rumor. I know this, do not know how I know this. Intercepted
transmissions. Interrupted flow. Coordinates rearranged. I do not realize memories
are missing until I fall into empty space. How can you remember
what you’ve forgotten except by accident? Each fall, each empty
space deepens my understanding of how deep empty is.
My parents went to Dallas. When did they get back?
Before, I drank lattes. Now, they taste dull, or is it me that’s flat?
My parents visited every day, watched each day my mind
readjusted. I woke up not knowing
where I was, could not remember the nurses’ names.
I spent three weeks drinking coffee in the unit. I can remember that.
I do not mention shock therapy much.
Shock belongs to the past, the nurses stressed,
is not used anymore. Doctors stressed the word shock
is now used only in Hollywood horror, in movies
that aim to misshape reality.
The ten-minute promo video makes the rebranding clear:
now it is ECT— a dance with my brain’s chemistry. ECT—musical
acronym designed to muffle the act, the violence.
The experts wore suits, carried clipboards. I remember my knees
bare, peeking out from a hospital gown with strings cut short for safety.
The doctors stressed (the suggestion of) 85% success,
stressed 85% success when I wavered. I was seduced
by a number, by fully clothed men carrying clipboards.
Five times I gave in, tried not to give up.
When did I know I belonged to the 15%?
My memories were removed in a closet.
I remember a rainbow sock monkey on the hand sanitizer— at least one hovering face had emotion behind its sea-foam mask.
With each waking in dim light, feeling the IV needle filling my vein,
I knew more had been erased, knew the hollow had bloomed, knew I would never again
know the missing parts, who I had been, who I was to mourn.
Emily Troia Emily Troia studied Physics and Philosophy at Wesleyan University, received her BA in Studio Art from Ursuline College, and holds an MFA in Poetry from the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts. She is the Communications Specialist for the nonprofit Social Venture Partners Cleveland and happily calls Cleveland her lifelong home.