Tell Your Doctor

Tell your doctor if you experience side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, uncontrolled twitching of your left eyelid, uncontrolled use of the word regret, uncontrolled strolling through cemeteries where dead family members are interred, or uncontrolled viewing of the video of Otis Redding performing I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) at Monterey Pop in 1967. You may also notice excessive sweating, excessive hair loss, or excessive concern about Maldives Islanders, floating islands of plastic, whales that have ingested plastic, seabirds crippled by plastic, the half-life of plastic in landfills, or the collapse of the Ross Ice Shelf.

Tell your doctor if you have recently visited places where certain fungal infections are common or where mass shootings are common or loss of sea-ice is common, or where fracking has contaminated groundwater or lead has contaminated drinking water or water is unavailable or where Otis Redding has been sighted––or even Roy Orbison––or where family members rest in nearby cemeteries, or where concealed-carry laws are forcing you to reevaluate your participation in human affairs.  

Tell your doctor if you are now or plan soon to become pregnant, and, if so, what the hell are you thinking? 

Tell your doctor if you find yourself misinterpreting or over-analyzing certain signs, portents, and symbols, such as those found in the fire-spread patterns of torched buildings, or the fire-spread patterns of California or Canada or Australia, or the tornado-spread patterns of flattened houses, or the mass bleaching patterns in the Great Barrier Reef, or the outline of the Sperry Glacier from fifty years ago, or in the words “you are tired and you want to be free” from I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now), or in the fact that Otis Redding died six months after performing at Monterey Pop, or in sudden changes to maps of the world, such as the disappearance of Florida, the disappearance of Antarctica, the disappearance of The Republic of Kiribati, The Republic of Fiji, The Republic of Palau, The Republic of Cabo Verde, or in the DNA maps of certain viruses, or the memory maps of migratory birds as they navigate the old flyways under dimming stars.

Your doctor will test for rare genetic disorders that may predispose you to certain aberrant behaviors such as dwelling on death, dwelling on catastrophe, dwelling on regret, or setting small fires, firing small-caliber weapons, feeding migratory birds, wanting to have children, talking out loud to dead family members, or singing out loud in cemeteries while holding your fist like a microphone and pretending to be Otis Redding in an iridescent teal suit. Or Roy Orbison, all in black, like the sky.


Andrea Lewis writes short fiction and essays from her home in Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared in over thirty literary journals and her collection of linked stories, What My Last Man Did, was published by Indiana University Press. Find her on Twitter @AndreaCLewis.