about the author

Jaclyn Grimm lives in Orlando, Florida, and is a rising senior at Lake Highland Prep. Her writing has appeared in the Adroit Journal and is forthcoming in CHEAP POP.

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One to Ten 

Jaclyn Grimm

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Wait in your psychiatrist’s powder blue waiting room for two hours. Politely ignore the thick pane of glass that separates the secretary from the psychotic. Pretend to look at a home and garden magazine from 2001 while eavesdropping on the women next to you and wondering what they are here for, as always, but you don’t ask. As always.

The nurse will emerge eventually from behind her glass protection and mispronounce your name. The nurse is the only person who smiles at you, so try to smile back. She will ask you if you’re getting taller or if she’s shrinking. Laugh, but don’t answer, and instead keep your eyes on the yellow linoleum.

The vitals room is smaller than the closet in your apartment, so breathe deeply. Twice. Shake your head when the nurse asks if you have high blood pressure. Don’t tell her that nurses make you nervous.

Your psychiatrist will ask you how you would rate your anxiety from a scale of one to ten. This question makes your anxiety go up to a 7.5, at least. You do not like ones and tens. Tell her this.

This is a Very Interesting Thing to Say, according to your psychiatrist. Sometimes she speaks in capital letters.

Correct yourself, or lie. Whichever keeps your psychiatrist from questioning your sanity too much. “Not the actual numbers. I don’t like the extremes.”

This is something your psychiatrist can deal with.

Tell her you don’t think your anxiety will ever be a one or a ten. She will ask what you think a ten is. Dead, probably, is what you think, but you won’t say that because you do not think ten is a possibility but you know death is.

Ask your psychiatrist if thinking about death counts as suicidal thoughts. She will ask you if you are having suicidal thoughts. Repeat your first question.

Later, she will ask you about your last panic attack. Consider making up a story. Don’t.

Tell her about meeting a friend from high school for coffee. Your friend is overweight and single, but don’t tell your psychiatrist that. Tell her you had started feeling anxious the morning of, but this is a lie. Don’t tell her you had felt the sting of panic for a week, since your friend called to make plans. Tell her everything felt okay until you realized your coffee was made with regular milk instead of soy. Explain that you are lactose intolerant, not trying to lose weight. You are both lactose intolerant and trying to lose weight.

Your psychiatrist will nod thoughtfully and write things down in your file. Try to pretend she thinks your feelings are reasonable. Fail miserably.

Your psychiatrist will up your dosage of Zoloft.

Your psychiatrist will tell you she thinks you need to see your therapist more often. She will tell you how to get help, but the words will start to blur together and you will only be able to nod because your tongue will feel like wool.

When you leave the psychiatrist’s office, you will walk toward your apartment. Your boyfriend will call you when you reach the corner of 5th and Broadway and tell you it’s not you, it’s him. Try to believe him. Feel guilty you dated a cliché of a man. Wonder if women are any better.

You will walk in front of a taxi and stand completely still. It will hit you and you will feel everything and then nothing, but you are not dead because that would be too easy.

Ask your parents if they can pay for the hospital bills, but they will insist on suing the cab driver. Win in court. Wish they’d just paid for the bills themselves.

When you can finally walk again, you will walk until you can barely breathe and your leg is on fire. Don’t stop walking. Enter a marathon; come in 176th place.

Ask your boss for a raise. He will not give you one, but will tell you to keep up the good work. Walk away and keep walking until your landlord threatens to kick you out. Consider becoming homeless. Realize New York is too cold. You will ask your boss for your job back, and he will give it to you. Pretend not to care that you will be working for half your old salary.

Have an affair with Timothy from accounting. Don’t ask him why the fuck anyone would want to be an accountant; your job is just as boring. Ignore your mother’s advice and have sex with him after one date. Sleep with him everywhere you can: your apartment, the office bathroom, an expensive hotel room with a bottle of champagne. Wonder how much accounting pays. You will ask him and wish you were an accountant.

Your affair will end the night you have sex at his apartment for the first time. His wife will come home early from her “girls’ weekend” and find you and Timothy slick and sweaty on the kitchen floor. Know you should run as soon as you see her overly muscular calves. She is not the type of person to ever finish 176th.

Later, weeks or months or years later, you will remember that Timothy’s wife was much prettier than you and you will wonder why he had an affair. Call your niece and ask how to stalk someone on the Internet. You will be scared at how easy it is. When you find out that the other woman in Timothy’s apartment was not his wife, you will think the world finally makes sense. Timothy’s wife has a bleached mustache and wears cardigans and would never run a marathon and you will realize you were just one of the girls all along. Wish you still belonged to something.

Find love. Your niece will graduate college and move to the city. You will do jello shots at a party with a twenty-four-year-old somebody and you will decide he is everything you ever wanted. Lose love. You will find him with his hand up the skirt of a seventeen-year-old nobody and realize you are thirty-three and completely alone. Adopt a cat.

Wonder if thirty-three is too old to become a lesbian. Wonder if women find you pretty. Wonder if you should fly home for Christmas with your parents or use the money for cat food and porn. Wonder how you managed to go from “curvy” to “approaching fat” so quickly. Wonder why you do not like ones and tens and if thinking about death makes you suicidal and why you thought Gloria Steinem was a good name for your cat and when or if you will ever start a day without wanting it to end.

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