Painkiller -A Short Story by Amy Clapp

The pain was palpable. It was as if it was a tangible thing; she feels enveloped by a dense aura of impenetrable space. Escaping the agony seems impossible. She cannot believe this has happened. Stupid! Stupid! She has known that this was always possible, perhaps even inevitable. It’s not like it’s never happened to anyone else, but when it happens to you, it just seems so unfair and ridiculous. When the agony is this bad, you just know that no one else has ever had this kind of pain. She wonders why that is. Is she more sensitive to this type of tragedy? Since she’s avoided such a disaster thus far, should she be uniquely punished? It feels like an exceptional type of torture, one of those prolonged events that is indescribable until you actually experience it yourself, like a vicious migraine, childbirth, or passing a kidney stone. In fact, she had actually heard various descriptions of this sort of suffering but those people were clearly not experiencing the true nature of this type of wound as she was right now.

Incredibly, she has a semblance of coherency, in spite of the pain; her wits are somewhat about her to the point that she knows she has to do something, she has to make some decisions about how best to address this situation. Does she call her doctor? Is he even available on a Sunday morning? Should she call an ambulance? Can she drive herself to the emergency room? Can anything even be done about this? She’s heard that this type of pain is treatable; she really doesn’t have to suffer indefinitely, although at this point the idea of being pain free seems absurd. There certainly is no way anyone or anything can alleviate this level of agony. Nonetheless, if left untreated this condition can absolutely be fatal, and often is.

She continues to lie prostrate, not sure if she can even move, let alone behave proactively. The cell phone is in reach, however; she can see it, but what to do? Who to call? The pain does not subside and the tears become uncontrollable. She begins to grasp the ramifications of getting into this situation. It wasn’t an accident, really, but neither was it her fault exactly. If she goes to the emergency room – God, could they possibly stop the pain? – she realizes that this will create all manner of drama, potential awkwardness and most definitely embarrassment. She can probably handle her husband knowing, but the kids? Would they ever forget their Mother had no more sense than to fall prey to this pitiable situation that is incomprehensible to them? They would be so humiliated if their friends and friends’ parents found out. And would the kids worry that someday, they too will be a victim of such a situation as this? Something that creates agony unlike anything previously experienced during their innocent lives? For God’s sake, if she goes to the hospital, the treating doctor, or even her own doctor, might determine that her condition is even worse than anyone thought, although she cannot even imagine anything worse than this, truly. And what if the treatment is complex and lengthy? Who in the world has time for that kind of nonsense? She has work to do, meetings to attend, a family to manage, untold errands every day. So many people depend on her; she can’t simply be out of commission, unavailable. This is a nightmare on so many levels, and Oh My God, the pain! It’s just unbearable. How could she have let this happen? She blames herself which of course just adds another level of pain.

She tries to clear her mind of the agony, the drama, the worrying. She tries to figure out, if this gets fixed, and she has any chance of full recovery, how she can be sure that it won’t happen again? She’s known all kinds of aches and pain before, but nothing like this. No suffering such as this has ever reached her. She’s given birth to three children and that was a cake walk compared to this. She almost chuckles to herself, thinking about how scared she was, knowing her low threshold for pain she had each time she was in the delivery room. It’s laughable now, really. In how many ways can pain be described? Is there a level for which a word has not yet been invented? This is how she feels right now. It is unimaginable.

The thought of explaining her predicament is so humiliating; she wonders if she will be believable? Do healthcare professionals see this kind of thing often? Will they mock her? As bad as the pain is, the shame and embarrassment find a place in her mind to add additional torture. However, it becomes obvious that if she doesn’t do something soon, she might just die right here as a result of this horrible situation.

After a seemingly endless period of attempting to block everything out of her mind or just give in to the raw suffering, she begins to take stock of things and is trying to decide if maybe the pain is subsiding. Would this mean she is going numb? How does that work exactly? If the pain begins to abate, if it actually starts to fade, does that mean the wound is healing itself? Would it be possible that she could walk away from this whole nightmare unscathed? And no one need ever know about any of this?

Incalculable time goes by as she lies motionless, but for a slight rocking, and it is blissfully quiet and still. No kids, no TV, no phone, just the pain, which undulates upon her in waves, teasing her at times into thinking it was decreasing only to attack her with fresh hell unannounced. God damn this pain! Damn the stupidity, the ignorance, the blithe attitude that these things don’t happen to people like her. Clearly, she is getting just what she deserves. She thought she was immune to this kind of anguish, even though, as she considered earlier, not only do these things happen to people all the time but there was always a chance it could happen to her. She thinks again of the implications: the embarrassment to her family and herself, to be labeled one of “those” people, to live with the fear of a repeat occurrence, a fear that would be paralyzing now that she has suffered through this experience and realizes how hideous it can be. Finding herself in this place again would be unacceptable and she knows that she would never be able to allow it to happen, even as she reminds herself that it very well could happen again.

Enough time has passed and she now knows that she must do something, take a step to somehow escape the torture. She just cannot take the agony another single moment; it’s just all too much suddenly, and she reaches for the small black cell phone; she’s going to take action, finally. But it’s not a cell phone after all; deep down she knew that all along. But by God she was going to stop this pain.

The misery is going to be over, finally.

The gun is loaded; she turns the safety off; she puts the muzzle to her head…….

The tormenting pain of depression is a killer.

The End

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