Mia came to help. Her future brother-in-law is a depressive suicide with sad eyes. She also came because she's selfish and wants him on the quickest road to recovery and out of the house before she and his brother marry. Who can blame her for this? He's dark and mopey and sad all of the time. He wears only black. He has terrible self-esteem and clutters the bathrooms with depilatory kits and wrinkle removers, gray-be-gone formulas and nose-hair clippers—all things he bought from infomercials with Donna Summers. He has a foul mouth and calls breasts ta-tas, and after he takes a shower, the shower curtain still smells like stench—like sweaty deodorant, sad-sappy man-boy. And she wants him gone. All of him. Forever.
So Mia volunteered to sit with him at the free mental health clinic because he has no health insurance and waits tables at a dive downtown. She thinks he's gay. She doesn't think he'd really kill himself. Her fiancée won't hear any of it. She hopes they give him valium.
He had to fill out some forms and then was directed into a side room by a man closely resembling a pedophile.
But Mia looks around and wants to crawl away somewhere. The pictures on the walls are all faux prints of happy autumn roads leading to sunsets. The magazines are years old, "Cosmopolitan" and "Good Housekeeping," but she can't imagine that anyone waiting here needs to take their bedroom from drab to fab or needs to know the best tips on achieving the ultimate orgasm. Instead, they all seem familiar in the way of her dreams just before she fully wakes, in that shred of time before they are forgotten. And she cannot decide for sure if she knows these people.
The anorexic in the corner crosses her wagon-wheel spoke legs and goes at her bulging bubble gum with fierce chews. The shoe-less, 400-pound man with an uncovered belly bulge snores. The woman in the infantile position shifts emotion like a Blackjack dealer tuning over cards. She sobs for seconds and then laughs. And something smells sweet, like warming brown sugar, and Mia can't decide if it makes her hungry or nauseous.
And she can't decide, really, if her future brother-in-law is really in there, or if she came on her own. Everyone here is just like her, parts of her, the need to disappear, the need to sleep, the need to hedge between emotions that otherwise drown her. Maybe they have a disease that's catching. Maybe her future brother-in-law already left; Mia's not sure where he is. She's also not sure where she is. Her black tee-shirt feels too warm. She wants to smash the bubble of chewing gum the anorexic just produced all over her white, bony face.
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