Fiction — “Bottled Up Blessings”

The doctor’s office was the only place Fizz Ease could kick his feet around like a kid. It was odd sitting without touching the ground. Kind of like how accustomed he’d become to going into the restroom and looking straight in the mirror, not needing to stand on tiptoes and peer above the counter.

Dr. Sudarshan was looking at a chart. He flipped a few pages roughly, making them crinkle.

“Looks like you have eleven tender spots today,” he said finally. “That’s four more since our last check-up. How are your sleeping habits?”

Fizz repeated the usual stories, each anecdote underlying the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Sleep-heavy nights, moody mornings, fatigue at work.

The doctor flipped through his paperwork again, then wrote something with such intensity he scratched the clipboard. “We’ll set up another appointment in October. In the meantime, I’d like to prescribe you something for the pain.” The doctor wrote on a paper, ripped it off (ripping the page in the process).

“What is it?” Fizz asked.

“Buddhism. We can discuss treatment options, but I think a supernatural remedy is the way to go.”

“My wife tried that.”

“Oh? And how is it working for her?”

“She left me,” Fizz said, shaking his head softly. “You know, detachment. Let go of the things you love.”

The doctor nodded, looked at his chart. Crossed off a drawing of a nautical steering wheel.

“Funny,” Fizz continued. “I saw her at Target the other day with Jim from work—”

“Hinduism,” the doctor said. “Believing in reincarnation is a wonderful antidepressant.”

“My sister-in-law was on that last summer. Gave her an allergic reaction to beef.”

The doctor, frustrated now, darkened a symbol that looked like a fancy three.

“Well, it has a lot of generic brands, but maybe I can recommend Christianity.” His pen lingered over a plus sign.

“What are the side-effects?”

The doctor spoke without hesitation. “Some Christians experience nausea whenever they see a pro-choicer or remember that same-sex marriage is legal. You might also feel compelled to post memes to your Facebook wall.”

“Memes are all right,” Fizz replied. “I can live with memes.”

He stretched his toes down but still couldn’t feel the floor. The doctor thumbed around his papers, then showed Fizz a picture from the internet. The image was of a pale man with a beard smiling benevolently. In white text, barely distinguishable from the man’s skin, were the words: Jesus has no phone but I talk to him. Jesus has no Facebook but he is my friend. Jesus doesn’t use twitter but I follow him. Retweet if you agree.

Fizz looked away. The image was too gruesome.

“It’s not all bad,” the doctor said. “There’s a slim chance that when you die, you’ll be resurrected in a new body.”

“I think I’ll stick with atheism,” Fizz replied.

“Are you sure?” The doctor showed Fizz another picture of the well-groomed homeless dude. This time, typed over glowing sunbeams emitting from the son of man’s head: Sadly 97% of people will not share this. Share if you love Jesus. He already saw you read it.

“I’m sure, I’m sure,” Fizz said quickly. He slid off the exam table, feet finding the fake marble linoleum, the ground beneath.