Sandy’s therapist is talking about potential jobs. Sandy isn't a complete mope. There are things that interest her.
Only the thought of being around other people right now makes Sandy's stomach want to invert. She's half convinced herself that she hates everybody. That's a lie though. Sandy is afraid of people. She's afraid and would rather pretend that she's hateful instead.
Sandy is also afraid to start trying again. She thinks it’s better to do nothing. She’s failed enough already.
Sandy dedicated her life to her education. Even when she had other interests, she told herself to wait. She told herself there would be time for her later. And her education has gotten her exactly nowhere. All those hours at that dining room table don’t matter. Sandy doesn’t even want to think about it. She tried so hard and still managed to get it wrong.
And now it feels like the whole world is laughing. Sandy thinks that maybe they were laughing this whole time.
So Sandy has declined every job that her therapist has suggested. And honestly, Sandy is annoyed. Her therapist is making assumptions and poor ones at that.
Her therapist had given her a two paged list of activities the week before. She instructed Sandy to circle all the ones that make her happy.
Sandy circled hiking. Today her therapist suggested getting a job as a nature guide. Sandy hikes to get away from people, not invite them along.
Her therapist tries a different approach. She asks what job Sandy would like to be doing.
Even still, Sandy doesn't really want to say. She's done this little therapy exercise before, but always safely tucked away in her own mind.
Sandy makes herself say it anyway.
Sandy wants to be shipped off to Africa or some other hot desolate place and dig holes. She wants someone to put a shovel in her hands and leave her there. The details don't matter. The holes are what matter. Sandy wants to put in a hard day’s work and then be able to look upon her progress. She wants her body to ache with the effort that she has put in. Digging would be hard work, but it would be honest hard work.
This is not a metaphor.
Her therapist misses the point when she suggests teaching as a possible career.
Sandy gets so drunk that she knocks herself out on her bathroom sink. She wakes up on the floor then draws herself a bath and promptly falls asleep in it. Her brother is right there when she steps out of the bathroom, and he asks her what happened to her face. Sandy shrugs and goes to bed.
The first thing Sandy does when she wakes up is look in her bedroom mirror.
Sandy was so drunk last night that she broke her own nose. She can already see the swelling setting in, and the cut above her brow bone somehow hurts worse than the break.
Sandy thinks about ways to hide this and dismisses them in seconds. She's going to do what she always does. Sandy is going to pretend that she doesn't care. She will show everyone, and they will all laugh. This is exactly what will happen, but first she has to show her mother.
This is how Sandy does it.
Her mother is in the kitchen when Sandy leaves her room. Sandy covers her face like she's about to play peek-a-boo with a small child, and she tells her mother that she is fine. Then Sandy says that she's going to show her mother something funny and reveals her face.
Her mother responds with an oh and a my and a god. Then she asks what happened, so Sandy tells her everything she can remember. Which isn't really much of anything.
Sandy's brother is able to add to some of the story. He says that Sandy locked herself in the bathroom for three hours. He had banged on the door so loud that it shook the house. Their mother can attest to that because it woke her up. It's a good thing she didn't know the context to that though. Sandy's already come to terms that this has happened, but she would always feel terrible if her mother had found her that way.
It's a pretty shitty day to live through. Her mother wants to take her to the emergency room. She thinks that Sandy has a concussion. Sandy knows that she has a concussion. She also knows that there isn't much to be done. If Sandy was going to die, she would have died on the bathroom floor. She doesn't tell her mother this. All she says is that she isn't going to pay a doctor to set her nose and prescribe her pain medication. She never liked her nose anyway and morbidly thinks that she's finally gotten the better of it.
Sandy spends the day trying to lie perfectly still with her eyes closed. The nausea is worse than any of the pain. She can't watch tv or read a book without feeling sick. Her mother goes to the store and buys her Pepto-Bismol tablets. Sandy takes them, and they don't help at all.
Sandy loves her mother, but her mother's pretty crazy. Sandy could tell her that she was a psychotic serial killer, and her mom would just smile and ask her what she would like for dinner.
She spends the day on the couch listening to the tv shows that her brother is watching. One of their friends happen to come by, and he is the first to see Sandy's face. He sends a text to some of their other friends, and two more come by to see too. Everyone is suitably surprised, and Sandy makes sure that everyone laughs.
The fifth day is the worst in terms of bruising. Sandy has two spectacular black eyes to go with a swollen deviated nose. At first Sandy can't move her nose at all without electric pain sizzling across her cheekbones.
Later, Sandy wiggles the bridge of her nose with her hand, and it makes an audible crunching noise and numbs her face. Everything pretty much goes away by two weeks though.
The only thing that lingers is a pearl sized bump hidden by Sandy's eyebrow. It's painful to the touch and stays exactly like that for three long months. Sandy most definitely does not tell anyone.
Sandy is going to see her therapist for the first time since she broke her nose. It so happens that her therapist was out of town when Sandy fell. Sandy thinks this is terribly convenient, but she's grateful all the same.
Sandy talks to her therapist about falling in the bathroom. She mentions how tv shows lie because whenever someone gets hit in the face, they wear sunglasses to hide it. Sunglasses may as well have been medieval torture devices for the last two weeks.
Sandy could barely wash her face, let alone have sunglasses perched on her nose. Sandy didn't wear makeup for two weeks either. It wasn't that she couldn't put it on. She just didn't think she had the stomach to scrub it off.
She tells all of this to her therapist, and Sandy can tell right away that her therapist thinks she is exaggerating. Sandy is wearing makeup, and there isn't any bruising to be seen. Sandy's therapist certainly believes that Sandy didn't break her nose, and Sandy doesn't think she should have to prove it by showing her pictures.
This doesn't stop Sandy from being honest though. She figures it would be a waste of time to start lying to her therapist now. So Sandy tells her about how happy she's been since it happened. The pain distracted her mind, and it was quiet for a while.
Sandy thinks she finally understands why people hurt themselves. Before she never saw the appeal and now she does. Pain is a small price to pay for a little quiet in her head. She knows she'll have to be careful now. She's not afraid that she's going to start cutting herself. She is afraid that she might start putting herself in dangerous situations. That is more like something Sandy is capable of.
Sandy misses the quiet. Her mind is harder to bear now that she's had a taste of freedom. Her cousin, who is more like her sister, says that she has a lot of voices in her own head. Sandy only has two. She has her own voice. It clamors and ricochets around until it sounds more like a thunderstorm in her head. She also has her mother's voice, and Sandy doesn't like this one at all. Sandy can always hear it clearly over the mess, and Sandy's mother tells her to be careful in that cautioning voice from childhood.
Sandy will be walking down the street and she'll hear her mother's voice telling her to check over her shoulder and make sure she isn't being followed. Her mother's voice advises against wearing flip flops because they would make it harder to run away from someone. It is her mother's voice that reminds Sandy to be afraid of everything.
So when her therapist asks if she's sorry she did it, Sandy has to say no. The pain was worth the silence. Sandy goes home and thinks about how much the silence is worth. She wonders how much she would be willing to pay for it.