Pamela Schmid
Emergence

Pamela Schmid - Emergence

Creative Nonfiction
Pamela Schmid lives in St. Paul, Minn., and is the creative nonfiction editor at Sleet, an online magazine. She was… Read more »
Lauren Westerfield
The Need to Use Your Teeth

Lauren Westerfield - The Need to Use Your Teeth

Creative Nonfiction
Lauren W. Westerfield is an essayist, poet, and editor from the Northern California coast. Her work has appeared or is… Read more »

The Need to Use Your Teeth

Lauren Westerfield

El Niño storms are eating up the sand of California’s coast, wet bite by bite. Think of the ocean as a body diseased—turning in upon its shores, ravenous and swollen. Gnawing at the sand like skin. Gnawing at the flecks of other little bodies—corals, mollusks, reefs—rendered pink or white or black, peppered over with volcanic glass. Gnawing at the borders of its own capacious body.

The hypnotherapist had two small dogs, white terriers. The more outgoing one always pressed his hot, squirming body up onto my lap as I tried to lean back and relax, week after week, in the beige pleather recliner. Lean back and relax, he’d say, even though it felt like something charged was moving through my body—something electric, something I could not release. Anxiety is energy, he’d say, his voice a murmur, Nutella-thick, behind my shuttered eyes. You are letting it consume you. You are eating yourself. The skin along my neck prickled and rose; I felt a swelling at my throat. What is it that you aren’t allowed to do? To say? Throat swollen to the point of shut—shut-up. Ask yourself: why this hunger? Why the need to use your teeth?

Lesch-Nyhan syndrome… Read more »