Too Broken

By: JR Hunter



Baghdad, Iraq

A shell explodes and everything stops.

There is silence, only silence. I blink once, twice. Where am I?

Giving my head a shake, I look down and see the back of a woman. A dark mass of thick hair falls in disarray across the table. I am standing behind her; I can’t see her face. Her forehead is pressed into the wooden table and her back is covered with a rough black fabric. Her shoulders are shaking. My eyes move further down and her back is heaving, up and down in frantic, uneven shudders.

My hand is there, in between her shoulder blades. Pushing. Pushing her into the table. I know it’s my hand - I can see the scar I got in the 7th grade when I nearly severed my middle finger in woodshop. My mother didn’t even like the fucking birdhouse. She barely managed a thank you before shoving it in the attic, never to be seen again.

Yes, it is definitely my hand, but I can’t feel it. I can’t feel anything.

Chapter 1: The Left Coast

It is a little known fact, but women too experience midlife crises. We reach a point in our lives where we look around and say … What the fuck? THIS is my life?

And true to our nature, we experience our midlife crises far earlier than men. So although I’m only 32 years old, I’m quite certain that the insane lapse in judgment which has me signing a year lease on a postage stamp apartment in Santa Monica is a direct result of this break from reality.


It was like something inside of me snapped. I was suddenly struck by the fact that I was not living the life I wanted. I wanted a family – I was single. I wanted to be in a profession that directly benefited people in need – I worked as an administrator at a university. I wanted to be outdoorsy – walking in Rock Creek Park was about as close to nature as I got.

It was August 30th, the day I decided to change my life. I was sitting by the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. where I lived. I was thinking about the history of the spot. Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dream. His speech was a dream for humanity, one that still hadn’t been truly realized. I realized that my dreams were unfulfilled as well.

I was always a smart kid, and my teachers told me I had unlimited potential. Early on I set my sights on being the first female president. Of course, you don’t go straight into the presidency, so first I’d be an attorney, then a judge or a congress person, and then I’d be president. Once in college, I began to rethink my career goals – being the President would be way too much stress. But the attorney thing could still work, and I’d fight for human rights around the world. I’d join Amnesty International or the United Nations and protect the unprotected, right the wronged, and uplift the downtrodden.

On the home front, I’d marry an architect named Dean; he’d be smoking hot and consider himself the luckiest man on the planet to have landed me. We’d rear two beautiful blonde-haired children, Shea and Jake, and foster rescued German Shepherds. All of this while living in a two-story Victorian house with a wrap-around porch and generous yard for the dogs and kids to play in.

That’s what my life was supposed to be. Reality was a whole different story.

After my graduate degree, I focused on my career, but it wasn’t a career of my choosing; it was the one I fell into. I worked for the university while pursuing my degree and simply went from part-time to full-time upon my graduation. At that stage, I thought it was a smart move; I made good money and I was building a skillset that I could use elsewhere. But as life goes, one year turned into two, turned into four, and suddenly I looked up and I’m 32 and spending my days sending emails and navigating inane office politics. Oh, and that family? Considering I always fell for that guy just beyond my reach, the one who was emotionally aloof and non-committal, that family had yet to materialize.

So there I was, single and not making the world a better place. Now what?

Something different, that’s what.


A copy of the lease in hand, I return to my new home. When I said apartment, I was being rather generous. I now live in a converted, detached garage behind a Craftsman house about two miles from the beach. The $1,250 rent is highway robbery, but it’s par for the course in Santa Monica real estate and I couldn’t resist it; it felt like home.

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