Mistakes and Placebos


What a stupid, dull concept.

Have the idea of something. Here, take it. Swallow it. Take it every day, three times a day, even. This pill of water. This false idea. Take the idea of getting something to make you better, the idea of something that will make you well, and shove it down your throat. Make it up in your mind. Make yourself think this is helping. Think it over.

And over and over and over.

I hate placebos.

I hate them because…



They work.

Think about getting better. About becoming better.

Think about remaking yourself.

Of ingesting something that will make you a better person.

Take that thing.

Think that it’s making you better.

And it just might.

It just might.

I hate Penelope Adams.

Hate her to pieces.

Hate her to hell and back.

Hate her more than Pluto hates the other planets. More than cats hate dogs. More than snakes hate man.

I hate her more than the sun hates darkness.

I hate her.

When I started dating Penelope, I thought she was something else.

And I wasn’t wrong.

But I wasn’t right either.

Smart. She seemed smart. Kind. Delicate. She seemed like the kind of girl who stopped fights and resolved issues. The sort that wasn’t part of the drama, but somehow got tangled in it because of her advice or counseling. The sort of girl you’d want on your team.

The sort of girl that made you raise the bar.

That made you want to reach a higher standard.

The sort of girl that made you want to be a better man—or a man at all, for that matter.

Penelope Adams seemed like the real deal.

And I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Silly of me, really. To think all that. A simple Venn diagram would’ve helped me prove it to myself.

All these dramatic situations happening around me, and what’s the one thing they all have in common?


If there are problems everywhere you go, or drama, or discontent, it’s probably not your friends or your environment’s fault.

It’s probably you.

More than likely, it is.

If I had used that simple reasoning, I’d have known Penelope wasn’t a problem solver.

She was just the eye of the storm.

But I didn’t. I don’t know why I was so blind, but I was. So dumb. So stupid. It was a big fumble on my part. Something I’ll continuously kick myself for over and over again.

Or, at least, something I thought I would kick myself for.

These days though, I can’t really seem to muster that kind of self-loathing.

I don’t think I deserve it.

Because, as stupid as it was for me to think Penelope was great, for me to chase after her, for me to wag my tail for her, it did bring me something good. Something I wouldn’t have otherwise had.


Or maybe it’s wisdom.

Something like that.

Dating Penelope was horrible. Like dating an alligator on drugs. Like trying to appease a greek god, in all their infinite back and forth. Or like trying to reach space in a soup can.


She was a placebo.

Something I thought would make me better.

A pill that ended up being empty. Full of air or liquid or sugar crystals. A pill that was easily swallowed but, in the end, didn’t do anything for me.

No, it wasn’t the placebo that made me better.

But it did start me on the right track.

The track of knowing:

needed to get better.

And I could.

I could get better.

I could become a better person. Could become a better man. I needed to become a better person, if I wanted something as good as love. As good as loyalty. I needed to become someone who could give and take. Someone who knew better. Who was better.

And I did.

I did get better.

All that agony of dating Penelope, and all that drama, and all that pain—it all pointed me toward something else. Helped me realize what I needed to do to be a better person. To be a better man.

Sure, dating Penelope was a mistake. I’ll never say it wasn’t.

But it was a mistake that I’d make again.

Not because I liked her.

Even now, in retrospect, I still don’t like her.


I needed the placebo.

That stupid, fake pill.

I needed it.

Because any other pill would’ve been too hard to swallow.

And, in the end, I got better.

As much as I hate the lie of placebos, I have to admit:

Getting better is what counts.



3 thoughts on “Mistakes and Placebos”

  1. I’m a big fan of single-sentence paragraphs. I would suggest they might be over-used in this story. It’s a compelling read, and the pace is great, (due in large part to the single sentences, so…overused? Maybe, maybe not). I do not feel I know the characters in this story. I hope this feedback helps. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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