Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are descent, kill, surreal.

Phases

She tried to change, really revolutionize herself, but the resolutions all came and went in fits and starts. Nothing quite stuck.

Self-help books were selected with gusto, then left on flat surfaces in her flat to collect dust, their pages still bookstore fresh.

Journals were begun with surreal confessions and professions of faith, in her tiny scrawl, only to be abandoned after maybe a scribbled page or two.

And that’s why people ignored her increasingly dark banter, the Facebook updates that contained words like stalking and stabbing. They chalked it up to her dry humor, thinking it was another in-between phase and tomorrow would bring another decree, maybe promises to try self-hypnotism or a water-and-grapefruit diet.

Who kills themselves with over-the-counter pain medication, anyway?

They all asked themselves this at the wake, which they all agreed was well-attended for all of its suddenness and despite the lateness of the season and poor weather conditions.

And as the coffee grew cold and the last of the ham had been wrapped, the bread secured in plastic baggies and everyone agreed it all should go to the food pantry, did it occur to them what had really taken place. They’d been witness to the descent, yet never stepped in to stop it.

Most just shrugged their shoulders, refreshing in their own minds their struggles, their stress.

It was another phase, they all agreed, like the time she decided to give her life over to animal rescue efforts, or that other time where she bought hundreds of dollars of paints and canvas, thinking she’d excise her demons through art.

Nobody dies from over-the-counter pain meds, do they?

25 comments:

Jeni Mc said...

you probably can't hear it from this far away, but alone in my room I'm giving this a "slow clap"

(http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=slow%20clap)

good good stuff.

anthonynorth said...

Anything's possible nowadays.
Great words.

VL Sheridan said...

I love the phrase, "the last of the ham had been wrapped". I don't know why, but sometimes you read something and you know exactly the tone, sense and where and when something happens. It's a gut reaction (which I am not articulating well at all). I'll stop now and just say well done as always.

Altonian said...

You can die from anything these days - anything will do if your cries for help or attention go unheard.
Great story, powerfully told.

Kim Nelson said...

You start with "She tried to change, really revolutionize herself, but the resolutions all came and went in fits and starts" as if you know this viscerally. Tight construction. Big story in a little package. Terrific.

Fear Not the Darkness but What lies Within said...

the emotion comes through this brilliantly and is almost like awake-up call to people to rech out and see if people are okay.

Tweety said...

oh this was so amazing...i loved this thom..brilliant...

Grandma's Goulash said...

Easier to attend the funeral than to connect in life. That's a true story and well told.

My 3WW: Addiction

ladynimue said...

this was so much real !!

ms pie said...

a great contemporary story told brightly of a very sad dark old story...

ms pie said...

a great contemporary story you've told... all the details we can relate to... this dark old ancient story of death and dying it lingers...

Shail said...

This felt so real. Very well written :)

Daily Panic said...

This was chilling. It hits close to home, because I know someone like this, and she scares me- always too high or low emotionally. But she doesnt need hams wrapped, yet.

Very good!

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Wow. I saw someone go through two months of these kinds of vacillations, but he's out of it now. For how long, I don't know. But yes, just about anything can kill you with the right intention and the right dose. Too often we just don't believe they'll really do it.

Hooterville Mayor said...

It's almost like I went through this with you. Like it actually happened and I desperately wish it to be a fading memory.
And now I'm hungry for a ham sammich.

christopher said...

Having been in this position several times between family and friends, I report the ambiguity which accompanies most of these signals at least as I have received them. The needed clarity is seldom there. The ambiguity is usually sufficient to keep people hesitant to intrude. The ambiguity is also the reason why those in the helping professions are usually given very stern guidelines about taking suicide signals seriously no matter how off the wall. We tend naturally to treat off hand signals about extreme things as cartoons, not as reality.

In most areas of our lives most of the time cartoon expressions are precisely exaggerations for emphasis. We even say of such exaggerated suicide threats, that they are not real but are cries for attention, and they are. The trouble is that real threats, though they are less likely to be made look the same as these cries for help.

The worst suicide in my life was precisely this, a cry for attention gone bad. My cousin had done this several times but this time chose too much of the wrong drug and died of it anyway even though she never meant it that way. She chose one of the oil soluble drugs to OD on instead of the far more common water soluble drugs. That meant she couldn't be flushed out medically as she was used to. She went to the hospital "in time" but it turned out she had been too late when she swallowed them. The best they could do was keep her alive in coma for four days and then pull the plug when her organs failed.

lightverse said...

This was an extraordinary example of how we never really see what's behind the words or the mask. How many times have people said when interviewed by the media (of someone who committed an act leading to tragedy), "Well, he [or she] seemed normal enough..."

Ramesh Sood said...

This is well written..no, no, crafted I mean..standing ovation from me..

Ren Thompson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ren Thompson said...

I have no words.

Quin Browne said...

Ah, the reflected pain. I'm now depressed.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

This is so very real Thom. I completely forgot about the three words and just got caught up in the story. I probably would have ignored her Facebook entries too, because really how many of those do any of us really pay attention to. Scary stuff here because it could easily happen.

jaerose said...

Beautiful piece - really - the wrapping of the ham got me for some reason..like everything can be neatly packed away..and the question will one day be forgotten like old food in the pantry..Jae

Monica Manning said...

"thinking she’d excise her demons through art". That pierced through me.

Dee Martin said...

holy crap - how did I miss this...
so many things hit home with this right now. I have witnessed a student who I KNOW is headed for disaster and I am very afraid that the disaster will include others. And though he has been taken for treatment several times, he is always back and there seems to be nothing that can be done until he commits some act that hurts himself or someone else. He is not the only one. I used to wonder how people got to the point where they killed themselves or someone else, didn't anyone notice the path? But the system being what it is, we can only watch and hope that the precipitating event is not to horrific...sad and terrifying.
I also know a young person who DID try to kill himself...with tylenol of all things. I thought it was almost laughable until I learned that kids do this all the time and if they are not successful in their completion, they often end up with liver failure...what a world we live in. Seriously twisted and this story is a picture of that slide. Your talent is amazing, as always.