“Why did you try to kill yourself?” asks Tweedle-Dee.
Amelia considers saying:
I think about killing myself more and more frequently. I masturbate to thoughts of killing myself, murdering someone or being murdered. I am having all kinds of impulse control problems from injuring myself, to eating over 1,000 calories a day, to angry outbursts. I hallucinate music continually, and I get really, really upset for no reason and cry without knowing why. The other day I seriously considered killing myself just because of a ticking clock.
Instead, she shrugs.
“I couldn’t wait any longer.”
“Wait for what?” presses Tweedle-Dum.
To to shoot off half of my face and set myself on fire to get the plastic skin- The folded magazine-gloss Saran Wrap. It always sticks to itself. To bake off my feet into shoes and my breasts into armor.
“Death,” she says, simply.
Amelia snaps awake. For a few moments, she ponders the motes of dust in a shaft of morning sun; violins sweet in her head. But then the orchestra enters. Oh my gaud no.
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow/ No no no- None of that.
The song continues, unabated.
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow/
Amelia tries to squeeze her brain shut, but Rodgers and Hammerstein pick at her mind scabs.
The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye / And it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky.
Ooooooooohhhhh- Amelia grimaces. No. but it starts anyway.
Ooooooooohhhhh– Please no.
Ooooooooohhhhh- She takes a deep breath and can’t hold it back any longer.
Ooooooooohhhhh what a beautiful morning! / Oh what a beautiful day! /
I’ve got a beautiful feeling / everything’s goin’ my way.
She rushes out of the room in her thin hospital gown. Charlie is already at a table meant for 2-player card games. She sits with him, exhausted; Gordon McRae happily riding a horse through her head.
For days, Amelia lies on the shower floor while Dimebag Darrell solos.
My brain is in the press. They are taking all of me that is liquid until I am left watching The Price is Right on mute because Judge Judy is too over-stimulating. Chemical lobotomy. Leave me clutching the dry paste of brain matter like poi, like communion, like spackle that will later harden like concrete like asphalt like stone; crystallize my brain cells. They are SQUEEZING me to suck out the nutri-ers and nutrifiers that make me blaze. Extinguished. They are kicking in my belly like some ungodly (literally) feti or fetuses twisting up my intestines, wrapping them neatly around tiny vicious toes and stubs of newly-grown fingers like telephone cords; then yanked. There are a thousand of us in this box that is getting smaller and smaller and we can’t escape.
There is a conspicuous lack of music. Everything is visually stable but blurry at about 3 yards, due to her ejected contact lenses. Amelia touches the white and green sheet. Might as well be a vinyl tablecloth. She goes to the recessed shelves to find her slipper socks, and sees that the wood is real pine- Not a facade glued on or particle board, as she had assumed. Clean and buttery, the walls are not tan but a very pale yellow.
The HVAC system wheezes and gives a shudder in the ceiling, and for a brief moment, Amelia is filled with hope that the entire building will come crashing down on her. But the sound persists without any physical incident, and Amelia is distracted by another thought.
My arms hurt.
She studies the swollen, water-logged wounds attached to her. They ache on the inside.
::silence while the pain exists::
“Well… I think I’m starting to put it together…” She struggles for the first time in her life to find the right words. “I feel a little bit better and a little bit worse. Better in that I can feel something, but worse in that…Well, that’s just what comes along with being able to feel.”
“I think the most distressing thing about medication is that it is silent in my head. It’s lonely. I mean, I can think more clearly now, but I’m a lone perspective. I’m like a diamond that has not yet been cut- I have only a singular, jagged face. And it is the most boring thing ever.”
I don’t know if it’s worth it. “I miss my friends- The voices, I mean, and even my enemies. I miss Chopin’s Nocturne in Eb.” She fails to conjure it in her head. “It’s very difficult for me to separate myself from music. I must always invest some portion of myself into listening and relating. But now, I have no way to relate to the world. It’s just silence.”
Charlie purses his lips around his damaged teeth.
“You don’t hear music anymore?”
Amelia listens to the silence. No. “No. There’s no music.” There’s no music.
Charlie’s room is completely different from Amelia’s. The lights are incandescent, and he has a large dresser with knobs she can hang herself from and a full bed with real sheets she can use as a noose. Amelia touches the cord to the lamp and wonders if she’s wet enough to be electrocuted. Charlie motions for her to sit down on the bed while checking the hallway, then shuts the door behind him.
Amelia sits with her knees folded under her, enervated. Her hair is wet and tangled. Her face hollow- Pupils dilated in the dim light- Collarbones sharp underneath the pathetic piece of cloth she wears to identify her as dangerous.
“You’re starting to feel like a human, so you should also look like one,” says Charlie, taking a plastic comb from the sturdy, square-cornered dresser she can hang herself on. Human. The word thrums through her like an arrow. Pieces of her heart cling to the fletching.
Amelia pulls out the wobbly bench and flexes her fingers.
Debussy: Suite Bergamasque: Prelude, Amelia orders her brain.
She taps the lowest F with her left index finger, then touches the F an octave above with her right thumb to compare pitches. The notes scrape against one another in the air, off-frequency, but it sounds like salvation to Amelia.
Rubato.She spreads her fingers wide to accomodate the bright first chord of the Prelude and tests her finger pressure on the keys. The tendons in her arms are dry rubber-bands that must be stretched carefully. Moderato. Her right hand clumsily pecks at the 16th notes, before settling on the F7 chord.
The room goes still.
The octaves boom again, with confidence. This time, all but her numb right middle fingers glide easily over the run, before the C minor. She sees the music in her mind. At measure 11, she presses the keys harder. 2e+a3e AND a. Descrescendo, then it waxes, then wanes, then waxes again.
Maxwell is caught in the tide. As if suspended from his shoulders from a meat hook, he leans forward and up at the same time. The muscles around his eyes relax. He puts his paintbrush neatly back into the basket before giving in completely.