My own Greek tragedy — Version 2.0
“It doesn’t matter the consequences, they want likes, hearts, smiley faces, stars, re-tweets”
“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” Joseph Campbell
The last desire: This could be my first and last published short story. If you find it, and you probably will, I beg you to publish it. I’ve been reading a lot of books about how to write and all of them brings the same lesson: a great story is that one which tells the truth. So, this is it.
First of all, my name is Flaubert Bulfinch. It sounds funny, I know, but I like it. I used to have some problems. Psychological problems. Who hasn’t?
This afternoon I was determined to open my heart in a therapy session. The last session was useless. It took Fifty minutes. I kept quiet for almost forty. I went back home feeling like I had a potato into my mouth and needed to spit it out. Otherwise I would be desperate with my secret. Besides that it was costing me a hundred dollars for each session.
At first doctor Thisbe seemed to be a great professional. A comprehensive and wise one, not the kind of therapist who listens to you, leads a nonsense conversation, takes some notes and gets some stupid conclusions. I was wrong, obviously. She revealed herself to be like any human being: selfish, needy… weak.
It was the way she started to talk to me that misled me. I was trying to become a writer so she knew exactly how to brakes the ice.
“So, you’re trying to be a writer, hum? Exciting, hum?” — she asked me, using that usual “hum”.
“Yeah, I’m… Trying… But I don’t know how to start, you know? It seems like I haven’t lived enough to write. No idea what to write. No creativity. I feel suffocated and at the same time I want to shout something, but I can’t”.
“What? What can’t you tell, hum?”
“Nothing… Nothing…” — I said. Then I closed my eyes for a while.
When I opened them up again I could see an edition of “Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society” on her desk.
“Are you reading Llosa?” — I asked.
“What?” — she seemed confused and inattentive.
“Vargas Llosa. The book… it is on your desk…” — I pointed to the volume.
“Oh… A friend’s gift. She always tells me I use too much social media. She told me to read that book… But I haven’t read yet.”
“It is a great book” — I said.
“It has something to do with that ‘can’t tell’ thing, hum? You can open yourself to me, it’s safe” — she was trying to connect the dots wrongly. At least she was giving it a shot — I thought.
For a moment I kept in silence. I wanted to hear the sound of her taking notes but she wasn’t. No pen scratching the paper. She was behind me so I couldn’t see her. It was good, help flows the talk because I felt comfortable not seeing her. There was a digital clock on the desk, near the book. It was 3:58 PM.
“Ain’t you taking notes?” — I asked.
“What?” — she sounds unplugged, Jesus!
“I’m not listening to you taking notes, are you using a pen, a copybook or something?” — I insisted.
“Oh, no, no. I’m using an IPad” — she answered.
“You know, I don’t like to do activities that demand concentration on tablets, I can’t focus, you know, because of the… notifications.”
“Oh, I see, I see, but don’t worry, I turned the Wi-fi off” — she said.
“You feel lonely?” — I asked. I was trying to trust her. My secret was huge. I knew therapy could help people like me and others but It was hard to reveal. The clock hit 4:00 PM. I could hear a click.
“No, why? Do you?” — she asked back.
“Sometimes, but I asked you ’cause you told me your friend said you use too much social media”.
“Oh, no… It is just for fun. But let’s come back to you. What about your projects? What kind of things do you write? Or want to write?” — she asked me.
“I have no idea, most of my not completed short stories are about crime and such things. I like blood” — I said.
“Wow, so I have the next Stephen King right here in my room?” — she said. I smiled a little, she made me feel proud and confident. I was about to trust her.
“Doctor, I have been thinking about…”
Then that noise. A notification. She tried to disguise but it was useless — I had already heard. I closed my eyes again.
“Sorry, sorry, I don’t understand, I thought it was disabled… Sorry”.
I stood up. I couldn’t stay here, I thought, she ruined my session. I apologized (for what?) and walked to the door. She asked me to wait but I said I had something really important to do.
“Call for your next patient…”, I said.
“You’re the only one today. Is everything OK? Really? If you need something you can come back after, I’ll be here the rest of the day studying” — she told me.
“Yes, right” — I said and got out.
The problem of the this new age (tech or whatever) is that people can’t shut up. They want to be funny, they want spotlights on them and they are limitless. It doesn’t matter the consequences, they want likes, hearts, smiley faces, stars, re-tweets... all that shit. Thisbe was not different.
When I arrived home Woody welcomed me warmly. I was not happy. Dogs in general are amazing ‘cause they can realize you’re not in the mood. So they move away. Woody did that. I needed a distraction so I got my MacBook and logged in on Twitter. Yes, Twitter is more useful than Facebook or Instagram. People — the smart ones — use Twitter and share valuable things like great articles. That’s the reason I had an account. Then I had the bad idea that messed things up. I searched for “Thisbe”. I wanted to know what kind of tweets she shared. Was her friend right about her? There are few people with that name so it wasn’t hard to find. Furthermore her picture was unmistakable. Her blond short hair… that fat face and, by coincidence, the same red sweater she was using this afternoon.
I visited her feed. The last tweet was from “4 min ago” (so it was about 4:56 PM): “Starbucks, can you write my name correctly? Where is the ‘h’?”. Another one from “1 h ago” said: “Let me do my job on my way, OK? #NoPen #NoPaper #savetheforest”. She tweeted — for sure — while she was at the clinic with me. I was pissed off. Impulsively, I answered that tweet: “OK, then! #notmybusiness”. A few minutes later she deleted the tweet.
I closed the notebook, took a deep breath and ran outside. I wanted to scream, I wanted to tell her a lot. And… why not kill her? She screwed up twice in the same day. I ordered an Uber and went to the clinic. She would be there (“studying” right? or would be tweeting?). My blood boiled.
I entered the building like a beast. The elevator seemed to take forever. Stairs! When I reach the fourth floor I was exhausted. The main door was opened but the office door was closed. I broke it. I didn’t think, just broke.
Doctor Thisbe was not scared. She didn’t scream. Actually, she didn’t move. She was lying on the floor. Dead. I approached her and saw some pills near the body. I was chocked.
“She killed herself… because of me?” — I asked myself.
I felt guilty. I cried a lot because some minutes ago I had considered killing her. Bullshit, I’d never have the guts for it. Then I found those scissors. It was near a Starbucks cup of coffee with “Tisbe” written on it.
Then I face my secret. The thing that I had spent the last three weeks considering to do: suicide. Doctor Thisbe couldn’t help me. Yet, even she was able to do it so. It is hard to understand (or not). Maybe she helped me by giving me a trigger to finish it. Who knows if it is not the solution? I don’t see reasons to live in a sick world where people take a Tweet so seriously to the point of committing suicide or getting angry and wanting to kill someone. Ironic, hum?
So, this is it.
Venice, CA - April, 15th, 2015
I think I owe some words about these recent events. It happened just like Mr. Bulfinch told us, except that I was not dead.
Right, I am Thisbe, the therapist of the story. I had a heart attack and fell down that day. The pills he mentioned were soothing pills. Mr. Bulfinch probably was so nervous that he did not realized I was still breathing. A janitor arrived in my office and saw the tragic scene and called 911. I’m fine now. Unfortunately, Mr Bulfinch is not.
I admit I made a huge mistake exposing a patient and causing a tragedy like that. I apologized for what I caused. It can’t be fixed. I had my license revoked and now I am trying to move on.
When I found this story on my notebook I didn’t think twice to honor someone who was so smart and sensitive. A person I could have helped, encouraged, healed. That is the reason I have posted it on my Facebook.
May this story serve to immortalize Mr. Bulfinch. Share it.
Venice, CA, — May, 1st, 2015