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The Deconstruction of Dennis (standard:Psychological fiction, 9317 words)
Author: Karen FellowsAdded: Mar 06 2009Views/Reads: 2026/1250Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Dennis was deep in the grip of a severe illness but could find no help, even from the people he loved the most. He was trapped.


This is the story of my demise. It is also the truth of my demise. 

For some, the downward slide into madness starts as the result of a
crushing emotional blow, or a cataclysmic lurch in some homeostatic 
process deep in the organism.  No one expects it to be gradual and 
insidious. Conventional thought embraces the idea of a sudden trauma, a 
happening that we can point to and say “ah, so that's what did it”. But 
despair can creep in slowly, an evil seed taking root in the depths of 
the psyche, watered by indifference, fertilized by caustic comments. It 
grows unseen in the head and heart, blocking out the light and taking 
over like a noxious weed, crowding joy out of its way like a rude 
stranger on a bus pushing other travelers aside. It settles in and 
spreads, becoming a thing unto itself, a smothering heavy nervous 
dictator constantly harping, weighing down the soul, and pulling toward 
the dark bottom of life where hope has died. 

The day I choose to die dawns with a merciless heat, yet my house is
cold as always. When we had this house built, it was an image boost. 
Set in a nice new neighborhood with prefab precision, it looked almost, 
but not quite exactly, like every other house on the block. But I have 
been proud of this house.  It is an achievement for me, having a house 
built.  Brand new, a visible manifestation of years of education, hard 
work and planning.  Who could have predicted within its walls would lay 
the coldest realm on the face of this earth?  No furniture created by 
man could defy the empty feeling of this house and no thermostat could 
prevail over the chill. 

This July morning I rise from the sofa where I have spent part of
another sleepless night. I wonder if my family is still slumbering in 
my daughter's room, door locked against me. I want to go to them but I 
don't because there is an invisible barrier. Their indifference is a 
strong wall, and I am too weak to hurl myself against it anymore. The 
low-level buzz of sleep deprivation hums continually in my brain. I try 
to tune it out and go again to the mirror to check my hair.  More of it 
is gone! A sickening lump of dismay slides down inside me, leaving a 
trail of disgust. I gently part my hair and carefully check my scalp, 
tilting my head this way and that, examining each area.  To my rising 
horror, I find several more spots where my hair is sparse and thinning 
and when I take my hands away, I see that several hairs cling to my 
fingers.  I would weep if I weren't so damn tired. This is at least the 
thousandth time I have checked my hair since midnight. My long vigils 
have drained me and I feel the fatigue deep in my bones and my soul. I 
can almost hear the persistent thoughts out loud now, just on the 
periphery of my awareness like a low chill voice in the next room...I 
look terrible, I am worthless, I will never get past this, I can't go 
out in public looking like this.....on and on until I think my spirit 
will crumble to dust and my body fall away in a puff of smoke.  I pace 
the kitchen, then the living room, then go back to the mirror to check 
again hoping that I am wrong. Sure enough, more hair is gone. Little 
pieces of me, missing.  They must lay scattered here and there tucked 
within the fibers of the carpet, or hidden among the rumpled clothes in 
the hamper, or evaporated into thin air for all I know. But they are 
not on my head where they belong and I am turning into a freakish 
caricature of my former self. It is agonizing for me to watch my 
disfigurement grow each passing day, hour, and moment. What will I do? 
How can I function? How could I present myself to the world looking 
like I do? I am weary beyond measure from the worry of it. 

I am driving my family crazy with this. My wife says my hair looks fine,
this thing is all in my head. She believes it is a delusion to which I 
am stubbornly and deliberately clinging. She has pointed out many times 
that I am selfish, possibly even lazy. My daughter tells me I am 
“acting like a retard”. Maybe he is even faking it, she speculates. 
They no longer want to hear my concerns.  I have worn them down and 
they have distanced themselves from me emotionally. Now at night they 
retreat to my daughter's room and lock the door to get away from me. If 
I bring up the subject of my hair, they grow angry and cold and roll 
their eyes in annoyance. They have become desensitized to my pain.  I 
am losing my family. Maybe I have already lost them.  I know this is my 
fault, but I can't seem to keep my fears to myself. I am lonely. One 
night I ask my wife if she will please just hold me. I tell her we 
don't have to do anything or talk about anything, but would she please 
just hold me. I long for some connection to reel me back in, away from 

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