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Medical Humanities

Toast

Amir Tarsha 
November 28, 2014

There was blood in the hallway. 
On the walls, the bannister, dotted on the carpeted stairs,
balled up into tiny red pearls on the foyer laminate, smeared on the doorknob, 
in which he now notices his own reflection,
distorted, dead-eyed, dumb. 

Why am I looking at the doorknob, he thinks.
Why am I just standing here? 

The thought—why do we have doors?—is also bizarrely entertained, 
and finally, 
where are they taking her?

There are moments in which 
one’s grasp on reality is involuntarily loosened,
when the tightrope of sanity we walk grows slack,
when one’s perspective, 
or frame of reference, suddenly shifts.

Fingertips tingle, nausea swells, mouth dries and
whoosh

The floor drops out from underneath you. 

But for some people, it’s more like being lifted—
lifted up and out of your body. 
Your mind picks you up by the scruff of your brain and 
decides with, let’s be honest, questionable judgment that 
you better just hang tight and float around up here in the ether for a while,
because what’s going on down there at ground level, 
with your sister,
is frankly pretty grisly. 
And given your fragile constitution, your weak stomach, and since you’re still pretty shaken up about failing Calc 1—I think it’s best that you just remain temporarily dissociated from your body, check back in 24 hours. 

They say this type of dissociation is protective, a mechanism of defense. 
He’s not so sure though. 
He’s unsure of pretty much everything at this particular juncture. 
In the waiting room, the remote is broken, and the TV is stuck on the same default, anodyne channel that plays in all rooms where people wait, perhaps praying,
for results, usually bad, that they have absolutely zero control over. 
The men on TV are yelling about whether the Son of God would choose to reveal Himself in, of all places, breakfast toast. 

He looks down at his shirt and notices a patch of dried blood 
and at some point today, when his mind is reunited with his flesh & bones, 
He’ll ask why would she—how could she— have done that to herself,
Done this to us.
He’ll wonder if the hand sanitizer in the corner of the room can get out blood. 
But for now, he’ll just watch the TV, dead-eyed and dumb. 
The host is now chuckling at the man who is holding up his Holy bread 
And he can’t help but feel sorry for him—the man with the toast, and
for his sister, for his mother, for himself, for everybody,
and he thinks goddammit 

Don’t laugh at the man who sees Jesus in his morning toast  
Don’t laugh at anyone


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