“Our Local Pharmacist”

He records his conversations. He’s collected years and years of audio correspondence with us. Lately he doles out placebos because he’s become convinced that everything is just neurosis. Cancer doesn’t exist. The lump in his throat is the spare Adam’s apple, fibrous tissues and nerves tied together with a blue ribbon, rolling through his spine to meet his tail. That tail that never wags, even when a juicy skirt strolls by. There’s no such thing as the flu. Coughs are for reminding us that he exists, like the buzz of the fluorescent, the hum of the air handler, the crunching of the weathered laminate. We have no heart conditions. Purely Freudian. The throb in his left arm is just a memory from his childhood, the errant balloon and his father pulling him back into the house, the both of them crying. The red bauble floating awkwardly into the clouds, fighting with the breeze as if to ask, Why did you leave me? Why wasn’t I enough? At night in his study he listens to the recordings. He notes the hesitations, the cold in our voices, avoidant glances, the music playing overhead. He drinks a glass of mulled wine. He points his left forefinger to his left temple. He still has a pulse.

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About Nina Ficenec

Nina Ficenec currently resides in the Southeastern United States with her little boy.