Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Origin Story

I’m not proud of it,
but I was in a desperate place one night,
half in the bag,
hadn’t showered in three days
or eaten a hot meal in a week.
I kept refreshing my email account,
hoping he would finally reply.
No one even emails anymore, do they?
If he cared, he would have sent a text by now.
I scrolled past newsletters from some group
whose mailing list I had unsuccessfully tried
to unsubscribe from for the past three years 
and coupons for pet food (I had no pets)
and generous offers from Nigerian princes.

The one subject line that stood out to me,
with eccentric capitalization,
read “~~Be A BeTTer YOu!~~”
Wouldn’t that be nice, I thought.
I wonder what that would take?
Apparently I just had to purchase
a small bottle of pills for $49.99,
and their claims had not been evaluated by the FDA.
And this is the shameful part;
I bought them,
entered my credit card number into this website,
and waited.

Four weeks later, the pills arrived.
I wasn’t so sure anymore about them.
He hadn’t responded to my email, of course.
Well, except for that voicemail,
where he politely asked that I stop contacting him.
What would be the point of being a better me,
I wondered,
if he had no interest even in that person?
These pills could be straight-up poison, I concluded.
and I was going to throw them away,
but I have trouble throwing things away,
so they sat on my kitchen table, next to the bills and junk mail,
until I drank a second bottle of wine one night
and swallowed half of them.

I don’t remember much after that,
just knew that I woke up alone,
feeling much the same.
My apartment hadn’t tidied itself.
I looked in the mirror,
didn’t look younger or prettier or thinner,
What if this is the best me that there could be?
Ugh, what a thought.
I picked up the bottle of pills,
a waste of fifty bucks,
and tried to toss them into the trash can.
I missed, and the bottle went flying
straight through the sliding glass door in the kitchen,
shards of glass everywhere.
I hadn’t even thrown them that hard.
Weird, I thought.
I’d have to figure out how to explain it to the landlord.

And I went on with my day,
just a normal day.
Even made it to the office,
for the first time in a while.
The company was owned by my brother-in-law,
so I couldn’t really get fired,
and my coworkers resented it more than a bit.
“Nice of you to join us,” Sandy smirked
when she saw me shuffling through the hall, head down.
Donald walked past me, carrying a large pile of books
that he could barely see around.
The tower of books started to totter and fall,
and Donald cried out.
Instinctively, I caught them all with little effort.
“Wow,” he replied.
and he smiled at me,
which was a rare thing…for me.

I closed the door behind me,
a little spooked now.
I stared at a file cabinet
that I hadn’t touched for about five years,
completely full,
probably weighed a couple hundred pounds at least.
Could I?
I could.
I could, and I could, and I could balance it on a single finger.
I didn’t know how long it would last,
an hour or a lifetime.
And I stood there in that drab office,
inhaling and exhaling quickly
with wide eyes, flared nostrils,
wondering whether to lift a burning car off a trapped victim
or destroy a skyscraper.

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