Flash Fiction Friday: I Didn’t Forget About Your Pills
by Edmund Colell
Joey? It’s Uncle Travis. Breathe the crying away for a little bit, I have some things to tell you. I know the outer lock on the door is turned but that’s okay. I need to have it locked for now, to keep you from trying to kill me. I don’t want to fight back.
I thought you’d go up in a puff. I didn’t expect this burning and rotting to happen to you. But I’m not going to call the ambulance, or get more of your pills. This may be day three without them, but I didn’t forget about them. It’d be against your parents’ last will for me to get more.
My sister and your father never told you about what each tablet was doing for you, even though they kept saying they were “for your health.” To be honest, I didn’t know what they did either. Remember the fit your Mom threw when I called to tell her she forgot to send them with you? You wouldn’t remember, you were just three, but when she arrived on my doorstep after a day of driving halfway across the country, she was not just carrying two bottles of pills. She was also carrying the most makeup-smeared, straw-haired, bloody-eyed face to ever hang off her cheekbones. Out of everything else she said that day, I only remember one thing: “Give him one. Now.”
I didn’t question her, just followed every direction on the bottle whenever you were over. The directions never changed: “Take one tablet every night at bedtime.” Now that’s what brought the question up. I may not be a pharmacist, but there’s no one that would ever give an older child a toddler’s dosage, or vice-versa. I talked with your mom about it, because either your doctor didn’t give a damn or the pharmacist was clueless. Nope, both of those people were doing their jobs just fine and your mom was doing exactly what they wanted. Hell, she even needed to take the same medication at the same dose when she was pregnant with you.
No, even before that. If she hadn’t been on those pills for at least a month before… well… you know the birds and the bees, so let’s just say that wouldn’t have led to you otherwise. Your Mom’s body was a lot less fertile than her mind was, and regular fertility pills wouldn’t do the trick. These pills helped to bring you shining and moist from your parents’ imagination.
There’s some beauty to being an imaginary kid. An imaginary kid can live forever if they have a steady diet of medication. If I had my way, Joey, I would have bought your next bottle. I would have kept you safe here for the rest of my days. But your mother and father agreed that their imaginary son would not need to go on living if the two of them passed away.
Were they bad parents? No, they just knew what happens when imaginary children outlast their parents. They showed me an article on Barrett Mason, an imaginary kid who kept taking his pills after his parents died. After a year, he was asked to smile. He was asked to speak with fluctuating tones. He was asked about who his friends and enemies were in elementary school and who his friends and enemies were lately. His face and throat were stiff, his voice a monotone, as he said that he didn’t remember anyone who had been in his elementary school classes. A year later, they asked him to have vocal and facial changes while describing people he had met that year. They asked him similar questions year after year, and in the meantime they found other orphaned or abandoned imaginary children who had continued on with life. The researchers broadened their questions to include things like the kids’ favorite colors, the things that make them mad, and what they want to be when they grow up. The kids couldn’t answer any of those questions. Meanwhile, the imaginary kids with parents still in their lives could answer all of those questions.
Those kids with pills keep living, not getting any older without Mom and Dad to imagine them growing up.
Do you understand where I’m coming from, Joey? Can I join you for a little bit, just so you have someone to keep you company?
My God, Joey… Sorry for throwing-up in my mouth, but I didn’t think you would look this bad. I can’t tell what’s left of your face… can you still hear me, even if you can’t see me? I’ll take it you meant “yes” from the noise you made. Let’s see if I can find my guitar somewhere, and I’ll play anything you want. I guess I must have… well, forgotten about what music you like to listen to.
Don’t remember either, huh. That’s okay. I’ll play something from AC/DC off the top of my head; I could swear you liked a few of their songs.
Did that help you at all, Joey? That song just passed by and you did nothing.
Joey, I really don’t know what to say. I thought I would feel different about this than I do now. I thought that, after your parents passed, it would split me down the middle to be forced to let you die. I’m watching your throat peel open, your burnt head hang away, and I know that I can’t help. Is it right to allow someone imagined by dead people to die, knowing they had a life?
Well, now it looks like you’re on your last. If you hardly remember me, then I’ll let you go away in peace. By the time I return to this room, I might not remember you.
Edmund Colell is working as an intern for Lazy Fascist Press. His work has appeared in or will be appearing in Verbicide, LegumeMan, New Flesh, Christmas on Crack, The New Flesh: Episode 1, and Technicolor Tentacles.