SMILE (Part 3) – or How Very Selfish of You!


North Building


Mizz Arrogant –

The nurse says I have to get out of bed. She coaxes me to the recreation room, a large area with tables and chairs and stacks of cheap books and chess sets and puzzles with missing pieces.  One wall is entirely windows and I can see the river dragging bits of broken ice downstream.

There’s a big yellow crane that spins and turns, carries giant blocks of stone and stacks them across the river. People are talking and waiting for trays of cereal and burnt toast, but I just tap my foot and count the seconds it takes the crane to move from one side of the river to the other.

“Would you like to call someone?” a curly-haired girl asks me. She’s young and bouncy, a wide smile too big for her tiny, round face. Her eyelids are covered in yellow glitter. “They turn the phones off after breakfast until three.  So, make sure you use the phone now.”

I think she might be my roommate, but I spent the night puking up dinner and the charcoal they fed me in the ER, apologizing every time I buzzed a nurse to unlock my door.  I don’t know how she slept, but in-between bathroom trips, I saw a small figure wrapped up in a blanket; a cocoon that gently moved up and down with slight, shallow breaths.

I call Liam.  He’s a boy I met at some Christmas show at the bar a few weeks back.  I was pretty drunk, and all I remember about him, besides his number,  is that he works at a comic books store in the burbs and is going bald at 24. We were supposed to have a date last night.  I leave a message.  I call my friend Lisa, who tells me I should really look into taking some herbs.  Then Johnny, my boyfriend from last year.

I don’t know what I tell him.  Years later, he and I will try to clumsily make a go of our relationship again after separate heartbreaks and disasters take us by storm.  I’ll ask him what I had said to him that night.  He won’t remember.  But I’ll still have all the letters he wrote during my psych stay – odd, encouraging notes typed on gray paper, tucked inside crisp envelopes.  He delivered them daily with a steaming, stuck-up cup of Starbucks.

Dear Mizz Arrogant,

How very selfish of You. I’ll be that, when You were gulping down that handful of sleeping pills, You never once thought of the funeral….And the discomfort that would have been the result. Think of it now. What would I say to Your Husband…? “I really feel bad, and I’m dreadfully sorry…and I’m looking for a ‘Weird Al Yankovich’ tape that belongs to My Kids.”

So, now that they’re keeping You another day, I bring You the OTHER copy of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The coffee is from ‘Starbucks,’ which is the closet to the hospital, but not My first choice. If you ask for a large coffee, they snootily say… “You mean Grande.” I would never set foot in the place, but I will for You.
& You’d better freakin’ appreciate it.

Mister Worthless.


8 Responses to “SMILE (Part 3) – or How Very Selfish of You!”

  1. i love the sexy lips with the ciggie, and you are an outstanding writer. Must find the follow button!!

  2. Love all the observation in this piece – the idea that the river is ‘dragging’ the ice, like it’s a character. On a more mundane note – there might be a typo? …a girly-haired girl asks me…was it curly-haired?
    Finally, that letter at the end is sooo great!

    • Yup typo! Damn spell check. Thanks for pointing it out. While I’m great at detail, pacing, and voice – I do struggle with editing. So feel free to ever check me on something. Thanks for being a regular reader!

  3. 4 kp

    There is bravery here. Humanism. I like.

    • Thanks, KP! I am following some advice a strong, smart writer told me. He said, “Write about your experiences. Write about them as honestly and real and raw as possible. People will notice. People will responsd.” I guess he was right!

  4. I’m doing this reply business backwards. I am definitely addicted and curious to see what I will read next.

  5. 7 Dauna

    Thanks for Sharing! God bless

  6. 8 lisakmallon

    I don’t remember telling you to “take herbs’ but I believe you. I’ve said some pretty stupid things. Thanks for forgiving me…assuming that you have. And by the way, your writing is some of the best. It’s as good as, or better in some ways, than Mary Karr’s. I hope you get this published.

    On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 7:02 PM, What’s Broken

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