:: Article


By Tiff Holland.

After the fitness assessment at the gym: average strength, excellent flexibility, overweight, I stop at the house briefly, to grab my sandals and make a sandwich. My tennis shoes are sweaty because after the assessment I shot some hoops. I didn’t plan on it. It’s not on my doctor-approved activities list, but I can’t resist the hardwood, the squeak of tennis shoes, the texture of the ball. I shot for thirty minutes, running after missed shots. Four of us shared the basket, and I had to be careful not to run into the others or get hit by a ball. My right side isn’t bad, but I have no idea what’s coming from the left. It’s like a giant blind spot. Sounds are muffled and motion registers as a skein over my senses. When I finished playing, the whole left side of my head was numb.

Ray bought large thick sandwich rolls, and I cut one in half. I think about the trainer, Josh, telling me I need to cut carbs, but I’m really not worried about it. I lay down a slice of cheddar and some ham. I grab a soda and shake out one of the pills I take at lunch, when I realize I have no recollection of breakfast, which means I have no idea whether or not I took the handful of pills I take with my yogurt or cereal. Shit. I put the pill in my pocket and look for clues.

I head into the bedroom and look at the bottles, at the note that tells me how many milligrams of blood thinner to take each day. One day it’s five and one day it’s four and every day after I take the pills, I flip the note to expose the next day’s numeral. I can’t remember by the note, as I don’t remember flipping it, and I can’t remember by the placement of the bottles. Sometimes, I move the next bottle forwards, and somedays I don’t.

I check the two bottles by the bed. These are the pills I take before I actually get up, because they need to be taken on an empty stomach. They are upside down, which means I took them. Back in the kitchen I look at the water glass still on the coaster from this morning. I brought the glass out, but that doesn’t mean I drank from it. I sit down and think. I had two hours before the assessment, so I had time to eat. Since I wasn’t going to aquatics, I didn’t have to worry that eating would make me sick to my stomach. I take a sip of water, warm. I get up and look in the sink. There’s a cereal bowl with a spoon in it. It looks like evidence, but I have no memory of it sitting there. I haven’t seen it as I moved around the house. I don’t know if I put it there, although it’s a good bet unless Ray put it there. I think about calling Ray at work, casually working it into the conversation: so, what did you have for breakfast, hon. But if he figures out I’ve forgotten he’ll get onto me to get out the big green pill dispenser again, because it’s not the cereal or whatever that matters but whether or not I took the pills. If he knows the depth of forgetting he’ll be after me again to pop the pills in slots and slip them out as I take them. It would be a step backwards.

Finally, I decide fuck it. If I forgot the Neurontin, my ear will start ringing. I’ll take some Valium. I’ll feel a little sleepy, but the ear will quiet. I can’t take an extra blood thinner, that would be dangerous, but I can take an Advil, which would be just enough to raise my four dose to five if I took the pills, and therefore not be dangerous, and would give me some blood thinning if I’ve forgotten entirely. Forgetting the allergy pill is no big deal, I can always use my nasal spray. The antidepressant is a problem. I feel depressed if I miss it, but my new ADHD pill seems to counteract that. I decide to let it go. I get my sandwich out of the fridge, corral the dogs into their cage, throwing each one a Milk-Bone and making sure Sky doesn’t steal Tuck’s.

At the end of the driveway I say “garage door” out loud to help myself remember I’m pushing the button. I take a bite of sandwich, opening wide, swallowing, then I pop open the can of Dr. Pepper, pull the pill from my pocket and wash it down. It’s a capsule, like the Neurontin, and it sticks a little in my throat, which reminds me of the Neurontin sticking a little this morning. How all the other pills travelled neatly past my tongue, but the Neurontin hesitated and I took another swig of water to help it down.


Tiff Holland
’s poetry and prose have appeared in dozens of litmags, anthologies and ezines and have twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She’s an adjunct instructor at Austin Community College.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, June 18th, 2011.