Talking about painkillers

by mandaceehb

Once upon a time you gave me a packet of pills, and told me with a smile that they were painkillers- once I swallowed them, the pain would go away. But who were you kidding, you knew that they wouldn’t fool me for a second, because they were just sweets. Sugar makes you happy, I once said baselessly as a passing comment, and that was the truth you chose to build upon. I peered at them through a clear plastic film. They were white, small and round, almost convincing. So I took them with a smile mirroring yours and said thanks.

Today I found them at the bottom of my cluttered drawer, deformed and inheriting a slight yellowish tint, in a pathetic melted and discoloured state under sunlight or perhaps a lack of it. I can’t just allocate them a shape now; they look more like cells than anything else. But then I thought if I crushed them, they would all look the same, as they once did. So I did.

With the back of my pencil I reduced the pills to powder; perhaps this was once what they looked like before they were compressed into tiny discs. Sugar, sugar, sugar; I wonder where you found these to begin with. I scattered them upon my cuts and scars like how one scatters salt over a wound; how one scatters ashes of a beloved into the sea- I felt no burn, but that was only because the pain was already numb.

Maybe that’s how painkillers never work, they build on hurt that is so intense the pain was long gone. They killed the pain, but it wasn’t their fault.