Marna

By JULIE SMITH | Published: March 6, 2010

She is scratching her head. She knows she is asleep and the itching won’t stop. Small blood splats cover the white pillow case like the onset of rain.

She wakes, turns and raises, elbows supporting her. She sees the results of her early morning battle and closes her eyes in defeat as she throws the pillow to the floor. The covers come up over her head and she cries.

“Marna, get up. Time for your medicine. You don’t want your mother coming in here with her glass of water and four pills, do you? She’ll see the blood and freak.”

Go away, Joe. Get out of my head! She puts her hands over her ears as she walks to the bathroom, toes folded, scraping the carpet. As she splashes cool water on her face she looks in the mirror; the reflection is horrid - bits of short, black hair tuff-out on her scalp, looking like the remnants of a forest fire.

She opens the medicine cabinet and looks at a line of pharmaceutically-labelled, round objects, reminding her of little white, Pillsbury-dough-men. They are remnants of psychiatrists - long past, who have misdiagnosed her. Still, there is one which helps her cope with anxiety. She reaches for the bottle and opens the lid, quaking and spilling tablets into the sink. Today is ‘hypnosis day’ with Dr Feiler. She tosses two tablets in her mouth and washes them down from the faucet.

---

“Marna, Marna, are you with me?”

She looks around and unsurprised, finds she’s been displaced from the security of her bathroom to her doctor’s office. Her mind flicks little strobe pictures from the recent past, the past missing before arriving. She reaches for her head and is relieved, feeling the comfort of the thick, knitted beanie. Last night’s battle scars are covered.

---

“I’m back.”

“You’ve switched. It’s okay. Let’s relax. Are you okay?” Marna nods. “I have some good news. You have been accepted into the CATIE 2 drug comparison study . This is a big bonus for us because MPD and schizophrenia together is rare but they are going to let us be a part of the test.”

“And?”

“And if we can control the schizophrenia, and therapy is working on the MPD…” Dr Feiler smiles and tilts his head as he looks into her eyes.

“I’m hearing Joe again…heard him this morning.”

“I’ve got the new medication here, and we’ll look very carefully at that.” The doctor gives her a few moments to readjust. “Now, at the end of the last session, you mentioned your pet bird…Tweet,” he says, straightening his glasses, looking down while turning pages of notes. “Let’s try hypnosis and find out why your pet parakeet, Tweet, is so angry.”

Marna leans back into the chair, eyes closed as the soothing male voice talks to her.

“Where are you, Marna?”

“I’m on the sofa.”

“Where is the sofa?”

“In the living room, next to the TV.”

“How old are you?”

“Four..four years old.

“What’s happening…tell me.”

“My mother’s cat has Tweet, dead…in it’s jaw. Tweet’s head is dangling by a few grey threads from it’s pretty green body. There are droplets of blood on the beige carpet. The cat runs away with Tweet, out the little door.”

___

Marna starts screetching like a terrified, small animal. Dr Feilder talks to Tweet, who is Marna while her elbows wave up and down, feet stomping the floor.

“Tweet, what is the matter?” he asks calmly.

“Get away! Don’t hurt me! You’re so mean and big! Get away!”

She lunges at the doctor and tries to bite his arm. He draws back but stays in control, holding her away by her shoulders.

“On the count of ten, you will wake up, feeling relaxed and alert. One…two…three…”

Marna looks around, sits back and smiles. It’s safe. She looks at the Dr Feiler and shuts her eyes. This is a bad day.

“That’s enough for today, Marna. I’d like to see you tomorrow.” She stands and picks up the trial medication with awe. I pray to God.

“Thanks, Dr Feiler.

Outside on the street, she walks to the bus stop with a cautious ray of hope. Even her well-known bus driver seems to gleam with optimism. She is looking forward to the rest of her day, arriving home to her mother who will be waiting at the door.

“How’d it go, hon?”

“I don’t know. Dr Feiler says we might be getting close to something…part of a trial,” she says as she hangs her purse on the hat rack.

“That’s wonderful.”

“We’ll see. Don’t want to get my hopes up too much,” she shrugs as she passes her mother towards the bedroom.

She takes off her red dress and puts on old pants. This is her favourite time of the day…painting. She walks out the back door towards the shed and opens the door. The smells waft up at her; tubes of brightly, colored paint are neatly placed on a cutting board. The walls are covered with her stark, black art.

---

She hears a knocking outside the shed wall

“Marna, darling, may I come in?”

“Sure, Mom.”

“It’s time for dinner.” Her mother looks around the room, rubbing her arms nervously. She bends over Marna’s shoulder and her eyebrows perk up. Marne is absorbed making fine brush-strokes. “Why, that’s nice, hon. It looks like a Blackbird. Why don’t you use some of those pretty colors, like the red and green and yellow?”

“I don’t know.”



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