The air is cold and moist. My feet have never been this agile. I’m running; I can’t stop. I breathe in; I feel a stinging sensation in my throat; I need to stop. This isn’t an option right now. If she catches up to me, It’s over. I want to live. I keep running. Every corner seems to lead me down a never-ending road. I’m headed straight for the lake. I can’t turn around; I’ve already gone too far. I don’t hear her behind me anymore. She found me.
I sit up in bed, sweat streaming from every pore. I tell myself it was just a dream while shaking. They say dreams are your brains way of sorting things out. Tucking each worry into it’s own little folder in this mess I call a head. What does it mean when your brain can’t figure it out? When your mind is a puzzle full of missing pieces.
It’s raining again, third day in a row. It seems like it will never stop. How do the clouds hold so much water? Do they feel dragged down, like any second they will fall from the sky? Can they even feel at all? I hear the raindrops bouncing off my window, how I long to be as free as a falling drop of water.
I roll over my bed; Deppi is lying next to me, as usual. She is always here, as if we are joined at the hip. She has been with me for as long as I can remember; Depression never leaves. I’m not really sure how Deppi came to be, all I know is she’s always there when I need her. She’s the only one who understands me these days.
Deppi runs her fingers through my hair and whispers, “Everything’s going to be okay Alex.” I smile. She always knows what to say. It’s the first day of school, I’m nervous as always. It’s senior year, I should be excited. Honestly I’d rather stay in bed.
Deppi doesn’t like the outside world, meaning she’d rather stay inside our room where no one can see her. She must be rubbing off on me, because I lie back down and close my eyes. The door slams open. “Alex! Get out of that bed, you are going to be late for school!” I look over at my mom and give her a “five more minutes” look. Something in her eyes told me it was time to get up. “You can’t let this sadness you’ve created control your life. Make some friends, get out of the house, live a little.”
I look at her, a shocked expression on my face. “First it’s called Depression mom, I can’t control her. Second, have you ever thought that I’m perfectly content on my own?!” I reply. She looks at me with utter disgust in her features.
“Her?!” She replies. “You make it sound like your depression is a real thing. Like it’s a person.”
“To me it is!! Do you know how it feels when your mind is trying to kill you?!”
She doesn’t answer. I can tell she wants to, but we both know whatever comes out of her mouth next will be devastating to both of us. She turns and leaves, shutting my door behind her. I turn towards Deppi.
“Why can’t she understand how I feel?” I ask. She doesn’t answer. I walk across the room, I have to leave soon and I haven’t even gotten dressed yet.
How is it that a closet full of clothes seems so empty when you want to look good? I throw on a pair of jeans, and an old t-shirt. I don’t have anyone to impress. I turn and look into the mirror. As usual I don’t like what I see. I look at my eyes.
They say that the eyes are the gateway to the soul. What do people see when they look into mine? Can they see the pain I have bandaged up for years? Buried deep under years of dirt I have shoveled by hand. Or do they see the hurt. The tears that swell, held back somehow. Maybe, they see hope. That last bit of hope I hold onto. The last reason I have to keep going. Do they see the truth? Everything I keep behind closed doors, throwing away the key? If the eyes are the gateway to the soul, then my eyes are empty.
I sit on the floor still staring at my crumpled reflection. I reach for my makeup bag. With each stroke I hide another piece of me from the world. I finish looking over to the bed. Deppi is looking back at me. She finally decides to get up. She walks to the closet and pulls out her favorite pair of jeans, and a t-shirt. Everything Deppi owns is black.
“It’s not too late to get back in bed, we don’t have to go,” Deppi says looking down at me. “Deppi, I want to, but we can’t,” I reply. With that we head to school. I can tell Deppi is upset I didn’t stay home; she doesn’t say a word the whole way.
The school doors look the same as always, deceptively inviting. We all know that once you enter those doors however, your life will never be the same. I kind of pity the incoming freshmen; they have no idea how much their lives will change through these four years of utter hell. At the same time, I don’t really feel that bad, I’ve done my time, as all my age must. I take a deep breath and open the doors; Deppi follows me in, staying as close as possible. Groups line the hallways, each their own set of rules and agendas. Jocks, preps, math nerds, band geeks, I don’t fit in any of these. I’m on my own, The Loner Club: Population 1. I head straight to my hallway; this is my only source of sanity in this place. No one ever comes down here, I am all alone. I sit in my seat trying to ignore those around me. I pull out a book and begin reading; Deppi gives me a look as if to say I look like a nerd. She’s probably right, but at the moment, I’ll do anything to seem too busy for socializing.
Deppi never talks to anyone, except for me. She doesn’t have to, considering no one else can see her. No one ever notices that she follows me all day long, year after year. The bell rings; all at once my sense of safety is snatched away. I walk into the hallways dodging people left and right. I just want to get to my next class so I can continue to avoid my surroundings.
My classroom is red. Not like blood, but like, someone town down the color of the wall so I can go back to bed. First hour classes should be the darkest so students can have a chance to wake up. Like that’s ever going to happen. I sit in the back, for some reason the idea of people staring at the back of my head isn’t comforting. I sit next to the door; this way I can escape if necessary. We all know in emergencies, it’s every man for himself.
Mrs. Johnston is shy; everyone in the class can tell. She never leaves her chair behind her desk, and looks down at her paper as she calls our names. Can she sit behind that desk all year? Mrs. Johnston looks like she has had some major trauma in her life. Addiction, heartbreak, daddy issues, whatever it is had a major impact on her. The curiosity inside of me wants to know what happened to her. Then again, I of all people should know sometimes nothing happened. Misery can come unexpectedly. Like an unwanted party guest, it hangs around, never wanting to leave.
We spend the class learning about each other, more us, less Mrs. Johnston. The class went by slow, as if time stood still. I look over at Deppi, she is staring right back. I see the emptiness in her eyes as if I’m back in my room staring into the mirror. Shivers run up my spine. As if on cue the bell rings sending a stampede of students into the hallways.
My day seems to be on slow motion. Every class has its own hell to conquer. As if my life isn’t hell enough. Finally, the bell rings, it’s lunchtime. The line is long, but I’m so hungry waiting isn’t a problem. I pay for my lunch and look out at the sea of tables. No one to sit by, I look at Deppi, she stares back. I take my lunch to the bathroom. There me and Deppi can talk and feel like everything is okay for the time being.
In movies you always see teens eating their lunches in bathroom stalls, but its very different when it’s you. I realize just how sad my life is. Then I begin to feel guilty. Others have it so much worse than I do, I don’t have the right to say my life is falling apart. I can’t help it though; It’s how I feel. I wish I could stop feeling. How would it feel to have no emotion? To be a walking zombie, going through the motions of life?
The rest of my day seems to go by quicker. The bell rings and I wait for the crowds to die down before I begin my walk home. It’s my favorite part of the day, when I can just fall into my bed and try to forget everything that happened. I throw my backpack down, kick off my shoes, and climb under the covers. I’m safe again, finally. Deppi crawls in next to me. We lay looking at each other. Finally, Deppi breaks the silence. “I told you we should’ve stayed home”. I look into her eyes. “I know Deppi, I know.”
We lay in silence for what seems like hours. I turn my back to Deppi; I can’t get sleep when I’m looking at her. I mean this in the most innocent way, for she has this look that keeps me awake for hours.
I hear the car door slam and keys rattling in the front door. My mom is home from work. She comes straight to my room. She looks at me with utter disappointment. Most kids are out having fun, I’m in bed. She overlooks Deppi as usual, sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who cares about her.
“Alex, how was your first day,” mom asks, trying to seem genuine. “Same as always mom,” I reply. She shakes her head walking out of the room. I grab my pillow from under me and put it over my mouth. I scream out all my frustrations. I don’t feel any better. What a surprise.