger, disappointment, and this wishful thinking that all this anxiety would just disappear.

So that I am writhing on the floor, clutching my stomach, and hoping, albeit subconsciously, that whatever this is, rids me off these rapid beatings of the heart. This restlessness when the day breaks. This losing sleep after every hour. This constantly needing someone to hold me down. This wanting, without limit, for someone to whisper softness in my ears.

So that when my mother finally disconnects the call, yours is the only name that comes to mind. Yours is the only voice, I believe, that could take this pain from me. Yours is the only touch that will restore calmness to my skin. Yours is the only presence, I am certain, that will calm my racing heart.

But I hesitate, too much, because I hate that I only think of you when everything is falling apart. I only crawl into your arms when the world has beaten me down. I only remember that you exist when everyone and everything else has failed me. It only dawns on me that I cannot survive without you when my heart is on the brink of sinking into my stomach.

I hesitate, too much, because even though I am drowning in the deepest end of this darkness, the shame and guilt has started triumphing over my helplessness. So that I am asking whether it is worth it; this chasing over you, hoping you save my life one more time, as if you do not have a heart of your own. As if your own heart has not been through the most, yet you stitched it back together on your own, only binging me to light when your own storm had passed.

So that I am pressing a cold towel against my heart, hoping this racing stops before I give in to calling you. Hoping I would, somehow, find strength to calm this storm, alone, just like you do.

But it does not stop; this feeling as if today is my last day on earth. As if my body has started to disintegrate, its parts heaping continually on my heart. Its blood lining the whiteness of my bedsheets. Its rustic smell beckoning to the withering flowers deep inside me.

So that even though the guilt and shame is still heavy on my tongue, I struggle to breathe as your phone starts to ring on the other end.

So that when you pick up, after the third ring, you say my name so softly and tenderly, that my tongue rids itself of the shame and guilt, paving way for the deepest of breaths, giving way to a stream of tears.

So that I am crying softly, sniffing in between, begging myself not to break apart in front of you.

As if on cue, you remain silent, throughout, apart from your soft breathing, I almost feel as if I am crying on your shoulder, and your left hand is rubbing my back.

When my breathing steadies, finally, my heart attempts to start beating normally, and the sniffing has turned into silence, you calmly ask, “Would you feel better if I came over?”

But I hesitate, too much, because despite how badly I want you to come over, I know it would do you more harm than good. That you would make it your job to rid me of this burden I carry. That you would want to walk with me over these broken pieces, and help me bring myself back together. That you would sit with me through this terror that is tearing my body apart, until I am strong enough to get back on my feet. That you would only leave my house when my anxiety has died down, I am sleeping normally, and happiness has returned to my eyes.

But I hesitate, too much, because I know you will do so much trying to heal me, while bruising yourself beyond repair.

So that when you ask again whether I would feel better if you came over, the words tumble out of my mouth: No, you do not have to. I just needed to hear your voice; to know that we still belong. 

But you are my heart’s best friend, so you ask, and ask, and ask, until I finally tell you that there is someone holding me down. That they do not know me as much as you do, but they carry my heart and soul with so much kindness and softness. That they speak to my spirit in warmth and love. That they sit with me every time my heart begins to race, without asking questions. That they rub my back when these beads of sweat become too much, and remind me that they will always hold my hand throughout this raging storm, until calmness is restored. 

You are my heart’s best friend, so that you pick out the shame and guilt in the rapidness of my words, saying, “You do not need to feel that way about me. But in case those feeling come, do not run away from them.”

I manage a smile. You heave gently. My heart’s new friend knocks on my door. The raging storm begins to disappear into life’s nothingness.



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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down (a collection of short stories), If My Bones Could Speak (a poetry collection), The Unbirthed Souls (a collection of short stories), and My Heart Sings, Sometimes (a poetry collection). She has also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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