Things get better until they don’t

I am walking to the bookstore on campus when Chloé calls me. I hesitate, my thoughts are jumbled today. I am unsure if I can speak or hold a conversation. I want to hide in my mind. My tongue feels thick in my mouth, a side effect from the antidepressant, or so my psychologist insists. Give it time, she says. It’s only been a few days. But how much longer does it take for me to lose interest in everything. I used to talk a lot. I absentmindedly finger the sepia stain on my white shirt. Coffee mishap this morning. I decide to swipe right and answer.

“So what did she say?”

Her voice wafts through electric lines.

I pause. I know the reason why I am at the bookstore. I half heartedly tell myself it is because I want to look at pretty books, but then why am I at the stationery aisle, staring at the row of penknives. How sharp they look, and how shiny. I am a magpie.

“Yeah we talked about the psychiatric ward visit and my daddy issues. How I always respond to aggression with a need to please men sexually. You know how it is. Lots of circling and how do “we” feel and what are “we” going to do.”

I hear her chuckle and swear in french.

“Yes but how do you feel.”

“I don’t feel anything. Just that the furniture in my head has been rearranged. A terrible stillness. C’est pas terrible.”

“Ah. Je veux juste m’assurer que tu vas bien.” I am just checking on you, if you’re okay.

Yes. I nod. I forget she’s not in front of me, so I murmur something in return. I tell her I am looking at penknives.

She swears again. “This morning I was shaving and I stared at the razor for a Long time, I know how it feels. Don’t look at it, buy something else…” Her voice trails off, a little unsure.

“Alright then.”

I buy a Friedrich Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England for $5, it’s on sale.

$5 to save a life.