Fortnightly Fiction | Priscilla, the Plate, and the Prozac

The best thing about the Prozac was that it made her not want to drink. The worst thing about the Prozac was that it made her not want to drink. Priscilla would’ve called her situation a catch-22 if she didn’t fucking hate Joseph Heller.

Three weeks after the incident, she had decided that the first thing she’d do when she woke up every morning was throw an imaginary plate. Into the phantom clay circle she would bake her nightmares, if any, but also a dash of maniacal laughter because she didn’t know how much of it she had left. Away the disc would fly to the far wall against which it would shatter to pieces or through which it would sail.

Shatter or sail, the little ritual opened the door on the day to come.

Her flatmates would already be at work, hefting the boulder for another spell. Priscilla reached over and kissed the jagged signature on her sick cert. No wonder people found doctors so attractive: with a flourish of the pen they could make the boulder disappear – poof – for weeks at a time. Magic.

She swung her legs out of bed and nearly crushed her cat. She picked him up to soothe the hissing. “Awh poor Shrody.” She nuzzled his black and white fur. “So what are we today, mister, super silly or supercilious?”

A disinterested meow. He didn’t seem to mind the raining shards on the shatter days, nor did he bother to chase the thing on the sail days.

“Hmm, I’ll get back to you on that one.”

She stepped into her slippers and shuffled to the bathroom. There was no toothpaste left but she did manage to squeeze a small victory out of the fact that it didn’t make her want to cry.

Downstairs, her brother ate cornflakes at the kitchen table. “Morning, Praz.”

He’d stopped calling her “queen of the dessert” after the incident and she hated herself for how much she missed it.

“Morning, Des. Late start today?”

“Yeah, just on the way out the door now.” He swigged down the milk and planted a kiss on her cheek as he strolled out. She smiled after him through the sting of welling tears.

She poured herself a bowl of cereal and considered perusing the newspaper or consuming a morning chat show. Worse than alcohol, the news. At least you could sweat the drink out of you but whatever horrific knowledge you took in of a morning stayed churning in your stomach all day long. Maybe that had been a factor in the incident, she thought. Something to scribble down in any case.

Priscilla heard her dad trowelling away out the back garden and decided to leave him be. He hummed away as his knees got muddier and she sun arced higher. The prickle returned to her eyes as she went back upstairs to dress.

Eoin Madigan Priscilla
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It was hard to keep the spring from her step as she strolled through town, though she thought that at any moment she’d be stopped and told to give the spring to someone more deserving. She couldn’t argue with herself there, and this simple fact brewed a maelstrom.

Her former flat was a newish one near the river, one that was never without an onslaught of damp; the Celtic Tiger’s mangy coat. Another contributing factor, she wondered. Ah yes, it’s only the externalities, nothing at all to do with your unbalanced ceann. Lovely little word, that: more fragility and nuance to it than “head”.

The only thing going through that ceann all morning was: shatter or sail? Shatter or sail?

Shatter was bad, yes, but sail – to be blown by winds over which she had no control – was hardly much better. Maybe that’s what people meant by “going with the flow.” It should really be “go with the blow,” she thought, because a flow was usually only two directions, but the wind could blow any which way. All those neurons focusing on the word “blow” had of course dragged her thoughts to coke, but even the temptation for a little bump wasn’t there now.

Another pro for Prozac.

She wondered, as she punched the code into the pad, if it’d be her last time ever to do so. Once I leave the key behind, I may never walk into this building again. Farewell or good riddance? In her mind the morning’s plate was still spinning through the air, so she hadn’t picked yet.

She let herself into the apartment, tiptoeing though she knew no one would be home. It was exactly as she recalled it, then it had only been a few weeks. The one thing Priscilla didn’t look at, not even a glance, was the finger-length horizontal gash in the wall. She didn’t need to. Everything in her life had danced around its gargantuan gravity for more than a month now.

She retrieved from her old room the few books she’d left there, and a lavender candle that was meant to bring calm. She wondered with an arched eyebrow if a lawsuit against the candlemaker might be in order. She’d just left the keys on the kitchen table when the tumblers turned in the front door. In walked Eimear with a confusion of shopping bags, which she promptly dropped to the floor.

Her gasped “Praz” was punctuated by a jar of olives exploding inside a bag. “Oh fuck!”

Shatter.

Priscilla furrowed her brow, “Sorry, Eimear,” and stood frozen a moment. Then she grabbed some kitchen roll and got to work.

They salvaged what they could in silence, mopping up the rest in spirals. Both their eyes stayed on the floor, chasing the moisture along the channels of grout between the white tiles. Never had a mess been so thoroughly cleaned.

“I don’t know if I can forgive you, not any time soon.”

Eventually they both were standing, with no distraction to lean on.

“Dropping off your keys?” said Eimear.

“Yup. Yeah.”

Awkward smiles.

“Look, Praz, I don’t wa-”

“No, Eimear.” She raised a palm to her. “I, I can’t… I just… I’m so sorry.” The tears came now, the ones that’d been threatening all morning.

“Priscilla, if you’d hit me…”

“I know, I know…”

The women stood there and looked around the apartment, suddenly alien and cold to them.

“You threw it so hard, Praz.” Eimear whispered, shaking her head. “I’m still jittery after it.”

Priscilla was crying fully now, voice a whimper. “I wake up some mornings sick to my stomach over it, Eimear.”

Eimear jolted forward then stopped. “I don’t know if I can forgive you, not any time soon.”

Priscilla mustered a smile but the tears swept it away. She nodded as she wiped her face. “I understand.” She let out a controlled breath. “I still love you, Eimear. I hope we can be friends again someday.”

“Just look after yourself for now, ok?” Eimear jolted forward again but this time she went on, hugging Priscilla tightly.

Eoin Madigan Priscilla
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When she arrived home her dad was lying on the couch reading the newspaper. She gave him a kiss on the cheek and sighed herself into the cushy armchair. He folded up the paper and beamed at his daughter.

“Well, love, which way did the plate go this morning?”

“Strange auld day, dad.” Priscilla shook her head. “It shattered, as usual, but it sailed as well.”


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