by Marcus Jonathan Chapman
Janine’s phone was off. It was never off. I
only found out because eventually her father answered the house phone.
“She cut her wrists with a
knife or razor blade or something. Anyway, she’s fine she just needs some time
away from everything.”
I could have crushed his frail ribs with my
fists. That naïve–
“Where is she?”
I didn’t care to filter my anger. Sometimes
reality forces its hand despite our best efforts.
“At the BMC”
I hung up. No more wasted breath.
I walked in the front entrance of the
institution where crazy lived. Outside crazy was called normal. Inside it
smelled like rubbing alcohol. In the waiting room, everyone’s hair was shiny
and thick. The bags under their red eyes reminded me of how I felt every
I walked up to the plate-glass window and
“Is there a Janine Ibsen
“Yes, may I ask who is
I faltered. I imagined one of her parents requesting to see her and the
nurse saying, “you’ll have to wait until her boyfriend is out.” I chose the
path we had already paved.
“A good friend.”
“One moment, please.”
Janine and I had been dating for over a year,
but the situation felt so foreign.
“Put this on, walk through the
double doors all the way down the hall and when they ask for a number tell them
I put the fluorescent green sticker on my
shirt and walked. I thought about what I
might see when I found patient 0147.
Jesus! It’s Janine. I almost vomited at that thought. I pictured her
feigning a frown at me after one of my farts. I really got a kick out of that.
I should have treated her like a lady. Then I thought about her tiny wrists
looking like raw hamburger meet. I
reached the locked doors and the buzzer spoke.
“Patient number please.”
“Um, hold on.” Shit. “Oh yeah,
The buzzer sounded and I jumped at the door.
Janine’s mother was crying in the hall. She
looked up and came over to hug me.
“It’s okay.” I said hugging
I felt awkward for telling such a bold lie. I
knew how she was feeling but I didn’t give a shit. Her sadness started to make
me angry and I asked her where Janine was. She didn’t answer.
“Can we pray together?” I
ignored her and walked to the nurse’s station.
“Which room is patient 0147
Why give me the fucking number?
“She’s in room 31 down the
hall on the left.”
I thanked her and started down, passing her mom, I heard her again.
“Can we pray together?”
What the fuck was pressing our hands together
supposed to do? I picked up my pace acting as if I was anxious to see Janine.
The pounding in my chest told me I wasn’t acting. Sometimes reality really has
a way of forcing its hand.
I took a deep breath and knocked softly with
one knuckle. I didn’t wait for an
answer. I brushed the door open. Their she sat, in a chair with her arms
bandaged and facing upwards. Her black curly hair twisting all around her head.
Her eyes squinting slightly, shifting back and forth. She looked as if she were
trying to solve life’s mysteries. I melted.
I walked over and sat on the bed next to her
“I love you. How are you?”
I had asked this question in passing to
thousands of people but for the first time I meant it.
She answered slowly. I was aware of my
silence and touched her leg. She looked up at me, then right back down at the
floor before making her thoughts audible.
“All of the questions are just
distractions. The deeper the question, the cleverer the distraction. What’s on
TV? What should I wear? Who am I? Is there a God? If life were just a fart,
would death be the wind?”
A burst of air shot through my nose. I squeezed her leg and realized that I had never loved anyone more.