56 comments

Fiction Sad

This story contains sensitive content

T/W: Mentions of sex, suicide, child abuse, mental illness, offensive language


How many ways are there to suffocate? It’s a question I lock inside a cage in my mind and pretend it isn’t there. I do this on the drive home from work. It’s a mundane trip on the same streets Monday through Thursday. Images of gnarled trees rush past my car windows with twisted arms and sagging bodies. Early morning joggers hit the trails underneath them with spirit in their steps. Toward the end of my commute there’s a pedestrian bridge with an ebony river running below it. Blood orange waves glitter across the water in the early light of dawn. God help me… I want to drown myself in it.


I consider it for a moment, pulling the car over. How I’ll stand adjacent to the white bars of the bridge a breath away from my own demise. A thrill building in my abdomen as I drink in the pleasant expressions of smiling faces running past. The same people are on the bridge every day like they’re on autopilot. Is it sick? The way I envision stepping off the bars of the bridge right next to them, a small moment of silence, and then - I’m falling backward into the water. It’s exciting to picture horror unfolding on their faces.


The truth about me is this: I hate the way we sleepwalk through our lives. We do indistinguishable things day after day, as if we know there’s a tomorrow. Routine is such an arrogant beast. It tells us we have control when we don’t.


“I’m getting in the shower,” I tell my husband this when I make it in the door. It’s 6:37 a.m. I don’t have to look at the clock to know when the route home never changes. “Have a great day. See you when I see you,” I say.


We work opposite shifts. I’m chained to the night shift while he’s married to the day. We hardly see each other, and I like it this way. I need the house vacant to breathe. He seizes his coffee from the counter like it’s his lifeline and tells me he will. It’s an empty statement. A series of words bumping into each other creating hollow sounds with no substance.


I detest these deflated conversations but it’s a necessary façade. Routine, structure, predictability - all these are needed to survive in the cookie cutter life that’s incarcerating me. A place called civilized society. It’s not a real place but we tell ourselves it is while we ignore everything uncivilized about it. The horrible situations that will never happen to us, in our neighborhoods, or in our own homes.


He doesn’t look at me as he opens the door. He doesn’t kiss me goodbye. He doesn’t tell me he loves me. “See you tomorrow,” is all he says. I’m to blame for this behavior. My icy demeanor smothers even the hottest of flames. He leaves, and when the door shuts, my shoulders relax. It’s the same feeling I get when I think about freefalling from the bridge on the drive home. Freedom – oxygen – or something like those.


If this sounds like a story about two people who have fallen out of love, it isn’t. I have a nasty secret, you see. Another truth about me. I’m not suitable for love. There is no room in my chest for useless emotions. I’ve been told it’s a side effect of someone who is confined to their past when they live in the present. A person who uses fight or flight like others might use a spoon or fork. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Labels don’t really matter when results are the same. Love is patient and kind and I’m neither. Living one way, only, has kept me alive. You’re either a threat or a tool I can use to survive.


Jeans scrape coarsely down my thighs while I undress in front of the full-length bathroom mirror. My legs are my greatest asset. I inspect them inside my reflection appreciating them for the weapons they are. Warm steam from the shower fills the room. It casts a light fog over the glass and the image of my naked body. There are faded burn scars on my arms. You can’t tell unless you know where to look. Rust colored hair rests against my breasts in startling contrast to pale skin. Dark eyes stare back at me and to anyone else, I bet they’re beautiful. I can’t stand to look at them. They’re a permanent reminder - staying in one place for too long is one cause of asphyxiation.


These mirror checks are important. Attractiveness is paramount when it comes to getting ahead in life. It’s why my husband won’t leave despite lack of affection. When he fucks me - does he tell himself that it’s love? He doesn’t understand I can’t feel emotions like he can. Those moments where he’s inside me… he’s the only one there.




***




The alarm on my phone goes off. It’s 5:40 p.m. We’ve made it toward the end of Wednesday. Dusk is coming. Another night of working, breathing, and eating. Why am I alive again? My feet are silent against the carpet on my way through the living room. My husband fiddles with his phone on the couch without looking up.


“How was work today?” I ask. It’s like I’m a concerned wife. It was alright. I know before he says it.


“It was all right,” he tells me. “Can’t complain.”


His words pull the oxygen from the room again. The walls close in on me. The ceiling tips downward. All of a sudden, we’re too close to each other even though we’re on opposite sides of the room. Everything is always “alright.” He never has a single complaint. It’s like I’m the only one who has moments where I can’t breathe. I don’t say this to him. Not only do we operate on different sides of the day, but we also function from entirely different mindsets too.


I’m not able to love him… and he’s unable to fathom the thoughts inside my head. If I’m honest, there is one thing I hate more than sleepwalking through our existence. It’s trying to make someone grasp something when they lack the capacity to perceive the vastness of its conception. What a lonely prison we call home.


“That’s good,” I smile at him. “Well, guess I’ll head in again. I’ll see you on the flipside.”


More joggers on the way to work, more trees, more emptiness in my chest. Ambushed by another night of putting out everyone else’s fires. Even so, it’s effortless to play 911 dispatch. This is how my brain works. I’m an expert at remaining calm for others in situations that are not. I coolly collect their information through the phone, assess their surroundings, and sort what’s needed for survival. This job is soothing. It’s what I’m best at.


It’s the moments in life without chaos that leave me gasping for air. There’s something backward about me. When I listen to other people panic, it makes me feel sane. Fear I can comprehend. Rage, bitterness, and emptiness - these emotions are applicative. They’re an immutable reminder to guard yourself against others. Love, happiness, and even peace... lull you into a false sense of security. How pointless it is to explore them when they make us forget the most important lesson of all.


We are never safe.




***


Thursday 6:37 a.m.


“I’m getting into bed,” I say. “Have a great day.”


“I will.”


***


Thursday 5:41 p.m.


The low thrum of my husband’s voice penetrates the kitchen while I fill a thermos full of coffee. The things he’s saying suggests he’s speaking to his mother. They have an invaluable relationship. He calls to check on her often. It’s a sour taste in my mouth every time they are on the phone together.


When we began dating, he had asked why my mother and I never speak. It’s questions like this that deliver me back to her. I’m a six-year-old girl sitting at a kitchen table. We don’t have neighbors close enough to hear the screaming. Sharp sounds echo from my chest. They ring in high pitches but do nothing to hold her back.


“Please… please no more! I’ll do anything,” I tell her, and it chokes into a sob.


She puts another cigarette out on my bare skin. Her dark eyes – my dark eyes – look at me and she laughs. It’s a laugh that never stops.


“Does it hurt?” she hisses. “There’s a demon inside you. I’m doing this because I love you.”


She speaks like this to me in unpredictable moments. One minute she’s laughing and the next she’s violent. Paranoid schizophrenia. It’s untreated. She’ll tell you she isn’t sick and that it’s everyone else. After years as her daughter, I can’t help but wonder if she’s right. Love doesn’t exist inside me because I am possessed by something evil. A mother often witnesses things in her child no one else can see. 


“We didn’t have a good relationship,” is the only answer I had to give him back then. “I have no idea where she is now.”


It took years, but one day, a lady in a carbon-colored jacket with sharp shoulder pads appeared at the door of my childhood home. She stripped me away from my mother. Her steps, a wide and forceful lunge. A pair of candescent dress shoes dragging me from the only home I knew. Her name was Monica. She thinks she saved me that day. Did she?


One fact is inarguable. Whether it was the first foster home or the fifth, I learned a great deal about a female’s body. What it can offer. What it can receive. It’s incredible how much a child can endure and still survive. They are like weeds that acclimate to any harsh environment they find themselves in.


Use everything you have in order to live. My mind became shaped like this. It uses everything from my body, and how I look, to my brain and the intelligence inside it. It examines everyone around me and analyzes their weaknesses to use against them. Empathy and compassion never stir within me. Despite that, acting like they do is a skill I picked up along the way.


Is there a darkness inside me that needs to be burned? Do mothers always know their children? It explains why I relish the night falling over me while others hold their breath for daybreak.



***

Friday. 5:41 p.m.


A small window of time has opened for my husband and me. I don't have work tonight. We’re like normal people if only for a moment. His lips are against my collarbone tasting my skin. The scent of him is too much with fresh spring soap and spicy deodorant. His hand slides in between my legs hungry for intimacy. Intimacy is revolting. It doesn’t matter how hard I try; I don’t like to be touched. He hasn’t caught on yet. It’s amazing how easy it is to fool even those closest to us. The only person I can’t lie to is myself.


It’s silly, isn’t it? How I work to convince my mind that if I follow the rules of society like everyone else, somehow, I will become like them. I’ll learn to love. I’ll feel safe in a house with a white picket fence and a dog. I’ll look forward to dates on Friday nights. I’ll even run alongside the river and wave at people who pass me by. Even if my husband can’t get inside my head - I’ll work harder to climb inside his. That will fix me, won’t it? It’s not like he doesn’t deserve to be loved.


I’m hollow inside as I climb from the bed in the dark. I stumble to the bathroom and rinse my mouth in the sink before climbing in the shower. I crank the hot water faucet all the way until I can’t take the heat. It burns my skin. It feels like my mother’s love for me. A laugh bubbles from my chest and it sounds like hers. It doesn’t stop and I slide down the shower wall.  


“Do you think anyone is going to save us?” I asked my older sister this when we were children. I’m ten years old. She’s fourteen.


“No,” she tells me.


We’re hiding in a closet. Loud crashes come from the living room along with the sounds of things breaking. Mom is shouting again. She’s screaming at people who aren’t there. Hallucinations. Fear pounds in my rib cage like a heartbeat. My sister grips my fingers tight in hers.


“No one is coming to save us,” she whispers. “But I’ll never leave you.”


She meant it when she said it, didn't she? Except, we all have our limits. Two years after her promise and she’s in the wind. I’m on the doorstep of foster parent number one. People lie all the time, don’t they? That’s why - when my husband holds my body beneath his - arms begin to feel like prison bars. When he whispers he loves me against bare skin, I don’t feel cherished. Only used. I tell him I love him. It’s what he wants to hear. I’m a liar too.




***


Monday 6:27 a.m.


This time I do pull over on the way home. My shoes crunch against the gravel on the way to the bridge. The sun creeps up over the horizon in blazing streaks of crimson and gold. They surge through violet clouds thin like mist. The sky looks hand painted by divinity. People pass me by with ear buds in their ears and they smile. Once I’m on the bridge, I sit with legs dangling through a gap in the white iron bars. The cold iron presses against my chest while the wind lashes at my feet.


I could slip through the bars bringing my presence on earth to a brutal end but, despite intrusive thoughts, I’m not a suicidal person. I’ve done countless things to keep breathing and it seems wasteful to throw that work away now. Still, I can’t shake that I’m missing something important inside me.


My husband and I are like two sailing ships headed from their own respective locations. He grew up in a two-parent home. He never went without a roof over his head or suffered any kind of oppression. If my reality has been sustained by the darkness of nightfall then his has been satisfied with the kind of light that breaks it. Can two people who travel from opposing directions confront each other without one demolishing the other? I don’t have the answers.


“Deep in thought, dear?” An old woman interrupts my sentiments. She stands a few feet away looking out across the water.


Her weathered face crinkles with a knowing look as she casts intelligent blue eyes in my direction. Wind whips her white hair back and forth, but it doesn’t seem to bother her.


“The thoughts are deep in me,” I say.


“That does happen from time to time. There are moments when talking to a stranger can do more good than opening up to a person who knows you. Tell me. The weight of those thoughts, can you carry it alone?”


It isn’t in me to reveal myself to others and yet a lifetime of calculating everything I say has left me exhausted. Suddenly, I want nothing more than to empty my mind into anyone else’s head. I don’t want to be crushed underneath it anymore.


“I’ve tried everything to be like them,” I say, drained. “To look like them, laugh like they do, but I can’t seem to crack the code. Sometimes, I don’t think I’m human at all.”


She laughs and it’s a sharp jagged noise, “You sound pretty human to me.” Her eyes are soft as she says, “No two humans are alike. No sense in one trying to act like another.”


“What if I’m cruel when I’m not acting? A bit emotionless. I can’t bring myself to love like normal people do.”


Her lips straighten into a thin line, and she places her wrinkled hands on the bars of the bridge. “What is love, exactly? And where do we get off assuming it’s a human’s first concern? Life isn’t a bowl of cherries, you know. There are a great many ways to go about living and none of them are identical to the others. We walk the path we’re given. We do it the best we can. Some run, some crawl - quite a few of us stumble. There’s no shame in any of it.”


Her response baffles me and I ask, “If our first concern isn’t love, what is it?”


She pauses at the sound of feet pounding behind us. A pair of runners push themselves across the bridge in the direction of a dawning sun. There's something fascinating about their daily tenacity. Are they running from something or toward something? It's impossible to tell.


“Like a blade’s purpose is to pierce,” the woman says, capturing my attention once again. “A human’s purpose is to persist.”


The sun is above the water and the violet clouds have dissipated. Her words unravel a tightness in my chest. Despite the many causes of suffocation, there is one way to avoid them all. Keep breathing. “I do have another question,” I tell her. “What if a person’s path has been so different from someone else’s that it’s like night and day?” My voice lowers as I continue, “Can those two still walk forward together?”


The river gleams with golden light as the sounds of traffic increase on the streets around us. My day is over, but for so many others, their day is only beginning.


“That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.”


November 13, 2023 16:13

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56 comments

Kailani Bonam
16:06 Nov 14, 2023

This is a really depressing, sad story, but “A human’s purpose is to persist” is the perfect conclusion; it gives it just the right note of hope.

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Danie Holland
11:25 Nov 15, 2023

Kailani, I think on the surface it can appear to be sad and depressing. I don't know if this was my complete intention. Perhaps I was trying to paint a picture of someone who searches for a way forward despite many things pulling them backward. I might also use the words brave and enduring. I'm grateful the story sticks the landing with the right note of hope. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and connect.

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Nina H
21:37 Nov 14, 2023

I feel for the MC. What a traumatic childhood, then unable to reconcile her past in her present. She seems to understand her mother was not well, and also untreated. Maybe she can recognize the unwell in herself and seek treatment to better “persist”. It seems the conversation with the stranger may be a starting block for her. :)

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Rose Lind
02:34 Nov 19, 2023

But she recognised the unwell in society... maybe that's a greater path?

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Danie Holland
11:33 Nov 15, 2023

Ha! Nina, great deduction. She is a bit off. Anyone with this much baggage probably should seek help. Lets hope she doesn't do it in America. The healthcare here is a joke, and the financial means to pay for it is the punchline. Finding a path to healing would be the best outcome. Who can say what that looks like. Thanks for stopping by this week and taking the time to read. I know it isn't a story for the faint of heart and I truly appreciate you.

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Nina H
11:43 Nov 15, 2023

Yes, I wish there were a better system in place here, and I have no idea how people get by without good health insurance. It’s just crazy. While it’s not a story for the faint of heart, you offer that thread of hope at the end that maybe she’ll find that path, whatever it looks like as you say! 😊

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Amanda Lieser
05:56 Nov 28, 2023

Hi Danie! You paint an excellent tale of an individual who is burdened with the cross of trauma. I thought that it was incredibly well written, and handled with grace and delicacy that is needed for this kind of topic. Your moments of intimacy were thoughtful. They truly allowed us to bear witness to your narrator soul. I’m glad for the conversation at the very end because it presented an option of hope for this main character. I sincerely hope that there is a happy ending for everyone involved. Every marriage ebs and flows after all. Nice w...

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Danie Holland
11:33 Nov 30, 2023

Amanda, Thanks so much for this perspective! To hear that it's handled delicately and gracefully is a treat since the story is anything but. She's a character who is unfeeling, thoughts that are sharp and probably difficult to swallow. Intimacy is something that's supposed to be warm and for her its cold. I really wanted to paint a picture of what the aftermath of trauma looks like for those who are trying to find a life after. No matter how difficult the past, I believe there is always hope for a future.

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Belladona Vulpa
10:59 Nov 27, 2023

Wonderful piece, really full of narrative, metaphors, and interesting descriptions entangled with feelings. At the part where she imagined falling and the faces of people, I imagined that people would perhaps react for a second (if they noticed), and eventually carry on with their day, which I know could be seen as pessimistic or harsh. How parents talk can influence a child's self-image, and I felt bad for her, because nobody deserves this treatment. Like a wild flower, she bloomed in harsh conditions. The more we go forward, the more w...

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Danie Holland
14:45 Nov 29, 2023

"Like a wild flower, she bloomed in harsh conditions." - Belladona, this line really touched me. I can see from your reaction you truly understood the meaning behind this story. I especially loved your insight that the elder could be a disguised guide in the right moment for our protagonist. "the point is to persist and decide for yourself what you want." - yes, truly the theme here. We must all face our days and decide what to do with them. We use our each individual shaped perspectives to do this. It's fascinating to watch people unfol...

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Belladona Vulpa
10:20 Nov 30, 2023

You weave beautiful stories and I enjoy reading them every week! And of course I enjoy talking about these stories with you. Keep up the great work, I'm always looking forward to your next story :)

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Stevie Burges
05:36 Nov 27, 2023

very sophisticated story. Well crafted. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Danie Holland
11:12 Nov 30, 2023

Stevie, thanks so much for reading! I'm so happy you enjoyed it despite its intense content. I look forward to reading more from you. <3 Danie

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Helen A Smith
07:54 Nov 26, 2023

Aside from the power of the story itself, I’m drawn by your use of language, particularly the way you depict a sense of alienation through the use of imagery. The MC’s feelings are buried so deep, she cannot even let her husband in on them. They may be living in the same house, but not together. Perhaps not surprisingly, as her upbringing has resulted in in the need for detachment in order to survive. Certain survival skills that were once needed are no longer helpful or productive to living a full and fulfilled life. Is it only possible t...

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Danie Holland
12:22 Nov 29, 2023

“… or is that just repeating the pattern all over again? Can it truly work with opposites? Those who have had very different experiences.” — loved this question, I believe it sums up the protagonist thoughts entirely. And in the end, it’s probably a different outcome for everyone who faces it. For some it works, for others it doesn’t. Maybe some find healing in others who understand and yet there are those who find healing learning to share their lives with someone who hasn’t been in those dark places. Everyone has to decide for themselves...

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Helen A Smith
13:07 Nov 29, 2023

Hi Danie. It can work with opposites, but it can go badly wrong. I’ve experienced both 😂

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Eileen Turner
03:30 Nov 23, 2023

Yes, routine can give us the sense of control because it holds us accountable to keep going on, responsibility can be a glue to help us not fall apart. This is a desperately sad story, but we'll written.

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Danie Holland
11:32 Nov 29, 2023

Eileen, thank you for sharing this perspective, I agree. As humans we use a great deal of tools to get us through each day. Routine can definitely be one of those. I suspect the protagonist in this story struggles with the concept of routine because she has a keen understanding that at any moment her life can shift from under her feet rendering any attempts at routine futile. This is the reality for many with C-PTSD who live in the after shock of their lives being uprooted and changed several times. I imagine its hard to find a sense of rout...

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Shirley Medhurst
17:41 Nov 22, 2023

A tough and particularly powerful piece, - very well written. Bravo, you really brought the trauma of the MC’s past abuse to life here👏👏👏

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Danie Holland
16:18 Nov 28, 2023

Shirley Your comment means so much to me! It's tough to talk about these kinds of horrors but there is a certain power in shining a light on them and those who look for a path to healing after life has dealt them a harsh deck of cards. I look forward to reading more of your stories in the future!

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Robert Egan
01:03 Nov 21, 2023

Wow, this story had nice pacing and really came together in the end. I found it uplifting, a good reminder that a "fake it until you make it" mentality may erode who you truly are. We should be allowed to feel or not feel accordingly. "Like a blade’s purpose is to pierce, a human’s purpose is to persist.” That old lady on the bridge is pretty badass!

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Danie Holland
16:16 Nov 28, 2023

Hey Robert, thanks so much for dropping in and connecting with me. I loved that you found this story uplifting. I truly meant for it to be. Humans are pretty amazing with their ability to endure despite difficulties.

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Malcolm Twigg
11:20 Nov 20, 2023

If this isn't a winner there's no justice. So deep,so meaningful, so sad - I do hope there's no autobiographical here because it feels so lived. This is essentially a woman's story. That it touched a mere man so much should speak volumes.

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Danie Holland
16:32 Nov 27, 2023

Alas, there is NO JUSTICE. I shall rage. But not really. People don't often understand me in real life so I had this fear that it might be the same for the stories I write. But I guess it doesn't really matter in the end. Sometimes you find you have these things on your heart that need to come out and It doesn't really matter if it reaches a lot of people if only one person can find meaning in it. Even if that one person is yourself. Did this comment make any sense? Anyway. Imma go now. Thanks so much for reading. I really do appreciate you.

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Rose Lind
02:33 Nov 19, 2023

Daniel ty for ur story, it is not the format of one has to say in that paradigm they are forced to believe and act within, such a breath of fresh air. I like the wise woman character- the state of allowing. Now a little fill in: I did social work placement with department of family services. Mostly I did not like the paradigm. They loudest ones were the most well paid ones, meaning they compromised compassion for morals and dogma. The alienation aspects of pride, vanity, power and greed. I noticed when those sorts of ppl took children away,...

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Danie Holland
16:01 Nov 27, 2023

Wow Rose, thank you so much for reading and giving this story so much thought. I love that “Buddhists say emotions are like clouds let them float by." It's easy to be tempted to believe we will always be stuck inside a certain emotion. The more we practice feeling our feelings and letting them subside, I think the more peace we will be able to unlock inside ourselves. I'm grateful for you taking the time to connect with me!

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Rose Lind
03:16 Nov 29, 2023

🌹

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Marty B
05:04 Nov 18, 2023

An old woman came in to save the MC from herself, and her utter despair. Trauma leaves deep scares, invisible, even when you know where to look. Great descriptions of what living without feeling would be. I like this line- 'A person who uses fight or flight like others might use a spoon or fork.'

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Danie Holland
15:50 Nov 27, 2023

Marty! Thanks for dropping in. That was actually one of my favorite lines as well. Happy to see someone else liked it! I was attempting to convey how second nature it is for someone with PTSD to run and fight where as others who aren't used to operating from that kind of mindset might think a lot harder about responding those ways. I appreciate you reading and connecting with me!

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Ken Cartisano
09:37 Nov 17, 2023

I don't want to read any comments yet, because I'm sure I'll disagree with everyone. This is a brilliantly devised thriller, because all the suspense occurs within the narrators head. (And ours, as we hear her story.) As horrific as the original trauma, child abuse, I think the story has a decidedly positive spin. We follow the narrator through a cycle of dull, aimless days as she wrestles with the eternal, universal question: What the fuck is life all about? Or in her case, specifically: If life is so meaningless, why do I persist in survi...

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Danie Holland
11:39 Nov 17, 2023

KEN. My man. okay so like, I get a tiny bit scared when I see you have left a comment for me. But THEN I laugh because you argue your case so well most of the time that your points are valid and I agree with them. I took your suggestion to heart and it does feel so much better. I liked it a bunch. Two quick questions. One for clarity and one because I'm nosy. First, you say the dialogue is wordy. Just the part you mention with the old women? Or the whole scene and the dialogue all together. I don't know where I can cut anything out or if I...

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Ken Cartisano
22:02 Nov 21, 2023

Hi Danie, You asked me this: ‘First, you say the dialogue is wordy. Just the part you mention with the old woman? Or the whole scene and the dialogue all together. I don’t know where I can cut anything out or if I can, everything feels necessary. My reference was to two specific paragraphs in the dialogue section. That’s all. Everything else in the story is great, very good, even the dialogue… except… for your attribute tags. Those were the only things I changed. And I deleted two sentences. It isn’t in me to reveal myself to others and ye...

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Danie Holland
17:22 Nov 27, 2023

Ken! I am so grateful for your thorough feedback. Especially loved this edit “What if I’m cruel when I’m not acting? Emotionless. I can’t bring myself to love like normal people do.” I’m still learning where I can cut down and be more precise. I dunno about the win comment. These days I’m starting to think I’m only a “one hit wonder.” 😭 maybe I write too deep for people to get it. Especially if it’s something that really needs to be looked closely at to understand. 😭 but it’s fun to write so I’ll focus on that and not the crushing weight o...

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Ken Cartisano
20:43 Nov 28, 2023

Great Danie, Don't be discouraged, nor was I being passive-aggressive in my comment about you having a winning story. That win indicates that you have talent, that you're doing something right. And you were doing it before I ever gave you any advice. Just trying to add some perspective to our relationship. I've learned a great deal from the other writers here, and from you. I also had a rebuttal to your comment on the 'Eve of Destruction' story, which I'll post in the appropriate comment thread later today or tonight. Not really a rebutta...

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Danie Holland
00:29 Nov 29, 2023

No! I know you weren’t being passive aggressive. I sink into self deprecating humor sometimes. Don’t mind me. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism I developed to face life’s challenges. I look forward to reading more from you!

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Sarah Saleem
08:50 Nov 17, 2023

Amazing story! I like how you potrayed the thoughts going through the character's head and I loved how the scene changed daily yet everything was the same.

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Danie Holland
15:29 Nov 27, 2023

Sarah - I appreciate you so much for taking the time to read and leave your thoughts. It goes to show that you never truly know what is on someone's mind. That's for sure.

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Michał Przywara
22:19 Nov 16, 2023

Great story! Heartbreaking and suspenseful - I didn't know until the end whether she'd jump or not. The end is a welcome glimmer of hope, though. The running suffocation metaphor works out really well. What do you do if you can't get enough air? You panic, fight or flight. Her whole life is like that so she's panicking every moment - non-stop fighting and defending herself. No wonder she doesn't have time for love or other such things. When we learned she does 911 dispatch, I thought that explained things. A very stressful job, is my und...

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Danie Holland
22:44 Nov 16, 2023

What a heavy week. Dark and deep. 😅 Michal make a pact with me. If I try to turn in another angsty story next week squirt me with a water bottle. I’m like a cat that keeps laying on the warm laundry. I know it’s uncomfortable for others to get fur on their clothes because of me, but it’s where I’m comfortable so I just keep laying there. I honestly hate every part of this story now that’s it’s over. But writing is a sort of therapy I suppose and stuff keeps coming out like word vomit. Maybe once the ugly things are out something pretty wi...

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Michał Przywara
02:54 Nov 17, 2023

Deal :) No angst next week. Maybe rainbows or puppies or muffins, or maybe a serial killer, but like, a well-adjusted happy one. On a serious note, nothing wrong with uncomfortable stories. I'm sure lots of people can relate to parts of this - certainly the loneliness or isolation. Or the frightening search for meaning. Or the “Sometimes, I don’t think I’m human at all”, and the fitting-in to a cookie cutter world. I sometimes think “normal” is an ideal, every bit as extreme and dangerous as “perfect”, except much more boring on paper. It ...

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Danie Holland
11:44 Nov 17, 2023

Oh. Mr. Przywara. "nobody lives up to it all. And if anyone ever did, they'd probably be fatally bland." These words made my heart behave weird. Thank you for each of them.

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Karen Corr
15:38 Nov 15, 2023

When the narrator interacts with her husband, I see traces of what must have transpired between them in the past, because he seems to know there are bounderies that can't be crossed. So sad. For the most part we never know what people live with inside their heads. As the old lady says--sometimes choosing to see ourselves as survivors rather than victims, is life-changing. I hope she finds her way. Work of art, Danie!

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Danie Holland
10:57 Nov 16, 2023

Karen, very insightful. I imagine for anyone it would be hard to live with a person who is cold and calculating. You never quite know what they are thinking or even where you stand with them. Like there is a wall and you can't get past it. I imagine this is what it is like for the husband. And honestly, it is tragic. It's neither of the parties fault and yet, they both shoulder the reality. I don't know what the way out looks like for that but I do believe anything is possible. Thanks for reading!

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Michelle Oliver
14:23 Nov 15, 2023

There is so much pain here that you have captured with a very gentle hand. You don’t shy away from the trauma but it doesn’t seem to overwhelm the narrative. The story is not about the past in this case, but how she is unable to cope in the present because of the emotional scarring she bears. You have such a beautiful writing style that makes even the painful stories a pleasure to read.

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Danie Holland
11:02 Nov 16, 2023

"Emotional scarring." Very well said. I like that. Almost like callouses over her emotions which don't allow her to feel or connect properly. I'm grateful my writing style could convey a hard story to read in a way that makes it a bit easier. Every piece of writing is a conversation and for the narrator here it is a bit of a tough one. After you have survived, and you are no longer in a place to fight for survival, what does life look like after that? How does one acclimate? Anyway. I really appreciate you taking the time to swing by and con...

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Mary Bendickson
13:46 Nov 15, 2023

Simply confound in your telling. Thanks for liking my 'the battle rages on'

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Danie Holland
13:55 Nov 15, 2023

Im not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, either way. Thank you for connecting Mary!

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Mary Bendickson
14:02 Nov 15, 2023

You are always so good😇

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AnneMarie Miles
19:09 Nov 14, 2023

This is incredible writing, Danie. Really beautiful, potent and poignant, and just incredible craftsmanship. As I read, I kept thinking "damn, that's a good line", "damn that's an even better line." Got me feeling those Christmas colors, green for jealousy and red for admiration. I think the line that really hit my chest was: "Those moments where he’s inside me… he’s the only one there." Sex for women is on some level traumatic just in and of itself for the reason that something literally goes inside of us (lol sorry if that's too much, but ...

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Danie Holland
11:21 Nov 15, 2023

AnneMarie, you are absolutely adorable. This comment made me literally laugh out loud. You're right. I did start it, thank you for finishing it. You captured what I spent 3000 words trying to convey in one sentence: "Survival is our most foundational instinct." You're also very respectful in your critique. "This character has survived so much and continues to go on. Anyone with PTSD and depression can find meaning in that." This truly brought tears to my eyes. I think as writers and readers, we are all looking for one singular take away - me...

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AnneMarie Miles
13:28 Nov 15, 2023

I am happy to be caught! Especially in wonderful and meaningful stories like these, Danie! Thanks for writing it and sharing it. It will (and has) touched many hearts. Glad I could make you both laugh and cry on one comment! 😂❤️

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Martin Ross
21:21 Nov 13, 2023

Lovely writing, coherent and lyrical and significant. Elements from my past and my wife’s have both caused friction in our lives and brought us closer facing life’s challenges. Bringing in an objective third party at the end really crystallized the hope of the story in a credible and powerful way. Just an excellent job!

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Danie Holland
11:10 Nov 15, 2023

Martin, thank you for the praise. I'll admit when you said "coherent" I thought what an odd choice of word. My mind apparently connotates that word with injury or sobriety. But actually, coherent: "(of an argument, theory, or policy). Logical and consistent." I'd never dissected the definition of this word before but it's very flattering in regards to a piece of writing. Thank you for connecting with me this week. I'm happy to hear you and your wife overcame the hurdles from your respective histories.

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Martin Ross
14:51 Nov 15, 2023

Exactly!😊

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