I was allotted some time off work after my boss caught me crying behind a stack of boxes in the storage room. I was fundamentally bored, unimpressed by my surroundings, and fixated on humanity’s capacity to make bad choices. Many days and nights were spent contemplating intentional harm, wondering what character traits lead people into murdering their own parents or beloved pets. Although the subject of my contemplation was extremely negative and emotionally taxing, I did take some amount of joy in the preoccupation of fantasy. Perhaps it was only for the fact that I was, simply, preoccupied.
On the day I held a power drill up to my arm I became scared of my own free will. I stood there paused, meditative, alone, wondering about the people who fantasize of killing themselves so much that they actually just apply pressure to the trigger. I became so scared, in fact, that I decided to pay a visit to the student health center, and promptly spoke with their on-call psychiatrist. I didn’t know anything about pharmacology at this point, and didn’t even know where to look to find the information that I sought. By my logic, I guessed that in order to eliminate the bad thoughts from my mind, I simply needed to ingest a pill that could counteract them. This responsibility, I thought, would naturally be weighted upon the psychiatrist.
“What do you think it is you’re afraid of?” asked Dr. Ridgley.
“Doing something bad,” I said. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
She had thick-rimmed glasses that sat at the edge of her nose, which made her head tilt back at an extreme angle, whenever she looked up from her notes.
“As a child did you ever act out violently?” she asked.
“No,” I said, with the demeanor of a dog begging for its own collar, desperate, dependent and oblivious.
“Then the chances are you wont.”
I was shocked that she’d so quickly dismissed my anxiety, already moving on to another topic. Yet I could not shake her words from my interior dialogue: “the chances are you won’t.” She gave me a prescription for a low dosage of Risperidone, an anti-psychotic used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Black, dreamless nights followed for a number of weeks.
Meanwhile, my boss, Kaylana, had persisted to practice Ayurvedic medicine on her own accord. She and I had a positive relationship and maintained contact throughout my hiatus. At work, she used to sing to me to try to get me to smile or she would prepare herbal teas in the hopes of remedying my mood. I always appreciated her conscientiousness and was curious about her life outside of our job. On her spare time, she told me she liked to go hunting for mushrooms on the mountain and even took part in a mycology study-group. One day, after confiding about my trip to the doctor’s office, Kaylana invited me over to her house to relax in her hot tub.
Her house smelt sour, like fermented fruit, mixed with the musk of her box-terrier, Mikko. Her house also didn’t get very much sunlight, it being on the ground floor with only a few small windows. I’m not trying to make up excuses, I’m just trying to outline possible determining factors pertaining to set-and-setting.
We were talking in her kitchen when she started to pull out Mason jars filled with mushrooms—all kinds of mushrooms— turkey tail, oyster, morel, psilocybe semilanceata. When she asked if I wanted to get high with her, I hesitated before saying only if we go outside. She agreed, saying it would be nice to take Mikko to the park and maybe go up to the top of the mountain.
Kayalana brought out her Vitamix and made smoothies with mushroom tea, oranges, and vitamin C tablets. She said she’d read somewhere in an article that vitamin C triggers the synthesis of serotonin in accordance with psilocybin ingestion. As we drank our smoothies, Kaylana started rolling a joint. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by waves of mist, flowing in configurations like mystic dancers in silken fabrics.
I wanted nothing more than to go outside and watch the leaves move in sunlight.
An obtuse sound projected from the outside of Kaylana’s bedroom, causing Mikko to start barking. Kaylana stood up, seeming flustered, waving her hands around, trying to disperse the smoke. It was her boyfriend, coming home from work unexpectedly, putting her in a state of disarray because apparently he’d been annoyed of her “rampant drug use.” When I finally mustered the courage to leave the room and join in greeting him, Steven was already laughing at me with a smug glare in his eye. I began to panic a little bit, because I didn’t know if his presence had silently altered Kaylana’s obligations to me. I told them both that I was going to go to the park and maybe hike up the mountain and that they were welcome to join me if they wanted.
As I walked away from the back porch, I started to hear a loud humming sound over my head. There I discovered a drone, speedily spinning in orbit, following my trajectory. I turned around to see Steven, standing in the doorway, laughing maniacally as he manipulated the remote control. I laughed politely and waved.
I was almost at the park when my pocket started vibrating. Kaylana was calling…
“Where are you?” she said. “Come back to the house.”
I said, “Come to the park. You said we could go to the park.”
“Just come back to the house,” she said. “We’ll hang out in my hot tub.”
I started hallucinating iridescent human-like figures popping up from the neighbor’s fences and I was putting all of my energy into not-commenting on them.
“I think we’re too high to be out in public,” said Kaylana. “Just come back.”
Steven was still standing at the doorstep flying his drone, when I came back up to the porch. I walked through Kaylana’s bedroom, voicing my arguments to leave. She sat on her bed purposefully and opened up her laptop. She told me to chill out and just listen to the music. I joined Mikko, who was lying on the ground with her head slumped low, somber and observing. Hours went by, it seemed, and absolutely nothing had happened. Kaylana was still advocating inertia and I was still passively participating in her anti-plans. I wondered if while she was my boss she’d casted a spell to enslave me as her eternal minion.
My body was slowly melting into the Earth, becoming more and more like the Earth / amalgamating with all universal matter. I could feel, at the core of me, a familiar heat and pressure, radiating from exactly just below my abdomen. I recognized this as the urge to urinate. I laid silent, next to the dog, next to Kaylana who was too busy DJing, and I just stared, watching the ceiling not-move, watching nothing.
“I have to pee,” I said, maybe aloud, maybe not. I imagined myself as my grandmother, at the nursing home, with Alzheimer’s, unable to move or do anything, just peeing, releasing, decisively imposing myself on the trigger, one of the last few processes at the mercy of my control.
“Are you peeing? Kara, are you peeing?”
And I just laid there, unconvinced of my whereabouts, believing that for my own convenience I absolutely must be existing within a figment of my imagination.