All My Crackers are Broken

August 18, 2019

Pro Tip #1: If you are taken to the hospital with abdominal pain, vomiting, insomnia and crippling anxiety that’s lasted over a month, they will ask you if you are suicidal.

Pro Tip #2: Responding to said question with a snort-laugh and the remark, “Well, fuck. What do you think? Yeah…I mean, sometimes.” Is gonna get your ass thrown into the can for a week.

I deserved it.

I most definitely needed it.

Did I resent it?



The can is no fun. Intake takes hours. When they finally let you go to your assigned room, after 6 hours in the ER and 4 hours in intake, it’s 3:30 in the morning. They confiscate everything you own (including hair ties, FFS) and you fall onto the bed fully clothed. You’re shaking, haven’t eaten since you don’t know when but you’d throw it up anyways. You take whatever pills they put in your hand.

You sleep through the entire first day and through the night, etherized.

You wake up with your head on a pillow so sad and deflated that you wonder how you slept on it. You think of your 80 year-old grandmother who told you, as a teenager, to always wear a bra because “if you don’t support the ladies, they’ll turn on you.” It feels like that. A surrendered breast.

You stay in bed as long as you can stand it, until you have to pee and you know you have to face this sometime. It’s freezing and you haven’t packed really anything, so a blanket will do.


This place is different from the last one. This place has wings. Wings for strictly addicts. Wings for PTSD. Wings for the determined and starving. I am in the suicidal/depressive/anxiety wing and it is small. There are about 12 of us. They don’t talk to me at first, when I lurch out of my room with a blanket. It’s not outright hostility, like at the last place, but I am eyed with suspicion. They give me a wide berth. I don’t blame them. You don’t want to engage without a litmus test. How do you rate on the Nutjob meter? They leave me be, but I get the feeling of being watched. I settle in a chair in the corner. I don’t even have a book to read, and it sucks.


The kid approaches me, all white teeth and emaciated body. He’s gorgeous. Or maybe it’s just the eyes, which are spooky seafoam green against his skin, which is tanned so deeply that he looks almost umber. He’s wearing red sweatpants that keep falling down and he tugs at them, trying to keep them in place.

“Well, I haven’t seen you here. Hey! Welcome! I’m Dallas.”* He has manic verve; he cannot keep still. He dances in place and snaps his fingers to some kind of groove in his head. “You look nice.”

Jesus, he’s just a kid. I mean, 16 if my radar is right. I am immediately charmed.

“Dana.” I extend my hand. He kisses it and then is off, dancing around the commons. He raids the snack station and comes back.


“This place isn’t really bad, for a Cracker Barrel,” he says, chomping into a beef stick.

I can’t help myself. “Um, you know what they put in those pork thing-a-ma-bob sticks, right?”

He grins. “I don’t want to know. Don’t tell me. All I know is that they.are.delicious.”

“Please don’t tell me you eat those all the time.”

“All the time here,” he says. “The Snack Fairy comes twice a day and brings awesome stuff.”


I wander up to the snack station and he’s not a liar, although I will never eat his favorite snack. There is an odd abundance of oranges. But there’s also cheese and crackers, which I think I might be able to hold in. I grab a fistful and am suddenly afraid that I’m going to lose it and I’m tired again and I need to get back, back to the dark and quiet of the room.

I make my apologies and he smiles in recognition. “Sweet dreams,” he says. “And believe me, you aren’t the most broken cracker in this barrel.”


*Names have been changed.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kel August 18, 2019 at 6:29 pm

Sending love from my side of the sandbox. I will admit to chuckling at “Cracker Barrel”.


Wendi August 19, 2019 at 6:06 am

I’m so definitely going to steal the Cracker Barrel phrase. Hang in there friend.


Meagan August 19, 2019 at 10:35 pm

I understand. I was there a year ago…


Dana Talusani August 20, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Megs, that makes me really sad to hear. Hope you are better?


elizabeth August 20, 2019 at 8:29 am

Well, Dallas seems like a delight–and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.


Dana Talusani August 20, 2019 at 12:23 pm

He was something else.


Lindsey August 20, 2019 at 9:41 am

Oh, Dana. Sending lots of love. Dallas seems wonderful and I am thinking of you. xo


Dana Talusani August 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Thanks, Lindsey. Nothing like having to go back to the barrel AGAIN. Ugh.


Biz August 20, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Sending giant hugs


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