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A Mid-Twenties Existence

By 

K. Denton

A

sigh escaped her lips as she stared, eyes glazed, into the cafe dining room. She had a college degree. She was smart. She was in massive debt. Strangely, she sometimes enjoyed serving customers, felt pride in knowing she could work for hours on her feet with a smile plastered on her face. Mentally, it was exhausting. But physically, she loved feeling drained at the end of a shift. It made it easier for her to go to sleep at night.

She was mentally restless. She had nothing to stimulate her, and friendships were few and far between. This was not to say that she was without friends; she had one or two that she loved dearly. She was simply tired of constantly starting over, answering the same questions, explaining the same things about herself, her past, her family. It was nobody’s fucking business, she thought. She’d been through it, lived it. Anyone curious about her life at this point was just a nosey asshole, she told herself. After all, she often found herself curious about a coworker’s life or circumstances, and then would realize that she was only curious because she was being nosey. Wanted to feel like she wasn’t the only one with her life in pieces. Wanted to have someone else to talk about, because there was nothing in her life worth mentioning.

She felt so small and mean here. Customers were chatting and smiling to each other, some she figured were on a date. Others might be like her, alone and trying to look not so alone, so as to remain unbothered by strangers and well-meaning types who themselves only wanted to go to bed at night feeling like a good person for making the lonely looking girl smile.

Her mind raced daily, and she was tired of doing customer service. Sometimes, she would get lost in the giving of herself and feel like she had a purpose. But most of the time, she would drown in thoughts, daily, continuously. It was a bath of self-loathing; a general disgust for those around her and a deeply rooted disgust in herself.

 

At twenty-three, the thing she looked forward to was dying. She could finally stop acting, and just rest. Keeping up appearances was hard, and she felt like she owed it to the entire world to never look upset. She could not and would not be a burden.

She always thought to herself, ever since she was little, that she would die young. She didn’t know why; she didn’t know how. She just thought she would.

The girl cleaned up her small apartment, erased all her appointments from her calendar, and wrote “EVERYTHING OF MINE GOES TO MY MOTHER” in big, black marker on it. She’d envisioned dying, and the police walking in to find her body, and that note. She thought leaving it all to her mother would be best. She didn’t talk to the rest of her family, so who would've cared?

She felt a huge relief, but also felt restless, because she was scared. She didn’t know how she’d do it, and any easily available method to her was likely to be painful. She was afraid of pain, and deep down she knew she didn’t really want to die.

Then her ex-fiance contacted her. He still wanted to be with her. She knew he was lying, saying those things because he didn’t want her to hate him. He wanted her to be friends with him, because he didn’t want to feel bad about hurting her. By her acceptance of him as her friend, he rationalized that he must still be a good person.

He had already proven he didn’t care. She’d told him about her feelings, about the miscarriage, and he still found someone else to replace her almost immediately. She’d played the dedicated and dutiful girlfriend and fiance, and supported him financially while he struggled. What a fucking loser, she thought. I can’t believe I let him fuck me.

Then, she realized she never loved him. She just loved having a purpose.

She texted him back. Said she was giving up. To never contact her again, because he wouldn’t be able to anyway. She would force him to accept what he’d done. He frantically started calling her and texting her, pleading with her to not do anything crazy.

She looked around her apartment, turned off her phone, and decided that she might try to go to the church on campus and see a priest. She knew how she felt, but the Catholic in her was strong still. She hadn’t practiced her faith in years, but she knew she’d be damned to hell if she killed herself. She drove to campus crying, and could barely get out of her car. Shame overwhelmed her, but she couldn’t seek a priest in desperation. God either loved her or not, but right now she needed help.

She walked straight to the campus counseling center, and asked to speak to someone. The counselor called her mother, and then let the girl know that her best friend was outside waiting for her. Her friend had been contacted by her ex-fiancé, and cried uncontrollably when she saw the girl in the counselor’s office. The girl felt horrible; she really hadn’t planned for any of this. Her friend took her to the emergency room, and stayed with her while the doctors and nurses examined her body for any evidence of self-harm.

She stayed with her while the nurse questioned why the girl had no interests. The repeated “why don’t’ you think you’re good at anything? You must be good at something”. While the girl stared blankly at this woman and did her best not to bite back with “well, if I thought I was good at something, I wouldn’t be here now, would I?” Instead, the girl had again lied that yes, she thought she was good at writing, just to shut that nurse up and get on with it. Satisfied, the nurse had clicked her pin and smiled approvingly. “See,” she’d said fondly to the girl. “You just have to try harder to believe in yourself dear. You’ll be okay.” And with a quick pat on the girl’s shoulder, she walked out, clipboard in hand.

The treatment center was no help, and she left quickly. Her mother came to stay with her, and shortly after, the girl stopped talking to her mother entirely.

 

With another sigh, she picked up a rag and meandered over to the table with dying flowers. She pretended not to hear the happy looking couple nearby talking about their weekend plans. Tried not to roll her eyes when the table of graduate students talked about how their fourth language wasn’t nearly as hard to learn as their second, or even third.

Self-loathing washed over her again as she shut her eyes and silently, methodically, picked up each flower petal that had fallen to the table. In her palm, they looked small. Slightly curved, tinged pink, and smooth. She let them rest in her palm, then slowly made a fist, watching as the petals became crushed, twisted, mangled pieces of nature in her hand. She went to the trashcan, slowly letting the petals tumble down into the bin. Another day, another shift, she thought.

She sighed once more as she turned back toward the counter.  

Quiz question:

What did the girl tell the nurse that she was good at?

Floristry

Floristry

Writing

Writing

Being nosey

Being nosey

Nothing

Nothing

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Issue 8

published 

January 28, 2017

A Mid-Twenties Existence was written by K. Denton, who was born and raised in a very small town in the Midwest. After completing a bachelor’s in English, she moved to the South and learned all about culture shock. A struggling-to-be-optimistic twenty-something, K. can be found working in her cubicle by day, teaching English as a Second Language by night, and hanging out with her two cats in between.

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Issue 8

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the Lit.cat archives.
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