Short Story — Feb 11
Pietro’s alarm clock went off. It was early and still dark outside. Beads of water collected together on the window pane next to his bed. He said something, a word to stop the alarm from ringing. He turned over on his side and put his arm around Bria. She yawned and made a high pitched sound as she stretched out on the bed.
“I dreamt that we had sex. It was a good dream,” she said.
“That lovely darling. It’s too bad we don’t have very much time this morning,” Pietro said.
She got up, turned on the lamp on the nightstand and went into the bathroom. He could hear her humming as she brushed her teeth. The mornings were always the best between them; the peace that sleep brought was soft and kind. It had been nearly five days since they had their last fight.
Bria walked into the room, wearing green khaki pants and a bra. Her long, curly black was a damp from her trying to control it with dabs of water. When she was fully dressed, she got back into bed, next to Pietro.
“Let’s just lay here in bed all day and not do anything,” she said.
“It’d be nice. Just like in the old days, when we’d wouldn’t leave the sack, let alone the apartment for days on end.”
She kissed him on the lips.
“Mmm, I love your lips. They’re like kissing big, fluffy pillows,” she said.
“And yours, are marshmallows.”
They both got up. Pietro put on his socks, pants and buttoned his shirt. He went into the kitchen and made some coffee. After they had breakfast, they left their apartment and walked down to her car. It was an ugly morning. Piles of snow, caked with mud and dirt aligned the sidewalk and the banks of the street. The sky was a hack of phlegm. It was opressing, like a black and white television you wanted to turn off, but couldn’t. That goddamn groundhog’s prediction appeared to be off kilter this year. What a world to live in. Observance to such strange rituals.
Pietro drove to her school. A pristine white building nestled on top of a hill, visible from miles around. Pulling into the parking lot he could see medical students studying, talking, some laughing. Business going on as usual.
“Are you going to save yourself for me tonight?” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“I know you don’t have to go into work until noon, I’m asking you not to jack off for me.”
“Alright, I’ll come back on my lunch break so we can swap the car. I’ll call you when I leave work.” Pietro said.
She looked at him, into his brown eyes. Despite all of the bad times they had gone through, the frequent arguments, she knew how much she cared for him. So much that it made her go crazy. The emotional roller coaster, she said to herself, was as such. She leaned in and gave him a peck.
“I love you,” she said.
“And I you.”
She opened the car door and got out. Pietro pinched her ass and smiled.
Pietro drove off and went back home. Once inside, he sat down in front of his computer. He checked the market, and looked to see what how his picks were doing for the week. Since he purchased stock, they had been down, quite a bit. The market opened half hour prior. Like horses running a dual furlong race, he watched the price fluctuate down to the very second. Flashes of green his heart pounding while ticks of red dried his mouth from fear. Above anything else, this observance was mankind’s sole religion.
He went to use the bathroom, washed his hands. He turned on the stove, threw some butter on a skillet and made two eggs, over easy. The snow continued to fall, even harder. Like large pieces of confetti coming down.
When it was nearly a quarter to nine, Pietro had to get ready for his appointment. He brushed his hair and put on his shoes and walked downstairs, back to the car, a dusty pale gold Honda Civic. Pietro got into the car, turned on the ignition and sat there as the car warmed. The radio was tuned to a classic rock station, which he turned to public broadcast.
The daily new update was just beginning. A shooting took place yesterday, the news reporter, a woman with a strong, intelligent voice said. An estranged man, walked into a local grocery store where his former wife of 8 years worked, opening fire, randomly spraying shell upon shell, with a semi-automatic assault rifle, injured 4 people and killing 6 bystanders. The ex-wife, who was luckily breaking down cardboard fruit boxes in the back, escaped through an emergency exit. Meanwhile, upon finishing the carnage, the assailant committed suicide. Pietro switched it back to rock and roll.
Pietro put the car into drive and took the Beltline Highway for ten minutes, getting off at the Cascade exit. He passed a line of cars idling, stuck in traffic; unfortunate souls, awake and waste their short lives stuck in the trap, chasing a dream of which the door had snapped shut on them a long time ago. Will I ever escape, Pietro thought to himself. What does true freedom taste like?
He took a right on Medical Mile Dr. The campus was nestled, back at the end of the street tucked into between other indiscriminate professional buildings. They were all no larger than 4 stories and had the same architectural style, brick cardboard boxes, with large opaque windows, constructed several decades ago. Oak and birch trees, their crunchy red and gold leaves beneath, surrounded the area.
Pietro parked in the back of Birch Rest Psychiatric Hospital. He pulled out a spliff, half marijuana and half tobacco and lit it. He felt more at ease in these situations, under a slightly altered state of mind. He smoked half of it, putting the remaining half back in his car in the cup holder.
He made his way over to the entrance that was marked, Medication Management clinic and entered. In the waiting, a chubby middle-aged woman with a bad hair dye sat looking at her computer.
“Good morning. How can I help you today,” said the woman.
“I have an appointment today at 9:20,” Pietro said.
“And your name please,” she said.
“Lee. Pietro Lee.”
“Ok. Will you please fill this out, the doctor will be with you in a moment,” she said.
She gave him a form. A perfunctory process he had to complete every time he made a visit. He sat down. An instrumental recreation of the Beatles “Yesterday” played on the rooms speakers. These kinds of places always attempt to placate the insane, emotionally disturbed and the mentally weak by playing this fluffy shit, Pietro thought. Aren’t we in enough psychic turmoil, can we have least have some mercy?
He looked at the form. It was a well designed, routine test to gauge mental well being. Have you recently been feeling down? He checked a one, not really. Do you have trouble expressing yourself or communicating? thoughts of suicide? He smirked, if only things were that easy. Ending it and going into the unknown void. That was a vacation he could get behind.
Before he finished, the doctor came out, the plump receptionist told him the doctor was waiting for him. Pietro got up, went across the hallway and entered the doctor’s office.
A short, grandmother type. Bushy hair trimmed to the type, like an afro, but for old white women, the doctor was standing, watering the fern plant that sat in the room’s corner.. She wore very large, rings made of opal and ruby on her left hand, though no wedding ring. Her tortoise shell glasses slightly magnified her eyes.
“Good Morning, Pietro,” she said.
“Hi Nancy,” he said.
“Please take a seat, let’s get started,” she said.
They sat down. Pietro rested his hands in his lap. His right leg unconsciously was tapping up and down, nervous and frenetic.
“It’s been nearly three months since I’ve last seen you Pietro, how are things,” she said.
“I’ve been trying to work on what we talked about last time. Namely, my agoraphobia and my anxiety of new experiences. My girl and I, decided it was time to take a trip, so we drove down to DC, Philly and New York,” he said.
“And how did that go?”
“We were almost stranded in Philly, nearly buried by the trash and refuse. Clearly they’ve never heard of a broom.”
“Did you have any relapses or anxiety attacks at any point?” she said.
“While we were on the subway, riding back to our hotel after a long day of walking, sightseeing, I started looking around and really seeing people. We’re stuffed in their shoulder shoulder; by someone’s breath you can tell what they had for breakfast. Real close, like we’re all one compact mass of flesh goop. Suddenly, I felt dead. Like we were all in purgatory, waiting for our savior, a decision, something. It had been a few days since I had taken any medication.”
“I thought I called in a new prescription for you?” she asked.
“Couldn’t get it filled out of state. Apparently state laws prevent prescription transfers for anti-psychotic drugs,” Pietro said.
“It’s very important to consistently take the medication as prescribed. Considering your history, Pietro, I would reccomend that if something like that happens again, please get a hold of me, via email or even on my personal cell phone. I see. As of late have you been feeling down or depressed?”
“After that brief episode, I went through several days of feeling stiff, uncommunicative, as if someone had sucked my life force right out of me. My mind felt scooped out like a portion of ice cream. Once I began taking the meds on a regular schedule, events have calmed down. You should talk to Bria, my girl, I haven’t had an outburst in nearly two weeks.”
She smiled at him.
“I’m glad to hear everything is looking up. Would you like to express anything else to me. Is the job going ok?”