Never Cold Enough
L. Rose Givens
Receive email from former high school teacher. Highlights: “So glad I found you! I've contacted some of your classmates and it's amazing! One was nominated for a Pulitzer, others are top doctors and CEOs...lots have families, some with children already in grade school! I'd love to hear what you've been up to!” To top it off, “I always thought you had the most promise.”
Stare at message on screen. Feel sick. Take a Xanax.
Debate carefully typing out, “Thiss nat rite purson, I nuhvuh graduhahed 7th grayed.” Realize he probably has your picture, your home address, cell and maybe even Social Security number if he's scoured the Web long enough. Wonder if he ever seemed the stalker type. It was the seventies; hard to distinguish a porn 'stache from a regular mustache.
Try, and fail, to imagine how the truth can be construed in a good light. Anything but, “I can't seem to finish my PhD in Ancient Greek and Latin, and I've discovered I hate teaching (no offense to your illustrious profession). I need money so badly I took a job at Taco Hut, but who knows? Rolling burritos could be the pinnacle of my career.”
Consider continuing with, “How's this for success? I've been sober thirteen days. Thirteen whip-lashed, mind-lashed, crashed-and-still-burning (I'm sure you don't know the feeling) long fucking days. Good thing, though. because it's so cold in this greasy icicle of a town that if I got drunk and fell down outside, I'd probably freeze to death. Then my goldfish Fifi would lose the only family she's got.”
Start internet search to learn at which temperature a person freezes to death. While entering search terms, see that first result suggested is “at what temperature does beer freeze.” Question why so many people wish to freeze beer (vodka shots are your specialty). To hoard large quantities in case of a beer-mergency? Make hopsy popsicles? Hold a 21-and-over sculpture-carving contest?
Take another Xanax.
Decide that freezing people, or a person, is more important at the moment. Click on multiple links, but fail to find data on exact air temperature needed for icy demise. Frostbite, you read, occurs only below freezing. Realize that killing an entire human, rather than just fingers and toes, would take a more intense cold. Slap head. Make mental note confirming status of brain as half-dead already.
Check the temperature online. Find it is a few degrees above freezing, but “feels like” several degrees below. Wonder if wind chill factors in to the fatal equation.
Check again. Note with annoyance that temperatures will not cross the freezing mark the whole damn black night.
Pop another Xanax.
Read more. Discover that if it is raining, hypothermia can be induced at temperatures above freezing. (Listen carefully. It is raining). Ponder this fact.
Look at Fifi dawdling in her bowl across the room. Wonder, if you sleep outside, how Fifi would know when to go to bed. If she would be scared. If goldfish can get scared, and if so, how long they can remember to be scared. Remain convinced that Fifi is no ordinary goldfish.
Visit a random but high-traffic forum on Craigslist. Declare your allegiance to Fifi and post the question of whether it's silly to think she needs you. Receive reply within seconds: “Not silly. You have a responsibility.” Feel comforted.
Begin to wonder if anonymous poster was joking. Take another Xanax.
Remind self of need to wean off Xanax. (Doubt that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would ignore a second shipment from Hong Kong after that recent warning letter. Or that they would take “total disillusionment with modern psychiatry” as a valid excuse).
Remember horror story of seizures from stopping Xanax too soon. Decide to search online for “how to wean...” but realize first suggestions will likely involve weaning a baby. Try to put out of mind the only-hinted-at wish of mother that you were weaning a baby instead of gazing at Fifi, who, “is not human, okay?” Resist urge to email mother that Fifi is more loving than a lot of people and may live longer than some too.
Consider other phrases for search. “Getting off...?” Scratch that. Hate internet. Close internet. Note sleepiness descending. Say goodnight to Fifi, and tell her you guess you'll be there to turn on her sun.
Brush teeth and wash face while pondering why it is so easy to find adolescent boy fun online but so damn difficult to get some simple information about how to eradicate oneself properly. Wonder if Fifi had a part in this. “Don't kill the hand that feeds you” or whatever.
But not just the hand. That would suck. Let thoughts melt away as you curl into warm bed. Frostbite hurts, and then you'd be alive and couldn't even type normally. And it's not even cold enough...
About the author:
L. Rose Givens lives in the Midwest, where she believes there is a market for hopsy popsicles.