Day 8044 | Day 8077
"Can't you see you'll be a beautiful woman?"
She looked at me placidly as my heart wrenched in about five different directions at once. My mind raced, trying to process the words: Beautiful woman? 'Will be'? Shame, suspicion, panic, nausea, elation. Why panic? It's what you want to hear, isn't it? The voice in my head was back. But what if she's lying? What about my shoulders or my voice or...? The silence between us stretched out, her bluntness cutting through the layers of apathy I used to hide my most personal secrets.
She was in her early forties but could've been mistaken for being a decade younger. She curled comfortably into the armchair, eyes patiently and empathetically gazing at me through rimless glasses. Attractively dressed in black slacks and a button up sweater, blonde hair pulled back professionally in a style that appeared neither too immature nor too matronly. Ready smile, good sense of humor. Plus, you know, killer legs. This is why people hit on their therapists.
The words hung in the air while I scrambled to analyze her tone, the context, and anything else that might help me come up with the correct response. You're running out of time, you know. I knew. When faced with a direct question there's only so long you can sit there with a thoughtful look on your face before they realize that you're stalling and—
"Uh oh, feelings." She smiled reassuringly, nearly hiding victorious glint in her eyes—she always got that satisfied look when she caught me off guard.
"Yeah," I said, "feelings." I smiled in spite of myself.
I was surprised by how small the pills were. Click. Thirty of them was barely enough to cover the bottom of the bottle. Click. I sat in the car outside the pharmacy, nervously opening and reopening the bottle, the locking tab clicking into place over and over. Click. Click. Click.
Once you do this, you can never go back.
I glared at the paper bag in the passenger seat as though the voice had come from there. A receipt was stapled to the outside: thirty dollars, eighty-five cents. Click. A dollar a day for happiness in a bottle—better living through chemicals. Or at least that's what they want us believe.
"If it doesn't work out, I can always kill myself. It doesn't close off any options."Click.
True, but what about the side-effects? What if you can never stop? They don't really know what SSRIs do, only that they seem to work. For a time.
A gust of wind jostled the car. Click. "You know the whole point of these is to help me make you go away." Bitterness.
But you don't want me to go away. And you know it. The voice was smug.
"That's only because you try to kill me if I don't do what you want."
We all do what we need to in order to survive.
"Yes, we do," I said, trailing off. I opened the bottle, shook a pill out into my hand, and swallowed it dry. click
"I love you." Her voice was warm, contented, in the way of soft tones spoken through a smile. "I always want you to be a part of my life." I often wondered if her boyfriend knew she said these things to me. I held the phone tenderly, trying to pretend we weren't 800 miles apart, savoring the tinny trickle of words. I burn to tell her my feelings, to touch her skin, to see her smile. Yet our friendship is too deep, too valuable to endanger in such a way. A romance lacking only physicality.
"I love you too," I said, surrendering only the smallest piece of my soul for a few moments of profound peace. It seems like a fair trade.