The Couch

Episode One: Gehenna

Comments on Episode One: Gehenna


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Posted 03/04/06 - 10:30 PM:

trying my hand at some episodic fiction. to be continued... lib


What's happening to me? she thought, in a panic. She felt paralyzed. She tried to move her right arm but it seemed foreign, distant and heavy, like a black rock on the ocean floor of some other dimension, not her own.

Oh no, not this. It's happening again.

She strained to open her eyelids but they were sealed shut by their own dead weight. She listened carefully for a heartbeat, for a breath of air moving through her lungs, but perceived nothing but blackness, silence, stifling stillness all around.

I'm dead.

No. No. No. I can't be dead, I can't be! Wake up! Wake up! She concentrated her attention on her right arm, until she began to feel some sensation in the tips of her fingers. They felt numb and tingly. Come on, come on, come on, you can do it. Suddenly, like fire catching on, her right arm came alive and began to flail aimlessly against her upper body, as if some alien being were walking along and found a dead arm laying on the ground, had picked it up and amused itself by using it to beat on her chest. Finally, although the rest of her was still immobile, she was able to open her eyes, and saw Bemis standing solemnly at the foot of her bed.

"It's no use, Sarah," he said. "It's too late. You're dead."

She woke up screaming.

After a moment of sitting in bed, gasping for air, a strange calm washed over her and she looked blankly around her room. It was 10:37am. She tried to remember what day it was. Sunday? She wondered where her roommates were. She wondered if Bemis was around. She wondered if anyone had heard her screaming.

Groggily, she pulled the purple quilt off of her bed and snatched the brand new pack of cigarettes from her dresser, beating it against her palm to pack the tobacco, and drew out a fresh cigarette. Wrapping the quilt tightly around her, she settled into the rocking chair on the front porch and lit her cigarette, marveling to herself as she often did that there was nothing better in the world than a lighting up a brand new cigarette on a cold winter morning.

Bemis. Where the fuck is he. What's happening to us? Is it over? What was I thinking, anyway, dating a guy named Bemis Moo. He's a Moo-Moo head. Her momentary twinge of guilt over making fun of his name was suddenly absolved by the distant memory of him once giving her shit over her own name, Sarah Lee. Yeah, whatever. Let them eat cake.

And then, there he was, walking up the steps, staring at her gloriously while his black hair fell into his eyes with their customary allure while she stared back, revealing all the emotion of a taxidermied badger. Once he reached the top of the steps, he said, "You're completely fucking insane to be out here smoking in this cold weather."

"Come now, don't hedge," she said. "Tell me how you really feel."

He took a deep breath and looked away. "This is really hard for me, Sarah."

He took another deep breath; "I'm leaving you."

"What? Why?"

"I can't stay here anymore and watch you mutilate your soul. It kills me. It kills me to see you kill yourself, dying this miserable slow death, bit by bit, every day."

"Yeah, well, life kind of works that way, haven't you noticed? Living is dying. Everyone dies a little every day."

"Not the way you do."

"You used to appreciate my jagged edge. I think it used to turn you on."

"Now it just seems bitchy."


"I've got a buddy up in Seattle; he says I can come stay with him for a while. I packed all my stuff this morning, while you were sleeping. I'm heading up there today."

She stared at the ghost of her cigarette, streaming away from her in grey ribbons. "What am I supposed to say right now, at this very moment? Don't go? I need you? I love you? I want you to stay?"

"This is what I'm talking about. I don't even know how to answer that. Maybe if I could identify the sincerity half the time... I don't know. You don't need me. You don't need anyone. I'll take with me the possibility that some part of you does love me. The rest you can keep."

"Well, fuck you, then."

"Yeah, fuck you, too."

"I'll miss you, B."

"Likewise... Goodbye, Sarah."

Then, like it wasn't really happening but it was, Bemis Moo turned and walked down the steps, got into his car and drove away. Hot tears rolled out of her eyes and splashed down onto the purple quilt. She took one last drag from her cigarette which, like everything else in this Gehenna moment, was ending too soon.
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Posted 03/15/06 - 5:20 PM:

Nice. I feel the bleak wintr morning, and sense that this situation is not neithr new for Sarah, nor likely to be the final one of its kind. But I wondr, why it is that to paint desparate charactrs we tend to portray them as smoking...?



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Posted 03/19/06 - 9:33 AM:

thank you for the feedback, t, much appreciated. one could definitely think of sarah as dangling on a nicotine thread...
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Avatar Paul
Posted 03/23/06 - 1:04 AM:

Nicely descriptive. I like the imagery of "revealing all the emotion of a taxidermied badger." laughing The dream part makes a good intro, draws me in.

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Avatar e.
Posted 03/23/06 - 5:25 AM:

Hi lib,

I thought the last line, about the cigarette 'ending too soon' was brilliant. At moments of real crisis, we often see something else somehow connected with our pain. It is the beginning of a period of seeing everything connected with our pain.

Cheers, e

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Posted 03/27/06 - 5:31 PM:

hey miss

i finally found the courage to read your masterpiece
in the end it read much lighter and easier than i imagined,
it's like midnight said.. you can feel the bleek winter morning, on the verge of being deceivingly comfortable and chilly, swinging to both sides occasionally

beautiful work

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Posted 03/30/06 - 3:48 PM:

thanks everyone for your feedback. i'm looking forward to writing the next episode.

smiling facelib
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