Whoever turned this dilapidated boat into a clinic did a bad job at soundproofing. “Hysteria…” I overhear the doctor say, immediately understanding the sort of physician I’m about to meet.
My brother is beaming when he kneels in front of me in the waiting room. “Thank you for doing this, sister. I know you’re tired of doctors, but he’s the best.”
I smile, but don’t hide my disbelief—blood should never lie to blood.
“Hello, Ms. Márquez,” the doctor says, closing his door behind me.”
“Márquez is my first name,” I tell him.
“My apologies, I thought—”
“Don’t worry, doctor, you aren’t the first or last to assume my first is my last.”
Seeming not to think my joke very funny, the doctor starts his interview. Ever broken a bone? No. Experienced incontinence? Vivid dreams? Hallucinations? No. No. No.
After his precooked list is done, the doctor says, “Ever felt like your body or thoughts are being controlled by outside forces?”
I blink. “Am I insane? Is that what you’re asking?”
“Well—” he starts.
“No, doctor. My sanity sleeps in imagination’s bed. They’re friends,” I say, winking.
“You do understand that telling yourself tales won’t cure the pain?” he says. “There’re behavioral changes that could help. I recommend avoiding red.” He points at my skirt, a favorite talisman. “Red invites violent thoughts.”
I shake my head, thinking, Poor little man. And laugh at his expression, when I say, “I feed pain into my stories. For me, it’s active self-love in the time of chaos.” He cringes at ‘self-love’, so I add, “I believe in the healing powers of masturbation.”
The doctor’s tone hardens. But his words can’t touch me. I’ve turned them into broken birds. And I’m flying above all hurt, my red skirt storied into wings, the doctor’s commands—hollow little bones—trying to bring me down and succeeding nevermore.
crafted for Poets United (Telling Tales with Magaly Guerrero: a Pantry of Prose, #7 ~ Gothic Fiction) and for The Sunday Muse (#71)
the carcass of La Merced, by Magaly Guerrero
The poem behind the story:
Has madness ever breathed down your neck?
You know, when the pain twists your shoulder,
kicks you in the hip,
rips at your gut…
does it make you fear you’re losing your sanity?
Flashing my best Wednesday Addams smile, I say,
I keep Sanity tied to the foot of Imagination’s bed…
She is guarded by a crowd of realities
that won’t stop telling each other,
“I’m the only one!”
You do understand, he says,
that personifying the pain that cripples you
and turning it into a fantasy
will just increase the chaos;
you won’t heal by fashioning stories
or by creatively telling yourself you aren’t in pain.
I shake my head, thinking,
You, poor little man. So blinded. So limited.
Then I laugh hysterically
at a personal joke about Poe;
and because I can’t help myself,
I look into the doctor’s eyes, and hum,
“Nevermore, nevermore, nevermore.”