Mourning Becomes Nausea [Flash Fiction]

Nausea comes and goes in waves. An ocean of nausea. Tides come in and tides go out. Storm surges raise the height of the waves sometimes, overcome as you are with this special nausea. I remember one time after having seen a production of Beckett’s Endgame, I met up with friends and drank myself until I puked bile, that brownish yellow acidic fluid that rots the enamel off your teeth in the time it takes you wake up hung over, violent regurgitation.

He doesn’t feel well, he feels sick, he listens to his stomach gurgling, he listens to the drumming in his head, the pounding in his skull, his empty skull echoing his nausea like Echo, Narcissus. Who feels well today? Could any of us? There’s more to feeling well than personal health; it’s about social well-being, the health of a society and its culture–don’t get all high and mighty his mother used to say when he would say what he would about society. No one lives in society, she used to say.

Everyone lives in his skin, on his bones, in his head, alone in his soul. Don’t even try to imagine we are well, he would say to her. Everywhere every when, day-in, day-out, nausea, nausea, nausea, just look around you everywhere at everyone every day, a sickness, yet unto and not unto death. Debilitating, it is debilitating in the way it undermines his movements, how he can’t take a step without feeling as if he were going to puke, to fall to the ground and throw up everything he has ever ingested, taken in, ideas, he wants to puke from his head, not his mouth, open his head like Zeus does when he gives birth to whom—who was it he gives birth to out of his head. Mind puke; he wants to puke from his mind. He says he has it, this kind of nausea, yes, I am about ready to puke, he said. Others would feel the same if they had awareness enough, he thinks.

He imagines Electra must have this nausea. he imagines Hamlet must have it. He imagines Othello must give this nausea to himself. He imagines Iago being this Nausea personified. He is a man not so unlike any other man, but unlike every other, no one is another, all of us other. He is sick in a special way that keeps him sitting here for the time being sipping water too afraid to take a gulp, only little sips, he thinks he needs water, perhaps he is dehydrated, he always gets dizzy and nauseous when he is dehydrated. I do not drink enough water, he says. He gets it more often now, this gastritis too, which is not exactly what he was talking about when talked about this nausea, but the fits of clenching going on in his stomach today, from the inflamed lining he was told, lend themselves to this nausea. The parallels between mind and body are clear to him. There is a mental nausea, too, you know, a nausea also of soul, sickness unto spiritual death, the death of the soul, maybe for the reasons and in the way the Good Sisters of Saint Therese’s church in Brooklyn tried to impart, depart, they were supposed to pray for the departed.


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