Friday morning when she got up, Karen stubbed her big toe on the bed. With a “Darn!” she made a wish like she always did when she stubbed a toe. May this be the greatest day ever!
The morning was going smoothly. Working in the real estate department at the corporate offices of Ricky’s “American Kitchen,” the chain of diners with lackluster food and formica ambience, was usually a breeze. Midmorning, however, her boss called her into his office and told her that her job was being cut to 60% time thanks to budgeting concepts of the new CFO. Karen’s face started to crumple. She definitely wouldn’t be able to afford her apartment. Then she remembered that Emily in purchasing was looking for a roommate. She liked Emily. Karen would work less, but maybe she would go back to school and take marketing or something. Plus Chad had a good job at All State. Things actually looked encouraging when she thought about it.
By lunch time she was buoyant and eager to meet Chad at Ricky’s location #0001 next door. So much to tell him! And he had told Karen the other day that her ring would be ready by today! She watched him park and saunter in. “Guess what? My job has been cut to 60%. I’ll have lots of time to plan the wedding, take some classes, maybe move in with Emily until we’re married next year! Great, huh, Sweetie?!” Karen was flushed with glee.
Chad’s face looked not like it was going to crumple, but more like it was going to melt: eyes, mouth, cheeks sagged. “Well, Karen, I’m sorry about your job, but going back to school sounds good. And, well, I’m sorry for sort of everything. I don’t have the ring. It’s not being sized. I just don’t feel it’s our time. I love you so much, baby, but maybe it’s just too soon or something. I’ll call you next week. Really.”
Karen picked the croutons one by one off her salad with her fingers and dipped them in the simulated bleu cheese dressing on the side after Chad kissed her forehead and shot out the door. She ate all the tiny, greasy crusty chunks, and the two watery carrot strips before sliding out of the booth and wandering in a haze back to her desk.
She decided to see Emily on her break this afternoon. She would also really work on getting Chad out of her mind. It was probably for the best, right? It was better to know now. It had never been perfect; she had been settling. She wouldn’t do that again! Fresh start! Clean slate! She dabbed at her eyes and made it through the long afternoon alternately dazed and intensely focused. At last it was five.
At eight p.m. in her bathroom she looked at her Ambien supply (leftover from that bad period when she lost both Rudy, her chiweenie, and her job at the dry cleaners). Karen’s earlier bravery and hope had dissolved with the sunset. She googled “suicide and Ambien” and what quantity of which other sleeping drugs did one need, but there really wasn’t any useful info. Barbiturates had once been great for this sort of thing, but now they were hard to come by. Rats! A whole lot of suicide hotlines and helplines popped up, which only irked her.
She had read in a novel about a remorseful character who took just one or two pills at a time over a several hours, interspersed with booze. Apparently if you just downed a handful and chugged, you’d just barf it all up and that would not be pleasant as well as counterproductive. She had eighteen Ambien and a half a fifth (a tenth?) of vodka, although somehow whiskey sounded more serious, but she didn’t have any.
Pouring a tumbler of vodka, Karen recalled the murder/suicide last year in that ritzy neighborhood when a wife had stabbed her annoying husband and then offed herself with just a few pills and booze by putting her head in a plastic bag once she felt sufficiently dopey. Then you just go to sleep and voila! Wake up dead. People are so ingenious, thought Karen.
There was trouble finding a large enough bag for her head. Too many tiny bags, cute totes, and bags with holes. Then she remembered the large bag her mattress had come in which she had neatly folded and saved for moving. It was in the closet under shoe boxes to keep it flat. Fancy bridesmaid shoes she’d worn only once mostly: pale green pumps, lavender sandals, bright yellow stilettos. All those clothes for other people’s weddings! Ha! She put on the sleeveless yellow linen A-line with the lacy hem and those yellow heels that were impossible to walk in, but hey! she wasn’t going anywhere! She would depart with elegance like Meryl Streep or Helen Mirren.
Popping her first two pills Karen felt full of resolve and confidence. Her boring life with that turned-out-to-be-a-big-fat jerk Chad and her dwindling go-no-where career, were about to fade way in a lovely snooze.
She took a big gulp of vodka and decided to do the works: hair, make-up, jewelry. And while she stood there at the mirror doing her mascara (dark, smokey eyes), sipping the vodka (which she wished had been in the freezer), her eye fell on the scale by the bathtub. She’d hardly eaten all day. She felt light and now rather giddy. What did it matter really, but there she was, stupidly curious. People joked about lovely corpses, didn’t they? She could be stylish and maybe slim too!
Down over three pounds! Karen is down without trying, without a regimen, without even one stern talking to herself! She is three whole pounds lighter than Monday. She has also lost 187 pounds of Chad! She’s got forty percent more time for herself! Plus, she is more relaxed at this moment than she has ever been in her entire life.
She is very, very mellow indeed. Karen shuffles into the bedroom, flops on her bed with full dead weight, and has the very best night’s sleep of her life. She wakes up feeling wonderful at noon on Saturday to the very best day of her life ever!