Diaz 1 Kendrick Diaz Intro to Creative Writing Section #34 Medicine in Unlikely Locations There were exactly twenty-two seats in the waiting room. Three of them had unleveled chair legs. Peace Lilies on every side table. Precisely seven cracks on the white wall I stared at. And there was always at least one kid crying and tugging on his mom’s sleeve (I’m sure that wasn’t a part of the interior design blueprints, but it’s definitely a consistent part of the room’s ambiance). I focused my attention to my feet. I saw that they were hanging about three inches above the ground because I’m too short to reach the floor. Advantage of being five foot two and a half: every centimeter of growth makes a difference. Disadvantage: everything else. In case you were wondering why I included the half-inch in my physical stature, it’s because it makes me taller than other five foot two people, and it’s also the only modicum of height maturation I’ve gained from the two years I’ve been in high school. I started swinging my feet in a steady march, except to no music. Left, right, left, right, left, right. I sat there swaying my battered Converse back and forth as I listened for my name to be called. “Ram Gouya, Dr.Bigwood is waiting for you.” I stood up, grabbed my jacket, and folded it over my arms as I faced the secretary standing in the ajar door. “Is everything going to be okay, sweetheart?” my mom asked. Diaz 2 “Yeah.” I tilted my head diagonally towards the ground. “I just hope he doesn’t ask too many questions again.” That was always an issue with whomever I connected with. Enshrouded by the fake smile I wear, lies a world of secrets and emotional turmoil; I never wanted to give up that key. The last time that happened, my best friend Ashley turned on me. So now every time a professional asks me a personal question, I make it obvious that I don’t want to talk about it. They have a hard time with me. “Hi, Ram!” Dr. Bigwood exclaimed enthusiastically. He always had a toothy grin on his face, as if listening to people’s problems all day was some sort of weird fetish and made him extremely happy. Sometimes it makes me wonder, though, if he is genuinely content with his job or if it’s all just surface-level happiness. I guess my anxiety and depression have contributed to that inquisitive arousal. The doctor’s office looked as square and dull as always. Dr.Bigwood always said it makes it easier for the OCD patients, but I find the sterile nothingness of the room to be unnerving. My shivery soul needs a balance of positive energy, or else my emotional scale drops to the floor. Plants would be nice for a change. “So how are you feeling?” Dr. Bigwood always started like this. Easing me into the big kid questions with small things. “I feel fine.” This was always my answer. And it was almost always untrue. After a few minutes of small talk, Dr. Bigwood changed the pace of the conversation. “So think about your most recent anxiety attack. Will you tell me about it?” Diaz 3 I always go blank for a bit upon hearing this inquiry. My brain has this weird coping mechanism called forget-everything-bad-that-happens-so-Ram-can’t-recall-anything. It’s kind of nice actually, but it sure makes psychiatrist visits a pain. “Take your time,” Dr. Bigwood said gently, contrasting with that overwhelming smile he continued to wear. I sat still, willing my brain to search through the blacked out memories and find what exactly happened last Wednesday before school. Finals were just about to begin, and I had no more fingernails left to bite on. At this point, the rumors must have been circulating around the school for at least a week (maybe more, how would I know). On my way into Biology, whispers hissed around me and I felt eyeballs crawl up my back as I walked through the aisle of desks. By this time my friends had been ignoring me for weeks, so the designated “loner chair” was already waiting for me at the back of the class. I didn’t know why I was being shunned especially since I’ve tried my entire highschool career to be nice to everyone. My psychiatrist tells me that I shouldn't care what people think of me, but I can't help but worry about their opinions on my reputation. I don't want to be known as anything I'm not. I carefully placed my leather backpack next to the legs of the desk and sat down with paranoia, worrying about impending pranks or practical jokes. Breaths of relief shortly followed my seating, but then the boy next to me slid a note onto my desk and laughed smugly. Hey whore, how much. Diaz 4 I peered at the note trying to make out the scribbles and ink shortage. Then suddenly the crowd I looked up on burst into laughter. Everyone started jeering and pointing at me at once. All the shouting jumbled together into one slap in the face. “Ram, I heard you’ll ride for just about anything!” “I heard she’s cheaper than the strippers downtown!” “Definitely keeping my boyfriend from that slut!” Whore. Hoe. Slut. Bitch. Eventually all the insults slurred together until I could not even decipher one from the next. I sat frozen in my chair and stared blankly at my peers. What was going on? How did this happen? And then I felt the pain that I had always hoped to avoid. It started in the wrists and eventually flooded into the rest of my body. It felt like icicles were stuck inside my veins, blocking the passage for blood flow. I put my thumbnail on my right wrist and squeezed hard as I could to hold the agony in one place, but it didn’t work. I grabbed my things and ran to the nearest room. I ran inside the library and found the nearest couch and threw myself on it. I landed so hard that I didn’t feel any cushions break my fall--just the plain wooden base crashing against my frail, delicate skin. Anywhere but there, anywhere but there, anywhere but there I thought to myself as I curled my head into my knees and legs. My entire body began to shake and my limbs began to spasm. My head ticked violently to the left, and then to the right. Then my brain started talking to me. You should believe them you know. They’re right about you. Diaz 5 My mind was tearing itself apart as I tried to fight the words it was convincing me of. But I accepted the assailant’s presence. My own brain turned against me, and there was nothing I could do besides wait it out. At the same time I waited, I searched my memories for words of comfort. Anything nice that was ever said to me would be of help. Anything. As I mentally combed through the pages of my life, I remembered a tumblr post online that said, “Thoughts are nothing but clouds. Feed it attention and make it bigger, or save your energy and let it pass.” This too shall pass I repeated incessantly. Eventually the cadency of my voice become nothing but a quiet hum, instilling the feeling and strength to stand up. I started to question what had just happened, what was said about me and who was responsible? It came back to me at once. My best friend Ashley and her boyfriend were fighting through relationship issues and eventually broke up. Being their mutual friend, I tried my best to mediate the conflict and awkwardness between the two, but I suspected that since I took a neutral stance in the triangle, Ashley must have hated my guts. I never expected her to think I was the homewrecker responsible for their monogamous demise. I should have put the pieces together earlier. I saw her there at our lunch tables a few days after their break up. She was speaking intently to my group of friends. All heads were leaned into a huddle, as if they were busy having a top secret meeting. I walked up to the table with my meal tray intending to join them, but before I could take a seat, Ashley intercepted me. “Sorry ‘Neens’,” she scoffed, “the girls and I are busy. You a free to take that seat over there.” She pointed to the abandoned corner of the cafeteria where a dirty old lunch table stood (if you could even call it a table… it was basically broken in half. The janitorial team was probably scheduled to take it out of there soon.) Diaz 6 I should have known that’s the reason my friends stopped speaking to me. I should have understood Ashley had something to do with this. As I approached the library’s exit, I noticed a book on the shelf was untucked and crooked. I switched directions and walked over to fix it when I read the title Eleanor & Park. I looked at the back and briefly skimmed over the synopsis, but when I read “...an untypical teenage girl trying to find a place in the world,” I quickly identified. Making a decision to check something out had never been so easy. I walked swiftly out of the library, pulled out my favorite book, and read until I could forget the present. My psychiatrist told me he hopes I have a nice day and dismissed me. I left without spilling the details. This had been my routine for years. Rainbow Rowell, my favorite author, is my real psychiatrists. Her books about teenage girl misfits are my prescription. The books help me more than any doctor could. Ink inside novels helped me realize that I wasn’t alone--that was the best cure.