Time for Rehab (flash fiction)

It was all too much for Grayson.

On the TV screen, images of car bombs exploding in the nation’s capital and other various cities triggered his anxiety. Nothing was happening in his city – Philadelphia – just yet, but it was only a matter of time.

“Do we have any left?” Grayson asked his girlfriend, Thea.

“No,” she said. “I’m putting my foot down this time. Now is not the time to be doing Anvil. Look, I know you’re freaked out, but let’s just chill.”

He bit his fingernails, another nervous habit. A police siren blared in the distance, and he jumped like a scared feline.

“Fuck!” he yelled. “Come on; I need it.”

“No, you don’t. We can get through this together.”

Thea was a good girl, a good partner. She’d been trying to get him off Anvil for months now, and she rued the day his psychiatrist prescribed it to him. The drug was billed to be twice as powerful as Xanax, and Thea couldn’t comprehend why Big Pharma would flood the market with it when there were already millions of people hooked on Xanax and overdosing from it.

Boom! The sound shook their apartment walls – it must’ve been a bomb going off, maybe blocks away. Grayson cursed and screamed, knowing the riots had hit their particular section of West Philly. He felt weak and helpless, his anxiety disorder out of control, and totally out of his beloved Anvil that calmed his nerves.

“Okay, okay,” he muttered. “We can do this, right?”

“Right.” Thea grabbed the baseball bat from behind the bedroom door and held it close. The talking head on the TV said that vandals had broken into City Hall, and chaos reigned in downtown Philly’s streets.

Grayson was shaking now, and it was then that Thea realized it wasn’t just from anxiety – he was withdrawing from the Anvil. She put her hand to his chest and noticed his heart beating erratically.

“Fuck … fuck,” he muttered, his face in his hands.

“It’s okay.” Thea soothed him as the police sirens blared on both the TV and in the distance. She wasn’t prepared for this; she’d wanted him to quit for ages and knew the best way to do so was to taper down. But Grayson was going cold-turkey now, and it was dangerous.

Thea knew this could get much worse – hell, he could die, if not hallucinate and have a total breakdown. “We need to get to a hospital,” she said.

“What?” He looked up at her, his eyes wide with panic. “How are we going to do that? The city’s on fire!”

“We don’t have a choice. You need medical help.”

She grabbed the car keys, along with the baseball bat, and marched him to the door. “Let’s go.”

“No way. It’s suicide. I can … I can ride this out.”

“Let’s go!”

Thea was a small woman, but she was fierce like a lioness. When she wanted to be forceful, most people listened to her. Her command stopped Grayson in his tracks, and he reluctantly followed her to the door.

Outside, they heard what could’ve been fireworks or gunshots. A revolution had started throughout the country, in their own city, and he was withdrawing from Anvil. Bad timing. But as Thea turned the lock and they headed onto the street, she knew they could make it – together – because they had love.

Maybe she was naïve for thinking that. Perhaps they’d die before they got to the hospital. But Thea held out hope because that’s what she always did.

“Kiss me,” she said when they got to their car.

“Huh?” He looked confused, not even accounting for the fact he was dizzy and nauseous.

“I said kiss me!” Thea grabbed him and kissed him amidst the banging and sirens outside; she gave him a long, passionate kiss.

“Now … let’s get you to rehab.”

The End

(Cover photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)

Leave a Reply