The Tinderbox

Betty said “It’s really an all-time low for the clinic.” The

administration was panicked and trying to fill holes.

Add the fact that patients are meaner around the holidays

and it was the perfect tinderbox. “It’s tough right now,”

I said. “I don’t know what’s happening. I think I almost

just had a panic attack,” Betty said. “I’m a good one to have

around if you’re going to have one of those,” I said. Betty

started flailing her arms and waving her hands and crying.

“Don’t forget to hyperventilate.” She threw one of the

bedpans and it penetrated a wall and stayed there. Then

she grew to the size of the room. “You’re like a giant right

now,” I said. Betty ran through the wall and jumped through

the ceiling and was gone. I heard an explosion and a car

alarm far off. She came back the next day and was back

to being her usual self. She thanked me for my empathy.

“That’s what you do when you love someone,” I said.

A man somersaulted into the waiting room, screaming

something I couldn’t quite make out. “That was a pretty

good somersault,” I said. “Get them off me!” He said. “I

would if I could see them,” I said. “I’m going to lose it!”

He said. “They are all over me.” “I can see that,” I said.

Everybody in the waiting room was staring and not even

making an effort to distract themselves. “Can you point

to one on your skin?” I said. He rolled up his sleeve and

pointed to an elderly woman over by the depression fliers.

“Right there,” He said.

By Chris Russell

Chris Russell’s poems have appeared in Mouse Tales Press, The Cafe Review, The Poet's Touchstone, Centripetal and Slope Magazine. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Concord, New Hampshire where, when not writing, drawing, or playing video games, he follows a calling as a Special Education Paraprofessional.