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Diary of Tadpole the Dirtbag
Rob Cook


Dear Tadpole,

Fifteen years from now you’ll be able to find Doctor Dardik on a computer site called Quackwatch.com. But today he’s promised to heal your chronic depression by having you bounce on a trampoline. You’ll wear a plastic heart monitor strapped around your torso, and a watch that looks like a shrunken television. And simply, you will make waves of heart rhythms. Bounce in place until you reach 125 beats per minute then stop, breathe your way back to 80 beats, and repeat so your heart keeps changing its echoes and the florets in the hollow places of your blood keep opening, letting out their moonlight. For $100,000, this ex-vascular surgeon who invented the Dardik Biograft will mend your body, your house of fractals replicating everything you were in high school, the awkward friendless space that followed you through Biology and Trigonometry and Metal Shop, the girls with faces and the girls without faces who called you a living abortion, your guitar that failed when it tried to protect you, all still happening in the electrons that wake you in the morning demanding eggs and toast and something to wash away the sleep on your lips. Doctor Dardik boasts: I healed myself of rheumatoid arthritis and now I’m curing people of multiple sclerosis. The universe is built on superwaves and waves shifting inside them, there are no particles, even an atom is made only of movement and rhythm. Listen to this man who is the best thing for right now. Write down your thoughts every night and leave them in the woods for the possums. If you follow the words far enough, you will find rich emptiness, and a woman who almost likes you.

Keep driving across the morning’s gentle slaughter to the Dardik farm in Great Meadows, New Jersey. You will exercise with Tim Brockway—he is your friend, but has a hard time seeing you through the migraine that’s been lodged in his head since marriage. He didn’t know you in high school, he is also crumpled into stagnant cardiovascular waves, so don’t be afraid. You will spend the summer here with Tim and a tanned anorexic named Randi Derringer, who will be attracted to you if you cut your poodlehead perm and stop walking around with your hand in front of your face asking if you need plastic surgery. You will ruin the doctor’s guest cottage: darts in the walls, a month of dirty dishes, furry slime plantations spreading over the sink, important because every place you live you’ll leave behind books that cannot be cleaned. But now you will eat from the doctor’s freezer stocked with only hamburgers and ice cream sandwiches, enough to last until you run out of money and a family of wild turkeys leads you back to the field promising a way to live through the slowness in their wings. The parts of your depression you like best, the patches of dead light you cut from a leaf stay behind in the fields, making you darker, more like dusk, something the fawns search for once their mothers are gone. Nobody with tenure will listen to me because my theory is so simple, Doctor Dardik tells you before getting in his white Ford pick-up to drive to yet another university physics department and explain how the universe is made of waves that copy each other in every biological system, how every heartbeat can be felt in outer space, how God is the millions of waves that make it possible for you to believe in this man.