The Pole

By JULIE SMITH | Published: May 3, 2009

I am holding on strong to the theory of the “Now”. Yeah, Eckhart! No past, no future!

It’s the Thursday before Easter and time to stock up with food for the long weekend even though I have no one to share it with. The stores are crowded; people are shopping and talking, not the usual impatient rush, restless feet and jerking eye contact. Today it’s like a real country town. I can feel my teeth showing, unused face muscles are being stretched towards my ears and it almost hurts to smile with so much freedom. People nod and grin. This is really wonderful; I feel part of the community.

Grabbing my bags of Easter purchases, I dance to the car and put them on the seat. Driving home I giggle at the wonderful respite from my pole. There will be no more pole – ever! I open the door and swish into the kitchen. Desperate to stay positive, I am determined to make the “Now” fun. I look in the mirror for reinforcement like a bird to its reflection for company. I yelp. On my neck and left side of my face are black marks looking like something out of “Braveheart”. They were laughing at me all this time! My first instinct is to look at my hands…there it was, mascara.

I put the bags in the refrigerator, detergent, toothpaste; everything, including the ice cream. I sit for hours and try to think of nothing…and get a few seconds of relief but it swings back into the pain, the soul-less body. Where did my soul go?

I often wonder why people describe depression as a “black dog”. In my wildest imagination I could never put a nice, black, furry Labrador as the symbol of my condition. Far from it, Beau, my black, pound-dog is my loyal friend – my only one. Depression feels like a greased pole. I am midway, clutching my arms, hands, fingers and legs to keep from slipping down. It is so tiring and giving up for a second sends me inches down the pole. To get back, I shimmy up and then exhaustion sets in. But if I let go what happens? I go down; down to where? I don’t know but it’s bad. Up at the top is maybe happiness? But it’s so hard to just stay where I’m at, let alone climb up the pole.

It’s dark and I walk into my bedroom like a moving corpse from a Stephen King creation. I welcome my bed like a womb, lie down, turn my head into the pillow and cry. It’s my “pole” cry which comes from deep within my stomach. Even deeper comes a wail, and after, desperation turns into fatigue. My eyelids are getting heavier, and I pass into the only escape from hurt - sleep.

The telephone rings and I try to ignore it. Could be something important but no – no one calls. I am curious now because it keeps ringing. I turn over and grab the receiver.


“Is this Mariam Wilkins?”

“Yes.” It is a telemarketing flea and I start to hang up.

“I’m Susan Beeks and I’m calling to tell you, you have won $3million in the lottery. I just have a few questions.

I don’t remember giving her any details, only asking, “Are you sure?” at least ten times. Ms Beeks just laughs and says how much she loves her job. I get her phone number and call her back. Are you sure?

There is no pole now. Ha! Never again. I am going travelling, shopping, buying my dream house. Have to get a financial planner, see a stock broker – no, no stocks. Endless plans, potential, everything is wonderful – more than wonderful, it’s the best.

I hear a familiar upbeat song, and something from my past lights up. I’m curious where it’s coming from.

“Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin…into the future.” Steve Millier Band?

“Fly like an eagle…”

I look around with my eyes wide open. It’s the radio alarm. I climb back on my pole.


1. Amanda Birath on November 12, 2009

Hi Julie!

I am currently working on a book and would like to have a text or essay to go with my photographs, and since English is not my first language I am looking for writers that might be able to do that for me.

My work is about all the lost clothes people seem to loose all around the country, like shoes, jackets and underwear. If you want to see some examples of what will go in the book, have a look at

To add a little quirky spin to the subject (a bit like you did in your story), the last picture in the book will be of a half-naked man walking down the street.

I am looking for a creative text that reflects the work and will help tie the book together. If you feel that you've got something that would fit, or would be able to write something suitable, please send me an e-mail :) I found this short story of yours while browsing the internet and I like your way of writing! The way you built up the story is very similar to how I build up my photographic work, and I would love to read more of your stories :)

If you have any questions, please send me an e-mail (

Kind Regards Amanda Birath

Any Comments?


» Magic Tricks and Craft Markets

Mail and the Hot Tub

Published: February 15, 2012

A few words about a the top two problems I encountered in my brief stay at home.

Nurse Ratched

Published: March 15, 2010

Anna meets Jack during their first chemotherapy