My doctor’s voice muted as he mouthed the words, “Stage 2 Ductal Carcinoma in SITU”. Tiny creatures ravished my body in secret as they made a pilgrimage to the divine. Parts that make a woman whole, planning to be missed. A funeral for femininity. Thoughts raced with no-ending. 


The orange cylindrical pill bottle was always annoyingly buried at the bottom of my maroon leather purse. Anxiety took a seat at the dinner table, where there was no sustenance, or feasting, only red wine, and that little white pill. My nourishment now for many days, at least I could escape the mental and physical anguish just for a little while. My beacon of light was at nightfall when the moon rose, and the birds ceased to chirp. It was then, and only then, that I would visit fairyland. The beautiful planes of enchantment, no worries if my cancer was returning, void of money concerns, or even what people thought about me-constantly on auto-play in my head. Stories fantasized without merit.

My personal glass dome inhaled the dark red liquid as it slathered around, coating its insides. The sharp, crisp nip of pungency lingered in my nostrils. After finally locating the pill bottle, I slowly unscrewed the child-proof cap, though my inner child was much wiser and knew it was unsafe. I justified my cravings believing I had enough sense not to overdose; after all, I worked as a nurse for so many years.

Darkest Hours.

My darkest hours were a secret and a blur. Sounds of hypnotic music lingered in the background. A symphony of peace so easily attained in this way. I floated backward onto my bed, the softness of the pillow gently caught me, and I was reminded of a luxurious night of tranquil sleep. My inner critic disappeared into the cosmos; soothing silence awaited as the storm brewed at sea. Heartbeats in thuds of thunder as it slowed its pace and echoed through my ears.

Cheeks awaited their turn for the antidote for giving up. The lifeline of hope made its presence known. My heart revved; it beat again at a  quickened pace as I heaved up reminders of where I’d been.

A Ray of Light.

My pup quickly jumped around on the bed, avoiding the pool of vomit. His large brown eyes shared concern and fear as he stared with serious intent. The hot gaseous odor awakened my senses even further. I slowly stood up from the bed. My legs wobbled. I noticed a pin-hole of light that peered through the closed blinds. The catty-cornered dresser helped me balance as I grabbed the shorter of the two chains and yanked with a purpose. The avalanche of cascading sunlight penetrated its nourishment onto my brown skin. Eyes closed, I soaked in the beauty of now. 


As a retired nurse, Jerri Harrell uses her passion for creative self-expression to heal childhood trauma. Born of incest, she carried shame and guilt throughout her entire life. This led to addictive behaviors, untreated mental illness, and destructive relationships until she received a cancer diagnosis and almost died from a drug overdose. Being actively involved in a 12 Step Recovery Program and therapy, Jerri has learned how to genuinely love and accept herself. Her creative work has appeared in 34th Parallel Magazine, The Titan Review, and https://www.timetotell.org/curated-stories. Jerri lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and is currently writing her memoir.

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