C | Some Denial


I call her
over the dissonant music
she likes dancing to.

She looks at me

but her hair’s in her eyes,
her legs stretched

at inappropriate angles.

I frown

and fold my arms

while she climbs down

from the pole.

I tell her about it
all the time—

she never listens.

It’s part of the dance,
she says

with her signature
apologetic smile.

She approaches me now,

coming closer
than I expect,

so the stench of vomit and sweat overwhelms me.

I take a step back,

but I look around the room.

It looks

like the room of cupboards.

The walls in the corridor
leading to the studio

have been repainted

to cover up
the burnt marks

caused by the fire.

The carpet is replaced,

everything’s back to normal
faster than mosquitos bite.

There’s no hinge,

no hole for a lock,

on the studio’s lintel.

watches me

tap the empty walls at the end
of the corridor,

searching for a room

that doesn’t exist.

She giggles.
I frown at her.

Ask her to help me.

She shakes her head.

Points at our reflections
in the mirror that lines the room.

That room
had mirror walls too.

I walk into the room,
examining the linoleum floor

for signs of the cupboards.

The linoleum’s
all scratched up—
it’s hard to tell.

That floor was wooden.

I must have
remembered wrong.

This is the room.

I go back to the corridor.

Tammie’s staring at a red puddle
on the new carpet.

Red streaks on the wall.

It’s recent.

Why didn’t I notice it
on my way in?

She turns to me
and smiles apologetically.

Tammie takes my hand,
pulls me into the middle of the studio room.

She presses a button
on one of the CD players

and all of them

come to life.

She twirls me
around the room.

I don’t know how to dance,
so I let her lead me

in circles.

We spin and jump
and collide and
twist into shapes I didn’t know were possible.

Then, we collapse

onto the floor,
panting, laughing.


I lie on my back,
staring at the LED lights

on the ceiling.

I recite
the patients’ names
once more.

I still remember, I tell Tammie happily.

She sits up,
peering down at me.

into my face.


Fifi, that was probably a dream.


I shake my head,
still breathing hard.

I don’t know
what you’re talking about.

She gives me a sad smile.

A different
kind of smile.

But one I find familiar.

Painfully familiar.

I shake my head

If the room doesn’t exist,

then the faces I remember…
are they real?


You remember

because you
killed them.


I stare at Tammie.

Her lips are still curved
in that sad, sad smile.

That voice wasn’t hers.

I look around.

There’s no one else
in the studio.

If the faces I remember aren’t real,
then neither are the names.

Which means
there isn’t

a conspiracy

at all.

Tammie takes my hand
which has started to shake.

I lose myself

in the depths of her grey eyes.


There is no conspiracy, Fifi.




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