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Just Another Day
In my frustration, I throw the medicine cabinet open, jumping in surprise when the glass of the mirror shatters against the wall and sprays across the bathroom, one piece skimming past and slicing my leg as it flies through the air. I run my hand over the shelf inside the cabinet, knocking every bottle and packet onto the counter. I don’t know how I made the decision to do this, but somehow, I did.
Today started out like every other insipid, repetitive day.
I drag myself out of bed. I rush through a shower and breakfast. I collapse into the leather chair at my work desk at precisely 7:25, allowing myself exactly five minutes to sit, think, and just breathe before my boss comes click-clacking through the office, snapping, “You, intern girl. I want Peters on the phone, now. Get O’Brian and Lewis in my office at quarter till. Don’t let anyone through my doors unless it’s a life or death situation. I think that’s all…” I wait, holding my breath and trying to remember all of the directions that have just been flung at me. “Oh, and Kate,” she had says, impressively remembering my name, “Wipe that ridiculous expression off your face. You’ll never get a promotion by looking like something that was woken up in the middle of hibernation to be dragged five thousand miles from the back of a truck.” She raises one eyebrow, turns on her five-inch stiletto heel, and slams the doors to her office.
By lunchtime, I have only just truly woken up when the fatigue hits me, and I want nothing but to fall into a coma and sleep for the rest of my life. By three o’clock, it takes all of my self-control to keep me from banging my head on the keyboard and splashing my steaming latte on Ms. Marlot’s sneering face. By six, I had barely enough energy to keep my eyes open while I gathered up the papers strewn across my cluttered desk, stumble into the elevator, and cram myself into the last vacant square inch on the subway.
Arriving home at seven, just like I always do, I waited, passing time by cleaning, cooking, making the bed- everything the ideal wife should do. Danny still hadn’t called by 8:30- he never did- so I eventually faced the inevitable and dialed his work number.
“Daniel Marley.” At the sound of his soft, deep voice, I had instantly forgotten my irritation at his not calling.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Daniel.” A smile slipped across my face. “I think I must have a wrong number. I was calling for Danny.”
Nothing but silence came over the line for a second, and then Danny’s easy laughter echoed over the phone as he realized my joke. “Hey, Kiki. How’s your day been?” I could hear the grin chorusing through the sound of my nickname, the sparkle in his eye. I could imagine him swinging his focus from the computer, leaning back in his chair, and running his hand through his hair, glad for my call as an excuse to take a break.
“Hmm… Is there a word for ‘extremely boring’?” I answered. “When are you coming home? Do you want me to wait for you for dinner?” Though I already knew the answer from asking the same question every day, I waited for a response.
There came a groan, then a sigh. “I’m going to have to work late again, Kate. My boss is just piling work on me and if I don’t get it done by tomorrow… We need this money. You know that. And you know I’d love to be home right now, but I just can’t do that.” I don’t know why it hurt so much to hear them when I knew they had to come, but those words felt like professional boxer’s punch, knocking the air right out of my lungs.
He wouldn’t be working late if not for you, a small voice in my mind reminded me- so I covered up my disappointment with a mask of understanding, of empathy, and let him get back to work.
And then, less than five minutes ago, it hit me how stupid this has all become. I’ve spent twenty-one years trying to capture the point of living and why we all care so much about doing so, and in less than three seconds I realized that we have no reason at all. Every day we go through the same thing, we dig ourselves into a living hell- and for what? For nothing, except to sand ourselves into the perfect replica of what we call success, to follow these pointless social rules and systems. And I decided to escape while I can.
All across my marble counter, I’ve lined up every medication I can find in the house. The collection amazes me, really, ranging from prescription antibiotics to Tums, in a row that snakes around three times in the length of the counter. Let’s see, I reason, I’ll want to take the strongest and the most at the end, so I don’t pass out before I finish… And I begin reordering the drugs by what I have the most of. The idea that I’ll be ending my own life hasn’t really sunk in, I suppose, judging by how calmly I can think about this all. Until now.
Taking deep breaths, I start down the row, gulping down water and pills as fast as I can. As I turn my head, a bouquet in my peripheral vision blurs, my head spins, my breathing becoming shallow and my mind losing touch with reality. Collapsing to the ground, I feel my elbow smack the ground, hear a pop, and fall into a fit of uncontrollable tears at the unfathomable pain seeping through my body from my forearm. Gasping, I try to distract myself from the injury, and eventually let myself fall into blackness.
I have no idea how long I spent passed out on the floor when Danny’s yells of, “Oh, my God! Kate! Oh, my God! Are you okay, what’s going on? Kate? Kiki?” vaguely break through my throbbing headache. He throws himself down next to me and leans over me, breathing heavily and staring into my eyes. Quickly, he glances at the rows of pills spread out on the counter, then closes his eyes as his breathing becomes heavy and tears leak from under his eyelids.
“Oh, God, Kate,” he says again, taking me up in his solid, warm arms and squeezing me until I think I will burst- but I don’t object, I lean into his steady shoulder. At his touch, I’ve become that sixteen-year-old again, the one who fell in love with Danny the moment I set eyes on him, the one who ran away to New York to get married the moment I turned eighteen, and I curl further into his embrace as he sweeps me up and carries me, princess-like, to the couch. I don’t realize how violently I’ve been shivering until he tucks a blanket around me. How just like Danny, I think, to know what I need before I even know it myself.
After looking over my dislocated elbow and calling the hospital, he plops down at my feet, his brow furrowing. “It’s me, isn’t it? Because I’ve been working so late? Oh, God, I should’ve come home. You know you mean more to me than a job, don’t you? I should’ve known something was wrong when you were so quiet on the phone. I-“
“Shh…” I manage weakly. “You must be insane to think that you’re the cause of this, because right now, you’re the only thing keeping me in this world.” And though I’ve never said it that way before, the truth of it overwhelms me. I would be nowhere without Danny.
We dig ourselves into a living hell- and for what? My own thoughts come back to me, suddenly disturbing. How could I even ask that question? The answer has been here all along, sitting at my feet.