She spent the year devising solutions.
At night, she’d list ingredients in a notebook. Shape out ratios and new blends.
A walk as dawn breaks, a smoothie for breakfast, a yoga class at noon, a podcast as her head hits the pillow.
She knew the perfect combination would come, and then, she’d be fine. Remedied. She’d make her bed and lie in it. Build herself a ‘positivity palace’, carve her name into the doorframe, then everything bad would melt away. Manifest, and it comes, right?
But it failed. And when it did, she blamed anything. The stars, the odds, the underwear she chose to wear that day. Perhaps, the preparation was flawed. So she’d reshuffle the order. Maybe red wasn’t her lucky colour. Maybe yoga should only be from 3 p.m. Because an almond latte at the right time of day should make the world shift.
By March, she knew better. So she started leaning on liquids. Ones that stained and smoked. She flirted with new vices, and they readily responded. They just worked. They soothed, numbed and felt good. They always felt good.
She only wished they weren’t quite so charming, so warm, so constant. Because in the end, melancholy never left her. Not really. Her new friends were no problem solvers either, it seemed.
As June phased by, she lost her grip a little. The same melodies of last year caught on repeat and her lens had greyed. A black puddle appeared at the doorstep. Most days she made the fairy step over, but sometimes she’d blunder. A toe would graze the murky surface, or her dress dipped into the blackness.
The result was horror. In seconds, her body stiffened, and she counted the seconds before icy hands seized her by the ankles and dragged her in.
When she returned to the surface, choking on mud, she would grab her robe and go back to the kitchen. A clink, a sip, a smoke. Then, silence. Glorious stillness. Until it unnerved her. Then she’d turn mechanic. Arms moving before neurons; she’d line-up her vices and repeat.
And so days ended earlier. Often before her toes hit the floorboards.
But, even a homebody grows tired of home. Her mind memorialised the palace she left her spirit in. In a patchwork of dreams, she remembered podcasts and strawberry smoothies. Day trips with old friends. Rosé and giggles. Her palace appeared hyperbolic and beautified. Dipped in glitter and seashells. Yet, it seemed better. Better than ice, mud and scraped knees.
She tried the doorbell once more, just for kicks, but it rang through. Turns out, a palace is no place to shelter in. Truth was, within those walls, life was sugar-coated and shaken to fizz, and the bubbles made her nauseous.
So she grabbed her notebook. On her bed, she mapped out a tonic stronger than steel. A new potion to transport her. Even then she shrunk away.
No tonic would quell this. She needed grit, and earth and soil. Something real and incalculable. Greater than numbers and Gatsby. More solid than liquid. She needed disappointment and wonder; something fuller than an almond latte.