Origami butterflies hung beneath the air vent, fluttering lively between cool drafts of air. I felt the air on my face and watched the butterflies flutter. A sunlit
lamp draped right above my head. It was all quite convincing. Between the butterflies and the breeze and the sun and the drugs, I felt at peace.
In the background there spoke a woman about Nashville’s music scene and a first husband who still lives there. The woman had a daughter who was 27. Her daughter had been yearning to visit her father but had yet to do so.
“I’ve been telling her how beautiful Nashville is for years,” the woman spoke, wiping clean little metal hooks and hoses. “I even told her I’d take her with me butno—who’d want to go visit a city like Nashville with their momma? She’s too grown up, I guess. Ah well. I’d rather not be there anyway if she’s going to see that man…”
I smiled at her to show I was still listening. I didn’t care much for what she said, but I still meant to be polite. Besides, the gauze between my teeth and the morphine in my gums left me rather speechless. I couldn’t say much.
This isn’t so bad, being quiet and all,I thought to myself.You’d probably have nothing to say to her anyways. What do you know about Nashville? What about divorce? You know nothing.
I was not afraid. I was no longer the same little boy. The dentist evoked nothing in me but the same boredom felt while running errands.
I stared straight into the eye of the needle that was to be stuffed into my gums and laughed. I felt the morphinecoursingthrough my mouth, along down my throat, warming my chest and tickling my toes. The butterflies looked magnificent—red, blue, marigold, brown—fluttering.
As the morphine settled in, my right side of my face began to drip right off the bone. Dr. Berlig came in, pinched at my lip, then nodded to the woman who had such a love for Nashville. She nodded back as she hooked a suction-straw at the corner of my mouth. The doctor started to drill.
The sounds were disturbing, to say the least. I could hear bits of my teeth being sucked up along with my pooling saliva. I had to get back my peace of mind.
A memory sparked. My mother talking to me yesterday as we drove in her car to buy dog food.
“So, have you noticed a difference since taking your meds?” she asked. My hand dangled lifeless out the car window, swinging and dancing with the passing wind.
“I mean… I guess I feel more stable. But I don’t even know what that really means. Things just seem normal. Nothing new. Why, have you?”
She paused, choosing her words carefully.
“Well, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way… but I’ve definitely noticed a difference. The change is seriously night and day.”
“Really?” I asked, rather shocked. “I’m not offended at all. But how? What’s changed?”
“It’s just the way you take things… you just take them as they come. For your entire life it’s like I’ve been walking on eggshells, nervous that one wrong word or movement could be the one that breaks you.”
I sat in silence, listening. She continued.
“—Like when you were young, the littlest things would drive you crazy. Things completely out of anyone’s control. For instance, if the weatherman said that there was a chance it might snow tomorrow, you’d come to me and ask, ‘do you think school will be cancelled? What do you think? The weatherman said it might snow.’ And I’d answer you, ‘I don’t know, Joe. He said it might—I can’t promise anything.’ But then you’d argue with me that school would have to be cancelled—that tomorrow it would snow for sure and then you wouldn’t have to go to school. And finally I’d get fed up and say ‘Yeah… yeah sure, it just might snow.’
“But you know what? The next day wouldn’t be a snow day, and you’d then scream at me that I was a liar. That I purposely lied to you to get your hopes up. That I’d wished against you for it to snow so that you’d have to go to school so I could have you out of my hair for a few hours. And you know what, Joe? For as wrong as you were, you were also quite right.”
Big, gushy tears walloped at my eyes. What a rotten kid, I was…
“But I am still in your hair!” I began to scream. “I’m nothing but gum with cavities still stuck in your gorgeous hair! Comb me out, mother, cut me out!”
My dangling hand flung from out the window, skipping down the road behind our car. I almost fell to the street as I leaned out to grab it. I looked to her in a panic.My mother smiled at me, her mouth full of gauze.
Our car began to swerve uncontrollably. I tried to grab at the wheel but with only my one hand. We weaved directly into oncoming traffic and—oh, and I see Victoria’s face in front of me! It’s her car were about to hit.
I cry out more big, gushy tears and wipe them away with my stump of a hand.
Cut me out, cut me out!
Her and my mother are bleeding, beautiful. They embrace one another as our smashed cars burn in the background. There’s a woman in front of a news camera. Nashville News. I can’t help but smile—my mom has finally met the love of my life, and it’s all on film! But she might not approve…
“That love of yours is covered in cold blood, that filthy wench. Why don’t you find someone who isn’t so cold?”
It starts snowing. It’s snowing outside and there’s steam above the burning cars. The news woman never even mentioned snow. How can it snow?
Cut me out, cut me out!
“It’s the music capitol of the United States! Ah, you’ll have such a good time!”
“Your mom is so sweet. I hope she didn’t smell the smoke on me—”
“Covered in blood, cold, and a smoker? Joe… Joe!”
Cut me out, cut me out! Find my hand! It’s my only one left!
“Vehicular manslaughter. Say goodbye.”
“It’s not a city all about country music. That’s a misunderstanding.”
“Joe… Joe! Joe…”
“Doctor, he’s crying. He can feel it. Can you feel it?”
Cut me out!
“I’ve been walking on eggshells… Joe!”
“Have you ever been? Ah, you’ll have such a good time!”
“My god, save him! Cut it out of him, cut it out!”
“He’ll be going away for a long, long time…”
“Cut it out, cut it out!”
“When is the wedding? Will you two have kids?”
“But there’s so much blood!”
“Doctor, he can feel it. He’s crying! Don’t you see?”
“Cut it out!”
“Cut it out!”
“Cut him out!”
It might snow... I hope the butterflies will be okay.It’s snowing.
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