September 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
He waited until his son went to bed and took his prescribed pill. Other than a general feeling of slowing down, he didn’t feel particularly different. He fell asleep and dreamed he was with his son, in a life raft floating in the waters of a marsh. He navigated their way through the bulrushes but they never found shore.
Earlier that day, he waited in the neurologist’s office. The doctor left, her medical student in tow, to confer with her colleague. Her office overlooked the site of the new “super hospital” and, if he leaned to the right, he could see nine cranes busily completing its construction.
The medical centre was adjacent to a tony neighbourhood of high end boutiques, fair trade coffee, smug self-satisfaction, and nowhere to park. He chose a spot where parking was permitted for one hour, and hoped it would be enough.
He came because his family doctor referred his case when he saw him about a stutter he had recently developed right around his fortieth birthday. He never had one before and wondered if this was the beginning of the end of his mental facilities.
He found himself stuttering at work, in meetings when he was pressured for an answer, or when his toddler refused to get in the bath, or get out of the bath, or his wife would ask him a question and suddenly, all he could say was “p-p-p-p-pork chops.” This caused him to be more reticent than usual. He earned a reputation as someone who rarely spoke.
The neurologist administered an exam to determine if there were any issues and asked him several questions about his overall mental state.
As he answered, he remembered his father who, in the span of seven years, sired four children. That meant, at one point, they were all at once teenagers. He remembered him at the dinner table, trying to maintain control over his unruly, defiant brood. The words would catch on his lips, or at the back of his throat while his children would have a good giggle at their father’s troubles.
After she left, he noticed a small bust of a bearded man. He wondered if it was Sigmund Freud. He picked it up and saw that it was Hippocrates.
Right, he thought. Of course.
When the doctor returned, she was accompanied by her colleague, an older man with dark curly hair. He held a position of authority over her because his medical students numbered six to her one. The ratios clearly increased with tenure.
“We don’t think there is anything wrong with you, neurologically,” the doctor told him. “We think your stutter is anxiety related. I’m going to recommend a subscription to Rivotril. Try it at home first as it may cause drowsiness but it should help with what may be a generalized anxiety disorder.”
“Should I take it with scotch?” he asked the doctor.
When he left, attached to his car, was a parking ticket.
John Hansen lives with his wife and child in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada where he works spends his days looking at spreadsheets and evenings writing and obsessing over Coronation Street.
Image: Stick in Sand, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
July 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
Everything I Have Is Broken
I tell her that my pots and pans have scratches that never come out. My mother’s old china no longer reflects. Its value is now estimated as drywall. The coffee maker can’t process java. It doesn’t heat–just gurgles and dies. It dies each morning. The toilet needs some artful juggling. Yet, despite all of it, she likes me because of my smile that reminds her of HIM, who was yesterday. She says that whenever there is steel against sky there is the possibility of love. She loves the smell of old bridges after a rain. I remind her how the neighborhood is going downhill, how at night there is the sound of cockroaches imitating humans making sex sounds with clenched jaws. The cockroaches go and die somewhere else. Still she insists she won’t leave without a flag. You’re the one, she exclaims wordlessly. I can read it in her yesterday eyes that were once bluer. She still believes I could be HIM, if I could just polish my act. I keep telling her that I’m today with no future; my apartment is only walls and punched-in holes. I keep telling her that I’m a veteran of three wars and we’re still losing Avenue C to the bankers from gangrenous side-streets. I tell her I’m out of insecticide. I’m shaking an empty can. She doesn’t care about that.
Kyle Hemmings is the author of several chapbooks of poetry and prose: Avenue C, Cat People, and Anime Junkie (Scars Publications). His latest e-books are You Never Die in Wholes from Good Story Press and The Truth about Onions from Good Samaritan. He lives and writes in New Jersey.
Image: Road, By Leigh-Anne Fraser
February 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
My mind spreads its spikes at dawn like a hedgehog preparing for a fox attack.
This morning’s hangover has nothing to do with alcohol. The poison is my mind wanting me to be something that I am not.
I stare at him and wonder what he is thinking. I want to melt right through his skin, invade every pore, and eat his thoughts for breakfast.
When I take off my glasses he says I look lost, vulnerable.
A world lies embedded between my computer keys made of bread crumbs, a micro world unaware of me.
The Arabic pizza baker raises his eyebrows and tells me I’m getting smaller.
The annoying fragility of this plastic life shows when the hungry ATM eats my credit card.
I sit on a fence at the top of the hill catching my breath. When a police officer asks me what my story is, I stare at him.
My ninety-seven year old neighbor is cleaning her house and running errands. She is moving to Thailand tomorrow to start a new life. I wish I were her.
Pirjo Zeylon is a writer and artist who lives and writes in southern Sweden. She is fluent in Swedish, Finnish and English. Pirjo is currently working on a novel that she hopes will be published before she reaches 50. When she is not writing Pirjo works in the field of logistics.
Image: Aimless Day, By Pirjo Zeylon