Short Story: Attempts

Gabriela Ruíz-Leonard, BFR Staff

A pop, a rattle and a shake.

I hear the all too familiar sounds.

Pop, rattle and shake

She’s attempting it again.

Pop, rattle and shake.

Another bottle.

Week after week it is the same routine: break-up, get back together and break-up again.

I run to the usual location, the bedroom closet, hoping it’s not too late. The pills are neatly separated into five groups of five on the floor, yet to be consumed. Kneeling down beside her, I begin to cry, begging for her to snap out of it and break the cycle.

When she lifts up her head, all I see is a broken woman. A woman who has been verbally and physically abused by a man she gave everything to. I know the emotions I should be feeling—despair, pity, desperation—but instead I just don’t get it; how can you let someone ruin you?

Last week she tried cutting herself while she was alone, the week before she tried chugging a bottle of wine with a Tylenol cocktail. I share a room with her and the constant fear of another weekly attempt keeps me from sleep’s embrace. I don’t mean to sound bitter, but when suicide attempts become part of a routine you begin to feel numb.

Again, I know how I should be feeling, but all I feel now is anger. Why does my childhood have to be ruined by your mistakes? Selfish mentality, I know, but I’m not the only selfish person here.

Her daily wails and nightly muffled sobs no longer fill me with dread, instead I can rest a little easier as it reminds me she is still alive. I get a weird satisfaction from the angry voicemails she leaves him, because that means he’s not on the other line encouraging her to end it all; she is fighting back.

I didn’t understand desperation at the time; I remember looking up what manic depression was when she took me to the hospital with her. I was confused by the definition and all its big and scary words in the encyclopedia of psychology. I didn’t understand, but I was told the people in white coats did and that I should trust them.

A quick diagnosis, a new prescription and a fresh bottle of pills.

Pop, rattle and shake.

I didn’t understand why these pills would help but the others would harm her.

Pop, rattle and shake.

It seemed to work though, and a new routine was established.

Pop, rattle and shake.

One pill a day until it all went away.


After she was buried, we discovered that the trusty people in white coats misdiagnosed her and the wrong pills were prescribed, pushing my sister over the edge.

After she was buried we moved away, trying to hide from my sister’s ghost. She still haunts us in the silence; her wails and sobs may have kept me up, but at least they reminded me she was there.

My room is silent now. I hate the silence.

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