Blood Pressure

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 20:10 -- rchabin


Once on the table in a white sterile office a doctor peered down my throat and in my ears but wouldn’t tell me what he saw. He pressed a stethoscope against my chest and told me to breathe in and out, moving the cold bell to the unsteady rhythm of my exhalations. He counted my pulse and closed my veins off with an inflatable cuff, measuring the beats straining against the obstruction and assessing the strength of my heart as it pushed my blood on its merry way when the cuff was removed and my arm could breathe again.


I wanted to know what my heartbeat means but it’s in a foreign language or maybe wrong key and all the translating and transposing never changed the sound of it to me, and it was written in blurry ink that smudged until nobody could read it anymore. I never found out if it was written on a staff or a sheet of notebook paper because the lines blurred together and what might have been letters were dampened in the rain and ran into each other like a phrase of sixteenth notes that I couldn’t tell apart and nobody else even tried.


I had hoped that the doctor would help me understand what I was and what I am, because somehow I was never quite certain myself. All I knew was that mirrors were never meant to be trusted, and the cold glass only reflected the demons hidden in the shadows cast from a stray lock of your hair. You were the one to teach me that, and you told me about the way to drive out the ghosts in the bags under your eyes with a little bit of light. I used to dare the demons to make their appearance with a smile on my face brighter than a star, but lately the clouds have blocked the moonlight from my face, my ghosts are at home in my reflection, and I don’t try to make a habit of gambling with the devil. His music competed with the soprano of the sunbeams until what should have been a harmony became a cacophonic, jagged rhythm horribly out of tune and off-tempo to boot.


Maybe that’s what the doctor heard with his spidery stethoscope pressed to my ribs. Maybe he knew of the war in my veins between the angels and devils smaller than a single cell, and the words and notes trying to come together but not ever making a song. Maybe he had a glimpse of the frantic melee of beauty and ugliness scrambling together in my heart, mixing for a moment before separating like oil and water before falling together again. Maybe he knew there was nothing he could do about it, no way to touch it, no means with which to change it.

Maybe that’s why all he said to me was that he’d have to check again later; my blood pressure was a little high.


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