The word ‘normal’ tastes like soured milk. My best friend, Anna, is coconut flavored. The machine they called a ‘SonicSite 4000’, which will prune my crossed neurons with pulses of sound, tastes like pea soup with too much pepper. The word strap tastes like cold molasses.
“Won’t it be nice to read a book without all those pesky associations?”
My eyes move to the vanilla crème nurse above me. Her voice is warm, but her fingertips are cold as she presses them into my scalp. Or is she pressing bits of metal onto my head? I don’t really want to know. The large, round donut machine they’re going to stick my head into is scary enough.
Are they pesky? I don’t think so, but everyone else seems to. To me, they just are. As a square has four sides, the word book tastes like buttered toffee.
“I don’t know,” I sigh. “If you couldn’t taste apple pie, would you still eat it?”
She was light and thoughtful. “Well, I suppose not. Wouldn’t be worth the effort and hip expansion.”
My doctor would have said, “Tasting an apple pie is normal, tasting a book is not.” Which is why I’m here. To become normal.
The word sad tastes like black licorice.
“You may feel a slight pressure on your scalp. How are you doing? Is the valium kicking in yet?”
My face crinkles involuntarily.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes.” Valium is onion flavored. I wish they would just call it a pill. Tart grass, much nicer. I am trying to relax, doing breathing exercises, having faith in those who know better. Those who know what normal is.
Faith. Tastes like perfume. Now I recall the one that really got me in trouble. The one where mom found out I wasn’t normal. The Lord’s Prayer. It tastes like raw bacon. I threw up on the children’s choir director in front of three hundred horrified church goers.
I hear the doctor’s soft shoes on the linoleum before I hear his voice.
“Is our girl ready?”
“Yes, Dr. Bryant.”
“Dr. Bryant,” I repeat. I savor the taste of lemon cheesecake; let it linger on my tongue. A tear slips, slides down my neck. My legs begin to shake.
I close my eyes and let go.