Magic Pills

“Are you happy?”

“Of course, why?”

“You don’t seem happy.”

“I don’t?”

“You were in the corner crying for the past 10 minutes.”

“Oh that.  I forgot my pill.  I’m good now.”

“Do you think you could ever be happy without the magic pill?”

“Maybe, but why find out?”

The Other Side

So, I have to start by saying, I loooooooove my therapist.  Love, love, love her.  She’s so calming and zen, with a soothing voice and gentle manner.  I can’t imagine her ever raising her voice to anyone.  The office where I go for therapy is double-sided.  All of the therapists are off one side of the lobby, then there’s another mysterious door on the opposite side I never went through until yesterday.

My therapist and I decided the combo of meds I’ve been taking for anxiety might need to be tweaked a bit, so I made an appointment.  On the other side.

If the therapy side is zen and peaceful with calming aromatherapy and tall vases dripping with purple orchids, the psychiatry side is more clinical.  Almost prison-like.  Hard chairs that remind me of a high school cafeteria, papers scattered everywhere.  Walls painted puke green and yellow. An indifferent receptionist at the front desk.

After a long wait, I am finally called back to see the assistant.  A kind woman I’ve noticed in the lobby before who has a sweet smile and a hello for everyone she meets.  She tells me she needs to take my blood pressure and I comply, rolling up my sleeve.

“Pretty eyes.  You look like Beloved!”

“Beloved?”

“The girl who played Beloved in that movie that Oprah made…”

“Ohhhhhh…Thandie Newton…errr…thanks…” She’s gorgeous but I look nothing like her.  Nice compliment, though.

“Yes, I like her.  She does a lot for the animals…”

“I love animals too…”

“Me too, I want to save the bears…”

She points toward a picture of grizzly bears framed on her office wall.

“Oh.”

“Yes, I love all animals, but get between me and them bears and you’ll have a problem.”

You might have a problem if you’re outside playing with wild bears, I think, but I say nothing, just smile.  As the blood pressure cuff tightens on my arm, she rounds her desk and picks up my file.

“What insurance is this?  I’ve never heard of this!”  I explain to her that they’ve already verified everything at the front desk, but she makes a loud, lengthy phone call going over my file to the receptionist again, the blood pressure cuff loosening and re-tightening over and over.  Finally she removes it when I don’t think I have sensation left in my upper arm.  She takes the rest of my vitals quickly, then I’m sent back to the lobby to wait some more.  At last, I’m summoned to see the wizard, I mean the doctor.

She brusquely introduces herself and has a seat behind her imposing desk. I notice the painting on her side wall is crooked and hope she isn’t seeing any OCD patients later today.

“So, what’s wrong with you?”

She didn’t really ask that, but that’s how it feels.  It’s very strange to have to explain anxiety symptoms or the symptoms of any mental illness.  It’s almost as though people expect you to perform.  Most mental illness-sufferers lead normal productive lives, with our symptoms happening in the background, or flaring up sporadically.  I give a brief rundown of my complaints, and she click-clacks away on her computer keyboard.  I swear this woman must type 2,000 words a minute.  She clacks away in silence for at least 15 minutes, no exaggeration.  I entertain myself by pretending to be Dorothy Gale, abandoned by Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion, left to face the wizard all alone.

“Why did you and your therapist decide you needed a medication management?”

I give another rundown of my symptoms, without variation.

“Bring me the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West and I will give you the pills you seek!”  Again she didn’t say that, only in my imagination.  But I’m beginning to think that might come out of her mouth as her face contorts in annoyance.  She continues to clack away silently for another 10 minutes.  I look around futilely for a clock, remembering my cell phone is dead.  This is going on so long there is no way I can slip behind my desk at work unnoticed.  Finally, she gives me her recommendations for adjusting my prescriptions, I make a decision, sign the needed paperwork and leave the office in haste.  I re-enter my counselor’s lobby and inhale deeply.   No place like home.  Or my therapist’s office.

The doctor wants to see me again in a month.  I think maybe I’ll ask my therapist for another referral.

Flashy Friday – Millie’s

Nothing ever changed at Millie’s.  The jukebox only played Patsy Cline.  The special of the day was always Millie’s jalapeno chili, prepared by Millie’s daughter, Molly, since the real Millie had died 10 years ago.

Guys like him didn’t stroll into Millie’s everyday.  He was wreck-your-car gorgeous.

“Take your order?”

“Hmmm…what do you recommend?”

“Nothing.  Slightly better than death should be our slogan.”

He laughed heartily.  It wasn’t that funny.

“How about coming on a walk with me?  I’m staying right down the road…”

“Why?”

He gestured as if to say, have you seen me?

Sadie rolled her eyes.  “Order or leave.”

He pushed past her.  Molly leaped over the counter and ran after him.

Molly was gone for two weeks. She returned happy but minus the modest inheritance Millie had left her.  She said getting swindled had been worth the best time of her life.  Sadie gave her two weeks notice.  This place clearly killed brain cells.

Inspired by Flash Friday

Vapors

I collapsed on the ground after the peppy blond instructor on the monitor told us we could finally relax.  I’d been in plank position for what felt like an hour, but was probably closer to 30 seconds.  My bestie dramatically grunted in relief and fell on the other side of the rug.  Recovering quickly, she jumped up and said mysteriously, “I’ve got a surprise for you!”

I dragged myself to my feet, sniffing my armpits dubiously.  “We’re leaving??”

“Yep.”  She grabbed her keys and we hopped in her car, where she programmed some mysterious directions into her GPS.

“Are we going shopping?  Stinky and sweaty like this?”

“Nope.”  Her grin widened as she turned onto a familiar road.

“Are we going to workout AGAIN???!!!”  I was nearly apoplectic.  My gym was a few blocks away.

“How did you guess!”  She was as excited as our virtual fitness instructor.  “But we’re not going to your gym. It’s a new fitness studio I found.  The class focuses on your lower body.  Great for legs!”

My legs already felt like gelatin.  I was surprised I made it to the car without falling.

“Is it like mat work?  Can I lie down?  And breathe and basically do nothing and go unnoticed?  Maybe sleep?”

“Oh nooooooooooo…we’ll be standing the whole time.  Lunges…squats…”

“Squats!”  I screamed as though she said we’d flying across the globe to climb Mt. Everest.  My legs didn’t have another squat in them.  “How much is this class, anyway?”

“Normally it’s $100 a class, but you’ll be free because you’re my guest.”

“100 bucks?”

“Yeah because they have these like, special vapors that revive you and help you keep going during the class.  Really awesome.”

“Vapors????”

“Yeah it’s a new thing.”

She turned into a dark strip mall and parked in front of a store front that had the words Dance Studio stenciled across the door.  There were more words in a language I didn’t recognize scribbled above it.  Terror burned my stomach.  Great.  It was probably going to be some new edgy foreign martial arts craziness.  Was she trying to kill me?  Did she have a secret insurance policy out on me I didn’t know about?

“Is this it?”

She got out of the car, not responding.  I reluctantly dragged myself out of the car and began to stumble toward the “dance studio.”  I turned and noticed my bestie heading in the opposite direction.

“Where are you going?”  She was laughing so hard she could barely stand up.  I looked above her head and saw a sign for a vegan Indian restaurant.  My favorite cuisine.  Since I switched to vegetarianism nearly a year ago most of my friends considered me insane, but she’d been promising for the past few weeks to treat me to a vegetarian feast.  She was making good on her word, but of course she couldn’t resist having a little fun with me on the way.

“My treat!”

“I’m going to kill you!” I ran toward her with new energy, laughing as hard as she was.  “Thanks, though.  This is really nice.”

She held the door open, and I shook my head, wondering how two quirky, goofy weirdos like us had found each other.

The hostess handed us menus and led us to our table.

I punched her arm lightly.  “Vapors?  Seriously…”

Writers Quote Wednesdays – L. M. Montgomery

I think in life all we really want is someone that understands us.  I grew frustrated in my mid-twenties when I took my friendship inventory and realized that all of those relationships were so superficial.  I never expressed my true self.  I lied and said I was okay when I wasn’t.  I accepted treatment that was less than what I deserved.

In my thirties I finally realized – friendships are work.  I have to tell my friends when something they do bothers me, when my feelings are wounded, when I need something.  That’s what relationships are.  I had to realize I was worthy of that.

I was hurt recently.  Not a deep, gushing wound that is irreparable, but it definitely stings.  And I’m terrified.  But I’m going to be honest.  The friendship is worth it.  I know that if I don’t say anything, like so many other times before, the bitterness will grow and grow until the relationship self-destructs.  That’s the last thing I want to happen. For the first time in my life today I’ll look a friend in the eye and say something I’ve never said to anyone in my adult life.  You hurt me.

Inspired by Writers’ Quote Wednesday

The Bride Was Gone

A series of vignettes – a continuation of The Runaway Bride.

GARDEN

The Wedding Planner
The BRIDE was gone.  She’d spent a YEAR planning this tacky monstrosity with the mother of the bride.  Taking phone calls from that horrid woman at all hours.  Once she called her back to back every hour from midnight to 5 am to discuss centerpiece options.  CENTERPIECES!!  It was the MOB’s affair.  The bride herself was virtually mute.  She’d felt sorry for the poor girl.  Until today.

The BRIDE was gone.  There were 1,000 butterflies waiting to be released at the moment of I do.  There were fireworks waiting to be set off as the bride and groom departed the reception.  There was a once-famous singer that had flown in to serenade the bride and groom for their first dance.  She’d spent the last two days running all over town to fulfill her ridiculous demands, including a tropical fruit plate, a pink microphone, and a hotel room stocked with a special brand of tea sold at only one store in the city.  All to sing ONE song.

The BRIDE was gone.  She stumbled to the fully stocked open bar, where the bartender was polishing glasses.

“Tequila, please.”

He poured her a shot.  She downed it, then she immediately ordered another.  And another.  He called her a cab, where she laid down in the backseat, anticipating slipping between her cool sheets and falling into a deep sleep.

The BRIDE was gone.  And now so was she.

The Guest
The BRIDE was gone.  Clare, the mother of the bride, who just also happened to be the CEO of the company for which Nancy worked, had just stood up in front of all 500+ guests and announced that there would be no wedding.  The bride and her groom had decided to elope.  Guests were invited to stay and enjoy the live music, the open bar and the five-star menu.  After a brief cocktail party, the guests re-entered an Alice in Wonderland themed fantasy world in a magical garden, complete with six-foot tall bushes with white and red roses, waiters dressed as playing cards, and guest tables labeled with signs with sayings like, “Curioser and Curiouser” and other quotes from the book.  And of course, the Queen of Hearts, aka Clare, dressed all in red and holding court with guests as she  circulated.

The BRIDE was gone, and Nancy wasn’t sure what to do.  She’d come to the wedding alone.  There was no friend she disliked enough to introduce to Clare.  But weddings meant romance.  And now there was no bride and groom to steal the show.   The sun was setting.  The atmosphere was relaxed.  The band started to play as a singer she vaguely recognized from the 90’s began to sing “The Way You Look Tonight.”  A guy approached her.  The one from finance who was so gorgeous she could hardly stand to look up at him when she passed him in the hall.  His eyes twinkled.

“Want to dance?”

She nodded.  He held her close, and she inhaled his cinnamony cologne.

The BRIDE was gone, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t start her own love story.

The MOB
The BRIDE was gone.  Her ungrateful daughter had fled the wedding she had lovingly planned for a year. She’d sent a text.  A TEXT!  Sorry, mom.  Chad and I really just wanted to do this our way. We’re eloping.  Please don’t be angry.

The BRIDE was gone, and for the first time in her life, Clare was at a loss. She looked futilely for the wedding planner.  The bartender told her she’d left 15 minutes ago.  The nerve! She called her, but her phone was off.  The nerve!  Clare ducked into the powder room and took in her reflection.  She was wearing a figure-hugging full-length apple red designer gown with a V-neckline.  A necklace sparkling with diamonds laid against her chest.

The BRIDE was gone, and Clare was beginning to have an epiphany.  She’d never had her special day.  She had Kim at 20, after a shotgun courthouse wedding the month before.  The marriage ended in a divorce a year later.  She’d spent the next 25 years building her empire.  She was the most powerful female CEO in the country.  Her relationship with Kim had suffered because of the late nights, the long business trips.  This wedding was her gift to her, she’d done it all for her, only realizing now she’d just never bothered to ask her what she wanted.

The BRIDE was gone, but it was okay.  She responded to her daughter’s text.  I love you, baby girl.  All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy.  I hope you have a lovely wedding.   She could almost see the shock and relief on Kim’s face from miles away.  She felt peace for the first time in years.  Her phone beeped.  I love you too, mom.  She smiled, put her phone in her clutch and left the powder room to face her guests.

Runaway Bride

“Where are you?!”

“Home, why?”

“We’re ALL waiting for you!  Are you kidding me!”

“Waiting for me? Why?”

“I’m not in the mood for jokes right now!  My mom keeps staring at me with that I-told-you-so look on her face, while I’m wearing this hideous princess gown that she picked out…”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhh the wedding…”

I move the phone away from my face and emit a howl of frustration.  “Yes!  Yes!  Our wedding!  The humongous 500-guest circus that I didn’t want.  That everyone had a say in planning but me…”

“Look outside.”

I walk to the window of my dressing room, holding back the curtain.  He’s there in the parking lot in a convertible, holding up two airline tickets to I-don’t-care where.  I toss my bouquet to my bridesmaid, pull up my voluminous skirts and run out the front door.  If I didn’t love him so much I’d kill him!

Part 2 The Bride Was Gone

Self-Preservation

It was her time.  Kids dropped off at school, errands done, husband on his way to work, a healthy lunchtime treat, packed by her, sitting on the empty seat next to him.  There were chores waiting on her once she went back home.  Dishes in the sink, laundry to put up, a dog to walk and bathe who was probably burying one of his rawhide bones in their sofa at that very moment.  But now, as she set her canvas on the easel, took out her brushes and paints and inhaled deeply, taking in the natural beauty of the gardens, the vibrant colors, the lush greenery, the quiet, the woman who gave baths and made lunches seemed miles away.  Her shoulders relaxed.  For the next hour, all she had to be was her true self, the artist.  The girl she was long before she became a wife, mom, courier, short-order cook, and dog groomer.  These hours, alone in the garden, had saved her.  She smiled secretly and began to paint.

Prompt provided by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers!