My Brain Bleeds Blue Blood
My brain bleeds blue blood. I tell my friend John this and he says a brain bleeding blue blood does not sound like a good thing. He asks if I’ve talked to anyone about it. I say I’m talking to him. He says no, he means, like, a professional, like a psychologist. He says the word psychologist at a lower volume than the rest of his sentence. I grab a handful of pale popcorn from the bartop and start to put each piece into my mouth individually. I say I talked to a therapist, but the therapist said they didn’t know what to do when brains bleed blue blood so they just told me to drink more water and exercise. John asks if that helped. I say, “No.” John rubs his beer with his index finger and asks if I’m sure my brain is bleeding blue blood. I take a napkin and stick it in my ear. Then I lay the napkin on the bartop. The napkin has fresh, wet blood in its middle. The blood is blue. John looks uncomfortable. He looks like his skin is trying to escape behind his skeleton. He glances over at the bartender at the other end of the counter, I guess to make sure she can’t hear him, and then whispers, “Maybe you can try another therapist?” I say, “Yeah, probably. It’s whatever. Don’t worry about it.” He nods and sips his beer. I sip my beer. We talk about the New York Mets.
I try a new therapist. We meet each other through our computer screens. He is a white man with a blonde beard. His beard looks more like faint, scattered fuzz than it does a beard. I read in his little bio that he used to be a heroin addict but now he is not a heroin addict. Now he specializes in addiction therapy. I figured he must’ve seen a lot of stuff, so I picked him for that reason. I am not addicted to anything that I know of. He smiles into his computer camera. I say, “It’s nice to meet you.” He says, “Yeah man, great to meet you, man; man, what’s going on, man; how can I help you, man?” This is how he talks. Every time he says the word “man,” he drawls it. I tell him about the blood. He says he’s never heard of this happening before. He says he doesn’t really know what to do when a brain bleeds blue blood. He says maybe we can treat the symptoms. He says, “Yeah, man, you have any symptoms, man, besides the blood, man, symptoms, man.” I tell him sometimes I feel light-headed and I can’t concentrate like I used to and music sounds like noise and the big toe on my left foot hurts and my mouth is always wet and the inside of my brain feels like a foggy swamp where it forever drizzles blood and I have trouble sleeping. There are other symptoms, but I can’t remember them or don’t want to say them so I look down at my hands. The therapist asks if I’ve ever tried doxylamine. I say, “No.” He says it could help with the sleep, that it’s like diphenhydramine but stronger. Diphenhydramine is the generic name for Zzzquil. I say I once tried Zzzquil and would definitely like something stronger than it. He says, “Doxylamine will be stronger, man; Doxylamine will get it done, man.” I say, “Okay.”
A small amount of blood falls from my ears and onto my girlfriend’s face while we’re having sex. She didn’t even know my brain was bleeding blue blood and now she has it on her face. She stops making sex motions. Then she gets up and looks in the mirror and screams. I try to explain. She screams again. She rushes into the bathroom to wash my blood off her skin. I bite the inside of my cheek. Then I bite my teeth with my other teeth. My girlfriend comes back and sits on the corner of the bed and looks at me. The room smells like sex sweat and also my brain. I tell her about the blood but that she shouldn’t worry and that I won’t get blood on her face the next time we take off our clothes. She reaches over, rubs my arm, and (while my throat squeezes itself) says, “You need to talk to someone about this. You can’t–” I jump up from the bed and yell, “Well you need to shut the fuck up, you need to shut the fucking fucker fuck up. Fuck.” I yell it into her face. Even while doing this I know she means well and I’m being an asshole, but I cannot stop myself from saying it and it is what it is and I don’t want to use any energy taking it back. I don’t care. I push a lamp onto the ground. None of this is normal for me. I think this might be my sixth time doing a yell. I guess I’ve now heard the same advice one instance more than I could handle hearing the same advice. I feel like I’m watching myself silently while myself goes apeshit. I throw the sheets and comforter from the bed to the floor. My heart has become engorged and beats rapidly in my neck. My girlfriend cries while she gets dressed to leave. I lie face down on the floor’s new sheets and comforter. I mutter the word fuck more times to myself and I guess also, kind of, to her.
I’m at my cubicle and punching numbers into an Excel spreadsheet when I get a text from John. The text says, “Hi.” I put my phone in my pocket. I will text him back later but now is for the numbers. There are many of them in the spreadsheet. One example is “fifteen.” Another example is “forty-two million three hundred ninety-five thousand five hundred twenty-one.”
Thinking about these numbers lets me continue to live in my apartment.
The second meeting with my new therapist is a phone video app meeting. We’re sitting in the same places we were when we met on our computers but now we’re holding phones. He says, “Hey, man; how’s it going, man; you know, man; hello, man.” His eye twitches a little. Possibly this is because of the large amounts of heroin he’s done. He asks how the doxylamine is working out. I say it worked for a little while but then it stopped working. I say my brain is still bleeding blue blood. I say it is actually bleeding more blue blood than before. He says he’s sorry about that, but he doesn’t have any more words to say than the words he said last time. He asks if there are any words I would like to say. Using my mind, I say, “This sucks.” Using my mouth, I say, “Not really.” He says, “No problem,” and “That’s fine, man,” and that I can schedule the next meeting with him whenever I like. After we hang up, I cancel my online therapy subscription. The call costs me $90.
I am staring at my personal computer screen. My personal computer screen says I hold the following positions in my fantasy baseball leagues: third, fourth, fifth, fifth, third. I used to be first or second in every league, but now I am third, fourth, fifth, fifth, third.
I haven’t had as much time to look at the numbers next to players’ names and think about which players are good and which players are bad because work’s been taking me longer than usual. It’s not that I’ve had more work, but just that the same amount of work has taken me longer. This is because my thoughts have felt like thoughts covered in blood. I’ll think about a number, and think about another number, and then think about even more numbers, and when I try to remember the first number, it’s drenched in blood and I cannot see it.
I move my eyes closer to the computer screen. John has traded players with a woman we knew in college. The trade is very bad for John. John first offered the trade to me but I didn’t have time to accept it. I press my nose into my face. I refresh the webpage. The webpage says my fantasy baseball team has dropped to sixth place. This no longer feels like the rank of my team, but now feels like the rank of my brain. My brain is no longer a first-place brain. My brain is becoming a worse and worse place.
John is angry at star New York Mets first baseman, Pete Alonso. He says Pete Alonso should have gotten a hit when he didn’t get a hit. Other people at the bar agree Pete Alonso should have gotten a hit when he didn’t get a hit. Many men raise their voices. Even though I agree with John and these other men, I do not raise my voice or say anything about Pete Alonso. I am instead thinking mostly about my brain. I try to tell myself to not think about my brain. I say inside my head, “Don’t think about your brain. Do not.”
John asks me if I think the Mets can come back in the ninth. I say, “What?” John asks me a second time if I think the Mets can come back in the ninth. I say, “Probably. McNeil hits everything.” John nods and says, “Hell, yeah,” then looks at a woman made of pixels selling Doritos on the television. I sip my beer and add, “Even if it’s at his feet.” John looks back from the television and says, “Nah, I’m not hungry. You could get something if you want though.” He stares again at the pixel woman. I guess he thinks I asked him whether he wanted to order something to eat. I do not correct him. There’s no point. For the rest of his life he will think I asked him whether he wanted to order something to eat.
The Mets come back in the ninth and I do cheering things with my body, but in my head I think, “Brain brain brain brain brain.”
My girlfriend calls my phone. I do not answer it. She leaves a voicemail. The voicemail says she’s worried about me and she would like to talk about the night I pushed a lamp to the ground. The voicemail says she really just wants to make sure I’m okay. The voicemail is similar in nature to the texts she’s sent over the last month. I have not responded to the texts. I was waiting for my brain to stop bleeding blue blood—but the bleeding has only gotten worse. I decide it is time to text her back anyway. I write, “Hey. Sorry for the late response. I think it’s better if we stop seeing each other. I wish you all the best.” I do not want to waste her time. She deserves to be around people with brains that aren’t bleeding. I do not want to get my blood on her again.
We were only dating for a few months before I pushed the lamp to the ground anyway.
She texts me back questions concerning how I’m doing. I do not respond.
My garbage bag is filled with blue napkins. I feel nauseated. I am sitting on my sofa and looking at the television. There is something playing on the television. I am not watching it, only looking at it. I think about opening my computer and moving my fingers until my fantasy baseball teams show up. I have not checked my fantasy baseball teams for two weeks. I decide to still not check my fantasy baseball teams. I do not want to see what place they are in. I decide to no longer check my fantasy baseball teams this season.
It is a Saturday. I am in a sitting position. I am staring at one of the walls in my bedroom. The wall is white. It is 1 p.m. The wall is white. My brain is too tired to do things that involve not staring at walls. My brain feels like soup coated in mold. My brain feels like soup coated in mold that has been lit on fire. Sometimes my phone buzzes and it is someone I know and they want to speak words into my ear, or they want to look at me and speak words into the space near my head. I do not answer the buzzes. I want the picture in their minds to remain the pre-bleeding or only-a-little-bleeding version of myself. I turn off my phone. I smell the mucus inside my nose while I breathe. I stare at the wall. The wall is white. I touch my cheeks and chin with my hand. My hand feels wet pouring over it. The wet is pouring from my ears and down my cheeks and chin and now my hand. I look at my hand. It is blue. Blood drips from the bottom of my chin onto my lap. On my gray sweatpants, the stain looks almost black. I stare at the wall. The wall is white.
It is still Saturday and it is now 5 p.m. I turn on my phone. I order a burger. In the delivery instructions I write, “Leave outside door.” I do not want the stranger to see me and assume I am a person who stares at walls while bleeding blue blood. I eat the burger and stare at the wall. While eating it, I forget what it tastes like.
It is the Sunday after the Saturday when I stared at the wall and ate the burger. I stare at my wall again and eat another burger.
It is the Monday after the Sunday when I stared at my wall again and ate another burger. I tell my boss in an email that I have to work from home because I feel sick. I stare at the numbers. They stare back. Then I tell my boss in an email that I have to take the day off because I feel very sick. This happens on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, too. During my time off I stare at the wall. I worry I’m now incapable of doing things with numbers.
It is Saturday again. The Saturday after the Saturday when I started staring at the wall. My brain is bleeding slightly less blood than it was before I went to sleep. I guess because I got more hours of sleep than my usual hours of sleep. I do not know why I got more hours of sleep than my usual hours of sleep, but with the extra energy I can now think more thoughts than “The wall is white.” One thought I think is “My life is fucked.” Another thought I think is “I should kill myself.” I decide to get very drunk. I stick cotton balls into my ear canals to keep the blood from spilling out. I go to a bar I’ve never been to before. Inside the bar is a lot of brown wood. John texts me but I do not answer, and I do not click on his text so it still looks like I haven’t read it. I sit at the end of the bar and order a whiskey. The bartender looks concerned that I have blue-soaked cotton balls sticking out of my ears. His left eyebrow is raised. He looks like an old Neapolitan Mastiff because his skin is so wrinkly it’s folded. He shakes his head, then lowers his left eyebrow back to its normal position and gets me the whiskey.
Two men, sitting four or five seats from me, are talking about Pete Alonso. They’re the only other people in the bar. One man has a shaved head and the other has what is basically a shaved head. The one with the shaved head says Pete Alonso wrote an essay on some website. He says in the essay Pete Alonso talked about how he still struggles mentally due to a car accident he was in before the season started. The man says the car accident was really a truck accident because Pete Alonso was in a truck. A car smashed into the side of the truck and the truck rolled over many times. Pete Alonso was not hurt physically but his essay says he was hurt in his brain and is still hurting in his brain. The man says he didn’t read the essay but this is what someone told him. The other man, the man with the basically shaved head, says Pete Alonso is a pussy who should just focus on hitting the ball. They laugh.
John texts me something about the city of Pittsburgh and I swipe it away before fully reading it.
I order more drinks until I am drunk. My brain starts to feel as bad as it did when I was staring at the wall. The two men are talking about something I can’t understand. I order even more drinks until I am very drunk. I try to stay as still as possible so the bartender can’t tell how drunk I am, so I can continue to pour alcohol down my throat. I order a shot of whiskey and a glass of whiskey. The bartender turns to get them. Blood starts to seep through the cotton balls and spill down my cheeks. The man with the basically shaved head says, “Holy shit,” and lets me know there’s blue blood that has seeped through the cotton balls and is now spilling down my cheeks. I say, “Blood blood blood who cares.” The bartender looks at me and then takes a step back. I say, “Don’t worry, please, just the whiskey.” He asks if he should call the hospital. I say, “No, no, no, just the whiskey, the whiskey.” He looks at the two men. I make a grunting noise. I get up and grab the man with the shaved head’s beer and chug it while he says, “Jesus fucking Christ.” I put the empty glass down and sit on my seat, then fall off it. My vision goes black.
I wake up. Fluorescent light stings my eyes. I am in a white room, but it is not my bedroom. It is whiter than my bedroom. I look at my arm and it has a long, skinny, plastic tube coming out of it. I try to remember what happened. I remember I purposefully got very drunk. I hope I was brought to the hospital for being very drunk and they did things to my stomach. I hope I was not brought to the hospital for my brain’s bleeding. I’ve heard of people going to the emergency room when their brain is doing things and then the people who work at the emergency room don’t let the person whose brain is doing things leave the emergency room.
I touch my head with my finger and my finger feels bandages, and when my finger feels the bandages, my head feels an extremely sharp pain on its outside. I put my hand down. The inside of my head does not feel like moldy soup on fire. I try to think of what it feels like. It does not feel like much of anything. I touch my cheeks with my finger and then look at my finger. My finger is clean. I put my finger into my ears and take it out. My finger is clean. This seems good. I try to think about something complex. I try to think about really big numbers and doing things with them. This doesn’t work. I can think more complex thoughts than “The walls are white,” but not that much more. An example of a thought I can think is “Let me try to think of something complex, like really big numbers and doing things with them.”
A doctor walks into the room. His face is all angles. He says I was brought to the hospital after passing out due to alcohol poisoning. He says he did do things to my stomach, but he also noticed my brain was bleeding and so he stopped it from bleeding. I smile a massive smile. I cannot keep from smiling even though it makes the outside of my head sting. I feel extremely happy. I ask him how he stopped it from bleeding. He says he simply removed the brain. I say, “What the fuck.” He says it was the only way to stop the bleeding and that it stopped the bleeding and so I should be thankful. I am not thankful. I no longer feel happy. I ask him to put the bleeding brain back into my head. He says that’s not possible. He says my brain has been donated to science. He says it’s being dissected by graduate students right now. I cry. I tell him I just wanted my brain to stop bleeding blue blood, I didn’t want it removed. He looks at his watch. I cry harder. I ask how I’m even functioning at all without a brain. He says he replaced my brain with a couple of rosin bags. He says his son’s little league team no longer required the couple of rosin bags and so it worked out perfectly. He says the couple of rosin bags should allow for all the functioning I need. He leaves the room. I close my eyes and moan. A nurse comes in and gives me a bill I cannot pay.
I get back to my apartment. It is night. I try to go to sleep but immediately start feeling dizzy. The inside of my head feels strange. The inside of my head feels like it has sand in it. I turn on the lights. I put my finger into each ear and rub. I look at my finger.
My finger is pitch-black.
Tyler Plofker is a writer in NYC. He likes eating water. He tweets badly @TylerPlofker.
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