Take Only as Directed

Reposted from ermiliablog.wordpress.com

Click the pic for the original challenge. Written for Ermilia’s Picture It & Write.

“Annie, what’s the matter with you? Did you take your medicine?”

“It isn’t ‘medicine’, Mama, it’s fucking drugs.”

“Watch your mouth, young lady! Just cuz your father isn’t home, doesn’t mean you won’t catch it later. You need to take your medicine. You heard what Dr. Zeigler said. The pills are helping with your moods.”

“Who gives a shit what Dr. Zeigler says? Let him take his own fucking ‘medicine’!”

“I’m not kidding about that tongue, Miss. Did you take your pill or didn’t you?” Mama stuck her head through my door. She tried to stare me down, but I wouldn’t look at her.

“I hate the damned pills. They turn me into a fu… frikkin zombie.”

“Hogwash. They keep you from turning into a lunatic is what. I wanna see you take it. Now.”

“I already took it.”

“Well, what the Hell’s the matter with you then? How long ago did you take it?”

“I don’t know. Twenty minutes? I took it at two o’clock like I was supposed to.”

Mama stared harder at me. It was obvious she didn’t believe me and the tone of honesty in my voice was confusing her. Her voice softened a little. “Honey, we can’t help you through this if you won’t help yourself.”

“I’m not lying, Mama.” I wasn’t exactly. “I took my pill. And how exactly is that helping me anyway?”

“They make you feel better, don’t they? You haven’t had one of your breakdowns since you started the Paxil.”

The word breakdowns pissed me off, but I let it go. “You mean I haven’t had a life, right?” I said. “They make me feel like I’m dead. That’s not ‘better’. How’s that better? Everything feels just freaky weird and nothing’s any fun. I don’t care about anything. I might as well really be dead.”

“You didn’t take your pill did you?”

“Mama!”

“Do I need to count them?” She stepped into my room and reached for the pill bottle still sitting on my desk. I snatched it up before she could take it.

“You don’t need to count anything.” Damn the tears. I couldn’t stop them from welling up. “I took my pill!”

“Maybe you just forgot,” she said, holding out her hand out for the bottle, and coaxing with her fingers.

I hate being patronized. I didn’t forget anything. Anger turned to rage, pushing the tears out and down my cheek as I handed her the bottle. She unscrewed the cap and spilled the pink caplets out on the desk, pushing her fingers through them one at a time.

“I told you you didn’t have to count them,” I said before she was done.

Mama finished counting the pills. She narrowed her eyes, obviously dissatisfied that the count was correct. It was correct though. I could see her working the math out in her head again.

“I told you,” I snipped indignantly. I tipped the plastic bottle over and started pushing the pills back in.

Mama picked one up before I could get them all back inside. Damn! I could feel my blood boiling and my ears turning red as I waited for the inevitable.

“What is this? This isn’t Paxil!” She was mad but I could hear a twinge of fear in her voice too. “What is it?”

“Mffufftmffmms,” I mumbled quietly under my breath.

“What did you say?”

“Mffufftmffmms.”

“Annie, what the Hell is in that pill bottle?”

“Multivitamins,” I enunciated, wincing a little.

Mama breathed an audible sigh of relief. It wasn’t good that she knew how I’d avoided lying. I could see her weighing our conversation and reviewing the last three days in her head. “What did you do with your prescription?” She finally asked.

I didn’t answer.

She snapped the pill down briskly so it made a loud click on my desk. “Where are the pills I paid for?”

“I flushed them,” I squirmed.

“Flower Anne Schilde! Do you have any idea how much that prescription cost?”

“You could have bought the generics.”

“They didn’t have a generic this time! That was a $50 prescription!”

“I’m sorry,” I started crying for real. “You don’t know what it’s like. I hate them.”

I wasn’t sorry. Paxil is the fourth inhibitor they’ve put me on now. They all make me feel like I have acid for blood. It’s kind of like the way you feel when you’re coming down with a flu, and they make life seem just about as exciting as the flu. I’d rather have my “breakdowns” as Mama calls them. At least I feel like I’m me.

Mama watched me cry for a bit. “Honey, look at yourself. You’re not doing anyone any favors by not taking the medication.”

“Jessi says she doesn’t like me when I take them,” I sobbed.

“Jessi, the Jessi who sends you home with that potty mouth, Jessi? Was it her idea to switch your pills?”

“No!” It actually was Jessi who suggested they looked just like the multivitamins in her cabinet, but the switch was my idea.

“What am I going to do with you?” Mama put her hand on my back and rubbed it gently. The rare show of affection tied a knot in my stomach, forcing the tears furiously down my cheeks. I wished she would hug me, but I could only sit shaking under the touch of her hand. “I can’t make you take anything you don’t want to take,” she said. “And I can’t have you flushing $50 down the toilet.” She lifted her hand and walked slowly away.

“Mama?”

She stopped at my door and waited.

“What are you going to tell, Daddy?”

She took a deep breath. I could feel the weight of her disappointment crushing my back where her hand had been. “I suppose I’ll have to think of something, won’t I?” she said. She left and closed the door.

© 2012 Anne Schilde

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About Anne Schilde

Image "Webster's Kiss" © 2011 Anne Schilde Thanks always for reading! ♥
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25 Responses to Take Only as Directed

  1. Your stories always nail the conflict right in the heart. That is something I struggle with. I am forever jealous of your ability to tap into emotion so well.

  2. nightlake says:

    so sad for the poor girl…and the unhappy mother…a very good story..apt for the picture..

  3. muZer says:

    I am split between the mother and the daughter. Both of them have made such a convincing portrayal of what they expect the other to do. I think the daughter wants a little understanding and the mother just wants this to end so both are justified. Love the angle you gave to the picture and the helplessness you brought out in both the characters instead of one.

  4. Ermilia says:

    I’m absolutely on the fence between the two characters. Studying psychotherapy drugs is depressing in and of itself. There are often many side effects because our researchers just don’t have it right yet. For some they work, but for many, they always talk about “becoming a zombie”. In those situations, I think it’s always best to do multiple therapies. Drugs on their own aren’t the answer but they can help. It’s a shame that many individuals live with that battle of “breakdowns” or feeling like a zombie. Thanks for writing such a thought-provoking piece, Anne! 🙂

    – Ermisenda

    • Anne Schilde says:

      The important thing to me was to show my reasons for crying while also showing that I did not take the serotonin inhibitor. I wanted to leave as much of the rest up to you as I could.

  5. joetwo says:

    A very good piece. I love how the mother called them “pills” and the girl “drugs” a question of semantics that makes all the difference to perception.

  6. yerpirate says:

    That scene was alive – totally, with real, innate tension. Very well created. The door may have closed at the end but the problem hasn’t.
    I wish she’d hugged her. I blame the mother, totally, completely, utterly, for not giving that hug.

  7. Wow. so realistic, compelling. the language, the relationship, the control issues, the symbiosis, the need to get better, the fight against getting better…

    Your tight use of language. the shortened paragraphs, the pacing… were terrific. You handled the dialogue superbly. Everything flowed so nicely, and I was in the fray with them.

    You’re great.

    Randy

    • Anne Schilde says:

      I was dreaming about this the night before Ermi posted the picture, so it was pretty real for me. I’m glad if I was able to get out of the way enough for the story to flow.

  8. Wonderful, Anne.. You are such a wonder..
    I read that as though it was happening right in my room and I was the ‘secret’ onlooker… Very compelling, Anne… You are a whiz..! 🙂

    • Anne Schilde says:

      I try to immerse myself in these characters when I write them, so to me it feels more like acting than writing. It’s a problem sometimes because there are things I know about them that never get written.

      For example, maternal love skips a generation in this family. Annie’s grandmother treats Annie with affection, but treats Annie’s mother with estrangement, and she hates Annie’s father. Annie’s mother resents the bond between her mother and daughter, and she unconsciously avoids being affectionate with Annie because of it. All you read is that there is a touch on the back that Annie wishes was a hug.

      Anyway, I’m always glad if you enjoyed it, Carolyn. Thanks for your comments!

  9. Phil Gayle_For Singles and Couples says:

    What makes this piece so good is the fact that it is ‘sadly’, a common real-world situation.
    That which is supposed to cure, is only a plaster, masking problems rather than fixing them.
    They are pills, yet they are drugs, which can be highly addictive and it’s almost as if Flower knows that on a subconscious level…They need to find a better solution…

    Love the tension and emotion Anne, just like watching a good drama/thriller. 😉

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Thanks for the observation, Phil! I try to keep it real most of the time. Sadly, better solutions usually involve patience and work and stuff like that. It’s easy to let ourselves believe in short-cuts.

  10. Nanda says:

    I’m gonna publish my next poem- the one for this challenge – and you’ll see I’ll agree with Flower Anne about not taking those meds… In a more realistic way, I have a lot of things to debate about it too, haha. But not here! Miss you!

    • Anne Schilde says:

      Sure, this isn’t the right place to debate things anyway… maybe some people. I try to show two sides with compassion for both. Sorry about the missing… I’ve been on vacation, but I had a lot of fun!!

      • Nanda says:

        I’m glad to know you had fun and that you’re back! 🙂 Yeah, sometimes I’m harsh, but I don’t think medication is the answer… Maybe it helps, in some few cases… Not in Annie’s. 😉

  11. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Wow, Anne, I haven’t been here a while, but this one, it really hits. REALLY hits….

    I wish you a happy new year, I really hope you’re ok… Like, this doesn’t relate to your LIFE, does it??

    I’m sorry, Anne, but the diagnosis and the pills, in my instance, actually relieved me of continuing the pain of my childhood. It truly did. I recommend diagnosis.

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