Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 17

M. Brett Gaffney | 17

The cuts aren’t deep and they stop hurting after a few minutes. You hold the dishrag and think about Ray’s oil-stained pants. He’s easier to figure out and sitting next to him was more comfortable than dinner tonight. Your mother is dried up, all her stories have been told and you don’t like any of them very much. And you can’t change them. Her door is closed when you go to take a shower. The hot water has gone cold.

You stopped dreaming about autopsies a while ago but that doesn’t mean you don’t wake up thinking about Johnny, thinking about him lying beside you beneath the thin cotton sheets. Of course you’d never be with him like that, not after the night the janitor let you out, your face blotched red with tears and screaming. They called you strange, Jake and Dylan. And Allison. They called you strange and talked about you in the locker room, said you were crazy, said your mom was crazy. They didn’t know your mother but they heard you answer the phone one afternoon, listened as you told her to calm down, told her that Dad was dead, told her Dad was dead and that she needed to calm down and take her medicine. Because of that they thought you needed some too so you wouldn’t fantasize about the cadavers. They called them cadavers and you shivered out of your scrubs, feeling dirty. You call them cadavers now too.

Once you make sure your mother has gone back to bed you grab the keys and leave the house. The sun is too bright and you don’t have sunglasses so you squint your eyes behind the wheel, leaning back in your seat, arms stiff. You drive like this down the service roads towards Mr. Bilwater’s office just like you said you wouldn’t. But really, what else are you supposed to do? What could be further from dissecting flesh? And you need to be further. Maybe then you won’t think so much. Paperwork leaves little for the imagination, you tell yourself, and you believe it the more green lights you pass, until you’re pulling into the driveway at the Golden Sun instead of Mr. Bilwater’s office. You park and drop your hands to your lap. This is where Ray’s wife lives, the one who calls him Charlie and eats tuna fish sandwiches. You aren’t sure how you remembered the name or why you’re getting out of the car instead of back on the road. The automatic doors open and the smell on the inside crawls into your nose and you forget about Mr. Bilwater altogether because you’re eighteen again and Dad’s gone and Mom’s in the hospital. They called it a psychotic break. You didn’t know much about medical science then except that a bottle of Benadryl can’t be good for