Interlude by Katie Ann Nguyen *Trigger Warning


X is on the bathroom floor. An empty bottle of pills lies next to them. Their arms are draped over the toilet bowl, their face contorted in a look of both exhaustion and agony. They wait for a moment longer, the pain beginning to settle in until they can barely breathe. 


It hurts so much. 

What went wrong? 

With shaky breaths, they reach for their phone, the pain washing over them like waves, crashing and receding all at once. Their hands tremble from the rejection of their body. They think of who to tell, who to call, who to text; they try to think of someone they can trust. 

Their body trembles and a wave of nausea rolls over them as they lean into the toilet bowl. Air falls from their trembling lips, and the sensation of puking seizes them as they try to force the pills out of their system. Saliva drips from their lips and staring at the empty toilet bowl, they know it’s too late. 

X reaches for their phone, scrolling to one of the contacts of their close friends. 


I overdosed. 

They set their phone down and rest their head on the toilet bowl again. They feel the slow rise and fall of their chest, trying to focus on their breathing. Next to them, their phone buzzes, lighting up with unread messages and missed calls. The world begins to go dark as the pain finally crashes down on them in its final wave, submerging them into a sea of numbness. 


The room is bright with the white lights above. X is wearing a hospital gown with a cup of water in their hands. The sterile scent of the hospital floats through the hallways, finding its way into the small room. Across from X is the doctor, reading through paperwork. Suddenly, the doctor turns to look at them, a soft expression resting on their face as they take a seat closer to them. 


How are you feeling? 


X shrugs and takes a sip from their cup of water. The doctor pauses before looking back at the paperwork in their hands. 


X, in order for us to help you, can you tell me why you did it? 

Did you feel like it was the only option you had? 

There is a pause and X struggles with what to say. A million things fly through their mind, but of all of them, there is not a single reason as to why they did it. They were just tired. 

I don’t know. 

I just— 

The words fall flat on X’s tongue and they look into the still cup in their hands. The silence hangs in the room, and X inhales slowly. The pain has become a numb ringing in them, and with time, they have adjusted to the sharp aching in their body. 


We’ll be putting you in one of our psychiatric hospitals for the next three days. That means no phone or contact with anyone for a little while. 

We just want to keep you safe. 


The window is foggy from the cold of the night, condensation blurring the view of the road outside. X stares at the night sky peeking from behind the fog. A blank face, they get up and wipe the window. Water streaks across it and the cold seeps into their sleeve. Standing there looking at the headlights of cars passing by, an image plays in their mind. 



X is in the car with their mom. Their mom is yelling at them while the pain from the pills tears them apart. Drifting in and out of consciousness, they catch parts of their mom’s screams. 


How can you be so stupid? 

You’re such a coward for trying to kill yourself. 


You don’t deserve to die. 

Their mom’s eyes are filled with anger, but more than that, there’s sadness in them, and even a bit of fear. X doesn’t see it though, they just hear the words their mom shoots at them like bullets, falling into the arms of the pain that embraces them. 


X closes their eyes shut against the memory, still feeling the sting of their mom’s words. They walk back to their bed and pull the covers over them. Curling into themself, they try to empty their mind from the thoughts of the day. 

However, their mom’s words left scars on X’s heart that they aren’t brave enough to face, scars too deep for X to forget. By now, they thought that their mom’s words would no longer affect them, but the hold on them was far too tight than they’d like to admit. Deep in their heart, they had hoped that their mom would’ve told them I love you and it’ll be alright. 


Y enters the school library, sitting in an empty chair across from X. Y is the only one who knows about their suicide attempt, the one they texted that day. It’s the first time X has been back to school since. 

I haven’t seen you in forever. 

How are you doing? 

Have you been getting my messages? 

Yeah I’m doing alright. 

Everything just hurts like hell right now. 

Like I’m getting nauseous these days just by talking. 

Y opens their mouth to say something, but the words never come out. What used to be laughs and teasing is now an awkward silence that hangs between the two of them. There is so much unsaid, and yet too much said at the same time. There is so much they have to talk about with one another, and yet there are no words to say. 


Hey, I don’t really want to make a big deal about it. 


It’s not like anything happened anyways. 

Can we just keep this between us? 

Something flashes across Y’s face, too quick for X to catch. A heavy feeling rests on Y’s heart as a lump begins to form in their throat. They swallow, trying to push out words to fill the space between them. 

Of course. 

Are you staying at school this week? 

Maybe we can get lunch or something? 

I wish, but my mom’s put me on house arrest. 

I can barely be at school right now to be honest. 

X’s phone buzzes on the table, echoing throughout the silence of the library. X reaches for it and their eyes furrow at the message. 


That’s her right now. 

I have to go. 

Text me when you get home okay? 

And when your mom lets you stay, we should do something. 



The streetlights shine through Y’s windshield, their phone on the center console ringing. Their legs are pressed against their chest and they are resting their head against the chill of the steering wheel. Dark circles bloom under their eyes, dark petals cupping their tired eyes. They count the rings on their phone, waiting for the person to pick up. 



The line connects and the sound of Z’s voice fills the empty silence of Y’s car. Y takes a deep breath, trying to compose themselves. Their heart races in their chest and their hands tremble even though they’re not cold. They close their eyes and lean their head back on the headrest. 

Hey, sorry I’m calling so late. 

I just needed someone to talk to. 

It’s been a long day. 

Yeah of course. 

What’s up? 

Y tries to say something, but their voice breaks. They press their hands against their closed eyes and take a deep breath, trying to calm the racing of their heart. 

I just don’t know what to do. 

My friend— 

They tried to commit suicide. 

And I just, I just don’t know what to do. 

There’s silence from the phone. Y takes shaky breaths, wiping unshed tears from their eyes. Saying it out loud to someone else makes it so much more real, and Y realizes that this isn’t just something you see in the movies or read about in books. This is real and it’s their friend’s life. 

I think the best thing you can do for them is just be there for them. 

For now all you can do is show them that you care and that you’re there. 

But is that enough? 

What if they try again? 

Shouldn’t I tell someone? 

Do their parents know? 

Y looks out into the empty parking lot around them. They squeeze their legs closer to them and think about all the things that X has told them. They think about their parents yelling at them 


after the attempt, about the numb pain that eats away at them everyday, about the way X doesn’t want to make a big deal about it. 


Their parents know and they’re having mandated counseling sessions. 

I just, isn’t there more I can do for them? 

Just be there for them and check in on them. 

The best thing you can do is show them that you care. 

Is that the right thing to do? 

I don’t think in this situation there is a right thing to do. 

I know. 

I just wish there was. 


X is on their phone as their mom drives them to school. The morning traffic is especially bad today and they’ve been sitting at a standstill for the last ten minutes with barely any movement on the freeway. The radio plays softly, filling the silence between them. X’s mom switches through the channels, from country to pop to classical until finally settling on some new song that recently topped the charts. 


How’s school going? 

It’s going alright. 


Do you want anything for lunch today? 


X looks at their mom, setting down their phone. The buzz of the music hums from the radio, filling the car with a gentle tune. X takes a deep breath. 

Why are you trying to be a mom now? 

After all this time? 


What do you mean? 

Ever since I tried to kill myself, you’ve been trying to get closer. 

And it’s weird, because that’s just something we don’t do. 

Why are you trying now when you couldn’t bother the last 18 years? 

Just go back to how you treated me before. 

There’s a stifled silence after X’s remark. The air seems to be sucked out of the car entirely. Around them, the traffic seems to stop with the words that fell out of X’s mouth, as if shocked by the news of it. In the distance, a car honks at another for cutting them off. 


How dare you say that to me after everything I’ve done. 

These last 18 years, who has been there for you? 

I’ve always been there doing everything for you! 

But you only do that because you’re a mom. 

You’ve never asked me how my day’s been or how I’m doing in school. 

We never talk like that. 

We only ever had a transactional relationship. 


I never did any of this because I expected something from you. 

I did it because I loved you. 

Then why didn’t you show it? 

The traffic begins moving again and X’s mom doesn’t say anything else for the rest of the drive to school. 



X sits on their bed, their weight sinking into the foam mattress. The pain has become a mild inconvenience now, a little nausea here, a little headache there. It no longer crashes over them like a wave trying to pull them under. They glance at their calendar and see that it’s only been a couple of weeks since their attempt. What felt like years has passed by briefly; time has gone by so slowly. 

They look at their phone and the messages that have piled up. Emails from their teachers, notifications about assignments due, a couple messages from Y, a missed call from their mom. There’s so much and yet they don’t feel the will to do anything. It’s as if their motivation for everything has disappeared. 

A thought echoes through their mind, the question that everyone has been asking them since they tried to kill themself. Why did you do it? 

Truthfully, X doesn’t know why. They don’t know how they had the courage to swallow the Advil pills that were in their kitchen cabinet. They don’t know why it didn’t work and why they are just left with the numbing pain as a reminder. They don’t know why the looks in their friend’s eyes have changed after they told them. They don’t know why their mom is trying to be a mom now. They don’t know why the days keep passing by and yet they are still stuck on that bathroom floor, dry heaving pills that have already entered their system. They don’t know why. 

All they know is that they’re here now. 

Isn’t that enough?