Here is the twenty-fourth in a series of fifty-two very short stories I am publishing here once a week. Thank you for reading.
Eleanor hadn’t felt good in years. She’d been to many specialists. One told her to eliminate sugar from her diet. Another told her to eliminate dairy. Another told her to eliminate wheat. One said no coffee, one said a cup of hot water first thing in the morning, one said cold shower first thing in the morning. And then there was don’t eat anything that can look at you. But everything looked at her—quinoa with its little eyes, kale, a gluten-free breakfast patty. She crawled into bed one day and slept for 36 hours. When she came to a strange man was standing over her. He had bright red glasses, straight black hair, and a camera. “Hi, I’m Bruce Philipos, an art therapist. I take photographs of sick people and heal them. May I photograph you?” “How did you know about me?” “Dr. Urgreif told me.” “I can’t handle this,” Eleanor said, pulled the covers over her head, and rolled away from him to face the window. “That’s great, stay just like that.” She heard him clicking away behind her. “The play of light and shadow on the gray blanket is fantastic,” he said, moving down toward her feet. She felt a strange tingling sensation on her skin and in her pelvic area that she eventually recognized as sexual excitation. She concealed her pleasure by coughing. “Okay, that’s enough pictures,” she said. “Do you feel better?” he asked. “I don’t know. I’m hungry.” “Let’s get you something to eat.” She threw the blanket off, stood up out of bed, and collapsed to the floor. Bruce picked her up and helped her down the hall to the kitchen, where he fixed her some toast with butter and jam. “This has wheat, dairy, and sugar, there’s no way.” “Try it,” he said, “let’s see if the therapy worked.” She ate a few bites, enjoyed them immensely—she hadn’t eaten these foods in years. She stood up and vomited into the kitchen sink. “I feel awful, worse than ever. Take me back to bed.” He helped her back down the hall. “Well,” he said, “I have to be leaving. Same time tomorrow?” “I’m not going anywhere.”