The church across the street looks busy for a Thursday. People shuffle in and out. I count the cars as they drag along the wet streets of town. The steam from the pavement and car exhausts rise and blend seamlessly into the morning mist.
I sit at a little table outside a cafe, patiently waiting for the waitress to come back and freshen my cup of coffee. I took a few pills earlier and now find myself fumbling with the empty pill bottle. The pills available now are nothing less than amazing. Depression, anxiety? Curable, with a single pill. Cancer? Depending on the type and severity, anywhere from half a dozen to a dozen pills and you're good to go.
My focus drifts back to the display across the street. The churchgoers are dressed in black, an air of sadness about them. Ah, it's a funeral service. The weather seems fitting enough for that. It is a gloomy day. Misty and drizzling, ominous gray clouds loom, threatening an outburst at any moment.
Watching the mourners grieve and console one another, I can't help but think about the many different ways people deal with loss. Death... still no pill to cure that one. Although, about ten years ago, I took an anti-aging pill. Since then, I look as if I hadn't aged a day.
Preventing wrinkles and graying hair is nice, but the possibilities do go on. Down a couple of pills and you can change your eye color, jawline or shape of your nose. There's even a seven dose plan to change your gender. Plastic surgery is a thing of the past. They now advertise a suppository that will make you taller. I'm happy enough with my height, thank you very much.
A gentle voice pulls me away from my leisurely day dreaming. I look up to see the waitress, obviously puzzled, tilting her head to one side.
"More coffee?" she asks, for what I assume was her second attempt.
I slide my cup toward her. "Yes. Please," I say, offering a friendly smile. I chuckle to myself for getting so caught up in my own thoughts. She politely smiles back as she fills my cup. I thank her and return to my musings.
Yep, pills for everything and anything. Not just for diseases of the body and mind, no siree. Ever wanted to excel at math, learn a second language, or wish you had perfect pitch? You betcha, all that and more made possible by tablets, capsules, caplets, lozenges, and even chewables for the kids.
The rain started up again as I figured it would. It's really coming down but at least it isn't windy. It's actually kind of nice sitting here holding a warm mug.
Many people are leaving the church now, services apparently over. Some huddle under the roof of the entryway while others run, one by one, to their cars.
A young man crosses the street and heads this way. He briskly walks over, covering his head with a church flier. "Hey," he says casually as he sits in the chair across from me. I nod.
"How's the coffee?" he asks, now sitting under the safety of the table's umbrella. He tosses the flier on the table and pulls a cigarette case from his breast pocket.
"It's alright," I reply. I'm not too happy to have my morning intruded on, especially by some stranger about to light a cigarette. But given the circumstances, I guess I could let it slide. After all, it was raining and he was surely in mourning. It's hard to people watch and ponder while someone is watching you, so I decide to strike up a conversation. "The funeral there, was it someone close?" I ask as politely as I could.
He gives me a look of disapproval and turns his attention back to his cigarettes.
I should have trusted my instincts. It was surely inappropriate to have asked something so blunt. I must have touched a nerve.
He lowers his head. "My mother," he says, as he pulls a cigarette out of its case and places it between his lips.
"I'm sorry," I blurt out, not knowing quite what to say. Comforting others was never my strong suit. Searching for something more heartfelt to say I add, "I'm sure she was a wonderful person."
The man smirks. "Someone said she'll live on in our memories." He snickers. "What a meaningless platitude," he exhales as he shakes his head.
The poor guy, I think to myself. I hate to see people in distress. I feel the need to break the awkward silence that is starting to build, so I say the first thing that comes to mind. "To hell with memories. They're overrated."
He shrugs, unconvinced, so I continue on, "Memories are a nuisance, nothing more than bothersome reminders of painful moments, or cruel recollections taunting you with joyful times you can never relive. Trust me, I know. I think at my age, I've accumulated my fair share of them."
I glance at the plastic pill bottle still sitting on the table. "You know what?" I ask rhetorically. "If there were a pill that would get rid of the damn things, I would gladly take it with my morning coffee," I say jokingly, gesturing to my cup and empty pill container.
The man takes a deep drag off his cigarette and slowly exhales. Watching the cars go by, he mumbles to himself, "I know, Dad. I know."
Originally published by:
Feb. 29, 2016
Whether through proper use or abuse, millions of people take prescription drugs for a variety of reasons, often times without fully understanding how they work. Many are drawn in by the "easy fix" pills promise to deliver despite the possible risks involved. I found that concept interesting and it became the inspiration for my story.