Pinball Machine

Dear Yuri,

This year’s felt like a clogged pinball machine. I’ve been the ball, deflected by doubt after doubt across a backdrop that occasionally flares with light. There’s no knowing whether it’s a blimp of hope or an anglerfish’s midnight lure. At the lowest points, I felt like even if the machine had black holes, they’d spit me back out.

I peer out of the machine and see the fingerprints on my plastic ceiling smear into war paint. We are fighting against the world and it is indefatigable, retaliating with fires of frustration and diseases of disappointment. Every day, trails of statistics squirm out of our screens, simmering worries to a boiling point of uncertainty and anxiety. Looking at Earth from space must be like looking into this pinball machine, colour and allure blinding you from the sighs and sweats hidden beneath.

I’m halfway through my second quarantine, with travel exempted for the purposes of ‘returning home’ to study abroad. The stillness of the room has lulled me to security. It’s been an unexpected plunger for the pinball machine, and a shaft of light has reached through and excavated me. I’ve tumbled right out and haven’t slept restlessly since. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m nervous to leave. I’m safer bound by these walls than out in the fresh air which won’t cast a smile across my face like it used to. I won’t feel it under my mask.

Two planets sit between us and the Sun but I know that looking towards the light, although far-flung, will make the rest of the year easier to bear. It’s something to remember, a change for me to make, after these months of letting my head hang down.

Holly, Canberra, Australia