Talisman

by Vasiliki Albedo

Last summer they burnt down the thicket and everything here looks so sad. I’m sure I’ve told you the pills you prescribed flatten me and I don’t feel right. It’s now been two months since I stopped. I’ve resolved to determine how long I can hold out. I hope you don’t read this as grandiose, but I’ve been learning to master my own biochemistry. There’s a slew of literature on autogenic training and cognitive methods to practice. Have I told you I set my parents’ room on fire when I was twelve? I lit up a tissue to see if I could run to the bathroom before it collapsed through my fingers. You’d probably say the impulse is rooted in a desire to control. Just like you were gripped by the EEG’s beta-band oscillations, and laughed that the illness was vandalizing me. Now when I feel the electrical forest densifying you come to mind. My cognitive therapist told me my body will need time to adjust. In the mean-time I’m making plans to activate my wasted potential. I will go into business. I will. Though she insisted that my value is independent of achievement. She insisted. Did I tell you when my father was three my grandmother burnt one of his fingernails off with her iron to stop him from nagging? (Don’t laugh!) Overactive neurons you said. I imagined a dendrite inferno. The forest thickening to the rate of my breath. Stop. But you couldn’t stop. In the examination room you put my hand on your crotch. I laughed and pretended to not understand. My father didn’t believe me like I knew he wouldn’t, and I bet you were betting on that. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamt it. When I set the kitchen on fire by watching oil boil over onto the stove, my dad came running down and put it out with a small, damp towel. I remember that time you expanded on the tensile underpinnings of gratification. You said my compulsion with fire had to do with a need for destruction and wanting to jump ahead to the end. Lately, what a disaster. Everything has been coming apart. First, the zipper holding the cushion in broke. Then the furnace burnt off its circuit. And now the bell won’t ring. The electrician spent two hours trying but he couldn’t fix it. I told you before– things are not made to last. (Low frustration-tolerance, stop catastrophising!). Wounds surface like inbuilt faults. Again I feel, like I’m not being heard. I give you this letter to keep. It is a talisman, from the Greek telesma: religious rite, from telos: result, end. I am addressing it to you in your symbolic capacity of suppressor. But isn’t it funny, because this is how I can hear myself.