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" In the Cave | 2009 | Social Ikebana "

02.22.09 10:00 a.m.

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.  

-M. Kathleen Casey


Weeps Week

It is harder to indulge the urge to say that I don't know what to do, that I have never been in this situation, when I immediately realize that I'm wrong. Every sign Melanie sobs to me over the phone I recognize from former relationships. It isn't reruns, it is more like watching the American version of a British television show, one you like more because the plots are more to your tastes and you don't hear the accents. The skeleton may be the same, but there is a spin that makes it unique. Still, I know how most of these issues turned out and trust that the Great Screenwriter in the Sky found the original script a bit too heavy handed for contemporary audiences. I don't want to have to deal with hospitals this time, but I will.

Melanie sends a text alerting me to the new development, something both good and frightening. I instantly tell her I can be there in an hour and we can go to the hospital, but she nixes this. I'm grateful that this Screenwriter seems to be going in a different direction, but still don't make any attempt to hide the tearing creeping into my voice.

"If you need anything... anything... you call, okay? I'll be there in an hour and I'll take care of you. All I want is for you to be happy again." I can feel my eyes growing wetter as I realize how profoundly I mean this absolute.

"I know. If it isn't better in the morning, I'll go to the health center. I mean first thing. I love you."

But Melanie isn't like her British predecessor with the similar name. Her motivations and situations are more than different enough and, especially given that I am still in a starring role, the viewers just won't stand for a flat-out rehashing of past plot-lines. She tests a bit better in the Cosmic Nielsen's anyway, so the Screenwriter won't let anything happen to Melanie if She wants to get Her contract renewed.

Around one, I wake up to her calling in tears, requesting I google the sort of symptom that is terrifying on its own. It is half a minute before I am coherent, not merely doing what she asks in auto-pilot, and able to scan articles until I have enough information to tell her she isn't dying, no matter how desperate and panicked she sounds, but specifically what otherwise banal symptoms should mean an immediate trip to the emergency room.

I do not get the message at 3AM, telling me she has acquired one of the warning symptoms, nor the one at six thirty telling that she just got back from the emergency room. When she calls before eight, all I can think to respond is to tell her that she should be asleep. She cries that she hasn't slept all night and hurts so much.

I spend my whole day distracted and feeling on the verge of crying myself, something I cannot allow to happen at work, even after she visits health services again and they give her Benedryl and cranberry juice. She transitions from frenzy to delirium around ten in the morning, finally telling me that she is tired enough to try to sleep. When she wakes up at five in the afternoon, she is herself again, but the concern has marked me in a way I know I will not forget easily. I didn't think this would harm her much, but she joked that she couldn't be trusted with state secrets because she plainly can't deal with even a few minutes of torture. I have never encountered her close to this wretched, not even when doctors sliced into her leg to remove an exostosis. This shadow may remind of the brilliance that is ordinarily there, but she lost all sight and felt this blindness would be more lasting. The Screenwriter better quit it with these shenanigans. I don't adhere to Sweeps Week.

Soon in Xenology: Watchmen. Parties.

last watched: Sleepaway Camp
reading: Identity Crisis
listening: Damien Rice

" In the Cave | 2009 | Social Ikebana "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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