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When I opened my eyes I saw the light, reflecting in the mirror across from my bed. I had sensed it there with my eyes closed; it kept me vigilant and awake. I crawled to the door and shoved the towel closer to the space under the door then back into bed.

Breathing in-2-3-4.

The movie started again.

No. No. No. No. Breathing out-2-3-4.

The hero returns to find his girlfriend.

No. No. No! No! Breathing in-2-3-4!

He sees first the writing in blood on the wall: “Happy birthday, Jonathan.”

No. The familiar nausea rose.

Then he sees her body, limp in the tub.

I started to retch, throwing open the door. The light flooded into the bedroom. Laura rolled over from sleep.

I ran to the bathroom, flipping up the toilet lid in time. The vomit poured out of me, splashing the water up at my face. My face was red and watery. Another stream of vomit.

Dad!Victoria called from her room without getting up.

No answer. I started to wail.

Dad!” She waited. “Dad! She’s doing it again!”

My dad’s voice came muffled down the hall: “Ann?”

“I’m sick!”

I heard him getting out of bed, walking down the hallway. Then he was right behind me. “Are you finished?”

“I can’t sleep.” I moaned.

“You need to be quieter. I have to get up in the morning.”

So did I. At 7:55, Laura and I would cross the orchard behind the house, climb the fence, and head to the berry patch for work.

I don’t wanna go back to bed. I can't sleep.” I started to choke again. I leaned my head over the toilet. My stomach was empty.

Fine, sleep here, but you have to keep the door closed. You’re keeping everybody awake.”

I let him close the door. I tried again to throw up. I was definitely empty. I unfocused my eyes, resting my head on the brown and yellow linoleum. My body was tired but the movie still played in my mind. The girlfriend. The blood. The father’s message.

I woke halfway in the early morning and climbed into bed for the last few hours of darkness. I was twelve and a half.

from The Book of Revelation

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Crisis Center this is Mark.

Uh hi. My name is Vicki. I need to talk to someone. Can I talk to you, Mark?

Yes, Vicki. I’m here to listen.

Good. That’s what I need. I need someone to listen.

What’s going on tonight, Vicki.

It’s Daniel. My boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend now, I guess.

I see.

We’ve been together for five years. Then tonight…he said terrible things, Mark. We both said terrible things.

I see. Are you alone right now, Vicki?

Yes Mark. I am. Very alone.

Are you thinking of—

Of doing something to myself? Yes. I am, Mark. I’m thinking about it right now. Mark?

Yes Vicki.

How tall are you?

I’m uh…about six foot.

What color hair do you have?

…why? I mean, why do you want to know?

Daniel has dark hair. Sort of long. Long-ish. I bet you do too. You sound like you have dark hair.

Yes. Well. Let’s talk about you. About why you called tonight.

Yes Mark.

So you and Daniel had an argument.

We had a fight. He said terrible things.

You’ve been with him, five years, is that right?

Yes Mark.

Have you had fights like this before?

Oh jesus, have we ever. But we usually make up. Then we screw. We screw until dawn. We screw until it hurts.

Vicki.

Daniel’s gone, Mark. I’m all alone. I’m all alone now Mark.

I’m here, Vicki. I’m listening.

He called me sick. He said I had a sickness.

Well. I don’t expect that felt very good. To hear that.

No Mark. It didn’t. It didn’t feel very good.

Vicki, I—

You know what does feel good, though, Mark? When it’s hard. And it’s inside me. When I’m wet and it’s big and hard inside me…

Vicki I don’t think—

No. Don’t think, Mark…don’t…think. Listen. Just listen. Can you see it, Mark? Can you see it, there in my pretty pink fingers? Is it hard Mark make it hard and put it inside me big and oh Mark OH OH MARK OH…oh…mark…mark…

Ahem. Uh. Vicki?

…yes…I’m here…oh Mark…that was fantastic

Vicki?

Yes, Mark.

Where is Daniel?

Who?

Daniel. The man who shattered your dreams. Broke your heart in two. That guy.

Oh. “Daniel”.

There is no crisis. Is there, Vicki.

You’re wrong about that. Men come here, Mark, we screw. And I think I’m alive. They leave, and the sickness begins.

Vicki.

I look in the mirror. Bubbles are coming out of my mouth. My hair’s floating over my head.

 

Sick"ness, n. [AS. seocness.]

1.

The quality or state of being sick or diseased; illness; sisease or malady.

I do lament the sickness of the king. Shak.

Trust not too much your now resistless charms; Those, age or sickness soon or late disarms. Pope.

2.

Nausea; qualmishness; as, sickness of stomach.

Syn. -- Illness; disease; malady. See Illness.

 

© Webster 1913.

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