But we know not, reader, unless we've been initiated to the special world of pain, this: "deeply disturbing or distressing; grievous; a harrowing experience."
Special world of pain?
Dream with me - a bite, those two puncture wounds, teeth as though sharpened, the quick zing of electricity as the body registers a bite, a bite, a bite!
And no, reader, I won't divulge the animal, the biter; imagine possum or feral cat or raccoon or dog. Imagine those eyes you see lighting up in the night; imagine standing shock-still. Imagine the glow of after-pain as it dissolves your shudders to pitiful mewling.
Harrowing? No. Not yet.
So I slept, dreampt myself torture dreams; I was a young bride, excited for my wedding day, and careful men broke into my house, donning clean, white aprons, "we'll begin the interviews soon," they said in my dream, and I knew what they meant, which was that they meant to rape me, torture me, kill me.
Dreampt myself outside, alone. Flashing brilliance of passing cars and my bean-bag-body dragged across the pavement sudden and hot as midday.
Fever pitch of dreams until one day upon waking - a bump.
And eyes rolling back in my head approaching MR who gentled me to sleep, who murmured something white-noise-ish, who grasped her own bedsheets and cursed, I think, although I felt safe enough to allow my mind to dissolve.
Distant shores. Shipwreck saved as parachutists gliding down dust motes winding tethers to my heart, my eyes, my teeth, breeze of warmth sluicing through me.
And taken back to vet. Stitched closed like a blanket. Like a pillow full of feathers. Harrowing. The word tastes like brackish water. Slightly salty, hot, something stinging about it as it coats the inside of my throat.
And nightmares still but not like before. And pain but also not as before. Every night asleep with MR. Every night a lick on her hand.
And I attempt anew to get outside, get to freedom. I brave bites and worse. Make oaths to myself I know I won't keep about cowardice. About lamentations.
Because now I know pain. Know the root of "harrowing." And therefore enough to know what I risk as I risk it. And I love my freedom so much I still reach and reach for it. Still dart to open doorways.
Because the animals stalk me yet.
And yet my heart yearns to bite them back.