A week out the hospital and your piss is cloudy as hell. As you tower over the toilet with your head craning downward, forcing the stream out of the tip, as the lips part just so, you notice it seems to fill up the whole bowl with this sludge, orange and thick, never-ending, just a fountain of urea and protein and bilirubin, contents from your liver just spraying endlessly into the bowl, you don’t realize it just yet (will you ever?) but you are falling apart, the contents of your chest and stomach dissolving and flushing through the corpus so as to be one with it all again. Dehydrated, you think, maybe, or it could be the new meds they put you on when the police took you down to Bryan’s emergency department after your psychiatrist said you were unsafe, 911 and strapped in the back of a cop car, she towered over you and fumbled for the seatbelt for what felt like 10 minutes, your breath fogging up your glasses through the cloth mask (it was pink, the mask; a poof). And at your first dose of Effexor, they said, Side effects include urination difficulty, who exactly they were, you couldn’t tell, all the faces blurred together, but you supposed now that it didn’t matter, after all, it’s pitiful, just you and your piss in your apartment all alone after your roommate tells you he can’t move in, It’s just too dangerous to live on campus, maybe next semester, a string of texts you know are lies, nothing to be responded to, so anyway you’re alone with the door wide open, or not alone, really, since there are two biotic masses, you and the yellow ooze at the bottom of a bowl, connected to you through a stream for just a few moments, momentary, transitory, you know how it is. And when you start running on empty you think about shelling some city in the Mideast, it doesn’t matter where it is, really, but it’s the Mideast because where else could it be, the news is all about the Mideast and there’s no other place for us to go to war, and you just think of sitting behind an artillery gun as it rattles off these huge bullets indiscriminately into the core of the city, destroying some kid’s school before his family literally rips apart right in front of him, the intestines spurting out of the abdomens, imagining there were two parents, a mother and a father (you don’t imagine they had gays there, and certainly not ones with kids), and a younger sister, maybe three years old, holding a doll and her blanket, purple, you think, because purple has to be a Mideastern color, and the print is a smattering of hexagons, also Turkic in nature, they’re all Turks one way or another to you, and anyway, you’re there shelling, right, and the contents of their stomachs just explode and coat the walls as they, too, evaporate into nothing, and he, this kid you’re living vicariously through at the same time as you’re destroying this ancient and stony city, blacks out from the explosion, and now back in real life, your dick is in your hand, an inch and a half soft with the hood sliced off in the first moments of life (you told your middle school boyfriend you were uncircumcised because you were cut loose, but when you started watching guys go at it on your mom’s laptop, you realized just how little you resembled the ones with Czech or Polish or whatever accents, they all blurred together, Eastern European at least, but either way, the jig was up far long before he put it in his mouth in a playground slide on the last day of school and throughout the summer), and you start convulsing, sending a pulse of spasms to your bladder so the last shells are shot out, landing on the rim and the seat, so cloudy, so mealy, so orange so as to, you image, stain the porcelain, irreparable and permanent.
Time slips and you’re out of the bathroom, laying on the couch trying to sleep, wondering to yourself, Why the living room, but it’s the paranoia, the idea that cameras are installed in the bedroom smoke detectors, the office lady offering to have the repairmen come, let you watch them be replaced, investigate the hardware and their tools, but you decline. The delusion does not make sense. You are unmedicated. You have been off of Loxitane since you got out a month ago, your first hospitalization (not the second), the one you missed about a week of class for, missing your writing class, your math class, you were so behind, you are so behind, you are making up for lost time and you will never get it back, some queer theorist said something like fags experience time differently and you think this to yourself every so often, you mocked it when you first read it but you knew they were right, coded behind the language and the mystique and the allure of academic parsing, you were a fag, and you felt time accumulate differently on your slumped, so slumped, shoulders. But as to unmedication, you realize that this does not make sense, the idea that there are cameras in the smoke detectors, nobody would want to watch you sleep or jerk off, you’re a nobody, worthless and not notable in any way, and the smoke detector above your bed sits there, not bothering you at all, but you remain steadfast in this belief, unshakeable. You just got your script for Trintellix filled, a name-brand antidepressant you got on the cheap by some miracle, your mom’s insurance and a manufacturer coupon coming together, but you haven’t started, you’re supposed to start and it’s just sitting there, 30 tablets of 10 milligrams each and you can’t bring yourself to do it, it’s too much, the risk of side effects is what you’re telling yourself as some great excuse to leave them alone, but maybe the real risk is feeling better, getting good enough that you’ll have motivation and not think they’re out to get you, or maybe it’s not that, maybe it’s that swallowing tablets reminds you of the post-exposure prophylaxis they put you on when you came to the hospital the first time, being fucked by some old dude whose name you never caught and who kept going when you said you weren’t into that, the tablets falling apart and you vomiting on the SANE nurse saying, Sorry, I’m so sorry, but you weren’t, and she never forgave you, the uniform was new, it wasn’t your fault but it was new, you should have told her before you did it, it’s your fault this happened to you, so much so the lead detective told you that at his office, Stay vigilant and don’t go home with people you don’t know, as if you’re stupid, as if you don’t deserve to feel your cock rub against a man’s flesh as he does the same, but suddenly an image comes over you, your eyes closed on the couch, the fan whirring, cold air being blown over your naked body, partially exposed under the thick comforter on top of you, but now they, your eyes, detect something, indescribable and pure but it appears to be light, an image of light, refracted, kaleidoscopic, but just there, emerging is some form of—
Paweł, wake up. The voice is Frank’s. (It is not clear who Frank is. He could be the boy you kissed the day after your mom said to you, You know, if you’re gay, I don’t have a problem with that, to which you responded, I’m not gay, mom, I don’t know why you think that. His, that boy’s, lips were chapped, flaky and yellow and a fragment found itself torn off, landing in the back of your throat and you swallowed him, you really did, you swallowed this boy and you gagged on a boy’s body for the first time, though it wasn’t the last, gagging to make a boy feel good, to let him experience something great. Or Frank could be the man you saw at the supermarket today, his mask looking something fruity like rainbow or purple, he was making eyes with you in the line, just ahead of you, checking you out, until he said, You know, his voice was deep and scratchy, the kind you love, the kind you wish you had, but yours was nasally, it was twinky, your s’s were sibilant and you articulated too much, unnatural, but he said, If you want to go ahead of me, feel free, I’m in no rush. And you went ahead with your small basket with a douche and some food, it didn’t matter what you were buying, you just had to buy something to offset the image of the douche, your hand grazing the hair on his arm, so hairy, so rough, making eyes with him, too, smiling under your mask which was pink, the same as before.) You open your eyes and Frank is not there, but you hear his voice once more, Paweł, wake up. The voice is just ahead of you, a foot or two, but really, there’s nobody there and the voice is internal, it’s an apparition, saying someone’s name you can’t make sense of—you are not Paweł, your name is nothing like Paweł (your name is yours), but you know it’s referring to you, you know this figure, wherever or whenever it is, is calling to you, telling you to wake up.
I am awake, you yell, naked, standing up.
I’m up, I’m up, just take me already. You don’t know why you say this, but you know it’s true, they’re here to take you, make you nothing at all. And then you’re out cold, falling to the ground and feeling nothing at all as your head smacks against the sharp corner of your too-expensive coffee table, there’s no sound, just the feeling—or the apparition of feeling—of falling, of falling, your legs giving out till there’s nothing at all, falling.
Lexus Root is a poet and scholar of queer studies living in Lincoln, Nebraska.