“No Doors” by Lisa Martens
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.)
This week, Lisa Martens brings us a tale of epilepsy medication and some of its less-discussed side effects.
When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. The Dallas school district saw I was brown, so they stuck me in ESL classes with the other brown children.
The actual problem was that I was having over a hundred minor seizures per day.
“We usually see this in children when they’re much younger. Are you sure she didn’t have these symptoms earlier? She’s very far along,” one doctor said.
My parents didn’t have a good response. I didn’t live with my dad until I was seven, and my mom didn’t have custody of me until I was four. I was in foster homes; in my grandma’s house; under the care of my fifteen-year-old aunt who drove without a license, let me drink coffee in the front seat, and met her boyfriend at the park while I played.
“You’re lucky she hasn’t had any major seizures. Once that happens, the damage is usually permanent, the treatment way more aggressive. Very, very lucky.”
He prescribed Zarontin.
“Watch her behavior with this. If you see anything strange, anything at all, call my office immediately.”
By thirteen, I was selling prescription drugs to my curious friends. My mom was on sleeping pills, anti-depressants, Xanax. I sold those and sometimes sold my Zarontin. Usually someone bought one Zarontin pill just for the novelty. It didn’t get you high or help you with your homework or help you have sex with anyone, but everyone wanted to be able to say they tried seizure medication.
I sold drugs to get some lunch, maybe a coffee, or some shampoo from the dollar store. Mom wasn’t working due to her mysterious illness, and Dad only bought dinner for himself most of the time. The phone and the electricity had been turned off in our house several times. I had also taken to walking around drive-thru windows and picking up spare change.
My friend Dipthi was too afraid to take anything, but she loved hearing about the seizure pills. She was an anorexic dancer; she wanted to be a virgin forever; she did well in school. She just didn’t want to eat. Her mom used to call her teachers and ask when her tests were, what homework was due the next day.
We ordered a meat lover’s pizza. “I binge around you. I don’t know why,” she told me. She had her laptop and was trolling blogs for something called ‘thinspiration.’ Mom was taking one of her long naps. Dad was driving around, looking for a used air conditioner. Ours kept overheating.
“What do your pills do?”
“They burn going down. If you take too many at one time, it really burns. I get scared to sleep in rooms with doors. That’s why I have a bed in the dining room.”
“Your parents let you sleep in the dining room?”
“They don’t really have a choice. I used to wake up screaming and run out of the house. Run right into the street. I told them it was because of the doors. And I prefer a mattress right on the ground. And sometimes I have dreams while I’m awake.”
I had already told her before. “One time I saw a man come into my room with a photo album from when I was a kid. He flipped through the pages slowly. Each photo showed a member of my family tied up, cut open. He was raping my mom with a pair of tongs. I was too afraid to move. After that, I refused to sleep in a room with doors. That’s why I don’t like sleepovers.”
She stayed quiet. She was on a blog called, “I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul.”
“It used to be worse. I tried to kill myself when I was ten.”
“I don’t know.” I knew, but it was too complicated. “I swallowed a bunch of pills and my stomach hurt. I tried to crawl to my parents’ bed, but it hurt too much to say anything. I just tried to reach their bedpost for a while until I fell asleep. I woke up in a pile of my own vomit the next morning, and told my mom my stomach didn’t feel good. I never told her what I really tried to do.”
“They didn’t see that the pills were gone?”
“No. I was always responsible for that.” The doorbell rang. I stood. “I guess they just always trusted me.”
LISA MARTENS grew up in Texas, where she learned how to climb Wal-Marts and fire guns. Now she’s an aspiring writer in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where she does neither. She attends CCNY for Creative Writing and her feet hurt.
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 to [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.).
For a limited time, you can order the complete set of books in the Drug Chronicles series for only $30. Please click here for more information.
Posted: Aug 1, 2013
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