g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
Seeds of Doubt
My Chia Pet stared at me. It looked annoyed, upset at my inability to grow. It can't see me, I know—but still, it looked right at me.
When Craig gave me the Chia Pet, still in its box, even then I had the feeling that somewhere inside, bouncing around the clay shell, there was a god watching me.
I brought it home, followed instructions. Now water, now seeds, now water, now grow.
I watched it. Simon, I'm a little god—your new god—and I have great power. Worship me and tell others, it said.
I called my therapist, booked a double session, asked about my meds, side-effects to sunlight, followed instructions. Now pill, now water, now mind, now voices, nothing and sleep.
With the green sprouts came more demands. Simon, carry me above your head and proclaim to others that I am here for them to worship. Simon, water me. Simon, denounce all other religions. Simon, carry me to the window. Simon, do not eat any of my fallen seeds.
I worried that I had let my mental illness take over my life again, that I'd be homeless and hearing voices for another year. It kept me awake at night, preventing me from breaking the cycle. Now sleeplessness, now paranoia, now missed appointments, now late for work.
At the office, they noticed. My hands were covered in fertilizer. Craig asked me if I could hang around and talk. I left early when I went to the bathroom. I rolled up my sleeves so they wouldn't get wet. My arms looked green. I wasn't sure and it was hot. My sleeplessness was causing delusions and I knew that my Chia Pet wouldn't be happy.
At home I washed my arms again and splashed fertilizer on my face. It smelled and made me sick, but I was careful not to vomit on my Chia Pet. Simon, I need a sacrifice to be sure you love me. Soak me in your cat's blood and I'll bestow upon you my miracles.
I'm not doing that. That's crazy. That's not me. I'm not like that. I don't do things like that. I make sense. I take my pills.
Now I swallow, now I'm fine. Now I'm not.
That night, I killed Oliver and squeezed him over my Chia Pet and checked myself into a hospital the next morning.
Simon the non-believer.
They took my clothes and scrubbed me, covered me with a bed sheet, made me sleep. I tried not to notice my arms, whether they were green.
The doctors came and I tried to make words. They checked the windows, called security. The room filled with them. They didn't understand. They picked me up. They put me down. They said I left my Chia Pet behind, washed their hands.
I thought about my instructions. About prayer. Now a believer, now in my likeness, now punished—where no one worships the only god.