COCAMIDOPROPYL. RINSE AND REPEAT.
The words seemed to tear through my eardrums. I woke up, body coated in a layer of cold sweat. Wished I could peel it off. Wish. Wish. Wish. Like being a child at nursery and wishing the Easter bunny would bring chocolate eggs. There is something loveable about the dirt and disbelief of childhood which becomes unacceptable in adulthood. Now I felt inclined to be aware of my body’s acidity and weight. I scrunched my eyes shut and then opened them; imagined it was the exercise of two hands, crumpling a paper of poor ideas. My vision thickened and blurred.
Or perhaps it was because it was night. I rolled over with a slowness which almost seemed to mimic a patient being turned in a bed. The screen of my mobile phone read ‘03:31.’ I sighed, suddenly aware of my condensed breath on the pillow – a heavy salted weight.
I wondered if anyone else in the house lay painfully awake. Perhaps my mother lay in that luxurious, half-abandon which arrives with familiarity and warmth. Or perhaps she didn’t. The imagination spooks me like that; a myriad of things can happen, often outside the door a chaos of red and black liquid pours down the stairs.
In my mind that this.
“All in the mind.”
Just as the doctor had stated, as if it was something congratulatory. He wrote a prescription like the ceremonial awarding of a certificate. I remember thinking how ornate his signature was, a web of black curls and creases you could lose yourself in. A little like the night was after taking the diazepam, again. The dark shapes patterned and pulsed, as if marrying themselves with my pupils, extending a net of darkness between body and air.
Yet there was light at the edges. My mobile phone screen glittered and I looked at it automatically, a question in a bubble seeming to float close to my face.
Katie, how are things?
I thought it was a strange question. The indeterminacy of ‘things’. The deliberate use of my name as if locating me as an object. The thumbs were already there, evidently rehearsed.
It was not like I had even been asked how I was, and in honesty, I did not know the answer to either question. I couldn’t really say how I was, or how things were. ‘Fine’ was the usually socially-acceptable guess, and I suppose it had an element of truth to it. The water wavered at the edge of my eyes as if it would only take the slightest tilt to tip it over . A very fine balance.
The diazepam seems to have no such poise. Every time it steals over my eyes and mouth like an invasive hand leering over, just as it did then. There is not even the opportunity for the imagination to swim in, to try and resolve things in a protective embrace or a sense of comfort.
Just suspension before waking again.
I heard ‘I’m in the bathroom’ and then the click of the bathroom light.
RINSE AND REPEAT.