Upside Downside

Look! These new pills make my hairs stand on end and wave at people. Amazing, right? I don’t mind, but it makes my head itch, although nowhere near as badly as the old pills. Look at them go, luv. Medusa man, right? Thousands of tiny snakes wriggling up top. Unless I wash my hair, and then I can’t do a thing with it.

Sorry, luv. Telekinetic joke. I do that when I’m nervous and it helps to break the ice, and I can do that if I put an ice cube on my forehead. Really, I can break ice a few millimetres from my head, which is pretty awesome. It’s enough to get me over my depression, except that’s probably really down to these drugs that make my hair stand on end. They said this telekinetic thing is a rare side effect. I don’t care.

It’s impossible, right? Waving my hair by the power of my mind? Can’t be done. Well, you just reach over and run your fingers through my hair, and perhaps I’ll trim your nails. Or give me a hug, and I’ll make your hair curl …

Sorry, luv. Yes, I know that was really inappropriate. I’ll just have a bottle of milk and a packet of teabags. I’m just so buzzed that I felt up to leaving the flat. Hey, look, I can raise my eyebrows … and then all my hair at the front … yeah, it’s a fringe activity. Sorry. More telekinetic humour. I don’t often meet new people. How much for the milk and tea? Better make it skimmed.

Side effects? Nothing. Honestly. Not like my regular meds. Just the levitating hair and the ice. More of an upside, right? And my ears. See? They bend forwards … and backwards … and forwards again, but if I do that too much, I get a headache. The old pills gave me a terrible headache, but these are fine so long as I don’t waggle my ears.

Sorry luv, no. They’re not even on prescription. They’re called TK-23. Part of a trial. I’m definitely not handing out samples. I was dead lucky to get in, so I don’t want to mess things up. I’m only in the trial for another two months, and I can’t live without them already. If it wasn’t for the pills, I’d be really down about that. Right now I’ve got energy, enthusiasm, better than any time I can remember. I want to do stuff. Hey, I’ll have a paper. I couldn’t face reading the paper before. Or perhaps I should go for a walk, get out while I’m feeling good. End of the road, maybe.

And a jar of coffee. I’ll have some of that. Hey, you could come up for a coffee and … sorry, yes, I know, inappropriate …

Sorry … yes, I was trying to think of another joke. Am I getting a rise out of you? Perhaps you should see the downside of my upside? Sorry. You been here long? I haven’t seen you here before … no, right, I don’t get out much. First time I’ve felt up to shopping since … well, a long time. My brother normally comes in to make sure I’m OK.

So milk, tea, coffee, paper … how much is that, now? Damn. Hang on, my hair’s going wild. It does that a couple of times a day. It’s like there’s a rave on my scalp. And it pinches, you know? Feels like the hairs are being pulled out. Just give me a minute, smooth it down.

Yeah, go on, you can touch it. I’ll stop with the jokes, right? Weird, yes? You can feel my hair wriggle?

I know, I get that too, and I’m sure I’m causing it, but it’s like it’s not under my control. I mean, seriously, no larking or whatever, I’ve got plenty of tea and coffee now if you want to come see my hair dance.

Don’t need directions, luv. I’m in the flat upstairs. Yeah. Seriously. I just never got out much before these new pills. But, baby steps. I mean, I’ll give it another go when the milk runs out. So, yeah, come up for a coffee and watch my hair stand up, right?

Yeah, I know we only just met. Hey, it’s the upside of not being down, right? You gotta look on the upside – that’s what my brother said when the trial came up. I mean, there was no way I was going to get in. But he filled in the forms for me and it worked. Not impossible. And now I can come and do my own shopping.

I’m not normally like this, you know? Not even on the old pills. I just feel great. Greater than great. With really great hair. That dances on its own … oops … yeah, sorry … I’m shedding. It feels like it’s being ripped out. Said that already, didn’t I? It really stings when that happens, but damn I’m glad I didn’t get the placebo.

You ought to try some when they come out proper. You could save on hairdressers, right? Take the pills and tell your hair how to look.

No, no, luv. Your hair’s great. I’m just saying – it would be really cool if you could just change your hair style by thinking. Once you get the hang of it.

Yeah. OK. Probably need a trainer to teach you how. Still, it’s amazing, right?

Nah, hasn’t got a proper name. Just called TK-23. Didn’t I say that? Probably get a proper name once they’re allowed to sell it. They never said what they were trying to make. Doesn’t matter. They made TK-23 and started this antidepressant trial. The first twenty-two tries must have been crap. They said they went looking for something else and invented the best antidepressant I ever tried.

Anyway. Thanks. Nah, put the change in the Save the Children collection. See you later for that coffee … and watch my hair dance. No worries, luv. Nothing’s impossible. Just got to look on the bright side.

The upside, right?

© Mark Huntley-James

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