Frustration is a silent companion who sits in the front seat as you pump gas in the bitter cold, laughing as it locks the door with your keys inside. It hovers, just above your shoulder, as you hunch low over the stove; it chatters as you count spices, flicking flecks of spit into the pot of bubbling basil and thyme. When you need a pinch of sugar, it hands you a twist of salt. You’ll always find it waiting among the papers piled high upon your desk—it falls heavy in your lap, like a mound of broken needles, turning your threes to eights with a flourish of a black, Bic pen.
Frustration is a hungry one, too. It’s ravenous, like a cup built up without a bottom; yet still, it demands you to pour. It follows like a shadow on your heels while you walk, waiting for your dog to piss. Pissed, it nips your ankles. It slips into the shower, an unwanted, wanton whore: lapping up the suds that slip down sallow skin until you feel so fouled by the scent of bitter bile you must wash yourself. Again. Insatiable stomach, it eats the time—minute by minute, hour by hour—chewing away the hair at your temples until it gnaws at reddened skin.
Frustration is a placid, temperamental thing, like a bulb left on to burn out so the porch is dark when you finally come home. It burns itself to nothing but a dim and heated glow, scalding all who are foolish enough to touch it. It wears names like socks, always two and quite disposable: Patty or Karen or Kevin. Or the mailman who refuses to let you pass. Yet you knew It, even before you knew it. It first found you in a dusty photo album, resurrected from its attic tomb: it stood behind you, with fingers in your mouth, pulling up the corners as you stood with your father holding a tiny, tepid bluegill. Then it ate that too. Right down to the bones.
Frustration is always reckless. Restless. Relentless. It finds you in your bed as you lay down to sleep, stealing the covers and grabbing your hand. It jabs its frigid toes, like icicles, into the delicate bends of your knees and elbows, uses its hands to warm your pillow—whenever you flip it, it giggles in the dark. It takes great pleasure in rustling the sheets at the very moment you’re drifting off to sleep, only to feign ignorance once you turn yourself to face it.
Frustration is a wicked bitch—and powerful. It’s a child with a match who’s posed to strike the kindling. It relishes in witnessing the burn. Its friendships are tea-bags: used once and then discarded, or frozen solid to be placed beneath the eyes. The weight of them lingers, though, as the years begin to follow. They’re the frost-bit fingertips you rub deep into open pockets, searching for a warmth that isn’t there. It holds you close, like a lover scorned twice, deleting birthdays from your memories. Or texts from your phone. It’s the unwelcome guest who takes claim of your couch, quits its job to lounge around in your home. But there is a truth about It, which itself is quite frustrating, which you learn from years in its scorched, ruddy glow.
Frustration is a friend who will leave you; but only if you can