Marley’s Migraine Part 3

In November 2012, I started posting something I said would be serial story, something I’d post each month in a handful of installments until the whole story was told.  I originally composed this story to read aloud at a writing competition and the many migraineurs in the crowd said it really resonated with them—that’s when I decided to share it with you all, my Migraine.com readers.  And then, well, I forgot to keep posting. But I got my act together last month and we’re back in business.

So, to refresh your memory, here’s  a link where you can read what we’ll call Chapter 1 of “Marley’s Migraine”: https://migraine.com/blog/marleys-migraine/

Here is the link to Chapter 2: https://migraine.com/blog/marleys-migraine-part-2/

And below you’ll find mini-chapter three. 

4:45 AM
Marley’s psychology elective is by far her favorite class, so she always does that homework first. As she opens her planner to see what the daily essay topic is, she groans quietly. They are doing a unit on life skills. On ways humans adapt to ever-changing shifts in the environment. On ways people take bad luck and turn it on its head; on how they take good luck and do whatever they can to make it last. On how sick people develop skills that make them seem healthier and how vulnerable people develop skills to make them seem strong and protected.

“This week we are focusing on learned skills and adaptation. Write 2 paragraphs on a special skill you have developed in middle school as a result of something unexpected in your life.”

“Something unexpected in your life,” Marley repeats with bitterness. The head pain, the nausea, the vomiting, the inability to feel confident in making plans with friends, the unpredictable nature of this debilitating Thing that has taken over her life.  She didn’t ask for any of this, didn’t expect any of it. From what she’s been able to learn, good old Lady Luck brought all this to her and left her alone to deal with it.  This migraine thing has dominated her entire year, and there’s no relief in sight. Sometimes she’s surprised she’s made it this far, though she doesn’t know what the alternative would be.

Marley smoothes a new blank page in her notebook and writes.

MY SPECIAL SKILL IS DEALING WITH THESE MIGRAINES.

MY SPECIAL SKILL IS LEARNING TO GROW UP.

MY SPECIAL SKILL IS KEEPING ALL THIS A SECRET.

She’s a middle schooler.  Every day she feels like there’s a giant bucket hovering over her head, that if she wears the wrong outfit or says the wrong thing or answers too eagerly in class or doesn’t answer at all the bucket will tip and she’ll spotlit, everyone pointing fingers and laughing as the water drips down her face. She is trepidatious, she is cautious. She wants not to disappear and she wants not to stand out. She wants to seem strong but not freakishly so, smart but not nerdy. Since the headaches began, she has known she is on the wrong side of luck. She knows that they must be her secret.

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