At one point in his memoir, Daudet describes staying at a sanatorium, one of those places where everyone understands what everyone else is going through. He talks about the strange pleasure of searching for the patient whose experience of illness is most like his own. Today’s version of the sanatorium is the Internet, where you find a vaporous world of fellow-sufferers, companions in isolation and fear and frustration, as well as practitioners who have made it their life’s work to understand why a segment of the population always feels unwell. I fell into the rabbit hole, and emerged in another world, online.
Excited and anticipation are not a morning.
Dry eyes, chapped lips, nausea, and dread.
Sudden awakening, grievance of my loss of unconsciousness
This cycle, is it my meds or my head?
I lose eventually. My heavy marionette moves.
fallacy of self control,
the scale controls me.
For eighteen years
Breathing was not without
Joy pouring out
Too loudly in
Thoughts married to
My urgent vocalizer
Passion surges out
Frenzied thoughts released
Gelatinous organ now
What’s Left of my porcelain shell.
Till furrowed brows
The Right one,
Is the gooey gatekeeper of
Later they’ll find
Scratch marks inside
My ovaloid coffin.
Listening to my father cry
On the baby monitor
While he sits by his father’s side
Watching him die
I have a polar mind,
But that does not mean two.
My brain’s not half and half.
It’s more a feelings-stew.
I Trust too easy.
In elementary school I gave away the brownie mom packed for me, if someone asked.
The kids learned to ask.
In middle school they called me a pushover.
This was my first epiphany.
In college they called me a slut because, I let boys sleep with me.
If they wanted to, why not?
Now I am a nurse, they pay me for my trust.
They trust me because
I trust easily.
A rare saturation.
Cactus spines lined with goblets
Strangers in queue.
(Prompt: The year is 2076. You have just learned that the newly elected president is not a human, and you are the only person who knows)
“I’m not human.” Said the president.
“So your birth certificate is forged?” I asked.
“You have to pretend to be human to be accepted in this world.” I said as I opened my kit. “Now hold still this time, you’re worse then the toddler I just saw.” I applied silver to his leg wound and applied a fresh coat of skin. I never asked how he was injured.
As I stood up I straightened my uniform and headed out the door.
“Goodnight Nurse Ruth” he said.
“Goodnight President Trump.” I said.
The panic dread,
you think it will leave you?
to rest in peace?
The Panic Release.
She dipped her toes
Into the stout
Put one foot in
Then took it out
But when she dipped
Her body in
Turned joyful sin
Now small fingers
Are all you see
Because she drowned
The door slams open with a thump, forming a dent in the cream colored wall. Laughter from wine and spirits echo from the doorway to the jacuzzi tub. Torn white frills, loose ties and frizzy hair fill the doorway, and the kempt room is slovenly invaded.
She’s beautiful, when not inebriated. I understood his lust, her skin porcelain smooth, lips cherry red. She was confident, snarky, and full of hate. Male attention was a staple to her diet (which I assume was the only thing she consumed). Dainty, the wedding dress now ate her.
I had met Stephanie in Dr. Peter’s office. A plastic surgeon with a glorious new building – stained glass windows patterned with historically beautiful women, a waiting room with leather recliners, and pretty secretaries appearing behind sliding etched glass.
Dr. Peters was a friend of my father and hired me as a secretary. On my first day I skipped into the office and said hello to a woman with a porcelain doll face, she didn’t reply immediately, then smirked “nice headband.”
I picked up the phone when it rang only to have her rip it out of my hand and slam it down on the receiver.
“I answer the phone. I talk to clients. I AM the looks.” She said. “Am I making myself clear?”
“Sure” I said.
At first patients loved Stephanie, but eventually they came to adore me. I remembered their names, birthdates, allergies, and medications. I read up on procedures and medication reactions (Stephanie rolling her eyes every time I picked up a book). And I perfected an excel program for scheduling.
Dr. Peters noticed my studiousness and let me assist him during a Rhinoplasty. Eventually he sent me to nursing school, and I began working with him in the operating room at the larger hospital across the city.
I met the dreamy Theodore there. A sales rep with a charming smile. I made him laugh. He bought chocolate, and a diamond ring.
One evening Theo and I stopped by Dr. Peter’s office. He commented on how beautiful Stephanie was. “Yeah” I said out loud. “On the outside” I thought to myself.
He invited her over for “family dinner.” She touched his arms, and displayed her cleavage.
She manipulated him, I know she did. He was kind. But she was cunning and spiteful. Months passed and my fiancé grew weary of me. In the office Stephanie made sly comments to me about the size of his dick. I found a red thong on our bedroom floor.
He felt trapped. He told me he was in love. I cried and cried, and fell into a deep depression. I told him I wanted everything to just go away. To end it all.
Theo didn’t want to look like a bad guy by rejecting me. One day he made my morning tea, which was out of character. I grew weary and went down for a nap. I never woke up.
I appeared in a honeymoon suite. “Just Married” was spelled in rose petals and a bottle of champagne had “Theodore & Stephanie January 1st 2016” printed on it. 2016???! This morning when I had my tea it was March 1st, 2015. I turned and looked in the mirror. My lack of reflection revealed the truth.
Fuck! That mother fucker killed me! He took me seriously when I said I wanted it all to go away. Thought it was the easy way out, put me out of my misery, and become the grieving fiancé, everybody wins.
I watch helplessly as Theo and Stephanie enter the room. He throws her down on the bed, ripping her wedding dress. I’m invisible to them, always have been, literally now. Pulling him in by his collar she demands “Eat my pussy!” He laughs and obliges, then unzips his pants.
Oh hell no.
I climb on top of Stephanie, and my spirit sinks into her body, I consume her actions. Finally in control of her. I use her spindly legged slutty stilettos to kick him in the stomach. She struggles to regain will. Theo looks at her puzzled, holding his stomach, then laughs and rips her stilettos off and climbs on top of her. Inebriated she goes along with it. Always the puppet. The pretty doll.
I leave Stephanie’s body sink and sink into Theo’s. I feel his strength, his lust. I move his body to her head and make him say “part your lips.” I am the ventriloquist. She follows his orders, my orders. I thrust his dick into her mouth and plug her nose with his right hand, at first he doesn’t resist my control, until I won’t let him stop. He struggles to break free from my spirit’s control, but I am the vengeful marionettist.
Stephanie thrashes, her face turns blue and right before her doll’s eyes roll back in her head I make him say:
“Ann says hi.”
I published this originally today for a poetry challenge at theprose.com Please click the hyperlink as the challenge also takes into account the number of views.
But for the scream –
Metal hooks on metal.
Echo back as
I wore white.
I make them laugh and laugh.
My patient told me, “you are great at what you do.”
Drugs and rope, his ticket in.
Two hundred and fifty pounds lost to a shower rod.
The nurses laugh.
Weak and stupid,
Can’t kill himself right.
Not his first time
In hospital restraints.
I didn’t say,
I ate my pills for breakfast and
hid my demon today.
I didn’t say,
I’m glad my dad failed,
in the garage.
I didn’t say,
He’s too smart to
Kill himself right.
Code blue came to us,
I led the team.
I didn’t say,
I once had a ticket.
I wore white.
You are a child without a womb.
Seeking it is futile,
We will all die soon.
I thought concentration camps
were black and white and grey.
How else could murder happen
in the 40’s every day?
In nineteen fourty five,
grandfather was outside Dachau’s gate,
it read Arbiet macht frei,
the prisoners fate.
Twenty three years old,
He stood outside the iron rail,
The chains too thick to cut,
A blow torch finally freed the jail.
When the US seventh army,
Opened up the gates,
They gave out all their rations,
But for most it was too late.
A prisoner of war camp,
he had thought at the time,
so why the visible ribs?
The smell of death and grime?
He tells me it was only later,
he learned of ovens in the back.
Where Nazis burned the prisoners,
To make the dead turn black.
I went to Dachau,
This year in June.
I stood in the gas chamber
Absent of fumes.
I stroked pale green tiles,
Standing under false shower heads.
Outside bright green for spring,
perfect for flower beds.
Puffy white clouds
When I stood in the courtyard
Where thousands were shot dead.
As I entered the creamatory,
I heard birds sing,
Just as the condemeed did
When they died every morning.
The smells of death and disease
Had passed overtime.
Dachau now smelled of dirt,
And breeze of springtime.
Gray photographs seperate us,
history books seem like fiction,
but there were smells, color,
a now impossible depiction.
My grandfather remembers
Arbiet macht frei.
It means “work brings freedom”
The Nazi’s lie.
And he remembers the sounds
of shooting German gaurds,
the touch of prisoners,
the smell of the yards.
So it’s wrong to think the world
was black and white,
for those imprisoned,
Color gave them reason to fight.
At bottom of the rocky gorge a river beautiful moved with destructive force. I stood at the top, my gaze drawn like rocks sinking, my toes kissing the rim. The water was grey, not from filth, but from clay. I closed my eyes and the wind swayed my body like a sapling tree. I played a game in my head: “if the wind pushes me towards the river, I’ll jump.” The wind pushed West, parellel to the ravine. Today was not the day.
“I never like the guy, not one bit”
“I know Britt, but she doesn’t need to hear that right now, not at a time like this”
“Dinah??? Dinahhhh??? Can you hear me??? It’s Britt!…. DINAH!”
Britt reaches to poke her sharp neon nail into Dinah’s shoulder, but her sister grabs her arm and pulls her back to her chair.
“Britt.. Just let her be. She needs to rest. I’m going to go grab the photos of Wishbone and Fifi that I left in the car, at least if she opens her eyes she’ll have them by her side. Just like always. Be back soon”
As Britt gazes at Dinah her eyes fill with tears. She thinks of the anomosity between them since Dinah married Chuck. An alcoholic with a mean streak. He always reeked of cigarettes and unwashed clothes, and was constantly abusive to Dinah’s dogs.
Sighing, she reaches up and strokes Dinah’s brunette hair, now streaked with wirey grey.
As kids they had always been close. The distance was hard on her. But she couldn’t stand being around Chuck, and seeing the way Chuck treated Dinah!!
Her clenched fist relaxes when she sees Dinah’s forehead slightly furrow.
Hahhhhhhhhhh, Phhht. Phhht.
DING DING DING! DING DING!
Britt jumps back startled. A nurse is at the bedside immediately, she makes an adjustment on the ventilator, and dismisses it with a wave of her hand.
The sounds of her sickness back on beat. Dinah’s forehead relaxes again.
“Brittany, Dinah has another visitor in the waiting room.” The young nurse asks.” Is it ok if I let him back?”
She scowls. “Actually, I’ll step out first… I assume it’s Chuck..” She gives the nurse a knowing glance. Getting up she starts to leave but glances back “Just uh, keep a close eye on him when he’s in here okay?”
“No problem dear.”
When her patient’s husband steps in, his nurse enters the room as well, and pretends to be checking on her IV fluids. She holds her breath to prevent herself from gagging at the smell of filth and smoke. Giving Chuck a half smile she tells him, “I’ll be outside the room if you need anything.”
The smell of cigarettes lingers in the hallway. The nurse shuts the curtain almost all the way and leaves the door cracked, she pulls her chair and computer as close as possible without being noticed.
Chuck stands over Dinah. Dinah remains comatose.
“I finally did it.” He tells her. “Everything I said I’d do. Your stupid crystal animal collection. Gone. Smashed them all.” He croaks and a dirty smirk comes across his face. He leans in closer to whisper in her ear. Stacy inches closer in her chair “And those dogs of yours, I killed them too.”
(This is based on a true overhead conversation)
In the summer, we went to Normandy.
The sea glinted,
Dogs frolicked off leash,
children played in the sand.
In the summer at Normandy,
Technology is left behind
in favor of the timeless
sounds of children laughing.
In the summer at Normandy
People bathe in the sea,
as shallow tides reveal
partially sunken tanks.
In the summer at Normandy.
We rest by a concrete German bunker,
next to rusty barbed wire,
and watch children play.
In the summer at Normandy,
We look through the slot,
crouching in dirt
imagined thousands of soldiers shot.
In the summer at Normandy.
I think of Grandfather’s stories,
of D-Day horrors, the deaths
of ten thousand men.
The summer we went to Normandy,
I watched a blond boy carry a red kite
toward sparkling sea,
and knew they all died,
so this could be.
She awoke with a start, her cheek pressed to the cold cement floor. Her mouth was parched, and her frightened heart hammered in her skull. Drawing the sheet more tightly around her, she shivered, realizing now, her nudity.
“Finally awake!” A hoarse voice jeered at her. “Good morning princess. Have some water!”
She rose into a cross legged position, a bowl flew through the slot in the evil latitudinal bars. Drops flew into the air as the bowl cylindrically crashed to the floor, then trembled with increasing frequency.
It’s raining from my eyes. She thought, and memories from the previous day flooded in.
She remembered God’s tears splashing her face as she sprinted down the road. Her husband had called her name, dampened and far away. She had been overcome with desire to feel the rain on her naked body, washing off the sticky sweat and shame of summer…
The previous night:
Each sticatto droplet fell loud and sharp on her skin. Her brunette ringlets, caught by the weight of the rain, fell individually into her face. Brushing them away she cackled, thinking of those hiding in thier vinal boxes from the wetness. Her heart bursting, its squeeze forced an unbreakable manic smile. Energy surged and rippled throughout her body.
A shadowed man ran at her and was sprayed with water as she haulted her race in a rainbow puddle. She turned to break into a sprint, his hands grazing her slippery flank. Her heart and head bounded, the ultimate race. As she ran from Death’s grasp another shadowed man came at her, as his spindly arms reached for her, she again swiveled and slipped on the devil’s black muck, she fell to the ground. They towered over her, and laughed.
“Dude this bitch is crazy!” One of the shadoow creatures half laughed half shouted.
They each grabbed a muddy arm too firmly and her bellow was lost in the rains deafening intensity.
Her hands were bound behind her, cold, tight, painful. She was carried through the rain’s blur and her face pushed down onto a leather seat, her feet planted firmly on the ground. She felt warm hands caressing her body and anger shot through her. She stuggled, the ultimate fight.
“Hey! She’s too strong, hold her down!”
A hand firm pressed her face to the seat, and she inhaled the leather. She cried out as rough fingers and sharp nails scraped inside of her. There was no way she would let the Devil have her. Like an angry stallion, she kicked her right foot back and up, and the shadow man hollared as she made contact with his testicles. The momentary weakened grasp allowed her to stand, the other figure grabbed her from behind. As he leaned in to shout in her ear she tucked her chin, then snapped her head backward, a crunch then a wail indicating success. Spinning around she watched the miraculous red stream flow down his furious face. She smiled wickedly before she was thrown forcefully into the back of the car.