Make Them Dumb

By Lisa Martens 

On my last day as an undergrad, I ran into my Chinese lab partner. Her English name was Scarlett. I told her I was graduating and she proceeded to do some ancient Chinese dance for “good luck in future!” Then I went to drown myself in Red Bull and attend a reading for my creative writing in Spanish class.

After that, I took the six train uptown and hung out with my friend Elif and her boyfriend. They had a relationship based on supplying each other with chemicals in a very thoughtful way. He bought cigarettes, she bought weed, they bought snacks together when they got the munchies, they split the cost of coke (both kinds). It was a symbiotic understanding that they both needed all of these things and they would help the other. I leeched behind them for the view of it, not drinking, not smoking, not snorting, not eating.

We marched up Second Avenue and found a CVS. They wanted to get some Diet Pepsi and were disappointed to find they’d run out.

“Why not Diet Coke?” I offered a two-liter bottle.

“No,” Elif said with her eyes rolling. “It … does stuff to you. It’s bad for you.”

I went home after that, and fell asleep, and had a dream about a future society that drugged its smart students to make them dumb. There was this smart and loving couple, truly in love, in love without the chemicals, they had the purest desire to be one soul, and so they were separated and drugged. The girl always wore something fairy blue, and she was big-chested and wide-hipped and thick all around, and pale. Beautiful, really. She was moved to a different class and we were left with the retarded version of the man, who, poor thing, couldn’t stop searching for his fairy-blue love because he couldn’t remember that she had been taken away from him. He was vaguely aware of the missing intelligence, and something warped and twisted in the hardwiring of a brain that struggled to be better than the chemicals allowed. One day, we saw him slumping after a chubby little girl with a sky-blue shirt, but we figured he was just captivated by the color and would soon lose interest and walk away. Hours later, a teacher found the same girl shirtless, crying, and bleeding between her legs. We all knew who had done it. He was innocent in the sense that he didn’t understand what he had done, and he had a peaceful look in his eyes, and said he’d finally found her, and maybe he would be smart again, because when he was with her, he was smart, and without her, he was dumb.

He had to be put to sleep.

I woke up wondering if it was possible for a mosquito to bite my tongue, because that was undoubtedly what had happened in my sleep. My tongue tingled and itched.

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