The Finer Points of Becoming Machine

The Finer Points of Becoming Machine by Emily Andrews

Book: The Finer Points of Becoming Machine by Emily Andrews Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emily Andrews
I’m planning on it taking about seventy two hours to undo the damage I had done initially when I got here, with that whole tree-throwing incident.
    I catch myself crossing my arms and scowling midway through one girl’s speech about her third suicide attempt. It’s unbearable when she starts to talk about how she didn’t have any friends at school, and how that was her major depressive trigger. And then she starts sobbing, can you believe it? She’s sobbing because she’s not popular. Give me strength!
    Remembering my plan, I change my expression to one of
faux
concern and uncross my arms, despite the fact I think she’s a shallow moron. I’m unsure what to do with my arms, so I end up just folding my hands neatly in my lap. My toes trace circles on the floor with nervous energy.
    Dr Murphy asks everyone to brainstorm
constructive ideas on dealing with stress
in response to this girl’s question on how to deal with stress.
    Almost everyone volunteers a thought, most of them taken from the generic list of ideas on our nearly identical treatment plans – you know, the pieces of paper that say dumb shit about gardening and calling your friends if you’re feeling upset or stressed out or suicidal that day.
    I panic when I realise I can’t think of something that someone hasn’t already said, and it’s my turn to give a suggestion. And since I’m not in a waking coma, or too drugged out to answer, Dr Murphy expects a contribution from me.
    Think Emma, think… What do normal people do?
Cookie cutter people
.
    ‘Uh, play with your dog,’ I finally blurt out.
    A snicker escapes Ricky’s lips and hequickly tries to hide it as a cough when Dr Murphy’s head snaps towards him, glaring at him for laughing at me. Ricky continues to pretend-cough, and even starts to pat his chest until Dr Murphy seems satisfied that he is not laughing at me.
    The predictably lame group session ends. I’m sweating. Is it really
that
hard for me to act like a normal person? Then I notice that everyone else is pushing up their sleeves and fanning themselves with their journals. I gather that for once, instead of it being freezing cold in here, the heater must be working. I am relieved to discover that I haven’t looked weird or awkward to everyone else.
    Ricky comes and sits next to me. ‘Play with puppies?’ he asks, and laughs at me.
    I scowl at him, not appreciating his sense of humour and cross my arms. ‘No. I
said
play with your
dog
.’
    ‘Oh come on Emma. What was that all about?’
    ‘Uh, well, I decided after talking to my father today that I should, um, start trying to get better.’
    Ricky’s eyes widen. ‘Dude, your
dad
came here?’
    Aw crap, I think to myself when I realise that he’s going to keep asking questions. The only reason I’m letting this conversation even start is in the hope that the staff will notice I’m conversing with other patients and write it up in their notes.
    ‘Yes Ricky, he came by,’ I say, already bored.
    ‘Well? How’d it go?’ he asks, settling into his chair like he’s hoping for the lengthy explanation that I just won’t give him.
    ‘It went fine. We uh, ya know, hashed some stuff out and everything is OK.’
    Ricky eyes me suspiciously. ‘And that’s it?’
    ‘Yup. That’s it,’ I answer, nodding for greater effect.
    Ricky decides to test my story. ‘OK, well, what did you guys talk about?’
    ‘Stuff,’ I tell him. We glare at each other like gunfighters from the old West, and I realise that now we’re in some sort of stupid staring contest. Perhaps Ricky imagines that somehow he is going to be able to make me tell him the truth. I smirk.
    Ricky is not going to win this; I’ve perfected the art of the staring contest. In life, most people don’t actually look you in the eye, and it makes them uncomfortable when someone does it to them.
    Ricky finally concedes, as I knew he would. ‘Fine then. Don’t tell me,’ he says, and storms off.
    Left blissfully alone,

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