i – Mercy de Palma

As I wept writhing on the floor, in a manic pantomime of my discordant life, my black hair was strewn like a storm against the banded grey marble. Eliot stood miles above me. Leaning on the threshold of the door his physiognomy of cold disposition and a slight twitch of his brow indicative of one’s realization of a mistake. I wish I could emulate his rigidity and its pseudo stoicism that must’ve been cultivated over centuries of Russian oppression.
You need medication. You need to see someone, Olimpia. I can’t be the only one you talk too. I can’t be your only friend. You need a doctor. Doctors, have you ever known one intimately? Unlike what’s suggested by dramatizations of doctors in advertisements for the latest miracle drug with side effects including suicidal thoughts and rectal bleeding: doctors are not smiley people.
He popped off the white lid of an orange medicine bottle staged on the kitchen counter and washed down the little blue pill with his head sideways sucking in water like a river trout against the current of the running sink. I often thought he looked like a trout, like a hobbit with a trout’s face. This attracted me to Eliot, in the way a 19th century portrait of an Austrian economist attracts me. He’s half Russian Jew. His parents are doctors, his father had recently retired from psychiatry and is now incontinent and bedridden. His mother, fifteen years his father’s junior, is a practicing radiologist. As if defying patriarchy or an act of rebellion toward his taciturn father, he chose to become a radiologist. He’d guffaw at the irony of a psychiatrist parent leaving you with more issues than you can fix.
Danika, his sister, took the same antidepressant. When it caused an anal fissure she found MiraLAX helped regulate her stool. She was short and compressed like the face of a pug. As a graduate of Gallophonic Studies from Columbia she had made sure her brachycephaly never got in the way of her lofty pursuits.
It’s your brain Olimpia. Your fucked up childhood changed the way your brain functions.
It’s useless denying your insanity.
Fine, I’m demented.
I mean I could’ve insisted I was sane, but Eliot was a doctor and therefore my opinion was inconsiderable. I am reduced to circumstance. A flapper whose physician father commits her to life in a sanatorium. The long days of agonizing white walls and electroshock therapy finally cut short by a failed prefrontal lobotomy.
Seriously, what happened to heart? I felt sick to be seen this way. I felt ashamed. I recalled the moment in kindergarten that I was taught the word hypochondriac by a male school nurse (oddly progressive for the 90s). Being told to shut up by my father. Shitting my pants on a New York sidewalk because of strictly enforced private bathrooms.
And Eliot a victim of petrifaction, who supposedly judged himself by the same standards used to condemn me, emanated the inhuman disgust dolled out by the especially self righteous. Was he right? That one’s moral obligation is to take care of one’s self, to never bother others, unless of course that other was a paid medical professional. Were my romantic notions of brotherly love and collective action fairy tales spun by Lenin and his cronies?
I watch how others handle reality. Life’s a breeze of simple dogma. Mostly because they treat life as their own private delusion. Choosing to believe and suggesting to others that believing in things manifests any such reality. Now perhaps, if the Jews would have believed they weren’t prisoners of a concentration camp, they could’ve manifested themselves out of Auschwitz, and appeared suddenly at some beach resort in Florida. And although that is somewhat the truth it isn’t the whole truth.
This thought does not comfort me. I mean, as soon as I start to feel better off than someone spinning meaning and contrivances, I’m made pathetic myself. I am just as ignorant as you despite my perceived notch up in self awareness. Life is uncomfortable. And if admitting this mere morsel of ontological truth makes me a pessimist, well fuck it all to hell. Which is at this point unidirectional considering the majority of our population cannot reason beyond defending their self deception and lame ambition exacerbated by their prescription pills and our benevolent ruler the internet.
And although the world or more pertinently humanity seems indelibly crooked, I cannot help but see the good they could be. That I could be. Fuck it, even the good Eliot could be.
If there is one thing I am sure of; I wouldn’t take pills to feel better about the misery of life.