Ruby

“You have a long history of mental illness in your family, including some schizophrenia,” she said, leaning back in her swivel chair and looking over her notes, “and some history of psychosis yourself.” She looked up and smiled reassuringly.

“…Right.”

“You know that we think your psychotic episodes have been depression-induced,” she said. “That you have mood disorders, not a psychotic disorder.”

“I guess so.”

“You are, however, much more susceptible to psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, than others. You probably have the potential to become schizophrenic later in life.” She spoke softly, knowing what I’d feel. She knows me better than anyone.

“Why are you telling me this? What’s the benefit of me living in fear of something I can’t control?” Anger was starting to rise, but only just.

“Some studies show that for people who have the gene, smoking marijuana could suddenly flip the switch, and you could suddenly become schizophrenic. We think the switch could lie within you. In fact, it’s pretty likely.” She was acting far too calm. It was unnerving. “Some people with schizophrenia can manage to have jobs of sorts, even families, in special cases. With high doses of the meds you’re on already, they can have fairly happy lives.” She smiled again, weakly this time.

I couldn’t breathe. I was fuming. I didn’t know how to process what I was feeling in any way except for anger, but anger didn’t feel right.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me this before I started smoking?” I said. “Or when you found out I had?”

She paused. “There’s always the chance that you don’t have the ‘switch.’ But from now on, you shouldn’t smoke, or it will greatly increase the chances.”

“I can’t fucking believe this,” I said. “I can’t believe you. Why are you telling me that one day I could wake up and my life would be over? And that it would have been my fault? I unknowingly demolished my future? Why? Why are you doing this to me?!”

And then it was nighttime, and I was in my boyfriend’s car, and we were driving to my house, with Hadestown blasting. We sang along, and then—

I screeched. My heart was beating a million miles per hour. There—

There was a body on the road. A dead human zombie corpse was lying in the street.

“Peter,” I gasped. I looked back and saw nothing.

There wasn’t a corpse. There wasn’t anything. Of course there wasn’t. I live in the most boring suburb on the planet. There are not corpses in the street.

“What?” he said.

“Oh shit oh shit oh shit.” ♦