But She Sounded So Cheerful on the Answering Machine

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But She Sounded So Cheerful on the Answering Machine

The doctor sits behind the desk. The desk is a wall. The wall is impossible.

The doctor is speaking.

Information, evaluation, condition, concern.

Rebecca sits on the couch, but does not lean against it. She sits up as straight as she can. Her eyes refuse to focus despite her sincerest pleas. When she resorts to bribery they take more serious action. The wall behind the doctor begins to flicker. The window begins to pulse. Rebecca can hear her heart beating and the beating is irregular.

Mania, disturbance, second opinion.

Rebecca realizes she has been biting her tongue only when she tastes blood. She doesn’t want the doctor to see her bleeding. She swallows and feels the hot liquid move all the way down her throat. She feels her stomach sigh, annoyed at what she has sent it.

Episode, hallucination, reality.

Rebecca’s bones and head and hair and fingernails all ache and throb. Rebecca knows she shouldn’t be able to feel her hair. Rebecca knows that the walls are not really shaking.

The walls shake anyway. Her hair wants to pull itself out of her head.

What a shame, window pane, Shakespeare.

Rebecca’s ears hear what they want to. Her eyes see the doctor’s face twitching and struggling with the doctor’s skull. The doctor’s face wants to turn itself inside out.

Rebecca looks down at her hands. They are shaking.

Dreaming, screaming, mermaid, helpless.

Rebecca feels her mouth move. It says,

“What are you saying to me, doctor?