some fall in love. i shatter.

A Dream Can Be A Dangerous Thing – Part II of IV: Reality (#24)

In Stories Volume 2 on September 24, 2012 at 10:53 am



“There must… be more…”





The cold sterility of the doctor’s office reminded Trina of so many clichés that she grew increasingly uncertain whether she was dreaming or awake. Pop’s presence in the corner of her eye laid those questions to rest even as she tried not to look at him.

“I know you’re annoyed, Trin, but this is part of what you signed on for. I could never let you do this if there was no medical review. It’s not the story, it’s your safety, which is a part of the story, I suppose.” Pop pulled a steno pad from the jacket that hung wrinkled and worn looking from his broad shoulders, scribbling down a reminder to have Brandon write-up his notes on the doctor’s office experience. Trina turned to meet him eye-to-eye for the first time since they’d come in together.

“It’s not the exam, it’s your gunning for a reason to demand the pills back. It’s your lack of trust in what I’m doing.”

“You’ve copped to taking more than necessary or required. I gave you nine pills. That was for nine days. We’re on, what, the fifth day? You should have five left but you’ve only got four. This article’s about addiction and my reporter’s taking excessive amounts of a drug and hiding it from her editor.”

“I’m not hiding anything, Pop.”

“You ducked Brandon the other day. And now I’m to believe that you were legitimately sick yesterday? And you just didn’t call anyone? And didn’t answer your phone? Trin, it’s fine, you don’t need to hide anything. This was the notion we were operating under and the thing we were trying to discover. But now that we’ve reached this point, I can’t in good conscious allow you to keep going with it.”

There was a knock on the door and Doctor Richmond entered the room, clipboard in hand; the reporters in Pop and Trina tried to make out the small font on the page but neither could make out the words that mattered.

“Alright, Trin, Pop. I’m happy to report that there’s no actual indication of addiction. Nothing chemical, nothing neurological, nothing at all. But we expected that – you’ve been on these sleeping pills for,” Richmond glanced down at the clipboard he had been tapping his knuckle against, “four nights now and you’ve taken five pills. I don’t like that you’re taking more than the prescribed dosage and I have to recommend that you stop that.

“The most apt comparison I can think of would be an overeater. An overeater comprehends that continuing to eat is a bad thing with negative consequences, but chooses to do so anyway. Compared to a food addict, or any other addict, whose biology has literally changed and cannot stop doing the addictive action. Just as overeating can be a symptom of an eating disorder or something larger, your proclivity towards these pills could possibly be a symptom of some other disorder but that’s not something I’m going to be able to suss out right here today.” Richmond paused, catching Pop’s concern and reception before falling on Trin’s defiant and redemptive eyes.

“And that’s it, Doc?”  Trin tripped off the examination table where her legs had been dangling over the edge like when she was a child, her black boots knocking occasionally against the metal.

“Well… I suppose, beyond my recommendation that you kick the pills and… ”

“Thanks, Doc. I’m still on the story and I’ve got research to do, Pop, but I’ll check in later. Oh, and don’t send Brandon to skulk around my apartment building. He smells like farts and I can detect it from upstairs.”






The blinds were down and though all of the clocks had been turned off, radiant bursts of sunlight breaking through the edges of the windows betrayed the general time of day. Trin sat at her desk, that minimalist slab of stained black wood, absent any drawers, simply a stand that held a slew of stacked notebooks, a laptop, a pen jar, and now, an increasingly slighter number of purple pills, already released from their blister packs.

Pop doesn’t know what he’s talking about, she thought. Times like this she had a tendency to even hate his name. Pop. Just because Phil’s nickname is Pop doesn’t mean he gets to be a father figure. She tried to recall how many times she’d been this mad at him. She decided on three. Ironic, as there were three pills sitting quietly upon the dark wood in front of her.

Trin stood up and walked over to the couch where she flopped down, fumbled for the remotes on the coffee table, and switched on another daytime atrocity. It was hard for her to say who she was trying to make a point for. I don’t need the pills, I don’t even care about the pills, they’re just fun, she thought. Comparisons weren’t coming quickly but she knew it was the kind of thing that everyone had in one way or another. Runners, she finally settled on, choose to run in order to transport themselves into this world where they’re athletes, racing from battles to deliver news of victory or chasing down gazelles for food. Fiction readers regularly put themselves into fantastic worlds purely for enjoyment or entertainment. What’s so different about sleeping pills that take me into a fantasy world where everything is right, everything comes easier, everything is beautiful? Trin lifted her head and looked over the back of the couch towards her desk. They were still there, safe.

She shut off the television – the inanity overwhelming and killing off her brain cells. Trin lay there, staring upwards, losing herself in the popcorn ceiling above. She had awoken, she thought, only a few hours ago but it was difficult to discern. A measure of fatigue permeated her body and mind, the clocks were gone (she’d even taped over that corner of her laptop screen), the blinds closed. But the sun had been pushing around the blinds when she awoke and it remained still. Tired but it had only been a few hours. The pills remained on the desk; there was no need to look. She sat up and looked.

Trin leaned over to the coffee table and pulled two unread copies of The Atlantic and an untouched yet dog-eared copy of White Noise. She tried one, then the other, then the other, each holding her attention for a few seconds less than the previous. Glossy page 87 of the May Atlantic stuck to her finger where it lay over Trin’s waist. She thought about the pills, told herself she didn’t need them, told herself she didn’t even want them. Hindsight’s making the dreams seem better, she lied to herself. Eyes on the ceiling, a tiny streak of light crossed from one side to the other; there were so many hours left in the day before she’d be tired enough to sleep on her own. The act was so fraught now though, so much like sleep the night before Christmas when she was a child, Trin wasn’t even certain she’d be able to sleep on her own. It’s so far away, she thought. No other assignments to fill the day, no desire to call friends, no desire to be outside. One day would become an eternity but she had to prove something to herself and to Pop.

Anyway, she thought, there’re only three left. Trina walked back to the desk to verify they were still there. Holding each one in her hand, one at a time, and flopping it around her palm like a slightly flattened glass bead, she began to wonder if by holding one tightly in her fist, she could warm the solidified gel and liquid of the pill and then begin to absorb the chemicals through her skin. A bit of sleepy osmosis. Trin sat down in the Ikea kitchen table chair that she used as a desk chair, lined up all three pills, and stared at them for a few minutes. “One, two, three,” she said aloud. “This is over in three days time anyway.”

Swiftly, she grabbed one purple pill with her right hand, cupped it, and then squeezed it tightly on the inside of her fist as she made her way past the clothes and papers on the floor to her small bedroom. She easily slid between the ruffled sheets of the unmade bed, kicking her legs through doubled-over curves and comforters necessary in the heavily air-conditioned apartment. Trin squeezed her hand tightly, sometimes loosening the grip to create a hole into which she would breathe warm air. Time and time again she checked but no change, no discernable shift in the pill’s state of matter. Every time she shifted her hand around and moved the pill across her skin, she hoped to feel some measure of slickness, some smear, but she met with nothing at all.

Trina’s knuckles groaned when she opened her palm an hour later to find the pill still fully intact. Her first thought was of failure but the second made her reconsider. What if, she thought, it doesn’t break down to a proper liquid but the friction over my hand allows for miniscule flecks to come off on my skin, to diffuse right into my hands. Such tiny little shavings would be able to do that. And what if I’m not noticing it yet as the amounts are so small, but I’ll feel a little something later? And if that’s the truth, then the potency of the pill is compromised and when I need it to finish my reports (at the proper time, Pops), it’ll be weakened. Shit, I’ve backed myself into a corner. It was an accident, but my experiment means that now I’ll just have to take the pill in order to maintain consistency and consistent dosing.

A tiny smile broke as she swallowed the pill.





“I smelled his farts. Well, I don’t know if Brandon was actually farting but he just carries this scent of fart.”

“You know, I don’t smell it at all.”

“Maybe that means you fart too much yourself, Pop.”

“Really great to have you back. You’ve heard the news, I’m sure. Fle’s been pulled off the market. Institutions with a little more prestige than Spyglass did their own clinical investigations and found essentially the same thing that you’re finding.”

“Does that make this whole exercise useless?”

“No way are we letting this go! Everyone else took the cold, scientific, big-budget angle; we’re the only ones I know of, or at least the biggest, that took the personal and experimental. Your story’ll be the one that people relate to, that they understand. People love an addiction-meets-redemption story. We’ll need it pretty fast. You can have it on my desk by tomorrow?”

“It’ll be tight. I didn’t keep the best notes. Bit of a haze a lot of the past few days, but I remember the dreams clearly and I can compare certain notes with Brandon to make sure I’m not fabricating anything, at least for when I was letting him around me.”

“Good, good. And to clarify – you told me you took seven pills, so you’ve gotten rid of the remaining two?

“They’ve been pulled, Pop, it’s not like they’re a viable temptation anymore. But either way, yes, I got rid of the last two this morning. Flushed them, only way to ensure I wouldn’t go hunting through the trash.”

“You know I’m sorry about the way things got tense. That wasn’t my intention.”

“I appreciate your intentions. Now let me go work on this – I’ll get most done today and finish the ending tonight.”

She hated lying to him – he really was looking out for her but that didn’t mean he knew what was right. Not all the time and not for her. He was a boss and nothing else. The finite amount of pills gave Trin an immovable schedule to work off of but she still felt as if she needed to dictate and manage herself and her situation on her own terms.

Trina stood in the far stall of the women’s bathroom on the second floor of the office building the newspaper was housed in. The last two pills sat in her right palm, open towards the ceiling, each one staring into one of her eyes. She bent over and held her left hand in front of the sensor at the back of the toilet. After a few seconds, a light clicked on, she moved her hand away, and the toilet commenced flushing. Trin dropped one of the purple pills into the toilet and watched it crack upon the porcelain and then swirl briefly, a purple bolt of lightening, before suction and gravity pulled it out of sight forever.

The other pill she put back into her pocket. She needed to end things on her own terms. She needed to find a way to say goodbye.


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