Puzzling Pieces by Louise Dragon
“You killed him!” Dr. Lewis proclaimed.
“I had to defend myself,” I pointed out. “He would have surely hurt me.”
“You can’t know that,” the doctor said warily. “Why then did you dismember the entire body? Why did you line the pieces up so neatly across the bathroom vanity? What was the point of that?”
Some went down the toilet. My mind wandered briefly. Flushing . . . flushing . . . I can see those parts and those fingers scrabbling . . . try to get back up . . . trying to hurt me . . .
“You’re the doctor.” I breathed deeply -- trying to keep the sarcasm at bay while shaking off remembered images of terror. “Haven’t you told me time after time that I have some sort of compulsive disorder? That I can’t help lining things up in neat little rows? Desk drawers, book shelves, all neat and orderly . . . no extra pieces . . .” My voice trailed off.
“Obsessive compulsive disorder would not cause you to kill.” The doctor said. “Paranoid schizophrenia, may be a harsh diagnosis but after seeing those bloody power tools . . .” It was the doctor’s turn to trail off. He rolled his eyes back slightly and shuddered.
“Because of your age, you will be kept here in the state hospital,” Dr. Lewis told me. “No visitors, allowed -- although I believe that by now you’ve managed to kill off your entire family one by one.”
I looked at the green lizards capering across the faded yellow wallpaper and said nothing.
The lizards made nice orderly rows across the walls. Some of them had heads missing, or tails. Sometimes only half a lizard was visible and my mind wondered about the missing pieces of lizard . . .
NO EXTRA PIECES! Did I say that out loud? No, the doctor still droned on.
After he left I managed to remove all of the lizards with missing pieces, scrapping them off the walls until my fingers were raw and bloody. Once the room was tidy, I could relax.
In my dream the world is orderly. Everything is arranged in neat little rows. No dangling wires to trip you up. My brother’s fingers are cool and welcoming, not hot, and grabbing. In the dream there are no extra pieces hurting and taking. In the dream my family stands in neat rows across yellow fields of wallpaper and they are complete again – like a puzzle with no missing pieces.
Across the room in the stainless steel toilet where I flushed the incomplete lizards I hear them slithering up the sides of the bowl -- fumbling and scrabbling up the wet sides of the steel bowl. They should have washed away into the dark currents of the sewers below the city by now – all the extra pieces should be gone. I fear they wait inside the building’s old plumbing.
Could they wait inside the plumbing of all the buildings in the city?
Curled into a tight little ball at the foot of my iron cot I bite down hard on my lip to make sure I’m awake when I first hear the rustling under my sheets.
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