#FridayFlash: Waiting for Inspiration

The therapist's pen stopped, mid-sentence. She looked up from her pad, her face set in a well-practiced expression of calm concern mixed with caring support and professional interest. It was an expression she'd worked on in front of a mirror.

"You've mentioned thoughts of suicide before," she said, "but this is the first time I've heard you say that you've already written a note."

"No," the patient said, "I guess I haven't really talked about it."

"And what can you tell me about the note?"

"Just that it's not good enough. Like everything else in my life, it's terrible. It's probably the worst suicide note anybody ever wrote. It's an embarrassment, really."

"I see."

"Honestly, that's the only thing that's kept me from throwing myself off the roof of my apartment building. I'm still revising it, trying to get it to sound right. I can't bear the thought that I'll finally work up the courage to kill myself, only to leave behind a trite, stupid-sounding suicide note."

"What I'm hearing is that you aren't satisfied with the note you've written. Is that right?"

The patient sighed. "It's not that I'm not satisfied with it. It's that it sucks. I want to write something that will MOVE people, that will really encapsulate the pain and black emptiness that consumes me. I want them all to understand just what a bitter joke my life has become, and why the world would be a better place without me."

"This is something you want 'people' to understand? Who, specifically? Who do you want to communicate this to?"

"I don't know. Everybody. Nobody."

"Do you feel that you're going to attempt suicide soon? When you leave here today, what do you see yourself doing?"

"Soon? Not likely. I can't get the damned words right. I just don't know what to do, doctor."

The therapist set down the pen and pad, then rose to move to her desk. She picked up the phone and started dialing.

"Here's what we're going to do. I don't want you to go home. I'm going to admit you to St. Anthony's for a couple of days of observation. There are some tests I want to run before we take a fresh look at your medication schedule."

"Can I bring my note? Work on it while I'm in the hospital?"

"I'd like to see it, yes. We can go over it together." She turned and spoke quietly into the phone, better at keeping urgency out of her expression than she was at keeping it out of her voice.

The patient lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling.

"You know," he said to himself, barely above a whisper, "maybe a writing retreat IS just what I need."

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Help keep the words flowing.


  1. A writing retreat? I could LITERALLY hear the rimshot in my head when I read that! :D

  2. Glad you're writing flashes again :)

    1. Thanks, Icy. This might be a one-off, though. Still hard to tell.

  3. this was great Tony. part from the resonances with the act of writing, the suicide note like the lonely hearts as are the two most revealing summaries of a human being you can possibly conceive of.

    1. I can't imagine trying to cram that much emotion, of that hideous complexity, into any sort of letter.

  4. Great punchline! I'm glad I have this waiting room in the tire place all to myself, so nobody else saw me laughing.

  5. That last line got me to laugh out loud. Good build up, and excellent finish!

  6. What a 'shaggy dog story'! :) ROFLOL! (Good to see you writing again and hope that the flash is just an idea you had and not an idea you have, capeesh?)

  7. Huh! Never thought of one's inner critic saving one's life like that. Wonderful twisted idea, and then we get that last line. It's great to have you back, Tony!

  8. I've been gone so long I didn't realize that you had been, too. I'm glad you're back. I love your writing. This was perfect and perfect timing. I've said to the office manager, "this is why I don't own a gun" and she said, "Don't tell her that," pointing at the door. But I can totally relate to this. With all my journals, not one entry would be just right. Great job. I thought I needed a retreat but something saved me and I wrote my first #FF this week. Maybe my weekly goal will save me, or I'll write the perfect note. Great job. Looking forward to more. Don't make us wait a long time for more stories.

  9. LOL. Saved by the inner critic. And that last line is wonderful.

  10. Somehow this brought to mind the Charles Freck suicide in Scanner Darkly -- the act more important than the final effect. I hope the "writing retreat" works.


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