HOW TO BE SICK
I’ve wanted to be sick forever. If I had to guess, I’d say it started when I was maybe … 6? 7 years old? I remember my grandma when she started to die … my mom never said what it was, but it must have been “cancer” (we didn’t say “cancer” back then — “natural causes”, if you please). I remember seeing her waste away, I remember the skin stretched tight over her face, her neck, her hands … I remember it being stained a kind of piss yellow, almost translucent like a baby fish. Near the end I sat there by the dying bed, running my fingers over her bones, pressing into whatever leathered flesh she had left, and I watched her strain for each breath. And she suffered. When she finally took her last breath, I didn’t cry. No, instead I found myself wishing her disease would transfer into me somehow, like some kind of … spell. Some magic. I dunno.
But from that moment on, I truly knew everything I wanted. I realized my life’s purpose: to become sicker than anyone has ever been. It just makes sense to me, and that’s really what I’ve been doing since: trying to become sick. Whenever anyone in the house was sick, I’d chew on their used tissues, inhale the mist from the toilet bowl right after each of Uncle Jeff’s flushes, shake hands for far too long.
I remember my mom growing concerned about my interests when she found me licking at the family dog’s fresh anus, but I think she was reading some book at the time and learned that she was supposed to be supportive of any passions I had. You never know where they’ll lead you.
Once I was old enough, I learned about venereal disease and, naturally, I started to fuck. I fucked everyone, starting with a local tramp named Graham, who used to give me his knickers to play with when I was younger. He was kind and filthy, but not that sick really, which he attributed to following a strict raw vegan diet. So I kept on going. Tramps, drunks, perverts … anyone I could find. I never went for crack-whores or prostitutes, though — that felt like cheating, given how much of my work they might have already done for me. I wanted to earn my sickness, y’know?
I smoked, I drank, I only did intravenous drugs. Y’know, the ones you put in your veins. But it wasn’t the drug effects I wanted, just the needles, so eventually I kicked the habit and just started using the needles.
It’s been a long road to get where I am, really, and I’ve dedicated my life to it. I don’t have a job — I did briefly get a job in nursing, but I was fired for … well, obvious reasons, I guess. People don’t really understand this. I’m okay being alone, but I do wish I could get some money so I could at least travel to Africa or South East Asia during some kind of epidemic, y’know?
Cancer’s the big one. That’s the best, the purest I guess you’d say. There’s like a permanence to it, y’know? It can’t leave you. I guess the only thing that makes me really sad about it is that no matter how much I try … I can’t quite get there. I don’t get the cancer. I heard that if you put your mind to it you could achieve anything, but I can’t quite achieve cancer. It frustrates me, y’know, because it seems to come so naturally to some, including my grandma. But not to me. No, not to me.
But he promised me he could make me sick. He promised he’d make he sicker than ever.
I want to learn to be sick, Papa.
Teach me how to be sick.