Ode to Lithium #0: A Serious Case

Shira Erlichman

In liquid form, you scared me. It was a fellow outpatient, black bangs pasted to sweaty forehead, sliced up arms & shoulders, teeth pointy as a rat, who introduced us. She opened her vial in the hospital cafeteria just as I was setting down my tray at her table. Slurped you casually from her finger, her dripped­-down wrist.

“Yum,” she said, locking eyes with me. Or did she? Did she cackle? Did she moan? I remember a smile teeming like wormed through soil. A girl from “The Craft,” that kind of witch, back-­of­-the-­class cutter, a serious case with a big league prescription.

Sure, just weeks ago I’d roamed my college campus naked, cooing to neon ghosts, till I found myself immobile, pissing a hospital’s bedsheets in totalitarian fear. But I wasn’t h​er. I ​picked my tray up, moved to another table. She kept licking her fingers, which was your way of calling after me.