The Writing Disorder



New Fiction


by Brooke Kwikkel

      “It’s a shame that you’re alive considering our relationship would be about the same if you were dead. I—”
      “Stop,” my therapist said as he tried not to look at me like I was crazy. “That’s the opening line of your letter?”
      I always saw through his vague expressions that he had been trained to plaster on his face despite the many insane stories he’s heard. It was because of the looks I got from him that I landed in his office for weeks at a time. I’m pretty used to his looks at this point having been in and out of his office since I was five when my parents got divorced. After 15 years of off and on counseling, I can read him like a high school girl reads Seventeen.
      Even when he thought he had his best poker face on, Dr. Lewis couldn’t hide his thoughts from my over observant eyes. Since he wasn’t tapping his foot or his pen, I knew he wasn’t pissed about the opening of my letter, but the slight pink color that flushed his naturally pale cheeks suggested he wasn’t thrilled.
      “You said I should be honest,” I told him.
      He stared at me for a little while longer before taking a deep breath, jotting some notes, then look up at the ceiling as if he were thinking of how to word what he was about to say. Having seen this look many-a-time from my Kindergarten teacher when I failed to color in the lines, I knew that whatever he had to say wasn’t going to be nice, but he was going to try and word it as nicely as possible, like a break-up text.
      “You see, Becca, the problem is,” he paused for a moment to recollect his thoughts. “Your honesty almost comes off as a death threat.”
      “I didn’t threaten her life though. I basically said that she’s dead to me in a less cliché way. And what does it matter? I thought this was one of those ‘write-down-your-feelings-but-never-actually-send’ letters.”
      “It could be, but, I am encouraging you to send it after some major revisions. My first suggestion would be to cut the death threats because I know you and I know that there are probably at least three more.”
      “They’re not death threats, and you’re wrong. I only mentioned her being dead two more times,” I shot back at him. He was clearly growing impatient with me and my lack of caring regarding this letter. I knew he hated my smart ass remarks, my facetious personality, and my tendency to never take anything seriously. He used to like the way I joked around. I hadn’t seen him at such a loss for words since I called him Dr. Phil two weeks ago, and he just glared at me for the last ten minutes of the session. He used to be a funny guy, but maybe that’s because I was much younger. I dismissed his lack of humor as one of many symptoms of crotchety old man syndrome or as I lovingly refer to it as COMS. I would never tell him of his ailment for fear of being shot and stuffed like the deer and the bobcat hanging on his wall which I always thought to be out of place for a therapist’s office as dead animals probably wouldn’t be comforting to most people, but I didn’t really mind. Death doesn’t really bother me.
      We stared at each other for a little while longer before Dr. Lewis finally broke the silence.
      “Becca, please consider rewriting this letter. You owe her an apology. Olivia was your best friend, and she was only trying to help you,” he sympathized.
      “She’s the reason I’m here. And please don’t say her name like you know her.” I didn’t like the way this conversation was turning. I had done so well the past three weeks tip-toeing around the Olivia situation, but I knew he would find a way to bring her up.
      “You are the reason you are here,” he said calmly. We were both getting worked up. It was obvious as kept shaking his foot and I kept my eyes glued to the floor. “Becca, you tried to kill yourself.”
      “No, I didn’t. I told you, just like I keep telling them, that it was an accident,” I managed to choke out. I could feel my throat swelling, but I was determined not to cry.
      He took his glasses off and looked at me. “You chased a bottle of sleeping pills, with a bottle of vodka.”
      I sat for a moment. What he was saying was true, but I wasn’t trying to kill myself. I just couldn’t think of a way to justify it to him in a way he would understand. “I was drinking that night, and I couldn’t sleep so I took some. I guess I just took too many. It was an accident.”
      “Almost an entire bottle of pills is an accident?” He questioned.
      “Yes, one hell of an accident,” I snarled. I know that the holes in this story are a mile-wide, but it’s the complete truth. I couldn’t sleep that night. My so-called best friend called an ambulance and the wonderful doctors at South Glen Hospital deemed it a suicide attempt. After a mandatory 72 hour hold, I landed back in Dr. Lewis’ office. I would have elected to skip out on therapy, but it’s easier to go and bitch about life for an hour a few times a week than to constantly have my dad on my ass asking if everything is alright or glancing at my arms every time I wear short sleeves. When he told me I had to go or he would take off a month from work to essentially baby sit me. I weighed my options and ended up here.
      After Dr. Lewis took down some notes on his yellow legal pad, he began his next round of questioning. I should have known that our sessions had been too easy for too long. It was time for the shit storm.
      “What Olivia failed to mention four weeks ago was that she’s a whore and the only reason she found me was because she stumbled into my room looking for a condom. It’s bullshit. My stomach was pumped and no one was hurt. I don’t even know why I have to keep coming back here. My mom was just pissed off that she had to cancel her vacation with her new family to come see if I was alive.” I stated.
      “The incident four weeks ago is extremely similar to the one that happened four years ago.”
      “Oh my god. Not this again,” I mumbled. “It was art class when I was 16. I really think we should all move past this. It was—“
      “An accident?” He finished my sentence.
      “Yes. For the thousandth time, yes,” I seethed. “I’m just a clumsy person. What can I say?”
      “Clumsy? A cut almost an inch deep in your wrist that left you with 18 stitches is from being clumsy?”
      “When you say it like that it sounds ridiculous. I know how it sounds, but honestly I am just very accident prone,” I tried to reason.
      I could tell he was getting ready to go in for the kill with his next statement by the way he sat up in his chair and leaned towards me, very caring and understanding.
      “Becca, after your teacher found you and cleaned you up, she had written in the report that there were several small cuts from your wrists to your elbows. I know you told me that you don’t do that anymore, but it’s the middle of May and you’re wearing long sleeves.”
      Once again, my eyes were glued to the floor. Dr. Lewis a.k.a. Sherlock Holmes was correct in his assumption that I had once again began cutting. I didn’t see the harm in it. Sure I was tearing apart my body, but it wasn’t physically hurting anyone else. It’s my one and only vice. Now that he’s on to me, I need to escape.
      Through many years of self-destruction I’ve learned the dos and don’ts. I have more than 20 excuses on hand for every cut on my body. From the new kitten we just bought to the little teeth on the foil, I’ve thought of every possible way to disguise every wound on my body. The story just has to be simple. Simple enough for a person to believe and make their own guesses as to the rest of the details. Where most people go wrong is when they say ‘I don’t know’ or get into these elaborate tales. The ‘I don’t know’ excuse rarely works because people know that you know. That’s why it’s always good to have a story but not a tale. When telling a tale, people, like Dr. Lewis ask questions and the person gets tripped up and breaks down. But not me. I stand my ground and lie, lie, lie until the person eventually accepts what I’m saying to be the truth. Some call me a liar or say I’m manipulative, but I would consider myself rather smart. Unless there was someone in the bathroom with me and the X-Acto knife or at my house with the bottle of pills, the vodka, and Olivia, there is no proof.
      “Becca … Becca … Becca?” He kept saying my name, but I kept looking at the floor. “Becca, like I said before, I’m encouraging you to rewrite the letter to Olivia. You’ve been here three times a week for the last three weeks and this is the first time that we’ve really delved into the reason you’re here. You have made very limited progress. You refuse to apologize to Olivia for bashing her after she saved your life. You show absolutely no remorse for telling her entire family about her abortion that she told you about in confidence. You are a danger to yourself,” he said as he looked at my arms.
      “She didn’t just confide in me about her abortion. I was the one who drove her to the clinic. I loved her. She was my best friend and I did what she asked me to do,” I said almost crying. “If it wasn’t for her calling an ambulance that night, I wouldn’t even have to be here talking to you. She just blew everything out of proportion.”
      “Almost anyone that would have been in Olivia’s situation, having walked in on their best friend that was passed out on the floor with an empty bottle of sleeping pills on the night stand would have done the same thing.”
      “I was fine.”
      “Becca, you weren’t fine then and you aren’t fine now,” Dr. Lewis said as he leaned forward. He paused for a moment. I hate pauses. Whatever comes after a pause is almost never good. “We need to start considering the possibility of an alternate form of treatment.”
      I stared at him blankly. “What do you mean?” I asked.
      “We can up the amount of time you spend here at the office, but I don’t think it would do much good. Our best option would be an in-patient rehabilitation center.”
      “Rehab? You must be joking,” I told him flatly. “I am 20 years old. I’m not a child and you can’t just decide one day to throw me in a hospital because you don’t agree with my lifestyle choices.”
      “Becca, you have some pretty serious issues and if you’re not willing to face them, you’re going to need to seek a more intense therapy regimen.”
      “You are unbelievable. I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me,” I laughed. Not only do I not have a problem, I don’t need to sit here and listen to this man tell me that what I’m doing is wrong. He’s not going to stop me. He’s not going to let them send me away. I’m going to get out of here. I could feel my arm beginning to swell. I clenched my fist to make the sensation subside.
      Dr. Lewis rose up from his chair and walked over to his desk. He picked up his phone and punched in a few numbers.
      “Theresa, could you send Mr. Malone back? … She’s here too? … No, that’s fine. Send her back as well. Thanks.”
      “My parents are here? Like together in the same room?” I inquired. After my mom moved to Texas we only really talked on holidays. It’s weird that she would come into town for this. They must mean business.
      The door opened and my father walked in followed by Olivia. Much to my dismay, that must have been who Dr. Lewis was referring to. This is my nightmare.
      “Why is she here?” I asked Dr. Lewis through my clenched teeth.
      “Olivia called me last week and made an appointment,” he replied as if he had done nothing wrong.
      “You can’t talk to her about me. You didn’t have my consent.”
      “He didn’t need your consent, Becca,” Olivia interjected. “I did all of the talking. He just listened.”
      I hadn’t seen Olivia since she came to visit me in the hospital during my 72-hour hold. She looked like she had been hit by a bus and at this point I wished I could push her in front of one. She was supposed to be my friend and yet again just proved that she is not to be trusted. Seeing my therapist behind my back? Some friend. Rage was building up inside my body and no amount of fist clenching was going to stop this urge. I took a few deep breaths. No one was speaking. All eyes were on me. My dad finally broke the silence.
      “Becca, I love you, and I want you to be happy, but this has to stop. My heart is breaking. I wish you could just tell me why you do this so I can fix this,” he begged.
      I sat there, once again looking at the floor. The truth is that there wasn’t one event in my life that set off the mutilation. I was never abused or anything. He wants to hear about some dark secret I have as though that’s going to make him understand why I do this. I don’t even know why I do it. It just feels good.
      “I talked to Dr. Lewis about the party at your house when you took all of those pills,” Olivia said calmly. “I told him everything and I also told him that I don’t think sending you away to some rehab center with crazy people and new doctors would help you. I’m on your side Becca.”
      “Really? Because I don’t think you are. You’re a conniving, backstabbing, whore and you are NOT on my side. When you walked into my room, I fucking begged you to not call anyone. I told you to leave me alone and you didn’t,” I fumed. “When you called me last year and told me that you were knocked up and needed a way out I helped you, no questions asked.”
      “Becca, that’s not what you told me,” Dr. Lewis recalled.
      “What are you talking about?” I asked.
      “You told me that Olivia walked in the room when you were already passed out.”
      “You knew you had taken all of those pills and you asked her to stop dialing 911. Were you trying to kill yourself that night?” Dr. Lewis questioned.
      Yet again, all eyes on me. It’s strange that Dr. Lewis would ask me such a straightforward question. He usually only asks cryptic questions which he derives some sort of meaning out of this. Like cutting, I knew that that night would be impossible to explain. I was cornered.
      I looked up at Olivia who was now in tears. My dad had his arm around her. He looked like he was about to lose it also.
      “You really don’t want me to go?” I asked Olivia.
      “No. I really don’t. I think you should be here with the people who care about you,” she replied.
      “Fair enough.” Turning to Dr. Lewis I asked,“ So which place has the best food?”
      “Excuse me?” he said flabbergasted.
      “Do you realize what’s going on, Becca? If you choose to go you could be gone for three months. This is a pretty serious situation,” my dad informed me.
      After pondering my situation, I realized that I was in a heap of trouble. The workers at these kinds of facilities know all of the tricks I may have, but if I stay not only do I have to see Dr. Lewis who may or may not be still talking to Olivia about me in the future, but I would also run the risk of having to continue these silly interventions they plan. It would definitely be a challenge or better yet an adventure.
      “You’re all right. I need help,” I said trying to hide my sarcasm. Olivia caught on though which is probably why she rolled her eyes and walked out of the room. She knew me too well. She’s the one person that I could never lie to, not because I have a conscience, but because she sees right through me.
So that was it. My fate was set and I was scheduled to be picked up after dinner by the Autumnside Treatment Facility.
      Now I know how Jesus felt at his last supper. It surely was less awkward than the dinner I was facing with my dad. Jesus could’ve gotten away. Well, maybe not since he was wearing sandals. I have my Asics on so I think I can outrun my captors. Running was never my strong suit. Lying has always been my thing. It’s worked so well for me so far.
      Maybe rehab won’t be so bad. I once went two months without laying a blade to my skin, but this would be different. There would be absolutely nothing there. These people were trained to not trust people like me. It would definitely be a challenge and once I succeed it will be my greatest feat yet.
      After a horrifically awkward dinner, the van pulled up, right on schedule. It was an ugly van with screens on the windows. It kind of resembled one of those vans you see in the movies where the creepy child molester picks up little children. I paced the living room. This was it. My last hoorah before lockup for three months or maybe more if they don’t believe me. Frantically searching the living room for anything sharp I could find to smuggle, I remembered my secret stashes.
      “Ready to go?” The van driver asked.
      “Yeah, just let me pee real quick before we head out,” I said as I made my way for the upstairs bathroom.
      My dad stopped me before I was halfway up the stairs. “Use the one down here please.”
      Upon entering the bathroom I stared at myself in the mirror for a few seconds. The cut feels better the more pumped up you are. I could feel my arm begin to swell, but it wasn’t enough. I need more ammunition. I reminded myself that this could be the last time for three months, maybe longer. Better make it count. I opened the back cabinet to find it completely empty. All of my stuff had been removed. The medicine cabinet was barren also. This made me anxious. When I couldn’t cut, it made me go ape shit. This had happened once before when my mom first found out about the cutting. She took away everything in my room that could be fashioned into a weapon which is why I was forced to raid the art closet at school. After that she couldn’t handle me and made me live with my dad.
      Feeling panicked, I put my hands on my head to catch my breath. Trying to resist the urge was futile. Something was going to happen one way or another. That’s when I felt it, a bobby pin. Surely I can fashion this into something. And I did. I broke the pin in half and placed the sharp edge of the metal to the unscathed portion of my arm. It was as if there was a balloon under my skin that needed to be popped. I worked the metal back and forth vigorously until a carved a nice indention into my arm. I was only satisfied when I saw the burst of red come from my arm. It was better than sex. I pulled my sweatshirt sleeve down and exited the restroom as if nothing had happened and fortunately no one saw the blood seeping through the gray fabric as I hopped into the van.
      Before I left I told my dad through crying eyes that I would get better and that he’d have his little girl back in three months and she’ll be better than ever.
      I lied.

Brooke Kwikkel is a 2009 graduate of Central Senior High in Cape Girardeau, Mo. After graduating high school she studied at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, then transferred to Southeast Missouri State, but is now moving back to St. Louis to pursue a degree in Media Studies. She loves baking and spending her summers in Nebraska.

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