Click

Click. Click. Click.

Thomas followed one link after the other, eyes wide, mouth hanging open. It was incredible. For the first time, he saw some meaning in the world. He clicked the next link, and it took him to yet another website, with another link. Clicked again. And again. He leaned closer and closer to the screen and his eyes started to tear up. For the first time in his life, he prayed. He prayed to the grand intelligence that was leading him, was showing him the truth. He prayed that he would never lose this connection, that he would keep feeling as inside and outside everything. He prayed that he’d get sucked in to the computer itself, wished that the molecules in his body could turn into bits of information, switching on and off, ones to zeros. Then he could follow the design of the powerful being he’d discovered.

Click. He kept going. Click. It never ended. Click. Thomas could feel the belief in him spring from a well he thought had always been dry. He felt as if light and warmth were flowing through his veins as he clicked again. But he was no closer to the truth! He knew it was there, he knew that he was seeing fleeting parts of it, and clicked onwards, trying to understand, trying to get to the root of it all. He knew that if he were a machine, if he could see things in absolute dichotomous terms of on or off, then he’d understand. He would surely understand. For now, all he could do, was keep faith. He felt as if the force that was guiding him was growing stronger by the minute. He knew, he was confident, that he’d be shown the way.

Thomas sat and stared and clicked and clicked and clicked.

His parents stood outside the door, peering in through the small window. All they could see was Thomas leaning forward on his bed, drool dripping out of his open mouth. His eyes seemed to be trying to burst out of their sockets, he was staring so hard. His hand, which rested on his knee, was the only part of him that was moving. And it wasn’t even the hand that moved – just the index finger, moving quickly, going up and pressing hard on the knee when it came down. His parents were both weeping quietly as the doctor ushered them away soothingly, explaining about treatments and options. They couldn’t listen properly. All they could see was their son, deranged.

But Thomas was seeing the truth, for the first time in his life.

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The Psychiatrist

The psychiatrist worked in her parents’ old apartment. All the old furniture was still present; the heavy wooden cabinets filled with silver platters and goblets that hadn’t been polished in decades; the low couches, uncomfortably padded with thin cushioning, that had been considered luxurious some fifty years ago; the big television that seemed to stick out like a sore thumb in the room. The psychiatrist could almost feel the ghosts of her parents walking around the apartment, grunting as they sat down heavily or groaning as they made their slow way into the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

Small wonder, then, that she was a bit mad herself.

She didn’t enjoy her work. She despised each and every one of the men, women and children that walked through the door, hating them for their assumption that they were important or that they mattered at all to her. She hadn’t cared for naught but the revenue in years. She’d been embittered, somewhere along the way, and as the years went by she could hardly hold up the pretense of caring. For instance, she now let herself answer her cellphone during sessions. She now let herself get up and make a cup of tea, leaving her patients at the dining room table, where she conducted her sessions, while they drew what she’d instructed them to. She now had to remind herself to occasionally spit out an insincere sympathetic word.

She was frightening to look at. It was just another aspect of her madness, the way she’d dyed her hair a strange shade of orange and had allowed it to grow into a sort of untamed nest atop her head; the way her clothes were several sizes too big, reminding her patients of witch’s robes as they swirled around, swallowing the light in their velvet black folds; the way her eyes were now always unfocused, not managing to stay fixed on the patients’ faces.

She was surrounded by ghosts, and her patients could feel them as well as she did. They didn’t know why they got goosebumps, but they did. They didn’t know why they felt compelled to try to meet the psychiatrist’s wandering gaze, but they did. They didn’t know why they felt compelled to run, leave, jump out the window – but they did. Most never came back.

Maggie

Maggie’s face was compassionate as she looked at the girl sitting across from her on the plastic chair that’s universal to every doctor’s office. Her face crinkled in a slightly pained smile as the girl spoke. She noticed a glimmer of tears in the girl’s eyes and felt wetness begin to form in her own. She spoke in a soft voice that quivered with emotion and tried to convince the girl that her words were true.

Maggie’s hair was black and short, girlishly cut in a way that framed her bespectacled face nicely. She had the lines of wisdom on her face, testimony to a lifetime of experiences, both good and bad. She couldn’t help herself – when the girl rose to go, she clasped her hand for a moment, looked at her intently and beseeched her to come back if she needed anything.

The girl, Maggie knew, wouldn’t have it easy. There was no way that the following days would be easy, and Maggie knew with even more assurance that the coming months and years wouldn’t be easy too. Still, she thought she saw an echo of her own will to survive in the girl’s eyes, a small glimmer of the fighter buried in her. Maggie hoped she would be okay.

As the girl left the office, Maggie sat down heavily in the cheap swiveling chair in front of the tiny desk, barely large enough to hold the computer screen and the keyboard. A moment later, a curly woman with heavily made up eyes and bright red lipstick poked her head around the door, which had been left ajar.

“Ready for your next client, Maggie?” she asked, in a harsh, bored voice. Maggie raised her head, sighed, and nodded, taking the chart the woman was proffering at her. She gather her emotions and put a smile back on her face. As another girl walked through the door, she became all business again.

“Yes,” she said. “How can I help you?”

A Daughter’s Fever

Miranda looked down at the small crib. It was without ornament – nothing like the wonderful crib she had at home, with the painted bars and the bright sheets and blankets. Hospital cribs don’t have to be pretty, merely functional, just like hospital beds. It was strange that she’d never thought of hospitals having cribs before. Of course, when she’d given birth there was a crib, but it was small, it was near her own bed, and her daughter hadn’t been in it much; Miranda had preferred to hold her in her arms as she slept.

Miranda stirred, tearing her eyes away from the sight of her little golden-haired girl red with fever. She’d been sick for five days already. When Miranda saw that the fever wasn’t going down, she’d taken her girl to the hospital. It was a throat infection of some sort, that’s what the doctors said, but the fever was still so high… Miranda couldn’t stop worrying. She hummed with nerves.

She looked at the lone chair that could fit beside the crib. There were others in the room, but they were occupied by other parents watching their sick infants. What a dismal place to bring a child, Miranda had thought when she’d first walked through the door to that room. Her opinion of the cheerless place hadn’t improved since. Her husband was in their chair, fast asleep; the poor man. He’d borne with Miranda’s worries and unfounded fears and had tried to calm her, but she wouldn’t calm. She couldn’t calm. She’d exhausted the poor man.

Miranda thought of her work. She was needed, she knew. Real people, everyday people, depended on her. She knew some of them would be in agonies without her support and encouragement. She felt bad for not being there for them, but that feeling was in a very small corner of her mind. She really mostly felt bad because she was worried sick and still her little girl’s fever raged on.

She looked back into the crib and wiped the sweat of her daughter’s forehead with a small white towel. The doctors said that she needed to wait and let the medicine do its work. She waited.

Move [Part VII]

Miss Flanders was standing at the window into the room where Marianne was currently strapped into the chair. She looked thoughtfully at the girl, and saw that Marianne had succeeded in this next part of training as well – there were two wooden blocks floating now, one on each side of her.

Miss Flanders returned to the monitors and sat down in front of them, tracking the little lines with her calculating eyes and trying to decipher what the girl was thinking of that was giving her such extraordinary power so as that she managed to move two things simultaneously as she was doing now.

A door opened, and Miss Flanders spoke without turning around to see who it was.

“I think she’s thinking about her family again.” She pondered aloud. The man who had entered made an indistinct noise in his throat and put down the tray he was carrying beside the monitors. He handed one of the mugs on the tray to Miss Flanders and sat down beside her, staring intently at the monitors with her.

“There’s something new there, though. Look, right there, see it? Just once in a while. What could that be?” He said quietly as Miss Flanders took a sip of the drink he had given her. She made a face at it.

“God, that tastes nasty,” She said. “Anyway, yes, I see it. We’ll need to start analyzing that tonight. You want to do it, George? I want to spend some time with her tonight, see what I can get.”

“Sure,” He said, smiling as he saw Miss Flanders pupils widening slightly and taking a sip of his own mug. “It does taste nasty, you’re right.”

Painfully Wonderful

There is something especially wonderful about the pleasures one can find in states of great pain. Pain is not a thing that most of us appreciate, nor should we. It’s something our body does to let us know something is wrong – we’re stepping on glass, the music is too loud, we’re straining our muscles too much.

However, migraines are a pain which no one really understands. Scientists and doctors haven’t quite figured out why people get them or how to cure them. As a sufferer of such pains, I will describe them briefly, as they are similar to many other pains that we can have: Constant pain, seeming to go on forever, causing panic and calm alternately. It is a pain which heightens the senses, causing every glimmer of light to be blinding and ever stir of the breeze to be deafening. It is a pain that makes you aware of the blood beating a steady, constant path in your body.

And it is a pain that can make you appreciate things more than you thought possible. When in a state of great pain, every single relief is a blessing, a thing to rejoice over. The slightest chill in your arms make you smile as the heat of the pain eases for a moment. The feeling of calm that washes over you as you fall asleep makes you sigh with gratitude. The distraction a book offers makes you feel languid and serene as you concentrate on something outside of your pain. These things are what make bearable the knowledge that you live with a shadow of immense pain ready to pour over you at any given moment.