Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Forseen

The Forseen
by Nomi Liron

Even as a girl Michelle knew she didn’t have the looks to command attention, but she had been determined to make something of herself. She won a scholarship to Stanford, excelled at her studies, and landed a prestigious job. She lived with her daughter lived in an adorable three bedroom house with bright red roses in the front yard, a magnificent garden in the back yard, and a single lemon tree leaning against the garage. She made friends among her peers, dated as often as the combination of motherhood and a career allowed, and had even made the long journey to China to adopt Katrina. For twenty years she had done everything right.

Then came the fatigue, blurred vision, weakness, lack of co-ordination, difficulty controlling her bowel and bladder, and the hateful finality of the Multiple Scerlosis diagnosis. Michelle was rattled. It hadn’t been in her plans to become disabled and see her savings drip away to cover bills insurance wouldn’t pay. She had never intended to end up living off a meager social security check with trips to the county food bank to fill the cabinets in a small studio apartment. Katrina slept on the narrow couch at night. Michelle passed the night on a mat on the floor, falling asleep amidst the clutter of clothes and toys which did not fit in the single closet.

At first there were gossipy calls from former peers, flowers, cards, and presents. But, as time passed, her co-workers and friends, caught up in their careers, and families stopping calling.
She slept most of the day and went weeks without showering. Her clothes became increasingly wrinkled and dirty. Katrina ate cereal every night of the week.

Michelle’s doctor referred her to a depression overview group which would start in two months.
“I am going to kill myself. I hurt so bad I can hardly breathe.” Michelle ran the bathroom and stuffed a wash cloth in her mouth so Katrina would not hear her gasps of pain.

She often thought of those little blue capsules she was told would eventually help her depression. At least three times a day she wanted to get a glass of water and let them all slide down her throat. She knew she needed to be in a hospital, but all she was had was medicare, a government entitlement given to her of account of her disability. When it came to psychiatric matters it did not cover much.

Her Medicare Advantage Plan allowed her to see a therapist. She was assigned a man called Clem. They spoke for fifty minutes. He had soft brown eyes and seemed to understand her situation until she spoke of suicide.

“I’d call you a long term risk rather than a short term risk,” Clem said, “You have a symbiotic relationship with your daughter.”

I need to put on a T-shirt, Michelle thought, with ‘Things are not fine’ written on the front. Maybe if I wear it and walk down the street someone will understand.

Nine o’clock came and she had an excuse to put Katrina to bed. She lay quietly on her mat until she was sure her daughter was asleep. She went to the phone and dialed the number she knew so well. 1-800-SUICIDE. As usual she was put on hold. Experience had taught her that she had to say she was going to immediately kill herself or someone else to get help. Otherwise they would only give her a few minutes of their time. There was always the next call, the next potential suicide – someone serious. Then one of the counselors came on the line.

“I want to kill myself,” she whispered, one hand pressing hard against the center of her chest.

“Please help me.”

“Do you have a method?

“I was going to overdose.

What were you going to overdose with?

The medication the psychiatrist ordered for me. An anti-depressant. I can’t remember the name just now.”

“You are working with a psychiatrist?”

“Yes. But the doctor said the medication will take a few more weeks to work. Don’t you see? I am trapped! I have a daughter. My situation is even more desperate because I want to die but can’t.”

“Have you given away any items or written letters saying goodbye to anyone?”

“No. I have nothing. There is no one except my daughter.”

“Do you have a gun in the house?”

“No. No. Of course not. I have a child.”

“Well,” he hedged. “If you feel like you are going to do it, you can always walk into an emergency room, you know.”

“Yes. I know.”

“Well, remember that. You can always call again. You don’t have to go through this alone.

However, I need to take another call right now. We are backed up. In a large metropolitan area such as Atlanta we receive many calls.

Michelle hung up the phone once again defeated. No one asked the right questions. No one asked - Are you in enough pain to kill yourself? Does it hurt enough for you to do it?

She knew it was only a matter of time before the answers would bring her to her death.


Written by: Nomi Liron

Nomi writes Flash Fiction and is currently working on her first novel.