Where Is My Mind?

This is a short story I wrote in early 2015, but I still really love it. I wrote it while listening to Where Is My Mind (oddly enough), the version from Suckerpunch, although I’ve since developed a fondness for the Pixies’ original version. I hope you enjoy!

Why are these places always green? And not a nice green, that insipid spearmint colour. Seriously, it’s like the most depressing colour in the universe and they think it’s a good idea to use it in a building full of crazy people. Just proves my point that the people running these places are idiots.

Note to self: don’t say that out loud. Calling your doctors idiots never ends well.

There’s a fricking analogue clock on the wall over there. The only people who use analogue clocks now are hipsters and those weirdos who think steam could be used to power the universe. And they think I’m crazy. Of course, they still teach you how to read analogue clocks in school for some reason, so I know it’s exactly sixteen minutes and forty seven seconds past eleven. Sixteen minutes and forty seven seconds late. My doctor is always running late. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him within twenty three minutes of my actual appointment time.

Note to self: don’t complain about him running late again. If he uses the word ‘confrontational’ one more time I’m going to punch him in the nose and then I’ll really be in trouble.

. . .

Note to self: don’t punch the doctor in the nose.

God, the sooner they put this fricking implant in my head, the better. Then I won’t have these damn appointments all the time. You’d think, once they figured out what was wrong with me, they’d be able to just plonk the thing in there, but no, they have to calibrate it or some shit. They’re a bunch of sadists, the lot of them. I think they just like prodding the crazies, like we’re a bunch of monkeys in a lab or something.

Note to self: don’t compare yourself to a monkey in a lab, even as a joke. This doctor’s sense of humour is set at zero. He’ll probably think it’s a symptom of some new and interesting psychosis and then they’ll have to do more calibrating.

Oh good, the nurse is back. No, she’s sitting down and pretending to do something very important. Wonderful. I forgot my book, too, and they make sure you can’t miss the sign about turning off all mobile devices. I guess I’ll just sit here then.

That girl over there definitely hasn’t been here before. She’s sitting on the edge of her seat like she’s about to jump up and run away. I felt like that the first time. I thought they’d knock me out as soon as they figured out what was wrong with me and shove the metal in my head. It sounded pretty scary at the time. Of course, she could be one of those paranoid types. They must get them in here all the time. I might be nuts, but at least I know it. Those crazies have all kinds of weird ideas and half the time they don’t even know there’s anything wrong with them.

Note to self: don’t use the word ‘crazies’ in front of this nurse. She thinks political correctness is next to godliness. As though being referred to by my proper term will make the fact that I’m officially insane better somehow.

Note to self: don’t use the phrase ‘officially insane’ in front of anyone. They never get the joke.

Note to self: stop checking the time every thirty seconds. He’s not going to hurry up just because you know how late he’s running.

Twenty four minutes and thirteen seconds. Oh damn, I did it again. That girl is actually pretty cute. Pity we’re both nuts. If I could be sure she wasn’t a potential axe murderer I might ask her out. If I didn’t have trouble talking to actual real people I might be able to ask her out. Ugh, I am so sick of being crazy.

Oops, she’s looking at me. I should probably smile or something, but my subconscious is suddenly really interested in my sneakers. They’re pretty great sneakers, I have to admit, but if you’re going to offer me a choice between smiling at a cute girl and looking at my shoes… Yeah, okay, so I’ll choose the shoes every time because I’m literally incapable of making eye contact with anyone.

Note to self: don’t tell the doctor you prefer looking at your shoes to looking at cute girls. This is something that will only make sense to another nutter.

I wonder what Doctor Needles would think if I told him I was interested in girls. Well, looking at girls from a distance. It’s a 50/50 chance he’d decide I’m an obsessive weirdo and lock me up. Heaven forbid I act like a normal human being in any respect whatsoever.

Note to self: don’t call him Doctor Needles. Again. He didn’t like it the first time. That will not have changed.

Twenty seven minutes and three seconds. How good is my peripheral vision?

Pretty damn good is how good. She’s still sitting there, right on the edge of that seat. They’re real bastards, these chairs. If she shifts her weight wrong it’s going to go right over on her and she’ll end up on the floor. Of course, a normal person would warn her about that. Or at least offer to help her up when she fell. Hey, it’s the perfect excuse to start a conversation right? Pass on the word about the dangerous furniture…

Note to self: don’t try and start conversations about the dangers of furniture. She already knows you’re nuts, don’t make it worse.

But since she’s here because she’s nuts, surely she wouldn’t be so bothered by my being nuts? I mean, it’s not like I’m a Fringe or anything. We’re all here to get fixed, right, so I’m obviously not going to be nuts for much longer.

Note to self: logic is not your strong suit today.

Her gloves have little bows on them and no fingers. I always wondered what the point of those are, because when I wear gloves, it’s so my fingers don’t get cold. She has bright blue nails. I wonder what my nails would look like that colour. I do like blue.

I could ask her where she got it.

Note to self: do not ask the cute girl where she got her nail polish. Dangerous furniture would be a better conversation starter than that.

If this doctor does not hurry up, I am going to do something desperate.

Like sit here until he tells me to come in.

Damn.

Thirty two minutes and twenty eight seconds. Oh look, here he comes. Finally.

You’d think it wouldn’t take this long just to stop being crazy.

Text: All Rights Reserved to Cambrey Payne 2015

 

The Dangers of Internet Stalking

Written while listening to ‘Bad Liar’, by Selena Gomez. Because reasons.
There is a lot of sarcasm in this piece. I have marked it using / for those who struggle to identify it.

I didn’t plan any of it. I didn’t even want it. And yet, there I was, sending him a friend request, like a twit. /Of course it was because he probably posted interesting things, that I would be interested in, and not because I was being a creepy stalker. Of course./ I was angry with myself, even as I clicked on his name. For Hades’ sake, I barely knew the man. One semester in the same tutorial did not a friendship make, and yet here I was, apparently reverting to teenage behaviour. Thirty years apparently hadn’t taught me as much self-control as I would have hoped.

I’d been single for a while, and I liked it that way. Dating was a nightmare, people were generally awful, and I already had too many things to fill my time without having to worry about spending time with another human being. I wasn’t exactly swamped with offers—to be more accurate, I had precisely zero—but even if I had been, I would have been single by choice. /Which was, of course, why I was scrolling down his Timeline at 3pm on a Thursday afternoon, wondering if he was involved with any of the people in his profile picture./

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” I muttered to myself, turning off my phone with unwonted force. “Stop it.” The person sitting next to me on the bus looked at me strangely. I ran my hand through my hair, wincing as my fingers caught on the tangles, and nodded sharply to myself. That was it, I would let it drop. I was a mature adult.

I was not a mature adult. /When he accepted my friend request two minutes after I’d sent it, my stomach definitely hadn’t flipped itself over three times, and I definitely hadn’t smiled so broadly I felt like the top of my head would fall off. Definitely not. And I hadn’t dressed more carefully than usual the next day on the off chance that I’d see him on campus somewhere. Of course I hadn’t./

It’s situations like this that make self-awareness a thorough-going pain in the arse.

I firmly refused to scroll through his Timeline and see what he’d posted, or to check his relationship status. Instead, I pulled out my reader and forced myself to concentrate on Foucault’s thoughts on power all the way into uni, my highlighter squeaking in protest when I marked the important passages with more violence than was strictly necessary. I stubbornly opened the Action Music playlist on my phone as I walked to campus from the bus stop, not even looking at the Luuuurve playlist. I kept my eyes on the ground as I navigated my way through the people heading to work and school and shops, determined not to see him even if he did happen to walk by. /Which wasn’t why I kept my eyes down, of course, I wasn’t thinking about him at all, I was concentrating firmly on the panopticon and the ways in which it applied to feminist theory. Of course./

I couldn’t maintain that level of determined detachment forever, unfortunately, and I forgot myself so far as to start listening to Ed Sheeran on my way to lunch. I was feeling so good that I forgot I was supposed to be keeping my eyes down, and instead I strode along with my head up, observing the people flowing around me with a writer’s interest (although still avoiding eye contact at all costs).
The first time I saw him, I actually flinched. A second later, I realised it wasn’t him at all, just another tall guy with a neat beard. (/Curse him for having a currently popular hair-style./) I swore at myself under my breath, scaring the poor woman walking towards me as my usual /Resting Murder Face descended into Actual Murder Face/ due to my momentary irritation with myself. The second time I saw him, I managed not to react outwardly, and settled for being astonished that I could have mistaken someone with such bland eyes for him. By the fifth time, I had to physically restrain myself from slapping myself in the face. Fortunately for me, Resting Murder Face is a very good cover for this kind of nonsense.

I was definitely not a mature adult. But, by the time we were four weeks into semester, I got very good at faking it.

Well, I thought I was good at faking it.

I was wrong. All my friends noticed and laughed at me for it. I treated them to a dignified silence and determined not to look at his Timeline again. I reminded myself why I liked being single and wrote a blog post about why modern concepts of heteronormative romance were problematic.

At the beginning of week four, I found myself fighting temptation once again, seconded in a quiet corner of the library and trying to bully my brain into finishing an essay. It wasn’t a particularly scintillating topic, and 500 words in, I found myself searching for any distraction. As always, Facebook was attempting to come to my aid, and I was getting annoyed with myself about it. I managed to write two more sentences, both of which I immediately deleted, before I caved and opened my News Feed. I absolutely did not open his page. No, really! I scrolled down my News Feed, looking for his picture.

The moment I realised what I was doing I swore out loud and closed my browser.

“That bad, huh?”

I looked up into brown eyes and almost cursed again. This him was actually him.

“Maybe not that bad,” I said. By some miracle, I managed not to sound like I was being strangled.

“Mind if I join you?”

I really, really wasn’t a mature adult. It was okay, though. Turned out he wasn’t either.

Image and text: All Rights Reserved to Cambrey Payne 2017. Acknowledge sources when sharing and do not repost without original source.