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Fiction #430
(published April 16, 2009)
Mrs. S
by Eric Suhem
"So what about it, Mrs. S?" said Professor Sneedwillow, staring into the terrarium, stethoscope against the glass, searching for responses. "Is it an issue with Mother, with Father, or some other authority figure? Is it a chemical imbalance which can be treated by an antidepressant? Is it an experience in your childhood? Is it possession by the Dark Spirit, or by the Angels? Are you paying the debt, in your incarnation, for something that happened in a past life? Is it the fallout from a dream last night? Is it God, acting through your body, which is just a vessel? Is it a curse from an unidentifiable source? Is it some random bad experience you had earlier in the day, which is insinuating itself upon your general life outlook?" Mrs. S looked at him. "How about primal scream therapy, in a happy way?" suggested the professor. Mrs. S stared into Professor Sneedwillow's pupils, which displayed oceans of nothing.

"Some spirits are on different missions, you can't always line them up in rows that can be categorized," she replied.

Professor Sneedwillow took out a tape measure and calipers, "Perhaps it would be best if I measured your cranium," he advised, eyeing the centimeters, calipers snapping.

Mrs. S recalled in her mental diary the incident months ago that brought her to this point:

I stared at the cold, steel blue eyes, and felt an insane voice rising within me. "Your personality reminds me of scrubbing the bathroom tile," I sang, over and over again. He looked at me strangely, but also seemed oddly pleased.

"You have a solid 'porcelain fixture' quality about you. You're anchored into the ground like a commode." Click-click-click, his heels said as he moved toward the limousine to retrieve brochures. "You need help, I can help you," he said.

"The geese are flying in your kitchen," I replied. "There is rat poison in your skull and snail poison under the skin of your right toe," I continued in a concerned tone, "What are you going to do about it?" The indulgent smile was glued to his face as he threateningly inserted the pamphlets at me. I said, "I will speak to you in an absurd, nihilistic language because I don't want to deal with you on your terms or anything remotely resembling your terms." He calmly walked towards the car and got in. I looked at one of the pamphlets: Joys of Electroshock Therapy. On the cover was a bucolic scene of happy people wearing tunics and weaving baskets on a "Community Human Farm." As he sped off in the limousine, I threw the pamphlets into the mud by the side of the road.

Mrs. S shot back at Professor Sneedwillow, "All I said was that I wanted a cracker in the shape of a penis. You don't have to make a seminal issue out of it." Professor Sneedwillow had indeed offered to drop an animal cracker into the terrarium.

"You can have a giraffe or an elephant," he had decided.

Mrs. Sneedwillow stared out of the terrarium into the Professor's aquarium, focusing on a darting tetra fish. She thought back to that day when the Professor had pushed the pamphlets at her. She had picked up the brochures from the mud, as their limo, with the words Just Married foamed on its rear window, sped off, containing only the groom. Mrs. Sneedwillow scrawled a note on a card and held it up to the terrarium glass, Your time has expired, please deposit another 85 cents.

"But we can't stop, I need to go on!" cried the Professor, searching his pockets for change.

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