Nonfiction Feature: “Orbs of Feelings” by Kelly Flanagan

I abandoned orange bottles of pills on my dresser.  My desk lamp shone through them as they became orange orbs of feelings.  Prescription feelings.  This one calmness; this one love; this one eternal happiness.

I laughed very deeply and inaudibly. Though my countenance did not change even slightly.  I sat in bed breathing shallowly and removing each feeling from its bottle.  Kindness is a mango and white capsule.  Tenderness in the left color and a peaceful heart in the right.  

You should know that for happiness, you have to combine a few types.  Six light, sky blue tablets will remove your inner turmoil and any questions about mortality and the meaning of life.  Remember to add 600mg of equanimity in the morning and regularly throughout the day so as to maintain a consistent saturation.  

The red capsule in the mornings along with the two white “horse pills” as my aunt used to say.  There are the tiny white ones.  Take exactly seven as they’re low dose.  

My doctor, a gifted mixologist.  Hints of apple in my basil gimlet cocktail of drugs.  

Donning authority and bleached robes, he assures me I need these colors to become ok.  I thank him.

With the dissolvable tablets, I know the sugar and anxiety will dissolve sweetly under my tongue.

It may even be funny to some heavenly observer when the 1.5mg of mood-swinging-withdrawal changes my entire body and thrusts me into a pool of clouds I try desperately to climb out of into that clearer air, all light sky blue.  

But I can’t get a grip on that vapor.  I can’t climb out of what doesn’t exist.  

I wonder, sort of intently, if I really exist either.  It feels like it’s possible I’m just a mango-colored orb that swallows its feelings.

I’ve asked around, but no one’s sure.


Kelly Flanagan is a memoirist and blogger in Washington, DC.  Her writing focuses on resilience, personal agency, and life’s evolutions. International immersion and philosophy flavor her perspective.  Kelly has an MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and is completing an MFA in Creative Writing at University of Baltimore.