The Most Normal Thing
Layla sat in the coffee shop, trying to focus on her copy of War and Peace. Surely, by reading this classic work of literature, she seemed like an intellectual, perhaps even classy. Her decorative scarf was tied around her neck and she believed that this, too, made her mysterious, as if she could be both elusive and obviously intriguing.
Her cardigan hid the scars running down her arms.
She is waiting for a text from two guys she probably won't hear from today. That was it, and perhaps what her life stood for at the point: waiting for the little screen to light up with a revelation, I'm worthwhile after all.
In the psychiatric facility she has now frequented five times, she has struggled with the concept that she is a worthwhile person. Her romantic struggles were often the root of her spirals down to rock bottom. She did things to herself she wasn't proud of, but then again, who would ever know?
One of the men finally texted her, her little screen lighting up and her manic fingers rushing to open her phone. She had attempted to make New Years plans with him. He was texting to turn her down, two days after she sent the text. She later learned that he was two-timing her, and had plans with someone else. But in that moment, it almost felt okay.
Wasn't she doing the same thing, anyway?
Okay, she thought. That's okay. I have the second guy.
But the second guy also turned her down. He asked if they could just be friends.
Of course I care about you, he texted. But it's obvious you feel very strongly about me and I'm not able to return those feelings, at least at this point in my life.
But, Layla thought, he would never actually return those feelings. She had done this before. It was always the same.
She thought of her times in the psychiatric facility, and her thoughts of being alone forever. No one, she felt - now with certainty - would ever love her back. It was her fate. She thinks briefly of going home and tying her decorative scarf around her neck, pushing a chair out from under her.
Now, not only did she not have New Years plans, she had no one else to text.
She thought of her old friend, the one who most likely took too many pills and was no longer on earth, and how this had happened to her, too. She thought briefly of her once saying to her, after a man had dumped her: I should have known it would always be just me and my dog.
Layla wonders if she will ever find someone to marry. Her little sister had just gotten engaged and she had nothing but rage inside of her. She was thirty. She was too old for this game, too old for this kind of rejection.
She would walk out of the coffee shop and lock eyes with a handsome man. He would look away immediately.
Layla thought: I am not pretty to look at.
It was this thought (perhaps self-pity) that led her to spiral. She looked at women who were pretty, and therefore married, the ring perched on their finger - not in victory, but in an average way. A way that was normal, something that had happened to them, like brushing their teeth.
She thought about how women who were in committed romanic relationships carried on with this, their normality. She thought about how they raised families with loving partners. Again, it was so normal to have this. It drove her to tears each time she thought about it.
It made her blood boil.
Layla leaves the cafe and takes off her scarf, the one to make her a pretty girl. She decides that not only will she never find love, she will never get married, and have the most basic human life in existence. Maybe she needs a chair.
She is alone.