Saturday, August 31, 2019

Self-Love in the Time of Chaos

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)
 
photo by Svetlana Belyaeva

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.”

59 comments:

  1. I especially love turning his words into broken birds, and flying above the hurt, red skirt storied into wings. And his words - hollow little bones. Awesome.

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  2. An interesting transformation of an excellent poem into a satisfying piece of fiction, Magaly! I like the way you imply the physician’s type with one word, and I love the sentence: ‘Don’t worry, doctor, you aren’t the first or last to assume my first is my last’, and the explanation that ‘My sanity sleeps in imagination’s bed’. But most of all I love the way the red skirt saves the day and stories into wings.

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  3. I second Sherry's love of that descriptor. The word choices are perfect. I love the protagonist's straight forward defiance. She isn't raging, just leaning into her own power to be comfortable enough to say, "Nah, I'm going to handle things in a way I know works for me." But even as a celebrate her victory, I think about others that doctor tried to cow, including the patient before her. No question he's clipped wings before.

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    1. I agree. Someone like this has caged other wills before.

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  4. I love the true triumph of her strong self understanding that surpasses what is happening. Those last lines are poetic prose indeed with the red skirt storied into wings....simply stunning Magaly!! I love the poem that inspired it as well.

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  5. Refusing to feed yourself through a mechanical list...vivid in it's refusal and images.

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  6. I love how sanity sleeps in imagination's bed where they "sleep together" while she practices "self-love" and is fine by herself. As a migraine sufferer, I was told that orgasms can help alleviate pain, so I get where she's coming from (pun intended). She seems to know instinctively how to help herself and that horrifies the doctor, his words becoming hurtful nonsense whereas the stories she tells herself are helpful. The power of the mind is an incredible thing.

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    1. Orgasms are a great way to relax. And when one's ailments involve the reproductive system, a good orgasm (or three) feels more than good.

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  7. Words into broken birds- wow! I loved this. That doc was all science and no hope- sheesh! A lovely write, Magaly.

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  8. Oh.. I can really feel the distance between the doctor his patient... if poets and authors were valued by their words I fear it would fill up the asylums... sanity lies in putting ink on paper... that is what they don't understand (and I have not wet my bed since I was a kid)

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    1. You know, I'm totally tempted to write a story about an asylum full of writers.

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  9. I love everything about this post, Magaly -- the prose, the photos, the poem!

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    1. Thank you, Debra. It was a delight to put together.

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  10. Words into birds...turn the bad into good, into spectacular. Swirl that skirt girl!

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  11. That doctor hand a clue; our art takes us away from our problems, even if temporarily; it helps us cope and lifts our spirits. Great story, Magaly and beautiful word usage!

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  12. The power of words... comfort & cures... & that doctor for all his learning... clueless...
    As always awesome Ms Wicked xxx

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  13. "My sanity sleeps in imagination’s bed. They’re friends . . . "

    Amazing line, Magaly. Great story told the way only you could tell it.

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  14. As a deep dreamer these words resonate with me.

    My sanity sleeps in imagination’s bed. They’re friends

    Red is the color of love and passion it is the color of fire and blood. Wear those red wings and soar my friend.

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  15. Avoid red?!!! Is the man mad? (He should be locked away in an attic... in the finest gothic tradition. 😉 ) Nevermore, indeed! 🖤

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  16. Wearing Red does excite and incite. I avoid it where personal favors, cures, purchases, etc. are involved. Blue is the most peaceful and not threatening. I like the words turning into birds. Also I like your poem although for this matter I do believe telling it in prose is better. Of course, except if it is to go into a book of poems.
    Thank you for the fun prompt. I learned a lot today, just practice now to improve.
    ..
    ..

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  17. Curiously I am suffering from 'specialititis' too as my specialist wanted my disorder to be different from what it is so has dismissed me even though it is his field! However back to your story; it is of course a delight; humour will conquer almost everything.

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    1. Specialititis continues to spread and annoy people's health everywhere it seems.

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  18. i disavow those 'outside' voices that try to dissuade the creative nature of one's thoughts. Imagination is the fortress of life. 'keep on keep'n on'

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  19. I loved the poem whenI first saw it, and I love the bizarre yet triumphant tale you made of it.

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  20. Oh, I love this. Pain likes you to play its game, but doesn't like you to claw back or (masturbate).. :) I'm in my ugly cry stage over heartache at the moment. There's cursing and cleansing going on.

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  21. A well crafted piece of writing, yet again I've enjoyed reading your work.

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  22. Is this the most amazing exposure of an attempted rape or what!!!! This is so full of power! That man was totally exposed! And shows the world how they all think! If we dont align or thoughts to their's, we are wrong??? How laughable! How painfully, laughable! And sick! It hurts my story! And not in a pleasant sense either! I think I'm going to throw up now! I love you girl!!!!!

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    1. People can be seriously strange creatures (and not always in a good way).

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  23. I'm holding my finger over the phone.....so many words are racing in my mind.......I feel them growing in me ......lifting me off the ground.....into the sky! Freeing me from the darkness....the criticism.....I'm over here now! In the light. Following MY DREAMS! Following MY PLAN!
    MY WORDS! For a changed....not chained! I'm free to live my lufe.....my way! It matters! IT MATTERS. YOU MATTER!
    Use your words....craft your stories.....tell it your way.
    IT MATTERS!

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    1. "changed... not chained", I like those words. A like them a lot.

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  24. I love that poem. And how skillfully you have drawn from it to create this inspiring your story! The protagonist's defiance is admirable, and I find myself chuckling as well with the use of language, "I believe in the healing powers of masturbation." Brilliant!

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  25. Haha, I too believe in the healing powers of self-love. LOVE! You have such a knack for dialogue. Poor doctor! Happy patient. I think I like the poem and the story equally, though these lines are the power of all powers: "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."

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  26. The poem is wonderful but the story itself, omg. I didnt know whether to laugh or just chuckle, or to cry indignantly, if one can cry that way. Broken birds and foolish, unknowing doctors. Who knew?

    I adore this story, more than any others of yours I have read.

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    1. Some days, we do it all at once. And then we go on...

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  27. Magaly, am sorry that you had to experienced this narrowed minded quack, who should have learned, from physician heal thyself, first. Everyone knows, Red is a colour of passion and love. Never stop loving yourself or self-loving.

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    1. There are idiots everywhere. We can suffer them, or birth something useful out of interacting with them. I always choose the latter.

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  28. A very powerful post!!! I love everything about it!! Always be you!! Love you! Big Hugs!

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