Tell me there’s something wrong with all of us, and that there’s no good way to fix it. Doctors tell us to take pills whose side effects will cure our problems. Tell me I’m not the only one who reads warning labels, who is swayed by the power of suggestion and mass hysteria. Tell me there is no solution, so the only thing to do is take the next best thing.

Suppose I told you that what you’re doing isn’t enough, that what you’re doing will never be enough. Now, suppose I told you I couldn’t walk for days, and that it made me wish I could just walk across the house. But across the house became around the block, became down the street, became all the way to the Ross Island Bridge and back, and then all I could think was all the walking in the world will never give me back my runner’s legs.

Aren’t you tired? I want to settle every restless thought in your heart. We could sleep. We could settle on a bed of down, and I would pretend I wasn’t allergic to feathers so we could put to rest our worries. I want to rest, and also, to never rest again.

I think, I have become too good at killing flies in his absence. I think, I have seen signs before. I think, It could be telling that whenever I spell “commitment,” I always want to add another “t.”

Writers will tell you that writing is always the answer. Sick, sad, jobless, hopeless, elated, euphoric, catatonic, over or underwhelmed by the state of your existence—write. Write, and the stars will align, and even if they don’t, you’ll at least feel like you accomplished something. And if you didn’t, well, every wrong word is one word closer to the right one.

Right?

But writing is not a panacea. It took me years to learn this.

I used to say, Move over. I got this. Now I say, I’m not sure. I don’t know if I can. I’d like to get back to the former. You say, Isn’t that a bit presumptuous? But you were the one who taught me to be presumptuous. It’s too late now, darling, for you to make that assessment.

How did we come to believe that birth should be easy? What evidence exists to support this? And when did we start thinking our choices should be laid out before us like cupcakes on display at a patisserie? Nothing in our universe would lead us to these conclusions, and yet, we cling to them. Every decision I’ve ever made has only come through my agony. The choices I have are the ones I must conceive of myself.

I told her, “I feel like I’m being forced to play cards without seeing the whole deck.” She nodded. I said, “What do I do?” She said, “Play the game anyway.”

What I need to know is notdid you mean it when you said that I was beautiful? Or, did you mean it when you said that I was fascinating? Not even, did you mean it when you said that you loved me? But, did you mean it when you said that I was brilliant?