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1 story

by Lucy Zhang

Lucy Zhang is a writer masquerading around as a software engineer. She watches anime and sleeps in on weekends like a normal human being. Her work has appeared in Maudlin House, Columbia Review, Jellyfish Review, trampset, Barren Magazine, and elsewhere. She can be found at or on Twitter @Dango_Ramen.


          The exit is to my right. I see the word “出口” lit in electric green above the doors, right behind a security camera, which is behind a sign pointing to Ward 2. I think I’m already in Ward 2 though. The seats are plastic turquoise and rust covers the circumference of metal bolts attaching the chairs to a metal rod that seems like it’s melted into the floor. I sit across from a white wall adorned by a singular more-blue-than-green horizontal stripe. The stripe (rather than the sign labeling a room behind closed doors as an “EEG room”) makes me feel like this place is a hospital, otherwise I might mistake this place as a crazy person building—the kind of place I might’ve been sent to had I not been scared out of my favorite fuzzy socks when my parents threatened me with the dollar cost of getting inpatient “treatment”.

          In any case, I’m sitting here doing nothing much, legs crossed, the edge of my boot chafing against my other leg’s calf. Everyone else is upstairs on the third floor, gifting macaroons and books and a bouquet of pink and white flowers to their friend hospitalized for committing suicide. Of course I didn’t join them. If I were hospitalized for attempting suicide, I wouldn’t want to meet a random friend of a friend and I certainly wouldn’t want to meet me. But I do wonder what kind of thing someone who breathes and eats and tests the sports mode on a car at every chance talks about with someone who wanted and maybe still wants to die. Small talk? The entire roast pig cooked over a bonfire in a friend of a sister’s backyard during Memorial Day? The oranges and clementines for which we had to roam the entire city to find a grocery store that sold fresh fruit just to bring something healthy to accompany the macaroons?

          I don’t like small talk and I don’t think I’d want to see anyone for a long long time if I had just tried to kill myself. But that’s probably not healthy–leaving yourself with your own thoughts in a tiny room with a bed and a window view of a parked Audi with pink tires. I guess small talk is ok sometimes. When you engage enough, laugh enough, all the talk about bad restaurant experiences and popping balloons with toothpicks and the bouquet of flowers that had to be taken apart because rope isn’t allowed into the ward carry you through another day.

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