A week and a half later nothing changes and Jose finds me still in bed. “You gotta get out of bed,” he says gently.

           “I think, maybe I need some kind of help, but I don’t know where to even begin.”

           “What kind of help?”

            “I dunno. Mentally.”

            He looks at me skeptically. “It would help if you didn’t spend your day in bed.”

            “I don’t think I can help it. It’s hard to explain. It’s like gravity. But really, really sad. With a splash of self-hatred and despair.”

            How do you explain depression to someone that has never experienced it?

            He rolls his eyes at me. I can tell he thinks I’m just being dramatic. He doesn’t understand, but I understand that he doesn’t understand. I’m grateful for this. I wouldn’t wish this on an enemy or even my husband.

             Time passes and each day the sun still rises, but I’m meeting life with zero enthusiasm. I somehow manage to occasionally pull myself together long enough to feed my kids or to refinish a custom furniture piece. I can’t help but notice, that those short moments when I have a brush in my hand, are when I feel the most at ease. The most like me. 

    My phone dings next to me on my nightstand. It’s a text from Molly. 

    “Tell me you’re not still in bed.”

    Busted. “I am,” I admit. 

    “I need your help with something.”

    “I’m listening,” I say.

    “The group thing, “ she begins. “I’m importing goods from China and selling them, but the group is too small really for what I’m trying to do. I need to get 3,000 members. I’ll pay you to grow this group. Right now, we don’t even have 800 people in it.”

    I hesitate before answering. 

    “Please?” She begs me.

    “Count me in,” I say. 

    “I’ll give you $30.”

    “You don’t have to pay me. I’d do it for free.” I mean it. “Anything else you need?”

    “No, that’s it. Just grow it. Once it’s big enough, I can sell these water bottles with glitter in them. They’re really pretty.”

    “I like glitter. That’s a good enough reason for me.” 

    Truth is, I adore Molly and would do anything for her. I don’t tell her this though. That would be weird.

    Over the next several days, I begin growing the group. Within a few short months, the new group reaches 5,000 members. A month later, Molly tries to persuade me to import goods too. I decline the offer thinking it isn’t for me. It doesn’t look very fun or profitable and I really need it to be one or the other. Despite her offer, I keep growing her groups for free. Time passes like a mother fucker. Very quickly.

     Before I know it, it’s Christmas morning and I’m in a room of holiday-colored chaos. Wrapping paper, ribbon, and presents litter the floor. Laughter and happiness linger in the air, while Christmas music plays softly in the background. It’s of course, Kelly Clarkson. Hers is the only Christmas music I can stand.

               As I’m picking up the wrapping pieces, Jose’s phone rings. It’s a video call from Molly. Jose hands the phone over to me. I stare at the phone for a moment in total confusion. 

              Why is she calling?

              We talk every day of our lives, but the video call on such a family-oriented holiday catches me off guard. 

    “Hi,” I say. You can hear the surprise in my voice. “Merry Christmas,” I say with a smile, not seeing the cue cards that she’s holding in her hands. 

    Her face looks excited, but she doesn’t say anything. I laugh at the awkwardness of it. 

    Finally, I notice the cards that she’s holding. Slowly, she shows them to me, one by one. Each card is a word of its own.









    Reading them aloud I can’t believe it. We’ve never met in person. I turn to Jose in confusion. I search his face for a sign that they are playing a trick on me, but he just nods slowly in agreement. 

    I’m beyond confused. 

              To my left, my mom looks so excited. She knows how much I adore Molly. I talk about her all the time. 

             I can’t help but laugh at the irony of her excitement. My mother has spent my whole life warning me about the dangers of meeting people on the Internet. Here I am, doing just that and suddenly she’s cheering me on. 

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