Jake hung out
by the pharmacy desk and glared at his watch.
How long did it take to fill a bottle of Zoloft
anyway? For six years he’d come to this pharmacy, same refill
every month. Yet they never had it ready, never paid attention when
he called the prescription in.
He thumbed through a carousel of brochures. Shit,
there was a disorder to explain all your faults. He picked up a
glossy pamphlet. Feeling dramatic, too emotional, needing more
attention? You may have Histrionic Personality Disorder. Is your
loved one self-important, arrogant, and yet too needy? You might be
dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Jake snickered. Having problems getting laid, can’t
get off with the love of your life? Sexual Aversion Disorder may be
your problem. God, whatever happened to the uniquely weird, not
damaged or sick but just different? What about for the
twenty-something male, living in a room over his mother’s garage,
miserably alone, hopelessly gay, wishing his life weren’t so
fucked up? What disorder covered that?
He knew what his mother would say. “You kids
today, you don’t know what it is to suffer. You don’t know what
it means to not have enough food, or to worry we might die in a war.
You have too much time on your hands to sit around and feel sorry
Jake remembered eavesdropping on his parents when
he was a kid, listening as they talked about him. Even then his
mother’s voice had given him a headache.
“Roger, what are we going to do about Jake? This
sickness he has about other boys?”
“Do you think it’s some kind of injury? Maybe
he knocked his head on something, we should take him in for a CAT
“Roger, take him to a psychiatrist. The boy
needs some help.”
So they’d treated him for the melancholy and
hoped it’d cure the rest. Two for one,
cure-the-sadness-kill-the-gayness. And like an idiot, he swallowed
their solution, just for the chance to be accepted.
But what if his sadness was just a trait, he
wanted to argue. Like dark hair, green eyes, being gay? People used
to think homosexuality was an illness; hell, his mother still did.
What if his sadness was just the same, something to be accepted, not
to be cured? Jake took a look at the blue-smocked pharmacist,
counting out pills, white, green, and brown. Behavior modification
for the ill-adjusted — the thought popped unbidden into his head.
He walked out of the pharmacy empty-handed.
Vanitha Sankaran is
currently writing a collection of vignettes, to be titled Ordinary
Lives. Her current work can be found in recent issues of Prose Ax,
The Paumanok Review, and Mindprints.