Dead Ringer

by Blair Chen
Issue: Aphelion (Spring 2016)

Five more pills to be normal.

Five bottles before me, each containing a different pill. I don’t need to look to know what they are. I do anyway. Clinical depression. Schizophrenia. All the popular ones. Right off those TV ads, the ones you convince yourself you’ll never need, all lined up in front of me. Please contact your doctor if you’re so sad, it’s literally a disease.

I shake my head, clearing the last vestiges of sleep and open the first bottle. I put in my mouth. Drink some water. Gulp.

Four more pills to normal.

I glanced at my watch. It was almost time. Better hurry up. Places to do, things to go. Something like that.

Another bottle. Some more water. Bigger pill. I momentarily choke, but it goes down in the end. They all do. Gulp. Plop.

Three pills to normal.

I can hear the clock now. Its constant ticking used to drive me insane, but now it’s the only sound I can hear. Tic. Toc. Tic. Toc. I close my eyes and appreciate the rhythm. The moment passes, and I glance down again at the cup. I’ll need to add more water after this one. Do I really want to do this? I mean, just why-oh.

Bottle. Water. This one goes down easy. Swish. Go to the sink, add some water. Nice and easy, nice and easy.

Two to normal.

The labels once again loom over me. Side effects may include: diarrhea, fever, headache, chills…. Ugh. Temporary distractions. The voice on the other end every week. “your medication is ready, sir”. L’appel du vide. heh.



You would’ve thought I got used to this routine. No dice. A new fight everyday. The same five bottles. But it was almost over now. Only one left. Then… tomorrow. And the day after. And after. Forever. Forever..huh. Nothing is forever, they tell me. Lies. This moment, this second, it’s all forever. For now, at least.

I decide to taste it this time. The water sweet, the pill bitter. The taste passes quickly as I swallow. Smooth. I close my eyes. Imagine the new day. Wake up, brush the sleep out of my eyes and…

Five more again. Stop.

Four more. Why?

Three. Permanent solution.
Two. Will that be all, sir?

One. I can’t do this anymore.

Five. Go away.

Three. I’m leaving..

One. Forever.

Five. The phone. It’s ringing.

Five. Pick it up.

Five. Hello?