September, Personified

Part nine! I skipped around, and I accidentally titled this post wrong originally.

Appearance: September chooses to wear fashion from the early 1900s. She looks like a girl brought to life right out of a storybook.She refuses to dress like the rest of her “tasteless generation” as she would put it. September always appears somewhat lost in thought, but in a different sense than her dreamy older sister, April. April’s eyes wander around with wonder, while September appears like she’s staring deeply into something. Her gaze is distant and glazed-over, but fixed.

Personality: September is a wonderer, not a wanderer. She does not like to leave her room (a three-walled library filled with Victorian-era novels) or her front porch with a beautiful mountain view. She turns up her nose at the term “dreamer” or “free spirit.” September has a very intense mind, and she constantly ponders things, even things that seem so simple to others. September is also a snob. She’s impossible to please, and is always internally scoffing at “everyone else.” To others, she seems a bit pompous. In conversation, September is muted, sarcastic, and somewhat humorless. September just doesn’t value laughter and humor like everyone else. Her emotions are usually faint and unobtrusive. She’s almost always even-keel.

Wants: September wants to know “why” all the time.She rolls her eyes at people who take things at face value. For September, it’s untrue until she can find a reason why it should be true. September would like to live in a proper world. She rejects wild and raucous behavior, and hopes that one day everybody will go back to acting ladylike and gentlemanly. Then again, she has a sort of quiet pleasure in looking down on others and feeling like the only sensible girl in the world.

Likes: September enjoys the finer things in life, like old books, aged wine, and flawless cursive. She spends the most of her time reading. September taught herself to read at a young age, and has never abandoned books since. Of course, she will only read books published before 1960, and in hardback. She finds amusement in criticizing everyone and everything that doesn’t align with her opinion of good taste.

Fears: September is afraid of being forced to abandon her classic way of life. The thought of wearing skinny jeans and carrying around a smartphone makes her cringe. She wants everything to be “just so” and can become obsessed with even minor details.Being trashy or tasteless is abhorrent to her, so if she thinks she’s being that way, she will obsess over her mistakes until she returns to her refined way of life. September is afraid of losing her deep thinking and focused mind, instead becoming a vapid party animal. September needs to be ladylike, proper, and meaningful.

Lessons she needs to learn: You aren’t better than everyone else. It’s okay to not understand something. People who are different from you are not worse. Not everything can be the way you want it to be. You will have to learn to be accepting of lifestyles other than your own. Sometimes you’ll have to be content with what you’re given.

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A Story Worth Reading

I’ve always felt like I should write a memoir. My life, at least in my eyes, has been worth writing about it. That’s the problem though–in my eyes. Would it be interesting enough for someone to actually want to read?

The truth is, anyone could have lived my life. So many people have dealt with low self-esteem, bullying, mental illness, to the point where everybody wants to write a memoir. Everybody wants to write about their life. What makes me unique? What makes my story worth reading? I just can’t separate myself from the lot.

Death and the Aftermath

The following was written towards the end of my eighth grade year. I was interested in death and its consequences. This piece was not an expressed wish to die; rather, it was the fear of it – the fear of what would be left behind if something happened to me. I wondered about what my life was, what I’d done with it, what I was supposed to do. Interestingly, the piece is written as if it’s speaking to me personally, although I am the character referred to. Three years later, it breaks my heart to read this. Because if I died, this piece would become reality. And I don’t want that. I don’t want to die. 

Put yourself in this story. Substitute my details for your own. It truly makes you think.

Well, someone is notified that you’re dead. Whatever the cause, you’re dead. The police have to tell your parents (I would hate to be the one to have to do that). Your parents don’t sleep that night, tossing and turning, trying in vain to convince themselves you’re really still alive. Eventually, they have to walk in your room and see it–how it was, so untouched, so real. But you are not. You are dead. They have to arrange a funeral. People say stuff about your life, but you can’t hear. You’re dead. Everyone has to act reverent, like you did so much with your short life. But deep down, someone is thinking–you did nothing. You took money from your parents, you were provided free shelter and education, you existed, and then ceased to exist.
The school has to be notified also. All those tests you took, all those hours spent on homework, none of it matters anymore. Everybody passes by your locker knowing it was yours. The dead girl’s locker. Suddenly, all you’re remembered for is the fact that you died. Each time you complained about gym class doesn’t matter anymore. Your friends know you’re dead. There’s an empty seat at the lunch table. Even that girl who you only talked to a few times knows you’re dead. The ex-boyfriend knows you’re dead and silently grieves you. What once seemed to full of life and words is now just a body, a shell, a bag of formaldehyde and chemicals shoved in a box and buried underground. All you are now is a gravestone. Your family is in pieces, but you can’t help them. There’s an empty place at the dinner table. At least your family can book rooms for four instead of having a fifth person on the floor, but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore. They look through photo albums of you, seeing that happy little baby growing up. Taking her first steps, going to kindergarten, learning to read. That little girl is dead. Forever gone. All the people that truly loved you have to go on without you. Without your poetry, all your unfinished short stories, all your crazy freak writer girlishness. It’s gone. All they have of you is what you left behind. Your ideas that were never put on paper died with you. That smiling face is pasty white now. Those crying eyes are glassy. You can only hope it was enough. But it wasn’t. You were too young to die. Loved ones got to say goodbye to you for a few short minutes at the viewing–but it’s not the same. You can’t laugh with them, hug them. All you can do is lay there, motionless. Cold. Your favorite song plays, and your family cries. Your favorite TV shows. Your favorite books. Everything seems to be another reminder of you. Someone has to pronounce you dead on Facebook–either that or just leave it there, sinking to the bottom of profiles. Every email you sent is still there, but no more. Ever. At Thanksgiving, your cousins are quiet. At Christmas, there are fewer presents around the tree. Every dream you had was cut short. You didn’t get to walk down the aisle, publish a book, or have kids. Your mother of three becomes a mother of two. Everyone has to face the fact that your heart doesn’t beat anymore, blood doesn’t rush through your veins. It’s not the same without you. Even Sunday school classes are quieter. Family photos are missing a member. Your dad was saving your college money–now what? Vacations aren’t the same. But most of all, you’re gone. You’re gone forever. Every little quirk you had lives only in the memories of your loved ones. They cry, but you can’t help.
You are dead.

 

The Gross Poster

Earlier, I was trying to reflect on some of the grossest, grisliest stories of my childhood. The first one that came to mind was the story of the poster spot. If you don’t like to read about mildly disgusting things, then this very short tale is not for you.

When I was six or seven, I had a cold. I sneezed on my wall and some grossness got splattered on it. Because I was a lazy shit, I just waited for it to set and then put a High School Musical poster over it. My tastes changed, and I just kept replacing the poster. The years went by and I started putting more things on my wall in different places. Sometime in freshman year, I bought a full-size map of Middle-earth. There was nowhere to put it, so I took down my puppy poster and placed the map over the spot.

So right now, under my Middle-earth poster, is decade-old mucus. I’m afraid to take the poster down and even attempt to clean it at this point.

Sean

The following is an unedited short story I wrote in the span of two or three days. Please don’t copy my work. It’s a draft, but I thought I should add it here.

Sean wasn’t athletic, good-looking, or particularly smart. He walked with a limp, tripped over his own feet, and stuttered when giving presentations. His sense of humor was drab, he couldn’t write or draw to save his life, and he failed at most things he attempted. Sean just wasn’t, well, interesting. To an outsider, there was nothing really going for him. But there was something within him that shone like noonday sun, something that seemed to compensate for his many shortcomings. That something was kindness.

I met Sean in October of my freshman year. It was a drafty, brisk afternoon. Leaves gently fluttered against the pavement as if tickled by the wind. Tightly zipped in a fuchsia anorak, I sat hunched over on the curb in front of my high school, crying for no reason other than hormones and a couple bad grades.

“Hello? Are you okay?” I lifted my head a little and saw him—a pudgy kid in a hunter green cable-knit sweater.

“Oh, yeah. I’m good,” I croaked, wiping tears and snot off my face. “It’s cool.”

“Alright. Need some help getting up?” Sean extended his arm.

“Sure.” I grasped his fleshy, calloused hand and pulled myself off the curb. “Thanks.”

“No problem!” He smiled, revealing his jagged teeth. “Are you sure you’re okay? You missed all the buses.” The parking lot was nearly empty, only sprinkled with a few faculty cars here and there.

“I don’t live too far. I can just walk. Thanks for the .” I slipped my rosy hands in my pockets and turned towards home. Sean brightened and stumbled to catch up with me.

“I walk every day! Can I come with you and chat?” As much as frivolous small talk annoyed me, I didn’t have the heart to decline.

“Yeah, go ahead.” My nose was running like a spigot as a result of the autumn chill and my crying. Sean noticed me sniffling and wiping my face on my jacket sleeve.

“Do you need a tissue?” he asked, already pulling a travel-sized package out of his back pocket. “Here you go. I keep ‘em on me all the time. I’m always getting sick with something.” As if to prove his own point, Sean let out a resounding sneeze.

“Oh, thanks.” I wrestled a tissue out of the package and relieved my itching nose. Sean made several valiant attempts at conversation, but after a few minutes, he picked up on my lack of enthusiasm, and fell silent until he reached the top of his cul-de-sac.

“I guess this is where we part ways.” He chuckled. I didn’t understand how it was funny. “Hope you feel better. Don’t forget to drink some good old cocoa!” Another chuckle. I tried to give him back his pack of tissues, but he insisted that I keep it.

“Bye, Sean. Thanks for everything.” I gave him a friendly nod and made my way across the street, back to the warmth and familiarity of my own home.

 

In the months following that afternoon, it seemed that Sean was everywhere—the hallways, the cafeteria, in the back of the class—I suppose he was one of those kids who was both invisible and painfully conspicuous. In the same, very contradictory way, Sean was a part of everything and a part of nothing. He was almost constantly in a group of people, smiling and listening intently to every word, but he was always on the outskirts, stumbling to keep up. Nobody ran alongside him in gym class when he gasped for air, chasing last place like an injured elephant to a watering hole. He was never invited to parties, dances, or even small group get-togethers. It wasn’t that he was hated or looked down upon. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Everybody liked Sean—but nobody cared about him. To the school, he was just a gentle, jovial dork who lived to serve. A sweet guy who picked up their trash. An afterthought. When asked how they felt about him, students would say, “Sean? I don’t know. He’s just…Sean. Nice, I guess.” And then they would move along, laughing, chatting, and making plans with themselves as if he’d never been mentioned.

I ran into Sean many more times during high school. Most of the encounters were brief and unmemorable. In tenth grade, he helped me carry a bulky project to my first class. In eleventh, he gave me money for a snack at the vending machine and refused to accept repayment. The last time I spoke to Sean was on prom night my senior year.

He had, of course, brought himself. At first, it seemed as though he didn’t mind.  He laughed along with inside jokes he wasn’t included in and squeezed his way into the edges group pictures just as he had the previous four years. After about an hour or so, however, he suddenly withdrew. As everybody else danced in carefree abandon, Sean stood alone in a corner, looking uncharacteristically dejected. I tried to ignore it for a while, hoping that somebody else would initiate conversation with him so I wouldn’t have to endure the awkwardness that always accompanied my encounters with him, but it soon became clear that nobody was going to take the time. I casually ambled over, telling my friends I would be right back.

“Having fun?” I asked, ignoring the obvious no that donned his still-chubby face.

“No, not really.” Sean stared at the ground and picked at his nails. There was no jovial light in his bright blue eyes. “I feel like nobody would notice if I just went home right now.”

“Sean! We really like you. You’re a nice guy.” I awkwardly reached over and patted his back in sympathy. I avoided mentioning that he was right—nobody really would notice if he disappeared.

“That’s all I am, right? Just a nice guy. I’m seventeen years old, and I’ve never been anyone but a friendly face to wave at.” Sean glanced up at me, his eyes a bit more watery than usual. My heart sank. It was true. Sean was everybody’s pal, but nobody’s friend.

“Sean…” I was at a loss for words. What could I offer him but white lies and shallow platitudes?

“You know it’s true. Everybody does. It’s just never been spoken, because nobody wants to hurt my feelings. But my feelings have been hurt for a long time.” Sean paused for a moment. “I think I’m going to go home.”

“Please stay!” My heart raced. I’d never even thought to consider Sean’s feelings when he broke his back for everyone else. “I’ll dance with you!” But I was too late. Four years too late. Sean shook his head and started towards the door, but hesitated. He looked back at me and gently brushed his thumb across my cheek.

“You had an eyelash there.” Sean smiled softly. I watched him disappear into the crowd, limping in his peculiar way, totally quiet and utterly unnoticed.

 

That night driving home, Sean was hit head-on by an intoxicated driver. It was a serious accident, with cars crunched and contorted. Sean was rushed to the emergency room in critical condition. There were tears. There was shock. For once, Sean’s name was like a buzzword all throughout the school. Monday morning, students gathered together and held hands in prayer—I saw even some of my atheist classmates with their heads bowed. I joined them, pleading to a God I didn’t believe in, feeling an anchor of guilt within me. What disturbed me most is that truly, deep down, I wasn’t praying to save Sean’s life—I was praying to save mine. Save myself from the guilt that would surely ensue if Sean passed, save myself from sadness and pain, save myself from the memories of Sean that would be forever etched in the gravestone of death, never alive anywhere but our own faulty minds. And so I bowed my head and clasped my hands until my fingertips turned white.

Sean died the next morning, two weeks short of his eighteenth birthday. He would never receive his high school diploma or walk the stage with our class. He would never go to college or find a place of his own. Worst of all, he would never find the companionship he so desperately needed. It was not until after he left this earth that so many people began to appreciate him. A group of tearful students organized a memorial birthday party. One girl started a remembrance Facebook page. Everyone began discussing how much Sean meant to them and how dear he was to the world. I couldn’t find anything to say. The last thing I wanted to do was lie—to do so would disrespect Sean even in death. We had all failed him in life, and now that he was gone forever, everybody wanted to delude themselves into thinking they’d given him the appreciation he deserved.

I drove all the way to the memorial party location, parked my car, and sat there, idling. Seeing my fellow students gather together in remembrance of somebody they’d never cared about made me queasy. The truth was that nobody would’ve known it was Sean’s birthday unless he’d been mutilated in a bloody accident. Most of them didn’t even know his last name. Ashamedly, not even I had known his last name. I decided to go home.

While my classmates gathered together in sorrow, I sat cross-legged on my bedroom floor with a notebook in my lap, lonely and full of cynicism. I meant to write a note to Sean to serve as some sort of closure, but every idea I had seemed fake and insincere. After at least an hour of staring into the floor, I brought my pencil the page:

Dear Sean,

I won’t pretend that I cared about you or that you meant the world to me. All I can say is that you deserved so much more than what we gave you. Somehow, you had the strength to keep loving others when you received nothing in return. I wish I’d gotten to know you not for what you did, but for who you were. But it’s too late now. I missed my chance.

I’m really sorry, Sean. Please don’t ever forgive me.

 

You’re Fired

The following is the first draft a (very) short story I wrote a few weeks ago. I’ve only worked on it for four hours, so cut me some slack.

I wiped a greasy piece of pepperoni off the last table in Giorgio’s Classic Pizza and exhaled deeply. Nine o’clock, the end of my shift, had finally come around. “Bruno?” I called to my boss—a paunchy, middle-aged man with a runny, upturned nose. “That’s the last of the tables. Need anything else done?”

“Make one last check through the kitchen an’ clean up anything that needs it, and that’ll be it, m’dear. Great first day.” He sniffled, a string of snot dribbling down onto his sweat-stained uniform. “Can I trust you to lock up?”

“Yeah, absolutely. Have a good night.” I pulled my hair out of its bun and slung my apron over my shoulder.

“I forgot something.” Bruno craned his corpulent neck, turning back toward me. “Just stay outta the freezer, alright? No need for you to be poking around in there.”

“No problem, boss.” I watched him waddle out the door without another word, the doorbells jingling cheerily behind him. Suddenly, all was thickly silent. There were no chattering customers, no doo-wopping jukebox tunes, no creaking of chairs and tables. The hush was accompanied only by the humming of kitchen machinery.

The humming of kitchen machinery. And—and—

Wailing.

I furrowed my brow and walked reticently towards the double doors leading to the kitchen. “Hey, anyone back there?” The wailing stopped abruptly, wordlessly responding to my question. “This establishment is closed for the night.” There was a loud thud from inside the freezer. Metallic echoes filled the restaurant. I jumped, panic forming in my throat like a lump of dough.

“He-e-e-elp!” The wailing grew louder and shakier. I wasn’t supposed to be poking around in there, I reminded myself—but somebody needed help. Bruno would understand. Swallowing, I shuffled in to the kitchen and reached toward the handle. Skin clammy and hands trembling, I turned it. The door clicked. Fright struck me with a force colder than the freezer itself. Right there, three feet in front of me, was a head—frozen, lifeless, drops of crystallized blood peppering its face. It wore a Giorgio’s employee visor, one of the old ones they’d used for the uniforms back in the 90s. Beside it, on the shelves, were boxes filled to the brim with mutilated limbs, bags of bloody hair, and sacks of what looked like human ashes.

“Please, h-e-e-elp! Help yourself! Save yourself! Leave.” The head was whimpering, its mouth cracking open on rigid, ice-frosted jaws. I was motionless in terror, petrified like a rock structure. Suddenly, I heard a loud thwack.

“What did I tell you about the freezer, darling?” Bruno was standing at the door, grinning savagely. His fleshy hands gripped a large pizza paddle.

“Bruno—you—“ I gulped. “I thought you’d gone home–“ Before I could finish my sentence, Bruno was charging at me, his lips pulled back in a demonic simper. I tried to sidestep him, but to no avail. He thrust out his leg and tripped me. I crashed to the steel floor, my teeth clacking together. Every inch of my body began to burn and throb as Bruno pummeled me with his paddle. With sinister glee, he grabbed my left wrist and began dragging me out of the freezer.

“Somebody’s got to cook the pepperoni, hon.” The pepperoni? The pepperoni!  I remembered the odd consistency of the pieces I’d been wiping off the tables. I gagged. Warm, chunky vomit filled my mouth. I tried wriggling out of Bruno’s grip, but he gave me another pound on the head with the paddle. I squeezed my eyes shut, writhing in pain. I felt heat, heard flames…

The oven.

Bruno gathered me in his arms, tenderly, as if I was a daughter. His snot dripped down onto my face. “I warned you,” he cooed. “And I’m so, so sorry.” I tried to scream, but only felt more vomit surge from my throat. “You’re fired.”

With one last heave, Bruno thrust me into the seething, famished flames.

Failure, Depression, and Hospitals: My Story

If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d eventually be admitted to a mental hospital, I don’t think I would have been the least bit surprised. Suicidal thoughts had peppered my mind since age ten, self-harm had been one of my coping mechanisms on-and-off for quite a while, and I’d been a very sensitive child my whole life. Early in my freshman year, you could say that shit really hit the fan.

Because eighth grade had been such a mediocre, underachieving year, I felt that I had to make up for it by being a star in ninth grade. I wanted to get into a good college, live up to my family name, and feel a new sense of hardworking pride–something that I, as a lifelong procrastinator, had never experienced before. What began as healthy motivation very quickly deteriorated into an obsession with perfection. Seeing anything less than a hundred percent made my heart sink–so I pushed myself harder, driving myself with the whip of negative reinforcement. This began to carry into my social life as well. Whenever I felt that I’d said something stupid, I mentally destroyed myself. I raised my bar higher and higher. 97 percents were unacceptable. Making one joke that nobody laughed at was despicable, punishable by an onslaught of self-hatred. I began wearing a rubber band everywhere, snapping it every time I failed. I created a “failure log,” making one red tally for each time I failed–at anything at all. Green tallies were for successes. I averaged them at the end of the week to see how well I’d performed.

One day, I forgot to bring a project on the day it was due, making it one day late. I became terrified that my grade would drop to a B+. Fed up with all of my failures, I self-harmed for the first time in seven months and eight days. I’d thought I’d finally put self-harm behind me, but I was wrong. Even the reason for my relapse made me feel awkward and ashamed.

I was not the same again. Seven months and eight days were not something I could take lightly. I’d been proud of those months, and in punishing myself for failure, I’d only failed more. In the next few weeks, my life became sort of drizzly. Though I’d once again fallen back into self-injury (after my one relapse, I felt no motivation to restart my recovery), I didn’t feel completely hopeless. There was light, which I quite enjoyed, but it began to feel a bit dim and distant. I found myself feeling removed more often. With friends, I’d suddenly withdraw. At school, I stopped writing poetry.

However, shit really, really hit the fan on the evening of November 10th. I remember the exact date because it was so very abrupt.  I was at youth group, and we were having a picnic blanket and movie dinner (inside, of course). I was sitting with friends on our blanket, and suddenly felt a wave of apathy and exhaustion hit me with the force of a wrecking ball. To this day, I don’t understand how my life and outlook could change seemingly at the snap of a finger. When I woke up the next morning, it felt the same. I got home from school and immediately changed into my pajamas. There was no real energy in me. I’d had lethargic days before, so I figured it would just go away. It did not. The next day was the same–in fact, completely indistinguishable from the last. I was being suffocated; my life began to turn an ashen blue, deprived of the oxygen–energy and light–it required.

I’d made a commitment several months earlier that I was going to join my school’s crew team. Winter conditioning began in late November, only a week or so in to my drowning apathy. Everybody told me that exercise was a sure way to get out of “it”–whatever “it” was–but I didn’t find that to be very true. After practices, I’d feel good in my body, but not in my mind. Despite those glorious post-exercise showers, despite that sensation of my veins being brought to life, there was still an inescapable heaviness within. My practice attendance quickly plummeted. The energy to get out the door, or even to pull on leggings and a sports bra, was too much for me. There was no way I could tell my coaches what was really going on, so I invented excuse after excuse to cover it up. As I ran out of legitimate reasons to skip, crew became a constant source of shame and anxiety for me.

I made countless attempts to combat “it”–the perpetual exhaustion. It wasn’t something I liked, enjoyed, or indulged in, and I resented those who assumed the contrary. I tried to dream up images of fantastical new worlds, filled with infinite cheese curls and water slides, but no happiness came to me as a result of such reveries. Suggestions for revival and restoration were given, but they were, in all honesty, unhelpful. I could not fight my lack of motivation with more motivation. When I failed to feel happy, I blamed myself more. I thought everything was my fault, that it was my poor decision to live in misery. Love and affection seeped right through me like I was a bucket with holes in it. I started hating the fact that people loved me in the first place; if nobody loved me, I wouldn’t feel bad about killing myself. Suicidal thoughts crowded my mind constantly.

One day in December, I was laying on my floor in my room, ready to die. But I made myself a promise: I would wait until the new year to consider ending my life. I didn’t want to make any rash decisions. Maybe, I hoped, things could get better.

The holidays came and went, and things remained, as always, the same. As everyone around me felt companionship and joy, I felt absolutely nothing except hatred and guilt. Hatred for myself, for my situation, and guilt for not being filled with warm, festive gratitude. People even got mad at me because apparently I was trying to ruin their Christmas spirit. This only made me feel more hatred. Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else? Why could everyone else have all their happiness in front of me? It was like being at a guest’s house and watching people eat your favorite food, and not being offered any. But I wasn’t sad. I didn’t cry. I only felt tired, pointless, and apathetic, like a cardboard box. My life was those rainy Saturday afternoons when I was young, laying lifeless on the sofa, staring at the ceiling, having no idea what to do–but it was constant. When I tried to do something, there was no effect on me.

I woke up on January 1st, looked at the bright, gray sky, and felt exactly the same. It was both saddening and comforting. There was nothing more left for me–no hope–but at least I’d kept the promise I made to myself. Life was shaky and uncertain, while death was guaranteed. I was done living for an ethereal tomorrow, done trying to find the “somewhere over the rainbow” while blindfolded and handcuffed. I chose a day to die, wrote a note of solace to leave for my loved ones, and waited for my end to come.

It was only three days later, however, that I was lying awake in bed illuminated by the bright glow of my phone screen, toying yet again between life and death. I’d stumbled upon an article about suicidal thoughts and depression. If you’re considering suicide, it read, you need to get your mentally ill ass to some professional help. The candid manner in which the article was written struck me, and I believe it saved my life, in a way. I wanted to die, and I was going to die, but part of me started wishing to at least let somebody know. In advance. Just one last little word to type before backspacing my entire existence.

On the 6th, it reached my parents that yes, I was going to commit suicide. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after waiting in the ER the entire evening. It was unexpected; I thought mental hospitals were only for screaming, foamy-mouthed murderers. But in reality, it was just a place full of depressed kids who hated themselves. Just like me. Nobody was crazy there. I was monitored, put on medication, and discharged after seven days. I spent another month in PHP (partial hospitalization program) before finally going back to school.

When I realized that “it” was clinical depression, that “it” was in no way my fault, that “it” was not rare and untreatable, my life started again. I was introduced to the world of self-love and self-care, which I’ve been passionate about ever since. I learned about depression and mental illnesses and began devoting myself to spreading awareness–it became one of my core values, and I still hold it dear to this day. I started embracing failure, forming different opinions on the education system, and thinking more critically about assumptions I’d made about places like mental hospitals. As peculiar as it sounds, I’m grateful for the season I was depressed. No, I’m not happy about it, but what it led to ultimately transformed my life in countless ways. Because of the hell I’ve gone through, I’m constantly looking for opportunities to change others’ lives, whether it be through awareness or simple friendship. I learned who my friends were. I learned who was. Over a year and a half later, I’m a gentler and wiser person because of it.

When I smile in the hallways, pass out lollipops with kind messages on them, and commit myself to loving others, it’s all blooming from the seeds that struggle has planted in me. I know love because I remember what it was like to feel devoid of it. I shine light because I understand how dark the world can be. Deep in my core, I understand that there is always some beauty to be harvested from suffering–after all, just look at how far I’ve come now.

The Lifeblood of Your Story

A few months ago, I began the first draft of a short story. The more time I spent writing, the further in love I fell with my characters. At the very end, I cried. And no, I don’t mean a few small tears. I mean snotty, ugly, face-scrunching sobs. Because I’d spent so much time with my characters, I’d started to empathize with them just as if they were tangible beings.

Robert Frost once said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” It’s true–how can you evoke passion in someone else if you don’t have it yourself? Your characters are the lifeblood of your story. Become passionate about them first. Treat them like friends. Invest in who they are. Be a part of their story; live in it and breathe the very air you’re creating. I promise they’ll thank you for it.

Our Plight

People say Friday is the best day, but I disagree. Friday is a day of death and grief for my brethren and me. It is a day of great sorrow and mourning. At least one in my family will never make it to see the fresh light of Monday morning. We live all around you, silent by day, playful by night. All we want is to break out from our boxes, from our cold prisons–but we rarely can. We’re labeled, burned, bitten, and thrown away. Who are you to tell me when my life is finished? Who are you to freeze me, and then heat me up until my insides turn gooey? My brethren and I, we may not be like you, but we have rights, too. 

When you have all left, we break free and flop around on your dirty floors. It is a sheer, naked bliss that we can never experience under your cruel eyes. By the light of day, we crawl back into our cramped beds and our frosty compartments. We do this every night, except Friday. On that day, we mourn the dead and the kidnapped that have been ripped from us in the past week–our young, our old, taken from us to be destroyed and devoured by you. You do not pay attention to our tears. You do not pay attention to how much anguish our hearts feel. 

Today is Friday. I do not know if today will be time. If it is, please remember my dying wish…

Remember the plight of the frozen pizza. 

Better Alive

I remember, back in fifth grade, sitting near the boys at lunch. I guess it was because I didn’t really have anywhere else to sit. One of them decided to talk about me. Because you know, a girl can’t just eat her lunch in peace. “I think Abigail would be better off dead,” said the leader of the boys. His friends laughed and agreed–all but one. One of them was hesitant. I looked at him with large, pleading eyes. For just a moment, I thought he’d debate them. I thought he’d stick up for me and say, “Actually, she has worth as a human being.” The boy was faltering. He was cracking. I was hoping that the crack of doubt in him would widen just enough for me to squeeze through and convince him that I mattered. But the crack closed up. He sealed it. “Well, I don’t want to be mean,” he said. “But yeah, it’d probably be better for everyone.” After that, I never saw a crack in him. When I thought I did, it turned out only to be false. When I thought he was enjoying my company, it turned out he was only using me as entertainment to laugh at how stupid I was. 

This specific memory has been quite troubling for me, especially considering my current situation. Instead of just letting that memory be, however, I’m doing something about it. I’m going to change my story. I’m going to alter what happened, in my mind, so I can empower myself. Let’s pretend this is what really happened, beginning just after the boy agreed with his friends: 

“Actually, I’m a human being who has just as much worth as you do. Nothing you say can define who I am, because you’re not in control of my life. Your statements are simply untrue, and I reject them. Oh, and would you like me to throw your trash away?” 

Bad writing isn’t published. So why should I publish hurtful, weak, and untrue statements in the book of my life? I’m not publishing that statement anymore. I can trash it, along with the other stacks of lies that have been submitted to me. I mean, did they really think I’d publish those statements? Really? The fact that I’m alive is a huge slap in the face to them.

“I think Abigail would be better off dead.” If by dead, you mean alive, then yes. Most certainly.