Ripped from the safety of earth...
Launched at warp speed into deep space, I brace myself against the thrust.
The conversation in the control room, already fragmented into squeals and clicks by static, is consumed by the raging roar of rocket engines.
We’re in the doctor’s office waiting our turn. He arrives and hands me a clipboard with a questionnaire. I have all the wrong answers for the all too familiar questions, before I realize that I am filling out a second copy of the questionnaire and that I skipped the back of the first copy. Pause, rewind, record. I total up the score. Diagnosis: Depression. I review my answers. Pause. Rewind. Make one correction. Re-total the score. Diagnosis: Depression. I hand back the clipboard.
The doctor reads my response and chuckles to himself. “Well at least, you don’t feel like killing yourself! That’s good news. You know more about this than me. You’ve had this all your life. What do you usually take?”
As the engines die down, and we settle into the next phase of the launch, I hear myself respond, voice cracking, stuttering as the engines sputter, slow motioned several octaves lower to unrecognizability. “Well th-th-the last time was-was-was t-t-twelve years ago...”
“Yes, really 12 years ago,” my husband, Pete chimes in.
“Her old doctor. Dead now. Died a year or so later after a liver transplant. Had his own issues, but did wonders for hers. He came right over when we called. He came when no one else would come.” interrupts Pete.
“... H-h-he gave me P-P-Pro-Pro-zac, P-P-Prozac, a tr-tr-tranq-quil-lizer and and anti-anti-psychotic…C-c-clorazepan, I think. I tried P-P-Pa-xil once but n-n-noth-thing h-h-appened so I stopped.”
“Her primary care physician gave her a prescription. She took it for one or two days and then forgot to take it,” corrects Pete.
The video transmission ends abruptly, my image is distorted by the darkened monitor screens surrounding me into a million copies of Munch's “Scream”. I look for my hands to muffle my ears. Find them trembling as my sides like frightened birds. My knees are shaking. Sticking my hands in my pockets, I shift my gaze to the panoramic view of what lays ahead.
We’re home. I swallow a small white round pill and then half of a slightly larger oval blue pill with a glass of water.
We are drifting, engulfed by blackness. The earth is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps, behind us. The steady rhythm of the various meters and system checks ticks hypnotically like a hundred clocks. I sleep.
A month or so later, crash landing, I return to earth, mindfully muddled, squinting at the sunlight as I emerge from my capsule. Unable to stand steady in the surf, I make myself a moving target, wading to shore, thinking only a day has passed. Feeling more alien than earthling.
Pete begs me to follow the Doctor’s orders: Avoid crowds and don’t be the center of attention. He makes a phone call. Makes my apologies. An event is cancelled.
As I come closer to the beach, the clamor of colorfully clad children frolicking in waves mixes with rock-‘n-roll buzzing from boom boxes and the chorus of cries from shrieking volley ball players and their admiring fans. I take in the familiar scent of suntan oil, sea salt, hot dogs and sun-drenched nakedness.
Swimmers interrupt their summer pastime to come ashore. They wake their sun-seeking partners to point out the slowly approaching slim silvered figure shimmering above the waves.
The Zoloft is working. The doctor says I only need to take it for six to nine months and everything will be okay. Maybe, I’ll have another episode in 15 years. Maybe never. He reminds us both that it’s just a chemical imbalance in the brain. Something is off with my Serotin levels. Nothing is innately wrong with me. I’m not crazy. What a relief. I just act nuts.
I sit down on the hot sand. A dripping boy comes up to me behind a rolling beach ball and invites me to play. Accepting, I putt back the ball.
“Are you an angel?” he asks retrieving his prize. “I saw you fall from the sky.”
“No just a space explorer, home at last,” I reply.
Roxanne Hoffman, a former Wall Street banker, now answers a patient hotline for a major New York home health care provider. Her poetry is anthologized in The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology By Gang Members And Their Affiliates (Soft Skull Press) and can be heard during the independent film, “Love & The Vampire,” directed by David Gold. Her poems have recently appeared in Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, Best Poem: A Literary Journal, Champagne Shivers, Clockwise Cat, MOBIUS The Poetry Magazine, Mirror Dance and in the Canadian journal Inscribed. She and her husband own the small press, POETS WEAR PRADA, specializing in limited edition poetry chapbooks. Visit her online at http://poetswearprada.blogspot.com/ to find out how you can submit your poetry and micro fiction to our annual anthology (tell her Danse Macabre sent you).