Alvy’s Amygdaloid Projections
Updated: Dec 15, 2019
It started out as an idea. It grew like cancer inside his head. Alvy’s still driving, unaware of what’s happening in his mind. He’s still singing along the chorus of a silly song on the radio, that only sounds pleasant, because it’s Friday evening. Alvy isn’t that much into music. Except if it’s Friday. On Fridays, he’s happy driving home. So happy he turns up the music on the radio. He even has a smoke or two while driving, though he quit smoking long ago. Fridays don’t count, he thinks. Fridays are out of time. Out of the time we define as counted, targeted, oriented.
He’s now taking the slow lane, to enjoy the ride. He wants this ride to last. This ride feels better than the weekend ahead. Expectations feel better than reality. The chorus comes again and he sings at the top of his lungs. He wonders out loud if Annie is ok and deep down he’s certain she’s fine, until there comes a moment when the idea is fully formed. A doubt in disguise, an involuntary thought has already been created and now travels through neuronal circuits to that area of his mind that sounds like an almond in Greek, because it looks like one.
When the idea transformed into emotion, after invading the structure of amygdala and the limbic system, the reign of emotions, it was already too late. Alvy wishes Annie was here with him, for she has the magic touch. What she usually does is take the glue out of her pocket and put him back together, piece by piece, when he falls apart. Only now she’s not here and Alvy tries to soothe himself, redirecting his attention to the prank his colleagues played on him earlier, just before he started the engine, before the beginning of the ride. They shook his car for a couple of seconds. Alvy turned around but saw no one. He laughed inside and feigned indifference, determined to play along. They didn’t show up, but disappeared silently. Alvy felt angered but managed to contain the emotion. Nothing would spoil the day. Before starting to drive, he took some time to check the tires. Just to make sure. Everything seemed fine. It was either them or the wind, only it didn’t blow that hard.
His breath is deeper now, his heart beats faster than usual, as the emotion is taking over his brain, leaving no space for logical thinking. That stupid feeling grows fast and takes over his body, yet the space still isn’t enough. It pushes out of his head, forming little moving knobs on his scalp. He puts on the hat he keeps next to the gearshift to hide the deformity, which works well. Other drivers don’t notice anyway; they’re busy driving.
An emotion trapped, unshared, grows fast. The faster it grows, the more impatient Alvy gets. He changes lanes again, to be home in time. Before he breaks up. It’s a race he’s bound to win, for he’s a good driver. He won’t let an emotion beat him. His hands go numb. He barely feels the wheel, but tries to keep steady. That almond-shaped structure in his brain is a volcano, erupting every now and then. The lava is burning his skin, causing unbearable pain. Almonds can be sweet or bitter. Bitter almonds can be lethal, Alvy has heard. He’ll have to keep his body together until he gets home. Then he’ll call Annie, who’ll still be at work and he’ll tell her and she’ll offer him the glue through the phone, or those underground wires that connect them, even if they’re apart. But first he has to go home. He has to tell her.
A minute or two before full disintegration, the hat still on his head, Alvy parks the car out of his house. He watches his mom in the garden talking with neighbors. He hears of an earthquake that happened a while ago. Nobody seems to know how powerful it was. Nothing has been mentioned on the news yet, for everyone rushed outside. Alvy’s now trying to call Annie, only lines are busy. Too busy to give a damn about his case. Those damn wires don’t work now. Not underground, or overground. Alvy kneels down, unable to keep himself together. Saying goodbye is painful. It is also liberating. He slowly dissolves into hot lava, until all that remains on the front step is his hat and the ghost of him.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in many journals, such as The Molotov Cocktail, Jellyfish Review, The Sunlight Press (Best Small Fictions 2019 nominee), Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bending Genres, MoonPark Review, Litro and others.