“the secret to being happy is to forget all the reasons you have not to be” by BEE LB

Chicago by C. R. Restarits

instead, i forget the secret. let the clothes pile up. let the dishes lament
in the plastic racks of the dishwasher. i wait for my roommate to wash
the counters. i wait for the sun to remind me if it exists. i wait for my
-self to return from wherever it is they’re hiding. i don’t bother to look.

i feel my body waste away inside itself. i hear the doctor’s timeline on a
loop in my head. i count down the days adding up to the years that are
all i really have to waste. if i can get through the next seven, i’ll be given
the gift of an end in sight. that’s not the right outlook to have here. but it’s

what i have. i fill my world with green and hide from the bugs that follow.
i consider calling maintenance for the constellation of mold in my shower
but don’t. i ask anyone who’ll listen to tell me something good and some
-times i even listen. sometimes it even helps. the rest of the time i suffer.

to be clear, i choose my own suffering as frequently as not. i dig into it,
make a home of it, swath myself in its familiar, comforting misery. let it
fill me the way nothing else can. i press right up against the edge of my
resilience, count the growing number of pills i have stashed for this exact

occasion. pull the knife from the drawer i hide it in. trace lovingly over
the scars i’ve convinced to fade. consider gifting my skin a new reason
to blemish. to open. to blossom into bloody wound. the trouble is, once
i start i don’t want to stop. litter my thighs with unclean lines, stretch the

skin til it wells up for me. i once reached fifty in one night and now i have
to stare, to squint, to imagine where the marks all went. i’ve become so
good at disappearing. i’ve become so scared of being found out. i’m not
afraid to tell you, i want to be found. but i’m too good at hiding. once, i

moved from my thighs to the inside of my arms. thought no one would
bother to look. later, my mother pressed careful the medical device that
i had fought for over a year to receive coverage for, against the soft skin
of my inner arm. she asked if she should ask about what she saw. i said

no. i flee from what i want. fear pushes me steadily onward. i went back
to the coarse lines of my thighs. my pelvis. the outer edges of my hips.
i spend hours planning an excuse if my love ever begins to notice. decide
if his hands ever know their way over my scars, i’ll tell him a version of

the truth. they are only ever a pressure valve. a way of finding release.
you don’t ever have to lie if you’re smart enough. and honestly, i’m not
smart enough to lie. i once went four years without opening my body to
find what was hiding inside it— knowing there is only ever blood. now,

i can manage only months at a time. somehow manage to convince my
-self there is something new hiding beneath my skin. only ever find the
same. each time i walk to the edge of myself, i find one of two things:
a way to collapse into the weight of memory, or a way to unfurl into the

future. given enough time, i forget both. i walk the same path, hoping
at some point i will find anything new inside myself. i grow tired of
carrying my memories behind me. grow tired too of stretching myself
into the possibility of forever, an entire life ahead of me. hold tight to

the promise of thirty, an end; a release yet to come. my heart straining
to hold itself until it gives out. the doctor’s careless words a balm on
the burnt-smooth idea of forcing myself to live longer than i can bear.
still, i will bear it. i will walk the tightrope i’ve strung up for myself

until i inevitably fall. make no mistake, there will be pleasure in the
end, in the thrilling drop of my stomach as a whole life rushes around
my ears. the thought of leaving behind nothing but potential, a wasted
future taken too soon from a grasp that was already beginning to let go.

i’m telling on myself, but it’s fine, isn’t it?
we both know how to keep a good secret.


BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; a writer creating delicate connections. they have called any number of places home; currently, a single yellow wall in Michigan. they have been published in Revolute Lit, Roanoke Review, and After the Pause, among others. they are the 2022 winner of the Bea Gonzalez Prize for Poetry. they are a poetry reader for Capsule Stories.

C. R. Resetarits is a writer and collagist. Her collage art has appeared on the covers and in the pages of dozens of magazines and book covers.