Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?
I look around my bare apartment. My lease is up at noon and it is now fifteen minutes before that mark. I feel my heart throbbing. I did not know where to go; I had nowhere to go.
The plan was to move to Pflugerville and be closer to my boyfriend, but said boyfriend is now ex-boyfriend. I no longer have a desire to be closer to him. Though I have friends and family living in the town, it wasn’t enough for me to continue on with the plan minus the boyfriend.
It was a bad break-up; a really, really bad break-up. Not a, “I hate you and never want to see you again,” kind of bad break-up. It was more of a, “If I ever see your face again, I will rip it off and feed it to the dogs,” kind of break-up. I never want to see him again and I can’t risk the chance of running into him there. I can’t go there, not anymore.
I feel like I’ve been pushed off a cliff into a strategically placed grave. Not into an ocean or endless pit, but a grave that was carefully dug out specifically for me. Rocks and sand thrown on top of my lifeless body until darkness becomes my only friend. I feel lost, cold, and fooled. My heart throbs.
I was caught off guard. We were happy one day and then not the next. His lies unfolded one-by-one unbeknownst to him. Friends, family, and mutual acquaintances came to me one-by-one revealing one lie or concern after another. They saw the plight I would be entering and found it difficult to hold their breath any longer. I was amazed by all of his lies and all the concerns. How was I so blind?
At first, I didn’t want to believe it. I scattered through my mind to fit the pieces of our memories together, but there were too many holes — too many holes to disprove their information. I didn’t know why he was unreachable for long periods of time. I didn’t know why I hadn’t met any of his friends. I didn’t know why he would never tell me where he worked or where he lived. I didn’t know why my friends and family couldn’t confirm the existence of any of the people he mentioned at supposedly mutual hang out spots in his town. I didn’t know any of it.
I feel light headed and my legs give out from under me. I collapse to the ground and quietly sob in my hands.
“Hey, you ok?” Emily kneels down next to me and put her hand on my back. “I put the last box in your car. You’re all set.”
I say nothing.
“Come on, let’s go,” she says softly.
“Where? I have nowhere to go.” I’m feeling helpless. I feel my life is spiraling out of control and I have nothing to grab onto. Plans have been set in Pflugerville but I can’t go there anymore. Everything has been cancelled here. I can try and restart here, but there is no place I can afford here without a job. There is no place here to stay temporarily until I can get back up on my own two feet. I realize I have hit rock bottom as if the aforementioned grave wasn’t warning enough. I had not prepared for this.
I know Emily is feeling anxious. She has somewhere to go. Emily is on her way out of town for school which starts on Monday. She needs to get going. She only stopped by to help me pack because she knew I would a hot mess.
“You’re going to San Antonio, right?” I look up at her, face red and eyes still wet.
“Yea, it’s quite a drive from here.”
“Can I go with you? Can I follow you there? I can’t stay here and I can’t go to Pflugerville, but San Antonio… I don’t know anyone there. I’ve never been there. It will be the perfect place,” I pause trying to find the right word, “to escape to. It’ll be a perfect place for me to hideout at until I figure out how I want to continue on from here, the perfect place for a fresh start.”
Emily and I are close friends, but I know that my question, my request is still a little awkward. It is a selfish request and I know that it will put her on the spot. If she says, “No,” she would feel like a terrible friend. If she says, “Yes,” she might regret temporarily living with me. However, I am desperate. I know it and I know she knows it.
“Well,” she pauses. She seems to calculate something in her head and then continues, “I don’t see why not. You can stay with me for a little while. There should be enough room for us at my place, albeit a little tight if you don’t mind that.”
“Not at all! You won’t hear any complaints coming from me,” I am thankful, truly thankful. I cheer up because I have some place to go to now.
As the cliché goes, “Once you’ve hit rock bottom, there is nowhere else to go but up.” This chapter with the lying boyfriend will end and a new chapter will begin in San Antonio.
We walk out of the empty apartment and I lock it behind us.
* * * * * * * * * *
I had difficulties writing this piece because I wasn’t sure how much of the truth I wanted to share. I felt the truth was complicated and boring to write. It kind of gave me a headache trying to figure out how to sort and structure the messy story. The actual tale would require too much explaining and back story to get the reader up to speed. The events occurred in the order they were presented, the emotions are real, but huge chunks of the details have been purposely left out. The point of the piece was to express the emotions of helplessness. I needed to convey helplessness quickly and get to how the protagonist handled the situation — the “what did you do about it?” portion of the prompt. I changed the names of the towns and cities because it made the story way too personal for me and I didn’t like it.