Second prize winner of the 10th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
My doctor told me that when we are grieving, our lungs are the first thing to notice. He told me this with a stethoscope to my heart and a hand under my left breast. He asked me again if I was positive I didn’t smoke.
Just pot, I replied, mostly sure that this was true.
My doctor told me that I had the lungs of a sick person.
I said, Maybe just a sad one.
He grimaced, and moved the instrument across my shirt. He paused, then continued, Are you sad?
I said, Of course, who isn’t?
He suggested I exercise more.
I told him I didn’t want to appease the masses and get any skinnier because then men have won.
He asked me if I thought I was depressed. I said I wouldn’t know how to tell, and he spluttered, Well, do you like yourself?
I said, Like myself, no of course not, who likes themself?
He said, I like myself.
I said, Well, you shouldn’t.
He said, Well, I think we’re about done here today. You come back if anything starts bothering you.
I assured him I’d let him know if anything stopped bothering me.
He shook his head. I put on my coat. It was easy to do up, because there were only two buttons left on it.
When I got home I sat at the kitchen table with my bong. I broke a hard lump of nug into a dusting of tiny leaves. I stuffed the glass bowl full, pushed the green down tight.
My roommate crossed from his room to the bathroom in only a towel. He spotted me on the way. He said, Hey. How was your appointment?
I said, Do you have a lighter?
He said, I have one of yours, actually. He retrieved it from his room and handed it to me. I cracked the window and lit up. The afternoon cool rushed in; the glass chamber filled with medicine. I extracted the bill piece and sucked back the smoke.
How was your appointment, he asked again.
I have the lungs of a sick person, I said, exhaling a heavy grey cloud into our kitchen.
Oh. He said.
I didn’t say anything.
I’m going to have a shower, do you need to use the bathroom?
I idly flicked the lighter.
No. Remember to hang the bath mat up when you’re done, I said.
He hesitated, then flat-footed it to the bathroom. I noticed his overpronation as he walked. I emptied whatever was left in the bowl, but it was mostly ash.
Then I went into my room and got undressed. The main light didn’t work, so I turned on the lamp, got into bed and pretended to read.
I don’t know who I was trying to fool. I was the only person in the room.