Tuesday, April 17, 2012

See it? See it Three Ways!

Note to Readers: As originally conceived, the Flip Your Script exercise asked participants to write a story about a personal relationship with a difficult person. The writer was then encouraged to rewrite the story, taking the point of view of that difficult person. The point of Flip Your Script is to help writers cultivate empathy or even forgiveness toward another person; often writers say they find that flipping the script helps give them closure with a troubling event.

Lately, however, Flip Your Script has been evolving. Some participants, like Ryan Small in his piece last week, claim that they find enormous comfort simply writing the first story and don't need to do any more writing. In this version, "Alexis P" tried something new. After writing her first version, which appears here, she presents two alternative revisions, in effect flipping the story twice.

By Alexis P

“Get up.”

I throw a pillow at Z and continue to brush my hair. Z grumbles and rolls over.

“I feel like crap, I need to sleep a little longer.”

“We don’t have time, Z, we have to get going, we have to be there in 30 minutes.”

“My head is killing me, Alexis. Holy crap, I need some water.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have gone out drinking last night, Z, you knew we had to be up early today.”

My hands are sweating as I drive down the thruway. Z is sitting in the passenger seat, his head leaning against the window. I’m sweating because of nerves; he’s sweating out last night’s Jack Daniels.

“I’m nervous,” I say.

“Everything will be ok,” he says without looking at me. He doesn’t say anything else.

I start to feel myself choke up with tears, the lack of comforting words leave me empty. We drive in silence, the rain hitting the windows and the swish of the wipers seem to be the only sounds conversing with me. I flick on the radio to try to fill my empty thoughts.

Z flicks it off. “My head is killing me, I don’t want music.”

I pull into the parking lot and start to drive to the back parking lot.

“There’s a spot right in front, just park there, Alexis.”

“The doctor told me I had to park in the back, she didn’t say why.”

The nurse is warm, friendly, she smiles at the appropriate times, she is using all her bedside manner skills she learned in med school. “Ok Alexis, We just have to fill out some paperwork and then we will start prepping you for the procedure.”

I shift uncomfortably in my seat. I’m starting to feel bedside manner is only applicable to an actual bedside; I feel no comfort in her warmth.

“I see you’ve completed your pre-opt checkup, and complete the week of therapy. You’ll be using your insurance, and you have someone to drive you home afterwards correct?”
She doesn’t wait for me to answer.

“Do you want to schedule a follow-up of grief counseling?”

I shake my head; I don’t ever want to come back here.

“Ok Alexis, you can go back to the waiting room, we will call for you shortly.”

Z is flipping nonchalantly through a magazine, men’s health something; he’s reading an article on the importance of fruit or something.

“You know, the past couple months I haven’t been able to eat a single healthy thing, everything has been making me sick.”

“Hmm,” is all he says; he doesn’t even look at me.

I sit in the waiting room chair, Oprah is on the television, the phones are ringing, the nurses are buzzing people in and out of the front door. I’m shaking, sweating, my head is light. I realized I’ve been holding my breath this whole time. I get a rush of anger, I can’t believe Z went out and got smashed last night, the night before the one day that I really needed him and he left me alone. He is here, but just barely. I look at him.

“I’m so scared.”

He finally looks at me, his eyes are still glassy from last night’s drinking, but I can see softness in them, a gentle concern. He takes my hand, and kisses me on the cheek.

“Everything will be OK, this is the right thing.”

A nurse comes through the swinging doors.

“Ms. P?”

I stand up and Z follows me, hand in hand.

“Oh I’m sorry, Ms, But he isn’t allowed to come in with you, he has to wait out here.”

Tears fill my eyes, I can’t help it.

“Please? He needs to be here for this.”

“I’m sorry Ms. We cannot have that many people in the operating room.”

Z hugs me. “Pray for me,” I whisper.

The room is white, and huge. I’m shivering, hospital gowns are very thin. The doctor asked me if she minded if some med students watched the procedure. Sure, why not. What the hell do I care anymore? I’m lying on the table, and I realize that I don’t care anymore, I don’t fight it anymore, I give up. I start to cry, I’m shaking, I start praying, I don’t try to hide it anymore from the doctors.

The table is cold; the metal is hard on my spine. The white room burns my eyes. There is a picture on the ceiling, of flowers and the ocean. For a split second I forget why I am here, I stop shivering. Why is there a picture on the ceiling?

“Alexis, you need to calm down, we are going to give you a shot so you won’t feel anything, but you have to stop moving.”

I hold my breath so that I stop shaking for a moment.

“What is that? What are you……”

Suddenly everything is different. I’m calm, I’m happy. I’m comfy. I smile. The nurse is so pretty, she is older but you can tell she cares, she loves her job. I look around the room; it almost feels like heaven, everything is so bright! I can feel the doctor moving my legs and I can hear the doctors' instruments turn on, but I don’t feel fear. I start to giggle but stop short.

Morphine. They gave me morphine.

I look up and realize that it wasn’t a picture on the ceiling, it was a TV. The waves are moving now, and the flowers are dancing in the wind. Wait, it’s not a TV, is a picture. The picture is moving. No wait, that’s not right either. It’s the morphine. This is why there is a picture on the ceiling.

“Clever,” I say out loud, “very smart.”

“What is dear?” the nurse inquires.

“Picture on the ceiling, distracts patients from what’s going on…wait oh ya, how are things going?”
The doctor doesn’t look up at me, but asks how I am feeling and if I’m in pain.

“No, I’m quite comfy. Thanks. Hmmm, I never thought I would be here. I was three months along you know. I think it would have been a boy, but Z wanted a girl. I’m just so young, I’m barely an adult. A child raising a child, can you imagine?"

I pause because I realize I’m rambling. “She would have had his eyes, that's what I would like to think anyway.”

The nurse just looks at me and smiles, but it’s a sad smile. It’s the kind of smile you give to a little kid when they ask when their puppy is coming back from heaven.

I hear a suction noise. The doctor tells me I’m going to feel a slight pull below my stomach.

“She would have been so pretty,” I tell the nurse.

Alexis P is a pseudonym for a woman living in upstate New York. This is Part One in a series of three stories composed for the Flip Your Script exercise. Part Two follows on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

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