Sinéad is a nurse over here at Lakeland in St. Joe. She's the one who gave me a reason to live, back in September. I still have no idea what she looks like. The two times I've met her I've been so blacked-out on Ativan that she's been this light leaning in. At least the first time. She was my symbol of hope, of someone in the world who rose above it, and redefined what a person was capable of being.
That was the second time I'd tried getting my heart surgery. As it turns out, it's the Ativan they keep giving me, so I'll stay calm. I'm schizoaffective.
Except one milligram of Ativan, every two hours, will add up after a day or so. And I'll go to rip out the IV, and wake up at home the next day.
Oh well. It's too late. Sinéad was actually the last one to see me the last time (the sixth time) I'd tried to get the quadruple bypass. I came out of my blackout in the midst of some kind of terrible conflict, over at the cardiac ward. I knew it was a bad idea, but I told her right then, while I was conscious, and with her, that I'd thought about her every day since I'd seen her half a year earlier. She guffawed right in my face and made fun of me. That's when I went to go rip out the IV for the final time.
The illusion of light and my longing for it do prove, though, that I love the light. And in the darkness that gives me hope. Especially the darkness near a major existential relocation. Schizoaffective keeps me permanently in the darkness, but I'm not of it. And I'd rather be in the darkness standing for light than in the light standing for darkness.
I spent New Year's Day in a psych hospital near the MSU campus. After I ended up getting out, I met up with my old friends at the bar, and had one last meaningful drink. There was no way to hang on to the social connections anymore, and no one felt the need to hide it. That was the very end of my six years at college. I had to leave a month before graduating. I couldn't hold it together anymore. Back home I ended up getting arrested a couple times, went to jail once, to the ICU the other time. Eventually had my stomach pumped three times that year. Got kicked out and had to go live in Detroit with my ex's parents. My first group home was that year. Plus two stints in a Detroit psych hospital that were wildly hellish. That year was scary as fuck. This year is too.
I'd made my living by my eyes as a filmmaker, despite being almost completely deaf. I'd built a tower for myself with my wealth, so I could look out on to the Atlantic Ocean, practically from the viewpoint of the gods. And then I lost my eyesight.
I could hire attendants, of course. I could still live in my tower—my symbol of hubris and excess. But I was alone with my mind.
I had my memories of the perfect, circular view, two hundred feet above the beach, and much of the time that was enough. But my condition, by definition, was relentless.
The picture windows in my penthouse reached fifty feet. My bedroom was up near the top of the massive space, in the middle, reached via a winding staircase. (I would never have thought how dangerous my bedroom would become to me.) I'd been up there now for over a day, too afraid to leave my bed. No one had come up, everything felt as if it were silent, but there had been a storm raging for days. When there had been people coming by to take care of me, I could feel the wind and the rain vibrating on the massive windows below and around my bedroom floor, and my attendants had signed into my hand to stay inside and be careful. But soon they had stopped coming by, and soon I had become too afraid to leave my bed.
By the time two full days had passed alone, I had to risk investigating the state of things outside. I felt reduced to the over-riding needs for food, and drink, and space to move. My bedroom was comfortable normally, but it had become cramped. My fear couldn't outweigh the drive for essentials.
Now feeling out for the railing, I found the top of the stairs. It was a descent I'd made a thousand times. It could pose no real danger, I was certain. The penthouse would be empty, although I knew its layout well-enough. But something felt wrong. As if there were something wrong with the air. I set my foot down onto the first stair, and it sank up to the ankle in cold ocean water.
I'd slept so horribly, feeling as if I were on pins and needles. They weren't needles, though. Once I was awake I could see that they were little castles on the floor. Like the underwater faux coral in a fish tank. My bed was gone. Standing up on the floor hurt my bare feet. What was that stuff? And why was the overhead light standing upright on the floor?
Pete glanced over at the switchboard, leaned over with one hand — balancing a sandwich in his mouth with the other — and hit the yellow flashing button, calming its insistent peripheral noise. "Do you really think it takes that long to learn the work here?"
Malcolm shrugged. "I picked it up in about a month. It won't take you long."
Attending to the next flashing button, and then peering through the thick plastic casing into the darkness inside the tank, Pete could see movement, clearly, but got no sense of what was moving inside. It seemed to be a kind of viscous black fluid. "Tell me now."
"About what's in there?" Malcolm grabbed the other half of the sandwich.
"Yeah. I've been here a week and a half, and no one will tell me what we're sitting here looking after."
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you, Pete."
Pete sniffed and took another bite. With his mouth full he said, "I actually would."
Malcolm pointed toward the glass. "Those are spiders, dude."
"What the fuck?"
"I know, man. Those are little spiders. I mean it. There are millions of them."
Pete shook his head in such disgust that it became more of a shudder. "It pays well. But we don't need ever think about that again."
"Yeah, Pete. No question. No one ever talks about it."
Malcolm bit into his half of the sandwich and nodded while chewing. "It's simple, dude. Just don't hit the flashing yellow button. That'll open the tank right on us, buddy. But other than that, there's never anything to worry about. And besides, we'd get another warning light if that were about to happen."
It's about simplifying in order to make decisions. How do I remember that the HTML for an ellipsis is hellip and not ellip? Because if it were ellip, for ellipsis, I wouldn't be wondering in the first place about whether or not there's an "h" in there. Some choices can be reduced to binaries, and that helps with decision-making.
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