With thoughts of cruelty racing through her mind, Shelby could not keep herself from looking down at the new bathroom floor scale that Gabriel had recently purchased just for her. The last time she had placed her small shapely feet upon that soulless digital creation, She had gasped, then quickly leaped back to the tile floor for safety. The LED had flashed 110 pounds, a weight that she had not achieved since the eleventh grade, and had absolutely no desire to achieve at the age of thirty-four.

“I used to be pretty.”

With her left foot, Shelby kicked the scale back behind the white porcelain toilet before looking back to the mirror.


Again She looked over her right shoulder towards her cell phone, and then back to the mirror before her. With her left index finger she began tracing the small mole below her left eye. Her physical beauty would not be enough to shield her, and Shelby began to shake as she realized that it was happening, once again the Gabriel trigger had been pulled, and her emotions began to rage inside like an animal shaking the bars of a small, and frail cage. She placed both of her small hands to her face, momentarily covering her nose and mouth with her small fingers, but it was no use, the flood gates would open regardless, and nothing could stop the inevitable.

Placing her palms on edge of the sink, Shelby began to cry, something she did every day. Sniffling out of control, she sat down on the edge of the bathtub with her head on her hands, trying to understand how this had happened, how her once happy and fantastic life had spiraled beyond her control to a life of darkness. Just five years ago she had been in school, only to drop out just six months short of earning a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Gabriel had pleaded with Shelby, practically begging the young lady into taking some time off from her classes to help him with his kids, promising repeatedly that she would be able to return the following semester. Of course Gabriel broke that and every other promise that he ever made to Shelby. It was all just another lie in a very long line of lies and ugly betrayals. Within a few months of dropping out of school, her primary care doctor, a woman referred to her by Gabriel’s Mother, recommended that she begin taking two different antidepressants, and a third medication for sleep. Two months later, the same doctor added an additional two medications, one for stomach problems, and the other for pain after Shelby began having tension and migraine headaches. Dependency upon the medications followed shortly, and it did not take long for her to lose all of her passion and motivation. Piece by piece and lie by lie, with the help of Shelby’s first addiction, Gabriel chipped away at everything in her life that was good and decent. In the end, everything that made her happy or gave her joy had been replaced with something unclean and painful. Day after day Gabriel did everything possible to cause Shelby pain, and it was this insufferable pain that had ignited the spark in her mind, a secret place, hidden and unknown to Gabriel, and anyone else who did not have her best interests in their heart. The result of the spark, a conspiracy of one. Four weeks prior Shelby created and executed a well-designed plan to reawaken her brain by detoxing herself from all of her prescription medication. The beautifully contrived scheme had been completely successful, and as of three days prior, Shelby was clean from all of her pills, something that had seemed far from reach just five weeks ago.

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