Larissa Pham



Everyone always feels like they’re the one who hurts the most. O my god I hurt so much. I ache. No one notices when they’re not hurting. I used to get migraines, see pulsing flashes of light and floating auras; I’d have to go lie down in the dark. It was, it is, an all-encompassing pain, a pain that swallows everything it touches. But they always passed. And I felt alive again.

Here is a simple sensory test: prick your fingertips with two blunt pins at different distances. In fact, prick all over your body. Your stomach, your thighs, the backs of your knees. Leave tiny marks — yesterday, I embossed an entire word into my hand with some metal letterpress keys I found in a junk shop. I don’t remember what the word said. It was, like all words, either yes or no. The point at which two pricks feel like one prick is the point at which you are no longer sensitive enough to determine multiple stimuli.

It will be noted that your mouth is very sensitive.


My favorite phrase in the whole world might be, “responds pleasurably to stimulation.”

Imagine your history, a contrail. Or, the rubbish in the wake of your boat. O, lonely sailor. The first time I realized I had to experience pain, that no one would protect me: I got my period. I know. It hurts, though. No, it was in an aikido class. I was practicing falling, which is the first thing you learn. Diving into rolls and somersaults, arm cradling my head, landing on my shoulder. I would be bruised all over after, my sides aching. A mandatory pain. It didn’t seem fair.