Chapter 1 ~ A Thirty-Something Girl

The sun is bright and hot, and the world seems far too happy for me to be in it. I fumble with my purse looking for my pack of cigarettes. There. I found it. The box feels light and I wonder if it’s empty, and hope to hell it’s not. I flip the lid back and find two left. My lucky day. An odd sensation crawls over the surface of my face, and I realize I’m attempting to smile for the first time in forever. But this momentary joy fades quickly, and I find myself once again trapped in my never-ending thoughts.

The cigarette hangs loosely from my lips. I take a long drag, watching the tip glow as I suck down the heavenly toxins. I’m standing on my tiptoes at the edge, my hands wrapped tightly around the railing, my body draped recklessly over it. It’s an early summer evening, the street below is bustling, and I wonder if anyone will care if I jump. If anyone will notice, or if they will just step over the hapless remnants of my existence and go about their day.

My purse vibrates. It’s them calling. I’m late. I know I need to tell them tonight. To expose myself and share the pain with them. Ask them for help, for guidance, for support. And I wonder if I’ll be strong enough to survive telling them the truth, but then again, I wonder if I can survive another day of them not knowing.

I slap that “everything’s perfect” smile on my face and make my way down the busy street, and along the way if you listen carefully, you can hear it splash and hit the ground as I move – it’s despair – and it pours from me, flooding out any possibility of happiness. No one seems to notice it sloshing about, but I do. And it’s all I can do not to drown in it.

A young man with a body that screams fuck me brushes my shoulder, and as he passes by, gives me a nod and a wink. For a brief moment, I escape my cocoon of sorrow and let myself smile for real. And I think, maybe it’s all going to be okay. Maybe hidden under the dark and heavy layers of despair and doubt lies a shred of Hope.

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