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On regrets and struggles.

Published July 7, 2012 by mandileighbean

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my sister and her husband and their children are visiting. I wouldn’t trade my time with them for anything in the world, but I was disappointed that I had to decline an invitation to the bar with friends. I’m worried about why I’m disappointed – I want it to be because my one friend is only visiting for a short time and I really would like to see him again before he returns home, but I’m afraid that I’m really disappointed because I actually believe I could go out and meet someone, and every time I deny myself such an opportunity, I’m signing my own death sentence of sorts. I know that’s melodramatic, but it’s eye-opening, none the less. I need to cut ties with juvenile notions and silly daydreams and become an adult. I am not going to meet the love of my life out at a bar because that is not the kind of girl that I am.

To be fair, bars are different from clubs. I’d probably fare better at a bar because no one’s grinding to a manufactured beat. Usually, everyone is just drinking and playing pool. That kind of crowd is definitely more my speed.

But what’s more important; spending time with family visiting from out-of-state, or tracking down a potential future husband? It is these kind of mundane struggles that life is filled with, and they create regrets. Anyway, that’s my belief. I am totally open to other explanations, and freely admit that I could be over-thinking things, as I am known to do.

I also do not want to be obsessed with romance. I want there to be more to me than stolen glances and cheap caresses.

Don’t we all?

PROMPT: A dentist is stabbed while he waits in line at the movies.

PIECE: Dr. Ellis was a dentist and a mediocre one at that.  He wasn’t terrible but he didn’t have as many repeat patients as he would like.  He wasn’t excellent and sometimes, he did forget to numb patients.  He was competent, but not worthy of any particular praise.  He was average and some nights, that fact bothered him.  Some nights, the fact did not.  Tonight belonged to the latter category; he was much too intoxicated to give a damn about anything, let alone his professional reputation.

Janice had left him.  Dr. Ellis had come home and found that everything seemed somewhat off.  The little hairs that were typically useless were standing at attention, so he decided to investigate.  Setting his briefcase on the floor just inside the front door, his expensive shoes with the clicking soles traversed up the wooden staircase and kept left.  He entered the master bedroom and went to the closet.  Throwing the curtain doors aside, Dr. Ellis realized that it was as he feared; Janice’s things were gone.  He moved to the dresser on the other side of the room and pulled out the top drawer on the right side – her side – only to find it empty.  Stomach flipping end over end, he made a detour to the bathroom to deposit the contents of his churning intestines into the porcelain bowl.  Wiping his mouth with his forearm, Dr. Ellis took shaking steps into the kitchen.  He poured himself a glass of water, spilling it slightly here and there, before sitting at the table.  The top was marble and Janice had picked it out.  He had admired her taste until now.  Now, he wanted to smash the table to bits and chuck said bits at Janice’s face, marring her beauty with tiny nicks and cuts that drew blood.  It was violent and animal-like and he should know better, but so fucking what?  She had left him out of the blue – he was entitled to be bitter.

The tears and the trembling came and in this completely emasculated state, Dr. Ellis discovered the letter in the middle of the table. She started off with the typical bullshit: she didn’t know when they started to become strangers, only that it happened.  She thought he was always far from home, even when he was beside her because his mind was always somewhere else, always moving a million miles a minute when she desperately needed him there, in the present, with her.

She took a paragraph to explain that she did not leave him because of problems between the sheets.  She used five to seven sentences to be absolutely clear that she did not care that he had trouble getting it up more often than not.  Janice wanted it to be known that she wasn’t that kind of shallow woman, and that Dr. Ellis should not feel like any less of a man.

But him not really providing for her, neglecting her and not proposing marriage – all of that  should make him feel like a complete and total douche bag and less of a man, she wrote.  Janice was devastated that she had wasted years on the dentist and didn’t intend to waste another second.

So she was gone.

Dr. Ellis got good and liquor-ed up and went to the movies.  He hadn’t paid the cable bill, but needed some kind of mindless, visual stimuli to keep the pain at bay for at least another 90 minutes. Unfortunately, Dr. Ellis needed such relief on a rainy Friday night – everybody and their fucking brother was the local cineplex.  He swayed in the never-ending line, blinking slowly and licking at his dry lips.  He wondered if the woman in the ticket booth would notice that he was three sheets to the wind.  If she did, would she say anything?  It was hard to tell.  If she was good-looking, should Dr. Ellis say something?  Was that too soon

Dr. Ellis was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he did not hear the guttural screams from behind him.  He did not catch the winking metal as it was caught in the overhead lights.  It was not until he felt a searing pain in his side that he realized he had been stabbed.  Clutching his side, he fell to the ground and looked up.  A wild-looking woman with sweat-slicked hair and wide eyes stood above him and she was shrieking.  Most of it was unintelligible.  He was able to catch the words “no” and “Novocaine” and “numb” and “dick.”

Heh.  So numb was Dr. Ellis to everything around him that he had lost his girlfriend and his professional reputation, and maybe even his life. Still, he couldn’t care.

On life changing news.

Published May 14, 2012 by mandileighbean

The copyright came through for my novel. 🙂 I have to make a copy of the certificate, and send it to Martin Sisters Publishing. One step closer, my friends; one step closer.

PROMPT: Life-changing News
  You go to the doctor for a regular checkup and she gives you some life-changing news. Write this scene.

PIECE:

I felt the paper beneath me and could hear it crinkle as I shifted nervously from side to side. I was trying to sit still, honest, but I was too nervous. The migraines had been getting worse, and using Google to self-diagnosis had been a disaster; I was convinced that at any moment, I would die. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt and without any kind of medical training, that the blood vessels in my brain were too small, restricting blood flow. Lack of blood to an organ meant lack of oxygen which meant death, and if my brain were to die, what would be left? These thoughts had been running through my seemingly lively brain for the past week or so; from the time I underwent the MRI and the CAT scan to the time I was now breathlessly waiting for the results. Filled with nervous energy, I was not only swaying on the paper runner, but I was wringing my hands, like some female character in a Shakespeare play, moments away from a horrendous downfall. My fingers, which felt swollen and numb, kept stumbling over the mood ring on the middle finger of my left hand. It glowed an ugly shade that bordered between brown and green, indicating that I was stressed. I sighed, frustrated with the obvious – why couldn’t the cheap conglomeration of metal and plastic tell me something that I didn’t know – and I heard my mother clear her throat.

“Would you stop shifting? You’re making me nervous, and believe me – we don’t have anything to be worried about,” she said. My mother spoke plainly and clearly; there was not a shred of nonsense or frivolity in her speech. Being so certain was supposed to make me feel comforted, but instead, it made me feel hostile and argumentative; that had always been our relationship.

“What if I’m dying, Mom? What will you say then?”

“You’re being dramatic.”

“So? I might be living on borrowed time; I can be whatever I want.”

She rolled her eyes. “I don’t have time for this.”

I laughed. “Neither do I!”

My mother inhaled sharply, storing enough breath so that she may force some sense into me via her vocal abilities but as my luck would have it, the doctor walked in. She was pregnant – about to burst, actually – and I saw her rotund belly, full of life, before I really saw anything else. She hadn’t been anywhere near when I was sent through a cylindrical tube that shook, rattled and rolled. Nor had she made eye contact and offered a comforting smile when there had been needles and tubes and that awful, cloying smell of sterilization. Despite her recent and poignant absences, she had a pleasant face so that when she smiled, I did feel … okay. She had a round, dark face with dark, straight hair and exotic, dark eyes. She wore a white lab coat over plain black pant and a plain black turtleneck. Her accent was thick, but it didn’t distract from the all-important meaning of her speech. I saw my mother’s round, green eyes dart back and forth between me and the doctor, like she was waiting for my anger and anxiety to explore. I wondered the same thing myself – would this be a showdown? Would the results of the test send me into a blind fury?

She sat across from me on an office chair with four wheels that was covered in an unremarkable plastic that was the most hideous shade of blue I had ever seen. Maybe I only hated it because I imagined she ascended it like some kind of throne; like she was taking a regal, royal seat far above and removed from the chaos of the coliseum below, and she would decide whether or not I lived or died with a simple turning of her thumb. “Hello Amanda, I am Dr. Gupta, and it a pleasure to meet you.”

“You too,” I replied, amicably enough. In hindsight, I realize my gritted teeth may have been less than friendly.

“So I’ve looked at the results of your tests, and your MRI came back fine,” she said, smiling. My breath caught in my throat. If both tests were fine, she’d mention them together, at the same time, right? The color left my face and pooled at my feet which, much like my fingers, suddenly felt swollen and numb. What did it matter how my feet felt? She was about to tell me I needed brain surgery or something equally as frightening.  I saw myself robbed of my faculties, one by one, while my family and friends looked on helplessly. I’d be dead within five years, give or take, and why? Because I had really bad headache who symptoms mirrored that of a stroke? Because I couldn’t talk or remember my name, and because I couldn’t see out of my left eye, only rotating diagonal lines, some black and some white? I could live with those minor inconveniences, because really that’s all they were and all they would be if I were just allowed to live – that’s all I wanted. Tears crowded at the front of my eyes as I braced myself for the impact of Dr. Gupta’s devastating diagnosis. I wanted my mom to scoop me up into her arms and sob, and simultaneously promise me that everything would be okay.

“Your CAT scan came back positive as well, so I think you need to cut some stress from your life,” Dr. Gupta advised. She was smiling.

I looked to my mother, confused. What had the doctor said? I was fine?

“Why are you so stressed, Amanda?”

 

The rest of the visit was a blur. I remember Dr. Gupta suggesting I remove caffeine and chocolate from my diet, and that I should increase pleasurable activities. More than anything else, I remember her saying I was going to be fine. Silent, I walked behind my mother a few paces to the car. My mother was silent as well, but I knew her mind was a flurry – she was trying to think of the right words to say. On my best day, I was delicate and temperamental. How was my mother to know what my reaction would be on a day such as this, when I received what should have been the greatest news of my life?

Upon arriving at the driver’s side door of her large, white Ford Expedition, she turned to me. “Well, that was good, right?”

I started sobbing.

Was I disappointed I wasn’t dying? Was I missing the possibility of the dramatics that would have ensued, had I been given my expected death sentence? Why was I not leaping for joy? I hugged my mother tightly and sobbed and heaved and carried on in a somewhat empty parking lot on a brisk day in February.

 

What the hell was wrong with me, indeed.

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