I’ve been editing my WIP for an ungodly amount of time. I’m working on a post about why you should write fast and edit slowly. (Well, maybe not this slowly.) But in the meantime, I thought I’d publish the first 500 words of my manuscript here. Man, I am so ready to get this damn thing published already. But it’s not time yet. So publishing on my blog will just have to do. For now.
My book is about a philosophy professor who decides to get a lobotomy. Enjoy!
The Trouble with Knowing
By Jenny Herrera
Gentle, clever your surgeon’s hands
God marks for you many golden bands
They cut so sure they serve so well
They save our souls from Eternal Hell
An artist’s hands, a musician’s too
Give us beauty of color and tune so true
But yours are far the most beautiful to me
They saved my mind and set my spirit free.
-Lobotomy Patient #68
From the archives of James W. Watts III, M.D.
Some philosophers think death is a kind of rebirth in which you awaken to another life, as if lives were so easy to come by. To others, death is exactly the opposite—a draining of one’s life energy. However, my preferred theory is that we just stop. We stop thinking; we stop feeling, and in that halting of energy, of movement, there can be only peace. Unfortunately, that’s not what I get.
There is hole where my stomach should be. I know because I can feel it. I can feel the hard suck in that spot just below my ribs that’s not just emptiness but suctioning, as if what is inside of me is dangerous enough to require suffocation.
When my eyes splinter open, I’m staring at the ceiling, and my mouth is hanging open like some invalid’s. Drool or spit or vomit clings to my chin. No wonder these people in white coats and blue pajamas are weaving all around me, fiddling with IVs and monitors and files. They think I’m an idiot, mentally defective and in need of their care. But just because I have no stomach does not mean I’ve lost my mind.
A plump woman leans her breasts onto my shoulder and yanks at something from deep in my throat. It feels like vomiting a python, and I’m not sure how I could have swallowed it. Thoughts merge together above me, outside of me, just enough for the beginnings of recognition and of anger to emerge. No, I haven’t awoken to another life. This isn’t heaven or hell or stopping or going, and there are no pythons or stomach thieves or anything so interesting. This is just life, my life, restored to me without my consent.
The plump woman forces me to swallow a cup of liquid asphalt, and when I finish, the doctors gather on the other side of the curtain divider, discussing my case as if my temporary incapacitation has also made me deaf.
“Her name’s Abigail Montero,” a doctor says. “She’s 32, with no history of mental illness and no known allergies. She was found unconscious in her home at approximately 7pm. According to the dispatcher…” I hear him turn a page. “Ms. Montero’s neighbor, uh, Mrs. Smith, was bird watching when she spotted the patient empty a bottle of pills into a mug.”
“Do we know what the pills were?” asks one of the doctors.
“Uh, Seconal,” he says. “A thirty-day supply. The refill is from week ago. So we can assume she ingested about two dozen.”
“Two dozen Secobarbital?” one squawks. “She’s lucky to be alive.”
Then, as if on cue, the four of them lean out from behind the curtain, eying me like I’m some sick animal at the zoo, deserving of their pity and maybe even hoping for it. My throat tenses into a knot.
I want to put on my best condescending professor voice and inform them that despite what the medical profession assumes, not all life is inherently good, and as autonomous agents, people have the right—and in some cases the duty—to kill themselves. I want to instruct them to reinsert all the Seconal they stole from my stomach, since obviously I’m entitled to control my own actions. But when the doctors reemerge from behind the yellow curtain whose happy colors make me feel small, I’m speechless, like I really am one of those idiots, too dumb to defend myself.
I squeeze my eyes shut and turn away from the bevy of doctors, praying that when I wake, I really am deaf. And blind. And dead. As I should have been all along.