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Sometimes Marianne woke up with a fire in her belly like a dragon; sometimes she woke up and didn't want to be awake at all. All too often she would stay in bed, sometimes for days, and she would kick and scream inside.

But when she was out in the world, you would never suspect it. No, she looked like the kind of woman that every woman ought to be: pretty, well made-up, and demure.

That's why, when they found her splattered and dead beneath a bridge everyone was so damned surprised. Oh Marianne? What a shame! She was so pretty. What a damn shame.
Others spoke about it in private as more than a shame but a damn mystery. "What was wrong with her? You suppose she had a drug problem?"

"No, not that. I guess she couldn't handle it, is all."

Whatever it was never really came into polite conversation. Marianne left a hole in the universe that ended up being filled with idle chatter and suppositions of her guilt. All this and the poor thing couldn't even defend herself.

Suicide isn't an easy thing to deal with, mind you, but blaming the dead has never struck me as the most suitable solution.

If you want the truth, and I have it on good authority, Marianne just got tired. She was tired of the show--she looked normal on the outside, but she was chewing at herself on the inside. It started with her tongue first, then her heart, then her spirit, and it was only a matter of time before the mind went along with the other three.

She didn't know how to explain herself to anyone, much less to herself. She had convinced herself that she must be worthless, must be without any kind of merit. People had only ever complimented her on her looks and her baking, so naturally, getting closer to thirty scared the daylights out of her.

No, I'm not trying to justify it per se. I just think we shouldn't be so harsh. Who among us has not had those thoughts, has not walked around with a boulder or two around our necks? And we're all so busy with our own boulders that we forget that other people have theirs strung about their own necks.

Maybe if we didn't spend so much time hiding our weights, we'd learn to bear them better together. Maybe if Marianne had known that I woke up most days feeling the same as she did, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I can only hope there's a peaceful place for her somewhere in the ether.

God knows we could all use a place to run to.