The act of composing this makes me feel like a charlatan. I have no right to loiter here alongside people with genuine, pressing problems. If I weren't alone, if it weren't for the thunderstorm, I'd suppress my thoughts with the ease cultivated by a lifetime of practice. Yet here I am, alone in the dark, and I'm afraid of thunder. That was a loud one. Anyone who knows me is aware that I have no tangible problems. I'm in good health, young enough to have adventures and old enough to reflect on them. My sweet husband tells me bedtime stories, and holds my hand when I am startled by thunder or centipedes or all the other things that scare me. My friends single me out as the unique one, the one who attempts to do the things we all talk about over dinner and passing time. I am their eternal mascot; cute, bright, invoking an urge to protect. My small, broken family holds me as their ultimate example. I am a writer. I hate to admit it. I am also a model. I hate to admit that even more. I get paid to look pretty and play dress up. Others pay me to spin lies into paper and ink. People would commit crimes to have the life I do. The freedom, the creative spark. I know it's wasted on me. I hate the mask I affect in my photographs. I am too short, fat, and ugly by the industry standards. Before long I will be too old. At least the thunder is rolling away- I spoke too soon. I have a novel waiting on my laptop screen in the window behind this one. I don't know if I'll complete it. The story deserves better than to be stranded in my mind while grief chokes it out like so many others. For every tale I save a hundred more shrivel. I have gifts, I am obliged to use them. I'd rather be free of expectations, praise, pressure. I am so very tired. I attempted suicide five years ago on the day after Thanksgiving. I was hospitalized, I drank orange juice and did worksheets on safety plans. No one ever gave me a clear diagnosis. Even the experts agree that I have no reason to hate myself. I made one true friend in the hospital. I adore him. We slip in and out of one another spheres when we need empathy. Aside from him, I have sympathy, not empathy. My friends want to help. I love them for it. My husband listens. He asks questions. He doesn't understand. I don't want him to. I would never condemn another soul to know what this feels like. I doubt anyone will read this. Whoever does will probably get the impression that I'm a precocious little twit who aced her SAT vocabulary. I'm sorry that I'm not bipolar or schizophrenic, an addict, a victim, unloved or abandoned. There is no greater guilt than that of one living a dream they can't enjoy.