Bracing yourself on the counter in front of the coffeemaker and bowing your head, you take silent inventory.
leg hurts. There’s a painful echo radiating throughout your hand from the pestle you slammed into it a few months ago.
Cane bowed and back twisted, you’re breaking with all the lives you couldn’t save. Each one an albatross around
your neck, you writhe under their gravity while wishing you were anywhere near as strong as people perceive you to be.
a deep breath you crack your neck and grab a mug. The coffeepot shakes in your unsteady grip. These days the only things you’ve
got a good grip on are a stethoscope and a prescription bottle, and they manage to be reassuring only in the fact that they
always let you down.
You reach for the sugar and your fingers come up empty. Glancing at the box, there’s only
one packet left. A ragged exhale escapes your pursed lips and that somehow devastating lack of sugar just pushed you screaming
from an edge on which you had no idea you were standing.
You pick up the red mug and yell as you throw it against the
It shatters into several pieces and will never be the same. The coffee is splattered
on the wall and spilled on the floor below. There’s an oddly shaped indentation on the wall where the mug made its brutal
contact. You can relate. Because. You are that mug. You are that coffee. You are that wall.
Another deep breath. Your
fingers fidget, one hand at your side and the other white-knuckled around your cane; you’re itching to do something.
You’ll know what it is after you’ve done it.
The coffeemaker sits quite innocently in front of you. It
presents like a child that’s done something wrong and doesn’t want to get into trouble for it. Your slam your
fist into your hip. Game on.
Brandishing your cane like a baseball bat, you swing straight down the middle and hit
the side of the coffeemaker. Once. Twice. You stop counting. This score will never be settled.
Your back aches and
tears with the movement and you love it. The blood pumping through your veins is fire and you swing your cane harder, trying
to get the blood pumping faster. The appliance is hissing at you and spitting water everywhere. You’re everything that’s
ever been fucked up or fucked over and when the coffeemaker starts to smoke it’s just another in a long line of things
that’s pissed you off lately. You drop your cane and move to pick up the coffeemaker.
Cameron. You ignore her. She is a sympathetic doctor and a young widow. A study in disparity and the last time you touched
a textbook was in medical school. She is rainbows and sunshine and walks in the fucking park and you have been too far-gone
for too long to be saved from anything.
You yank the coffeemaker’s cord from the wall; water, water everywhere
and it shocks you. You drop the cord. The pain is fleeting and you feel like you’ve just vomited. You reach to pick
up the cord again; some roles are hard to stop playing. You flash the ubiquitous Cameron an eerie smile as your hand reaches
for the cord.
She’s (of course) stronger than she looks, because when she shoves your shoulder you slide three
feet away on the cold, impersonal tiled floor. You stare at the ceiling, willing it to fall on you. Cameron squats next to
you, looking like she may cry, but she won’t. You try to sit up but she puts a hand on your chest and keeps you down.
You feel so low right now and it’s comforting.
“Are you all right?” she says.
There was a
hint of something in her voice. You tell yourself that it’s pity. Anger is the only thing you’ll ever admit to
feeling towards her.
She shines a light in both of your eyes. You squint against it.
When your eyes open again Wilson is looking down at you.
“Did Cameron call in the cavalry?” you say, trying
to sit upright.
“I’m not … I’m not sure what you mean.”
He offers you a hand
off of the floor. You don’t take it. A little shaky when you stand, but otherwise okay, you look around for your cane.
Wilson holds it out to you. You barely offer him a glimpse when you snatch it from his hand.
“Cameron? Too sweet
for her own good? Too sweet for me, anyway.”
Wilson crosses his arms and seems as though he’s trying to
decide whether he should tell you a secret or not.
“You don’t remember?”
you respond, toeing pieces of the broken mug, the coffee slick under your shoe.
“You were paged a few times,
but never responded,” he starts.
You roll your eyes. “And that’s different how?”
he continues, “apparently you and the coffee mug had some differences. And then you and the coffeemaker had some differences.
But before you managed to completely beat the shit out of the thing, it electrocuted you. I found you in here on the floor.
You turn your back on him.
“What does this have to do with Cameron? Is she in the bathroom
ruining her mascara?”
“She quit. Three days ago. You don’t remember?”
Turning back around,
you look at Wilson. He feels sorry for you.
“I’m sorry …”
didn’t break my heart,” you wave your hand around, “I don’t have a heart. Not in the figurative sense.”
the placating for your wife,” you shout.
You leave without another word from Wilson, but his not-sold-in-stores
brand of common sense rings in your ears on the drive home. You ignore it and the speed limit; you want to drive what you
feel. You dare the wind to try and keep up and dare something to slow you down. Neither happens.
Once in the door,
you drop your accumulated shit to the floor and walk to the bedroom. Fifteen minutes later you’re in your bed, not asleep
and not awake, surely not happy, when the phone rings. Right on cue the machine picks up:
“Hey, House …
You roll over towards the sound of her voice.
“I know we kind of left
on an … awkward note, and so … I wanted to see how you’re doing. Finding a replacement, I mean. You have
my number. Call me between … just anytime would be good. Bye, House.”
The machine beeps with the message’s
finality. Your finger hovers over the ‘erase’ button. You decide not to press it.
Rolling over with a
groan, you close your eyes as you feel your back twist a little more.