The Never-Before-Mentioned-Problem By Emily Byrd

Something odd: when Zoloft expires, it starts to smell like lunchmeat.

I noticed this when it forcefully shot into my left nostril.

It was forcefully shot into my left nostril when the man standing next to me pressed his hand on a bench, revealing a loose board which flew up unexpectedly in my direction, causing the bicep of my right arm to gracelessly contract in surprise, sending the aforementioned pill from hand into nostril.

This caused me to take a step backward as my face recoiled from the assault. Said step caused me to plant my pair of stilettos into the soft turf on the edge of the sidewalk. This sudden stop made me wave my arms in an attempt to regain balance. Balance was not regained. Said shoe parted ways with its heel, which continued to puncture the ground.

I stumbled onto aforementioned catalyst-of-this-problem bench, wrenching the board free from the other side, which slapped the hand of real-catalyst-of-this-problem man.

The Zoloft tumbled free.

He was flustered, I was flustered, social injury was inflicted, recovery would either form a bond or form an aversion.

Another bumbling encounter. All my relationships seem to begin and end with a stumble.

I often condemn my friends for leaping from the arms of a lover into the arms of another. Still, I’ve never even taken a leap of any sorts myself. Just a tumble. Or a stumble, a bumble, etc.

All of my relationships started by accident. They ended that way too. Once, I caught a certain Carl cheating on me with a certain Jan. Once, a certain Jared caught me cheating with, well…the same Jan.

Even that indiscretion I couldn’t claim as my own. Jan, who is deaf, had misinterpreted my terrible attempts to defame her in sign language (for the aforementioned Carl incident) as a come-on. The body language for angry-passion and loving-passion are too closely associated, I suppose.

I had never left the country, except once for a relative’s funeral. My French aunt had fallen in front of a Vespa (god bless her) and only left behind the pair of stilettos that now lay mangled next to the park bench.

Shit. The park bench. And the man. He was talking.

“Dear God. I’m so sorry.”

“Ah, well, yes. It’s alright.”

“Right. Well. Is your leg hurt?”

“No, no, I’m fine, thank you.”

“Oh, but your shoe…ehem…I’m so sorry! I’ll give you money for another.”

I started to decline (the socially acceptable thing to do), and then stopped. He was attractive—not chiseled attractive, but he had a full head of hair (more than Carl could say).

But I stumbled away from him. What did that mean? Anything of cosmic significance?

Probably. Maybe not. It didn’t matter either way, really.

I already had my own lovers.

I had fallen from one (Prozac), to another (Lithium), to another (Celexa).

And now my latest lover was lying in the mud next to my embarrassment.

It was probably trying to escape me too. Like Carl.

The conversation with my assaulter fizzled as I became lost in thought again. He dismissed himself apologetically and I sat on the bench. I let him go without comment.

My concern was more about whether I should let the pill go as easily.

I searched my purse for any leftovers. Maybe some Trazadone? Some Lexapro? Only two bobby pins, lipstick I thought I had lost, and my cell phone, which I kept forgetting to buy more minutes for.

(….Which I was intentionally not buying minutes for so I would have an excuse for why, no, I didn’t know you wanted to get lunch! I would’ve loved to have gone! We’ll have to do it again sometime! Things like this overwhelm me.)

Every bumbling, tumbling encounter made my anxiety worse. And then I had to find a new lover. Each was a new accomplice for my mission against myself.

I had let the nearly-chiseled guy leave. I had considered kneeling in the mud and swallowing a pill that had likely now come into contact with the excrement of at least five species of animals.

I had let anxiety keep me from work, from friends, from family. I had lost sleep, lost weight, and lost my sense of empowerment.

I didn’t want to fall in the mud. I wanted to stand up.

I broke the heel off of my other shoe without any apologies to dear Aunt Patrizia.

I saw Mr. Full-Head-Of-Hair in line at the lunch counter across the street and headed to the deli.

I remembered something odd. When Zoloft expires, it starts to smell like lunchmeat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *