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I pace the isleway before the window. Each pivot, my eyes press further and further into the corners of their sockets, catching brief glimpses of the technician pretending to look busy, or actually busy. It is impossible to know. 


I rehearse, "Remember when you thought you would be okay, ya know, without all of this." Briefly self-dialoging a rationale to forgo this experience entirely. Close friends advised me to surrender this series of battles, in a war past attrition.


Is she even working back there?


I'm beginning to draw stares. A boy, rosy cheeks, head pillowed on his mother's thigh, utilizes me for drowsy amusement, hoping to replace me with cartoons shortly (even if they are just the daytime runs). His mother radiates concern, either about me, or for him, or perhaps something unrelated. She dresses nicely.


A man sits in an adjacent row, elbow pinned to the plastic armrest, neck hinged at a perfect ninety, fist bolstering cheek. He smooshes half of his face like a sleeping Shar-Pei. He glances in my direction, only to apply more weight to his current stature. Like a puppy, he wishes it was him drawing the rooms attention. He pretends not to care. He is not dressed well.


“Adam," bellows over the soft speakers.  Each contestant receives a micro-dose of stimulation. I realize the only sound heard prior were my sneakers and an occasional growing sigh from protracted puppy-man. 


The boy sits upright. Blood in his head pools around as he squints in discomfort. His mother hurries him to the counter for consultation. Once upright, her black silk blouse clings perfectly to her posture and tapers for her hips. She is aided by a long red skirt with a slight split running from mid-calf towards her inner thigh. As they exit our story, the boy turns around to take one last look at the scene, one he will try to forget over playful violence and a bowl of dinosaur oatmeal. 


We did not like to see them go. 


I took two extra steps towards the waning sun, pausing for an extra second before turning. Even our resident canine paused his testy demeanor to catch this golden hour of our tale. We made eye contact before resuming, now mentally chastising the other for looking directly. Even at the boys age, we'd known better. 


He begins to fidget. I eye him carefully, splitting my glances between him and the counter. My pace quickens. Dusk has arrived.


From behind the counter a note is ripped down. A glance is tossed in our direction. She moves between the description and our bodies like otters at the zoo. She turns her back on the display and begins her work. 


We think. 


The observed are straining to remember who had arrived first, and if that would have any indication on who was selected next. I hope that it does. He hopes so too. 


Will it be his name or will it be my name. Will it be his name. Will it be my name. His name or my name. His name. My name. His. Mine.


“Thomas,” she calls. The man and I lock glossy bloodshot eyes. A slight smile creeps on, before I swallow it and turn towards the desk. My heart is heard over my steps. The lights cast a shadow over the pharmacists expression. 


"Well, Mr. Hart, I apologize for the delay. Now, let me walk you through your medications. Take two of these softball sized tablets every four hours during the day and hourly at night. It's called her memory. It’s painful and uncomfortable but it cannot be avoided. Eventually you'll be able to dial back the dosage, but not for a while.  


Take six of these easy chewables as needed for comfort and anxiety. These are the generic for your vices. I say as needed, but with these, you are both doctor and patient. I advise you read the labels.


Finally, this white chalky syrup must be taken on an empty, yet upset stomach. Which we know will not be an issue for you. It is called hope. You cannot exceed one dose daily for at least the first few months of treatment. 


Oh, and also Mr. Hart. Don’t worry. There is a lot of this going around.”


R. Thomas

S: Her, I, and: Text
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