Picking Up by Juliette Todd

I intended to kill myself one month before I picked up the phone. I knew I would, in a heady, foggy way. I knew it when I left the counselor’s office with an appointment card dated for two weeks time, and laughing, tore it up, and tossed the scraps. I knew it as I sat in my professor’s office, discussing how to catch up, as missed deadlines swam behind my eyes, blurred and drowned. I knew I would kill myself, because I knew I had to kill myself; I was failing. I was a failure.

I bought a bottle of pills, and I turned off my phone. My e-mail inbox filled with unopened messages, my father’s queries becoming shorter, more impatient, until “hello?” Until “???” Before, and always, his eyes lit up when I sped through books well above my level, crinkling with pride when I performed well. He assumed my brilliance with an ease I strove to match. I knew I would kill myself, because I could not bear to imagine how he would look at me, his daughter the failure.

The clutter of my room swallowed the bottle, and I swallowed time, misplacing it with all the rest, and a month passed. December, I thought, and I’ll have to go home soon. If I killed myself, it might ruin his work party. Bad timing. I thought, I guess I should buy presents. I turned on my phone.

My father called within the hour.

I picked up the phone.


Juliette Todd originated in New York, and presently explores communication studies at SJSU. She enjoys writing, sleeping, and her dog.


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