I went adventuring that day.
I packed a bag and drove myself to a mountain where I could mine for pretty rocks in a creek.
Even though my heart was completely broken and everyone was worried about me, I turned my phone off and left it in the car. I only wanted the mountain, the creek, the dirt under my fingernails, and the stones to keep me company.
It was a non-zero day of the highest order. I left my house, my town, my county. After creeking through the heat of the day, I found a roadside motel to clean up at. I ate a steak at the bar of a local restaurant, watching the people around me laugh and talk. My phone, with its rubber umbilicus, stayed in the car, tethered and waiting for me to decide when I would rejoin my life.
I sat at the bar, considering. Everyone seemed so alive and unaware that I was there and felt like dying. Two tears escaped my eyes. No one noticed. It had been a zero day after all. I hadn’t escaped anything more than my bedroom, because my thoughts were still with me. .
All day long, in the coldwater creek, under the Carolina sun, I’d sifted dirt and mud and ugly thoughts through the sieve of my mind. I’d turn the words in my head over and over again, like the stones tumbled in the rushing stream. I had failed. I was ashamed. I couldn’t possibly live through this kind of pain. After everything else I’d been through, it was abject cruelty that the universe wouldn’t let me die from this betrayal..
But, that isn’t the way it works, is it? I lived. (Actually, for a little while, I just existed. But eventually, I lived again.)
I went out to my car and turned my phone back on. I had a single text from my guardian angel.
“POL?”, she asked.
“Proof of Life.”