“Class Two” by Virginia Aronson
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
by Virginia Aronson
We’re in the elevator and Jancy is climbing up the metal wall, using my knee as a stepladder. “Look Mom, I’m rappelling,” she says, bouncing up and down on my thigh.
I want to yell at her but I need her like this.
“Be sure to do that when we get to the doctor’s office,” I tell her. “Climb up the white coat’s leg and jump off.”
She leaps down. “Rappel, you mean.”
We smile at one another. She has vanilla cookie crumbs on her lips and between her crooked teeth. When I straighten her tangled auburn braid, which has loosened so much it looks more like a tassel, she pulls away. The elevator stops and we get out. Jancy skips down the sand-colored hall. She pirouettes, tumbles forward into a handstand, then drops, her face pressed to the dirty floor.
I should run over, see if she’s okay. My hands are sweating, my throat is dry. “Be sure to do that in the white coat’s office,” I tell my daughter when I catch up. I’m standing over her and she’s pretending to breaststroke across the tile. “And show him your awesome backflip, if there’s room.”
She pops up, crawls on all fours for a minute, then jumps to her feet and runs ahead. I feel lightheaded, like I’ve dreamed this before. Jancy darts around, calling over her shoulder, “What’s his name? Which door is it?”
In the indoor-outdoor carpeted waiting room, she builds a tottering Lego tower and hums loudly, tunelessly, aggressively. The other kids shy away from the toy pile, cowering near their smooth-skirted mothers who sit stiffly, skimming old magazines. I chew the insides of my cheeks, taste blood. My fingernails are dirty, gnawed to the quick. I tuck them between my jittering knees.
When the nurse calls us into the inner sanctum, Jancy races ahead, jostling past the doctor’s office staff as she bounces from room to room. She peeks into cubicles, says hello and hiya.
“Please collect your child,” the office manager tells me. She peers at Jancy over the tops of her half-glasses. “Somebody needs her Ritalin.”
My heart leaps and twirls, a ballerina trapped in the rib cage of a liar. “She’s out. That’s why we’re here,” I manage to say, my voice warbling.
To my surprise, Dr. Abal Mendahun is a young woman. She’s pretty, fresh-looking with clean, milk chocolate skin. Her dark hair is wrapped around her head in a thick cord. Jancy says, “Wow. Is your hair down to your butt? Can I see it?”
Dr. Mendahun laughs. “Not today, sweet girl. Now, what is our visit for? School records? Flu shot?”
I give Jancy the slightest chin and she launches into her gymnastics routine, vaulting over a padded stool to lie facedown on the exam table. When the doctor looks at me, I frown, say, “Jancy, please control yourself. Sit up and talk to the doctor.”
Jancy worm-wriggles to the edge of the table, rolls off. On the floor, she assumes the lotus position. Her skinny legs look like folded chopsticks. “We are all one,” she says. “We should look at ourselves outside the drama of our lives.”
“She heard that on Dr. Oz,” I tell the doctor.
Actually, I’m not sure this is true. I’m sweating and the room spins, so I sit down in the folding chair in the corner. Usually I stand throughout these visits, nervous, waiting to get caught, accused, arrested, and outed for what I am. But it never happens.
“What is she taking?” Dr. Mendahun asks.
I rattle off today’s cover story. “When we lived in Dayton, her pediatrician put her on Adderall. We moved to Boston and they gave her Quillivant XR. We’ve been in Miami for almost a year, and it’s been a while since I filled the prescription. We ran out weeks ago, and her father . . . Well, we have no health insurance.” My voice shakes. I want to scream, Just write out the fucking prescription, bitch. I hold my breath.
The doctor lifts one smooth eyebrow, nods. A cool customer. She’s seen it all before. She pets Jancy’s head and asks her to disrobe. There will be a physical exam, some lab tests, then I will get my Ritalin.
Soon I will feel so much better. I’ll be calm, filled with serene energy. I will be the kind of mother my daughter deserves.
VIRGINIA ARONSON is the author of nonfiction books on topics ranging from mental illness and creativity to UFOs and inexplicable medical cures. Her short fiction collection J’Adoube (I Adjust) was published by World Audience in 2011. Under a pen name, she publishes pulpy novellas and novels. She lives in South Florida in the midst of pain clinics, gators and snowbirds. Visit at www.virginiaaronsonwriter.com.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Jan 9, 2014
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