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The Six Confessions of Mads

The Six Confessions of Mads That Were Never Meant to See the Light of Day

By Emma Woodhead


He didn’t like his boss. When the news of his near-death reached Mads, he had to act like the grief, worry, and sympathy were too much to bear for his young heart. But I had seen the smile on his face when he spoke on the phone. He didn’t try to hide it. Not even in the slightest. I think he was only saddened by the news that his boss was going to have an easy recovery.


He didn’t believe he deserved what he had. To the point when in a desperate effort to escape the imposter syndrome that suffocated him, he nearly skipped his Bar Exam to take a flight to Croatia, and if his roommate hadn’t knocked sense into him that morning, I truly believed that ticket would have been one way.


He wasn’t a religious man, he feared judgment from yet another person in his life, and he could never bring himself to look at a crucifix without a sense of guilt for all he had done and all he had failed to do. I catch him staring at the bell tour of the cathedral down the road from his apartment from time to time and how he would cross the street or circle around the block the other way to avoid the shadow that the tower and cross cast.


He envied creative people. His parents didn’t allow him to see that side of the world, and the most creative thing he was allowed to do was play the set songs his father approved of on an old guitar, which he traded for an electric one when he got to NYC. But he barely touches it. He refused to pick up a pen to create his own stories and compile his thoughts so they could be shared with others. He let me do that for him instead. There are times when I can see the creative child in him begging to be released, but Mads had thrown the key away a long time ago.


He didn’t like many of the people he spent time with, and I don’t think they liked him either. Some did. But not all. They only stayed together as a formality, like an estranged couple who were both trying to do the right thing and stick together for their imaginary kids. The relationship had long since faded, but they were grasping at straws, trying to find any reason to hold onto it.


On the top left side of his bathroom cabinet was his biggest secret. A small jar of expired pills he was given when he felt lost during his time in law school. He had never taken one, yet he still had them all these years later. The doctor promised it would make him feel better, but Mads didn’t believe that happiness could come from a bottle with a twist cap. I think he kept it because it dared him to find happiness out in the world and not in his medicine cabinet. I still wonder if he’s found happiness. I never bring it up to him because he doesn’t know that I know it’s there.

He is unaware of most of the things I’ve noticed about him, and I wish he saw what I did. Maybe then he wouldn’t feel the need to hide so many things from the light of day.

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