Sorge’s Magic Numbers

Sorge’s Magic Numbers (a story)

Sorge had been in a car accident when he was fairly young. And every hour on the hour, the nurses came in and checked his status. His BP, pulse, breathing, blood oxygen levels. And to explain it to him, they said that some of the numbers on the screens they watched were magic. They kept him safe. To help him thru some of the tasks they had that caused him pain, they had him count. And when they had to put him under anaesthetic, they had him count. So he grew to believe that numbers were magic.
Then his mother got involved in numerology and I Ching. And she reinforced this message to him. Numbers are magic. They have power.
So young Sorge began counting… Whenever he wanted to distract himself from a bad mood or a bad experience, he counted.
He spent a lot of time in the hospital as a kid. And he watched as the cleaners wiped down every single surface. It seemed like they were always cleaning.When he asked, they said there were superbugs that got into everything and they had to be really careful to be sure the place was clean. For kids like him.
And Sorge’s dad was ex army. So he was a fanatic about how things had to be regimented. And little Sorge watched and asked. He got platitudes back about being tidy from his dad. Having a tidy environ was a sign of a tidy mind. Work was easier when you were in a tidy place.
Sorge thought these things made sense. He wanted magic, he needed magic. He had no control. He was a sick kid after all.
So he started counting. And whenever he was home, he cleaned. He did ask if the hospital cleaners were coming to their house and was told no. So he did what he could. And he got good at it. He became better at it.
He wish he had more control though. He was still a sick kid, whether he was at home or the hospital.
Sorge counted and he cleaned. And he counted and he cleaned. And he counted and he cleaned. Until he was a grown man, then he counted and cleaned some more.
He went into a job that made it possible for him to continue counting and cleaning. He worked in a white room in a tech facility. And to keep himself occupied, he volunteered at a small library. Stacking books and shelving them after hours. He played math games on his computer.
It doesn’t sound so bad, in fact kind of adaptive. But Sorge was a romantic. If he had his dream life, this wouldn’t even be close.
He wanted to act in a small theater. But couldn’t bear the thought because it’d be dusty. So he read plays and practiced his emoting at home.
He wanted to go ATVing in the mountains. But it’d mean mud and all kinds of foliage, bug dirt and mold all over him. He couldn’t bear the thought. So he watched sports’ channels, scouring them for people riding ATVs.
And he wanted to have a family. But he spent so much time cleaning and counting and finding ways to vicariously live his dream life, that he didn’t really have a lot of time to date, to love, to have the family he wanted. So he got sadder and sadder every year. Esp when his mom was yelling at him and his dad wanted to know if he was gay. Because he wasn’t out with girls. His dad tried to, wanted to believe him, but wasn’t sure if he could.
Until it became so bad that the numbers, that had been signs of life when he was sick, were now signs of imprisonment. Or so it seemed to him.
And the cleaning that had protected him as a sick kid, was now a torture. His skin was raw, and he had developed allergies to almost every known cleaning agent. And wearing thick gloves didn’t seem to be enough.
But he couldn’t stop. How do you stop something that you thought saved your life? How do you stop something you had done for hours a day, thinking it was helping you? How do you stop, even when you know it’s making you sick?
Sorge didn’t know. He just knew it wasn’t the life he wanted. Not even close. But he kept at it.

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