#8. take the pills, honey, take the pills

We walk through the forest at the pace of a snail who is trying his hardest to cross the road before the next car could hit him. But it still hits him in the end.

Say, I talk to the cat. I would look down at her, but with an unreasonable fear for her sarcastic attitude, I decide not to take the risk.

Say what.

Why do we have to cross the forest?

You will know when you get to the other side.

What other side?

Stop talking. What a shitload of annoyance.

Stop talking. You are always talking back.

And you are always trying to win. What is the prize? What do you get from winning this argument?

He says, then throws the flower vase on the floor. The loud bang is associated with all the tiny glass pieces. One of them lands right on my left foot and my blood shoots out like the water hose of a fountain. He stares at me with confusion and worries. I know I should be mad. I know I should blame him and put him through the pain that this tiny piece of glass is putting me through. But the devil takes me up on an unreasonable offer, and the moment he moves his right foot to walk towards me, I say:

Stay right where you are. Don’t move. Don’t even do anything.

I struggle to clean the glass disaster with my other foot.

It does look like a messy war. Some nasty invasion, is it not? This whole room and – 

This whole situation, he says. He curls into a ball of down blanket and pillows on our bed. 

Shh, darling, it doesn’t matter. Nothing ever matters. We can always get back to the beginning, can’t we.

But the vase will always be broken. Say, how can you mend broken glass and sadness?

He lifts his head up from the blanket-pillow fort and tortures me with his usual philosophical questions. I can’t answer most of them and I would just smile at the rest. But today is different. Every day is a different day when I live with him.

I can mend it alright. I will mend it for you.

Even climbing the mountain?


And crossing the river?


Going to war?

Yes, yes, yes. Whatever you want, my darling, as long as you take the pills.

Then I will take the pills. And I will see you on the other side of the war.

He finally blesses me with a sad smile. A slight curve appears on his face. His thin, soft lips slowly curl up to form a paradise of happiness and sunflower fields. It’s blinding. Everything about him is blinding.

Yes, take the pills. And I will see you on the other side of the war.

What are you thinking?

Huh? I am not thinking anything.

It’s impossible not to think anything. Even the dying thinks you know.

Say, what becomes of the dying?

Some of them become rotten corpses. Some of them hang around for a few years until they are ordained as saints. Others – very few and far in between – become Gods.

It’s like a war.

Living is a war. What makes you think dying is not?

The cat stops midway and looks at me. It’s weird, I feel like I should have remembered her. After all, who can forget such an ugly cat?

What did you bring it here for?

She’s not an ‘it.’ Her name is Becky. She will take care of you when I am not by your side.

I would prefer having you by my side.

But my darling, we will live and die in poverty if I am always by your side, I jokingly say.

But the joke doesn’t sit well with him. He is never good at taking up jokes and humor. Maybe I am on the wrong side again. Why am I always on the wrong side?

Then go, he gently says, his voice is as soft and sweet as the cotton candy I ate when I went to my first farmer’s market. The kind of sweetness that will turn into bitterness when you swallow it down your throat. The cat will protect me.

Protecting a person is a demanding task, you know, and I am only a cat, the cat grumbles in her usual annoying way.

I’m sorry, what?

Say, if someone plans to cut themselves or jump down a building, what can a cat do? It’s a one-sided relationship, you see. The human can throw us away but we cannot do that. Sometimes, the knife is too sharp and the building is too high. And a cat is too small for the void in one’s heart.

Am I finally on the right side though?

Confused by the cat’s rant of wisdom, I instinctively ask a question I don’t even understand myself. But the cat knows, as she always is. The white Misty Thingy turns to look at me again. A nostalgic feeling of sadness and gentle warmth fills my heart with each and every simple action this cloud of mist does. We stood still as if we are posing for a family photo. Except the silence of a family photo will always be a happier one. Then the cat fakes a cough to disperse the silence:

You are still not on the right side.

Where is the right side?

I don’t know, man, the cat yawns, only the living has the right to choose their right side.

Really, now.

Again, I couldn’t focus on the cat’s words. I am too enthralled in the white mist’s warmth and gentleness.

Who are you? I ask it while reaching out to catch the flimsy white smoke around it. I want to hold you in my arms. Oh God, please let me hold you in my arms.

The white Misty Thingy suddenly becomes denser and slowly takes a human’s shape. There’s neither a face nor a sharp feature. It is but a skeleton made of smoke. And right when I’m about to hold it, it sings.



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Author: Thanh Dinh

A writer at heart. A pessimist on the brain. I am always on the great journey of finding what it means to be living.

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