Don first came in with an unsettled heart and we were able to cure him right away. The treatment consisted of spending time with smaller creatures such as beetles, shrews, and goldfish so that he would understand that the world isn’t as big as he suspected it; it’s just that he’s smaller than he ever cared to imagine (just like these little friends).
He held the goldfish bowl up into the sky. The sun was refracting off the glass angles creating little sweeps of rainbows. We let him name the fish and we let him take Ernest the Rainbow home so that he could care for it until its death and extinction. We wished Don luck and he drifted away from our office like a string of fish poop falling to settle among the little pebbles and the algae muck.
We heard some years later that he married, had kids, passed away in a car accident among thousands of car accidents that occurred in the summer of ‘05. The city had record breaking heat waves that summer but he would never know it. The goldfish outlived him then (killed and) died in a poorly maintained aquarium.
Nell came a few weeks after Don. She seemed to have a similar problem but her unease came from more than an unsettled heart. She complained that she knew too much and thought that the best procedure for her was to forget. We explained to her that it wasn’t common practice for us to implement our selective amnesia process as the first treatment. She relented after some explaining and accepted our suggestion that she pick up a second job.
She worked as a nurse and she found another at a gym where she spent many hours of the night sitting at a desk and staring at late night ESPN replays. Sometimes when the gym was empty and slightly frightening in its hollow, she would play songs she heard in high school and jog around the line of treadmills while thinking that she was turning the turning world in some new way with her movement. She’d get dizzy and fall over onto the plastic matted floor and she’d lie there with all the mirrored walls reflecting each other. She never again felt the loss of knowing that all knowing wasn’t really knowing.
When she came into our offices for the last time, she looked tired and worn from the lack of sleep. But she seemed unsad. She no longer wandered or read or approached friends to have conversations about things they didn’t care to think about. She merely tried to sleep when she could. Her loud, definite voice became stretched out to a slurred whisper. She told us she was okay. We told her that’s why we’re here. We’re too human you know? You just have to forget that.