Savage Delight

Page 4


“Hello,” Sophia says, and smiles at me. “You should go.”
“Ugh, no thank you. Mernich’s going to ask about my feelings and frankly I’d rather swallow a centipede than talk about those things. Or become a centipede and crawl away. Can I become a centipede? Do they allow that in America -”
“Isis,” Naomi says sternly.
“- you can become a certified lightsaber maintenance engineer in America, so I really think you should be allowed to become a bug - ”
“Arthropod,” Sophia corrects.
“ – arthropod, and Naomi! My, what big hands you have. The better to grab me with, am I right? ACK, gently, woman! I’m damaged goods!”
Naomi steers me out of the room, Sophia cheerily waving after us.
Dr. Mernich is the kind of woman who forgets to brush her hair but somehow makes the crazed lunatic look work for her, which is weird, because she works with crazies. Not that crazies are bad. I’ve met a few and am probably one of them. I just don’t know it. Or I do. But I refuse to let it get in the way of my fabulousness hard enough to require a shrink. Mernich is my way out of this place, in any case. She’s the one who’s keeping me here until she’s satisfied I’m alright in the head. Which is dumb, because mentally I am a diamond fortress of impenetrable logic and sexiness.
Dr. Mernich clears her throat. “Isis, you’re –”
“I will someday not think aloud, and that will be a sad day for humanity. Also, quieter.”
“How are you feeling today?”
“Parts of me are feeling lots of things! For instance, my intestines are feeling lots of things! That means I need to poop. Sometime in the next hour. In addition to this riveting prospect, I’m worried about my mom so if you could just write me a note so I can get out of here that’d be great.”
“What have we said about avoiding the subject with flippant jokes?”
I squirm. “Uh, it’s vaguely negative. I think.”
“And why is it vaguely negative?” She asks patiently and scribbles some more.
“Because I don’t confront anything, I just run away from it,” I recite.
“That’s right.”
“But to be clear I run away from it like a Baywatch babe, not a fat, sweaty kid in gym class. I mean, I am still fat as heckie but it’s an alluring sort of fat, you feel me?”
“Isis, do you really think you’re fat?”
“Duh. And unlovable. But you already know that.”
Her eyes spark. Of course she already knows that, she’s spent two weeks with me, talking about my life. I’d stalled around her with jokes for a good week until I realized she was the one who gives the go-ahead to let me out. And then I had to start actually cooperating with an adult. Ugh.
“You already know everything about me, right?” I tilt my head. “So c’mon. Why don’t you just let me out of this – pardon my French – absolute shithole?”
She adjusts her glasses. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. I’m certain there are still some things we need to work on. You’re close, but not quite there.”
Even this shrink is obvious. Her self-satisfied little smile as she says that gives it all away. The trophies and awards lining her stuffy walls give it away.
“You like it. Knowing things about people. It makes you feel powerful.”
Dr. Mernich looks up from her scribbling, the faintest whiff of startled hanging around her.
“Excuse me?”
“You. Like. The. Ego. Trip. Shrinking. Gives. You,” I say slowly. “I understand. I see things about people and I just love knowing I know. It’s weird. It’s stupid. But mostly it’s fun and it makes me feel superior. Maybe I’ll turn it into a way to make money someday, too. I gotta think about that kind of stuff, you know, with college and everything a few months away.”
Mernich is completely frozen for point four seconds, and then she starts scribbling madly. She does that when I say something super interesting that she can dissect. So she scribbles a lot. Because I am, objectively, an insanely interesting person. I better be! I work hard to be interesting, dammit!
“Anyway what was I saying?” I scratch my chin. “Right, I feel really cooped up and sort of tired of hospitals. Also I feel bad for Sophia. Did you know she has no parents? And her grandma died? How sucky is all that death? Majorly sucktastic.”
Mernich nods. “I’m her psychologist as well. She’s quite the strong girl, if a little tragic.”
“Wow. That’s sort of condescending? I said I feel bad for her but you went straight to giving her labels like tragic? Wow. That’s interesting. Wow.”
I can see Mernich start a glare behind her glasses, but she quickly cuts it off and resumes her usual passive face. Oh, she’s good. But not better than me. Not better than Jack.
I pause, my swinging legs stopping under the chair. Jack? Where did that come from? How would I know Jack is any good? I haven’t been around him for more than thirty seconds that first time when I woke up and he yelled at me.
“What about Jack, Isis?”
“Uh, I don’t know. It just…it just popped into my head. Which is weird. I mean, most things that pop into my head are really weird, like that one time when I thought about Shrek in Victoria’s Secret underwear, but I think this actually beats Shrek’s Secret.”
Mernich leans back. “What do you remember before the incident, Isis?”
“I was applying to colleges. Boring.”
“And before that?”
“I…I was at school. And I – I yelled. At someone. I don’t remember who. Kayla, maybe. Maybe Wren? Yeah, I think Wren.”
“What did you yell about?”
My palm suddenly stings, and I remember the sudden feeling of slapping someone.
“I slapped someone. I yelled and I slapped them. Wren must’ve done something stupid, I don’t know.”
“And before that? Do you remember any major events?”
“There was a party. A big one. Avery’s house. Halloween – I dressed up as Batgirl.”
“Did Kayla go?”
“Yeah, she was a mermaid. Her and her boyfriend – ugh, what’s his name? I don’t remember his name, but I know I slightly despised him.”
“Despise is an awfully strong feeling.”
“Yes well being alive is an awfully strong feeling.”
“Isis –”
“I didn’t like him. Or, something about him rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know.”
“And can you recall what happened at the party?”
My head suddenly gives a massive throb, my spine tingling with pain. I squeeze my eyes shut and rub them.
“Isis? What can you remember?”
Leo’s face comes back, leering at me from the doorway. Panic wells up in my throat. I’m not going to be able to save Mom.
“I – I don’t know! Stuff!”
“Try to remember specifics. Did you drink anything? Did you dance? Who was wearing what costume?”
“Wren was…he was a green guy. Link! Link from Zelda. And I drank…coke. I think. With rum. Don’t tell my Mom that. We joke about me drinking but she doesn’t really know I drink. And I danced and there was someone –”