I am in a painfully bright room. White walls, white cabinets, white floor, all illuminated by fluorescent lighting. Evan is to my right, seated in a black plastic chair, left leg on his right knee, hand on his ankle. He is several days behind on his beard maintenance, and he keeps running his hand through his hair, a sign that he is in a thoughtful frame of mind. I tune in to what his moving lips are saying:
“… Pattern seems to be a few days of constipation, then stomach cramps and a painful bowel movement. ”
He is looking straight ahead, and I follow his gaze to a young woman, blond and stylish, sitting at a small portable desk. She takes notes as Evan speaks. When he finishes, she looks up from her stack of paper, saying, “It sounds like we should go back to four ounces of prune juice every day.” Evan nods.
It takes me a minute to understand what is happening. I took two Vicodin, two Clonazepam, and a capsule stuffed with Marijuana last night, so I feel like a sleep walker, disconnected from reality just enough to confuse it with a dream. Now I am waking up, though, and my reality jars me.
“What do you think, Rachel?” the woman asks.
I think that I have no idea how or why I’m here, that I’m in an alien world where we track the myriad ways my body is self-destructing. I think that I have been in this Hell so long, I don’t even notice how awful, unnatural, unfair it is because humans adjust to anything in the name of survival, for better or worse, but that’s also the key to happiness.
However, that isn’t what she wants to know, so I file the horror away in the drawer labeled “To Cry About Later ” that is so full, I have to squeeze the paper in.
I paste on a smile and say, “Prune juice sounds fine.”