SMILE (Part 5) – or Lots of People Try to Kill Themselves on New Year’s


Tell Me About the Affair

“Tell me about the affair,” Lori the counselor says. She’s middle-aged with boring, round glasses, a slightly grown out perm with gray roots, a loose, cotton dress with tiny, tasteful flowers dotting the hem.

It’s Monday morning, and the routine is to meet with your counselor at 9:00, then group therapy, lunch, “coping-skills” group, and meditation or game time.

“I need to understand how your hypomanic episodes play out, if it was even that. Lots of people have affairs without being manic or in a hypersexual state. So, it was a year and a half ago?”

I close my eyes and it plays out like a dream bursting with bright colors. I have to catch my breath, slow down my racing heart. I pretend she’s a hypnotist with a silver pocket watch swinging on a long chain. Side to side, the watch swings heavy and low, side to side to side.

“I meet him at a bar my last night in town. John Spencer plays on the Jukebox. I order a long island. He’s sitting in front of me, a small striped shirt and dress pants, shaggy brit-pop hair, thin arms. He’s sitting with his dumpy friend who refuses to make eye contact. I’m skinny and young in a mini-skirt, fishnets, platform sandals. I have a vintage wedding ring with a single diamond, tiny carved flowers on the band. I begged my husband to buy it for me at an estate sale the year before. It has someone elses name engraved on the inside in cursive so tiny I can’t read it. I’m sipping on a straw at an unstable round tabletop, tapping my foot, free – no kids, no husband for the first time in years. His eyes are bright and blue, he’s charming and shy at the same time. He’s in a band. He likes Elvis Costello, too. We talk and talk and drink until bar close. I tell him I’m married but I don’t care.”


“He tells me he doesn’t care, either.”

“Well, lots of people are impulsive and make bad decisions. What makes this any different than a poor choice? A mistake if you will.” She taps her pencil slowly against a yellow legal pad.

And an inner monologue begins to shout inside my head that says – lots of people walk away from their families because a chance meeting was spelled out in the stars, because “Almost Blue” was playing on the jukebox in a crummy, dive bar in Madison and they had heard that same song on the radio station back in Minneapolis that reminded them of a concert where they wore the same red platform shoes.

Lots of People

Lots of people think too much about sex or drugs or nightmares that might become reality. Lots of people fear crossing streets or cloudy skies or what it might feel like to jump out of a moving car on a freeway. Lots of people wish they weren’t born. Lots of people go on the internet to look at real pictures of car accident victims and dead people just to make sure that blood and guts and death are real. Just in case they kill themselves they’ll know what the person who finds them has to deal with. Lots of people go on those sites night after night and every time they close their eyes all they see is split skulls and bulging eyes and swollen tongues all black and purple. Lots of people try to overdose on New Year’s Eve. Lots.


11 Responses to “SMILE (Part 5) – or Lots of People Try to Kill Themselves on New Year’s”

  1. Phenonminal writing!!

  2. Another fantastico entry

  3. I know you don’t want to make these any longer than they are and it is working because they leave wanting to read more and more….

  4. So real and raw, thoughts we all think and yet we would angrily deny. Your writing is so affecting, thanks for sharing

  5. 10 BehindMyBooks

    Great title, great writing, and did you read my mind here…or is it just me?

    You should be published, truth.

  6. You are a great writer Ms Sundance!

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