Country X-ers love quotations. I don’t know why this is. There is nothing special about things other people have said.

Nonetheless, there are sheets of paper pasted around the conference room with quotations on them. I believe these are intended to be inspiring. However, I don’t know. Maybe they are covering holes in the wall.

One of them says, “If plan A doesn’t work, remember there are 25 letters left in the alphabet.”

I have a strong suspicion not a single other member of the staff knows what this means. But I like it.

This is Plan B. Or possibly Plan F. Or Y. I’m not sure. But it could very well be quite far down the list, but we will stick with calling it Plan B for simplicity’s sake.

It is vastly, vastly inferior to Plan A.

Plan A was a life outside of being trafficked with Natashka. It might have been a happy life with a dog and children and rewarding work.

But let’s say that didn’t pan out. Let’s say we were both too damaged to do all of that. Let’s say I am living in a single-occupancy hotel with more roaches than hairs on my head trying to survive on minimum wage whilst helping Natashka kick her heroin habit. We’ll call that Plan C.

On a scale of 1-10—Plan A with the dog and the kids and the good job being a 10—Plan C might be a 3. Plan B is off the chart. It is in the negative numbers. It does not even compare.

Plan B is really not acceptable. It is something I do because there is really nothing else to be done. Even Plan C is out of reach.

Understanding this is immensely freeing. And helpful.

It is as though I have been dragging a child on a long walk through the rain. I don’t know why I am—maybe we need to get somewhere—and I am trying to distract the child from the cold and the wet by pointing out the sights. Look, there’s a pretty flower. Look at that beautiful spider web. Isn’t it pretty?

And the child keeps complaining. She’s cold and she’s wet and she’s tired. But I go on trying to point out how lovely the walk is.

Finally, the child say,” Mom, it’s pouring down fucking rain.”

And I finally answer, “Yes, so it is.”

Someone inside has been saying, Ash, she’s fucking dead.

I have busy pointing out the sights, which have indeed been lovely. I look out my window now and they are lovely. But she’s trying to get my attention. She’s trying to get me to see that this is just really not acceptable.

Ash, she’s dead.

And I have finally said, “Yes, she is. She is dead. And life is really, really never going to be okay again. Never. And I know that.”

We can stop pretending. We can trudge through the rain and the cold and the wet as best we can and we don’t also need to try to pretend—on top of that—that it’s not pouring down fucking rain.

Since we aren’t also trying to pretend, we might also start noticing the flowers and the spider webs. And that might be nice.

Plan B will never be Plan A, but maybe we can start appreciating Plan B for what it is instead of trying to make it into something better that it can never be.