Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)
TITLE: Suicidal Thoughts
By Steve Uppendahl
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“I don’t blame you.”
The patient is struck silent, not just by what he’s just heard, but by the lack of hesitancy.
“I’m serious, Doctor.”
“I know you are. I have many patients who feel like that.”
The patient glares at his psychiatrist.
“I know what you’re doing and I don’t like it. Don’t compare me to other patients. We both know I’m far more complex than anyone you’ve met. And don’t think by looking out the window when you speak to me that I believe for one second you’re treating me as nonchalantly as you appear.”
The doctor leans back, sitting deep into his brown, leather chair. He crosses his meaty arms and stares intently at his patient.
His voice is flat. “I never treat any of my patients that way. Yes, you’re complex. You live a life that I can’t even fathom.”
Puzzlement and concentration furrow the patient’s brow, forcing his numerous facial scars and pockmarks to deepen like craters on the moon.
“Then why provoke me?”
Doctor Ola sighs and runs a hand over his balding scalp.
“Because I’m out of options. Anger is the only card I have left to play.”
He covers his double chin with his left hand and stares at the ceiling.
“Very few people commit suicide when they’re angry. It refocuses their attention elsewhere, at least temporarily. I’ve been expecting this from you, and honestly, it’s all I have left. I…don’t know what else to do. I meant what I said before. I don’t know how you’ve lasted this long.”
The patient forces a half smile. “Aren’t I supposed to be the frustrated and desperate one?”
The doctor gives a sardonic chuckle and rubs the stubble on a flabby cheek.
“How do you do it, Red? Being pulled in so many directions, all day and night, every day and night…all that damage done to you, those scars and cuts...I don’t even know your real name…”
Red shakes his head and sits on the plush, suede couch. “It’s really only two directions. It’s just that they’re always pulling at me from opposite sides and they’re amazingly strong.”
Red rubs a prominent scar along the side of his jaw line and glares at his doctor.
“We’ve been over this.”
Doctor Ola holds up both his hands, “I know. Humor me for one minute. Tell me again about the blood.”
Red sighs, closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose.
Doctor Ola grimaces slightly at Red’s gnarled knuckles and jagged scars crisscrossing his fingers.
“I’m trying, one last time, to understand. You were chosen to represent the color Red. Why was only one given this burden?”
Red stares at the chocolate colored carpet until his vision blurs. His voice is barely audible as he shakes his head.
“I never said I was the only one.”
Red sighs in frustration and looks at his own hands. He traces an index finger down a recent scab racing horizontally across his palm.
“I’ve seen how you always look at my hands. They’re the worst. I know you’re fixated on the blood, but it’s just an example.
“Everywhere Red is present; I am present, at least spiritually. I’m constantly pounded by extreme love and hate. We need blood to live, but one gash can end it swiftly. Some people get sick at the sight of blood, while others flock to movie theaters to see buckets of it.
“It’s the same with everything. Red stands for love, passion, balloons, Clifford the Big Red Dog and more sports teams than I can count. While at the same time, it stands for hate, rage, danger, even the Devil himself.”
Grunting in frustration, the doctor rises. “I get that part. Why does it injure you? It isn’t right.”
Another half-smile pulls at the patient’s lips.
“Since when do Light and Darkness play fair? Think about it, Doc. Darkness wants to hurt, to weaken. Light wants to heal and regenerate.”
For several moments the doctor is silent, his brain racing, trying to find the missing piece. Light wants to heal.
“The dark side of Red wants to kill you, but the light side Heals you?”
Deep creases form across the doctor’s brow.
“Then you can’t kill yourself.”
The patient walks to the door, turns and smiles.
“Sometimes I need more than Light to regenerate. Sometimes I need a reminder of why I do this and who I do it for.”
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