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 May 2024

Recent fiction

by Amy Cameron


Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia

Recent nonfiction

by Meg LeDuc

Recent fiction

by Jessica Treadway

Recent Interview

by Mount Hope

Remember Blue Elephant
by Travis Flatt

          Rainbow Crown

          The nurse glues EEG pads onto my shaved scalp. Each pad connects to a colored wire. She gently ropes all the wires together and binds them with a zip tie.

          Mounted in the corner of my hospital room is a screen. It displays twenty Richter scale lines scratching smooth, continuous zig zags. If I move an arm, cough, blink—any gesture will spike a line.

          “That’s your brain,” the nurse says. All dozen patients on the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit wear similar crowns.

          “This is your brain on drugs,” I say, swallowing my nightly paper cup of fourteen capsules of medication. To choke these down I always drink a cup of water—or two—and some food, like a granola bar, which she’s brought me. Otherwise, I feel like something’s stuck in my throat. We’re hoping, my family and I, that mapping my brain will lead to new treatment options and lessen my meds, make “adult onset epilepsy” easier to swallow.

          Blue Elephant

          Down the hall, sirens sound. Another patient is suffering a seizure. Nurses rush past my open door. I hear someone shout, “Alexander, remember ‘blue elephant.’” Here, we’re recorded and mapped. Whatever we do before, during, and after seizing, is the subject of an interview. That’s another piece of our doctors’ analysis: “How are you feeling? What did you feel? What words were you asked to remember?”

          Mellow Yellow

          I barely remember caffeine. For many epileptics, stimulants lower the seizure threshold. Should I choose black coffee or Mellow Yellow? For nostalgia’s sake, I pick the latter. It conjures D&D sessions back in high school, an epoch now a highlight reel of a highlight reel from that murk before the onset of my illness. One thing I definitely don’t recall is this soda’s acidity. It sizzles my teeth. Conversely, it’s too damn sweet. I imagine burlap bags of sugar dumped into steel vats of neon-green ooze.

          Three hours pass across my hospital bed without seizure. The medical technician, Amber, waits beside me with her syringe of radioactive dye. The plan is to inject when I get sick, then rush me down for a CT scan, the nuclear colorant highlighting the infrastructure within my brain. We’ll trace weather patterns and pinpoint vulnerable points—seizures are hurricanes—then deploy the national guard for construction. Fine and good, but we fight the clock. Insurance knocks at my door, pounds really. They’ll only pay for a week in the monitoring unit. This is my fourth evening.

          Amber and I chat about her husband's Eagles cover band, Flyin’ Eyes. Despite the caffeine, I grow sleepy and nod off. All four of my meds cause drowsiness.

Recent poetry

by Fiver Lewis

Recent nonfiction

by Aharon Levy

Recent fiction

by Spencer T. Wilkins

Recent fiction

by Karris Rae

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