Jianna Heuer | Happy Pills

“I’m sorry you have to deal with me. I know I’ve woken up the past few days feeling like a Melville character, grim around the mouth and ready to knock the hats off anyone who crosses my path.” I say.

“It’s okay; I understand. When you feel that way, you need to take one of your pills,” Nate says.

They arrived last Christmas: a plastic bottle shaped like an old apothecary’s finest tincture filled with fluorescent-colored capsules. Jane sent them, which was a nice thought. They are pretty, but they won’t fix this dejection and apathy so pervasive it feels like a wet wool cloak affixed to my skin.

“Nothing fixes depression. You know that. She spent a lot of time making them for you; it’s worth a try.” He says.

Indeed, she did. Jane pulled the one hundred pills apart one by one. She laid them on the warped wooden table she used to write her missives and roll her joints, carefully keeping each pair together. Then she took the tiny identical pieces of paper she had cut from her daughter’s construction paper, all different colors to compliment the outside color of the pill. She wrote one hundred things she thought would help in these moments on each one-inch by one-centimeter piece. She rolled the tiny scrolls, put a shiny gold ring around them, and put them back inside their small vessel.

“I’ve seen you when you read them curled up in the arm of the blue velvet couch with your worn gray throw wrapped under your feet. A smile is worth something, you know.” Nate says.

“I know,” I say.

He isn’t wrong. I do feel something more than the dull ache of nothingness that permeates my existence these days when I take the slivers of paper out and see things written on them like “sending a smile your way. You are the best listener, even when it doesn’t feel like it. It’s worth it to keep going. I love you.”

I shuffle over to the pills and pour one in my hand. I never noticed they have little faces; they are thankfully not all smiling; that would be too much to bear.

“Today may be hard, but know I’m thinking of you.” I feel my eyes well; my lips turn up slightly. I think of my friend with the beautiful penmanship who took the time to write me this note, who also has pain and whose heart is sometimes heavy. I take a deep breath and slowly let it out. I do not crawl back into bed; instead, I brew a cup of coffee and get ready for my day.

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