Genre: Adult upmarket fiction
Word Count: 80,000
Colin can’t help slicing open his patients’ sutures—suppose he left behind an instrument? As his OCD consumes him, Colin must seek help. But falling for a cutter in therapy isn’t in his recovery plan.
It’s been said that middle children, in their pathetic quests for attention, will sabotage their own lives. This assertion may not apply to normal families, whatever normal is, but it rings true in mine. My father’s father was a middle child, an ignoramus whose name was not allowed to be uttered in my house growing up. Then there’s my father, the whiz kid who eighty-sixed his high school career three months before graduation because, as he tells it, he needed the freedom to devour as many Marlboro Reds as his lungs could handle. The army drafted him that June, sending him on an all-expenses paid trip to Vietnam, three weeks after his contemporaries collected diplomas and flung tassels on rearview mirrors.
And now there’s me, my father’s son, ensconced in a bathroom stall at Northwestern Memorial in Chicago, scrubs around my ankles for the past hour, in case I’m discovered. They’ll think I’m taking a shit, and I am, in a sense. A symbolic shit. A preemptive symbolic shit.
I rise from the toilet, flutter my legs awake, and protect my hand with a slip of toilet paper while I unlatch the door. Someone else enters as I plunge my hands under the steaming water.
“Constipated?” the man asks as he orients himself in front of a urinal. I don’t recognize him, but that doesn’t mean much in a hospital this size.
“Excuse me?” My voice shakes.
“You were in here an hour ago. I recommend Citrucel. It’ll keep you regular and actually tastes pretty good.”