“Lunch Break” by Mary Kate Burke, NYC

Love and Heartbreak June 11, 2011 01:01


It always smelt like some kind of Greek diner cum protein shake joint. In that building on 72nd—off Broadway.

Something very Upper West Side. But then again, wasn’t my new extracurricular apropos to the hood? The contemporary equivalent of a 17th Century fashion for faint spells and smelling salts?

Was I rather Victorian or just sort of trite?

Stuck in a Woody Allen flick where somehow the semantic prostitution that was therapy would bring communion with my brethren. Would bring relief.

Diagnosis? Depression. Regression. Dismemberment accompanied by acute rememberment. Angina. Attack. Ache. Heart. Ache. Heartache. Memory. Eyeball ache. Vein throb.

Duct swell.

Some play so hard their fingers bleed. I played ‘til my eyes cried. Is there some redemption in bodily fluids? Some reconciliation?

I loved so vigorously, so furiously…and so…fleetingly… that I was crying the bile out of my tear ducts to the point of dry heaves. And it had gone so far that I was paying some frizzy haired Ms. Frizzle named Nancy. Nancy. To sit there in her sterile, snobby New York office and witness the whole mess.

Or rather, Cigna was paying her. Which means how good could she really be, really?

Those who know me are unsurprised that it took three sessions to glean any sense of the timber of her voice. After all, I walked into that mental massage parlor week after week: middle of the workday, Client Number 9 at the Mayflower. Mixing metaphors and acetaminophens my whole walk there.

The skin under my eyes: that tissue paper, vein-flaunting stuff, flaking away in the aftermath. Is it true that Preparation H would ease that swelling? Worth a try.

The dandelion of my mouth having changed from suns to moons months ago since…well, since winter fell.

Fell. Fall. Falling. Fallen. In. Love.

It’s excruciating that all the clichés are true.

My brain had been smelling lilacs and now my fingernails and my back hairs winced at the screeching sounds of daily minutia.

Heartbreak knows synesthesia.

Nancy speaks. Time is up.


I love him but I curse him for bringing me to this place. Chris Rock says if you ain’t contemplated murder, you ain’t been in love. What if he died? What if I were to kill him? Not if I killed him, but what if I….willed him… to death.

What would I wear to the service? How long is the train to Philly?

But far more sinister thoughts eschew the simultaneity of my inner monologues. (A sign of psycho pharmaceutical need as opposed to psychiatric? I may never know…) and somehow the unthought thought escapes my lips: Death, but self inflicted. Not comically bestowed onto him.

“”You know, Nancy, I’m not saying this because I’m serious or anything. I mean, I would never kill myself. I mean, come’on. But the pain is so sharp…and dull…I understand why people do it. I mean. I just want to feel anything but this.””

“”You know,”” Nancy says.

Conspiratorially? Maybe.

“”Some people who kill themselves don’t do so obviously. They just…passively linger in front of a car too long.””

It was like she was making a suggestion.

That was it.

I would have a new breakup to worry about. Maybe this one would be cleaner. Parleyed through my pimps at Cigna. I’d stop feeling like a John for a while. Morbid curiosity would taper if not taper off. And about a year later I’d be here with you fine people. If not fixed…mended…healed… then perhaps fashionably broken.

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