Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Three Little Words Best Left Unsaid

Lauren Phillips-Freeman

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“These things happen,” they tell me,
a trite dismissal of a valid complaint,
as if I had merely been caught in a downpour
or watched my train pull away,
an easily rectified error of judgement
or spot of bothersome bad luck-
inconsequential-
soon swallowed and forgotten
among the rolling of the days.

“These things happen,” they tell me
as they bat my disappointments
into a cobwebbed corner like
a kitten toying with a ball of twine,
meeting me with all the empathy and
understanding of a discarded crisp packet,
they have no intention of listening-
not really-
for all that they hear my words.

“These things happen,” they tell me,
then proceed to pour forth a barrage
of banal and inane complaints to which
I am obliged to feign interest and sympathy-
mundane details of mundane lives-
how I long to look them in the face
and parrot their own line back at them,
to reflect their dismissiveness
and see how they take it.

“These things happen,” they tell me,
but it didn’t happen to them,
they think they’re being helpful-
merely stating facts-
when in truth those three words
do nothing but negate feelings
and invalidate sufferings,
a platitude that does not placate,
and so they are best left unsaid.

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Lauren Phillips-Freeman

Lauren Phillips-Freeman is a language teacher and writer with a love of words in all their forms. She uses writing to help her process her own tangled emotions.