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Fiction Sad

Note - Suicidal Elements

The red light of the alarm clock blares in my black room, but it hasn’t had my attention for the last several hours. Studying the ceiling has become my new pastime. My eyes stare at the white drywall looming above me, willing it to come crashing down. If only, I thought. It’d be the perfect excuse to miss work tomorrow. They don’t need me anyway, I’d only be getting in everyone’s way like I always do. 

4:00 A.M. Two hours until I need to get up so I can make it to work on time. I slam my fist against the neighboring pillow, poisonous thoughts pumping through my mind. Why? Why are you like this!? The sludge in my mind slowly suffocates my remaining thoughts, allowing a restless sleep to overwhelm me.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

I pry my eyes open as I roll to silence the vexing sounds. I’ll call in sick today I tell myself as I search for my phone. I finally find the device hiding in the shadows under my bed, clicking the side button to awaken it. The familiar screenshot of a cloudy cityscape fails to appear, a low battery sign appearing in its stead. My grip on the phone tightens as I attempt to strangle the remaining life out of it, but I abandon the attempt when my will dies as quickly as it started. I grab the clothes I wore yesterday as I shuffle my way to the shower. The scalding water burns my skin as I rest my head against the wall, but I don’t feel it. I’m too preoccupied fighting the demons that cruelly smile as they perch above my shower.

The garage door grinds open, revealing the blinding morning light. I close my eyes to let them adjust as I feel my way to the front seat of my vehicle. The engine sputters to life as I twist the key.

Good morning, Philadephia! It’s going to be a cold one out there so make sure you grab those coats on the way out and some hot cocoa on the way home. We got some hot tunes to keep…

The radio fades as my mind wanders again. Trees and signs become sirens as my speeding vehicle rushes past them, attempting to lure me into their embrace. It’d be easy to turn the wheel just a bit. My problems would be over just like that. No more work. No more problems. No more disappointing my family. I stare into the giant abyss as I pass over the bridge. What would it be like to freefall? It might be the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. Imagine being an astronaut floating away from their ship into the infinite cosmos of nothingness. I would no longer be anyone’s problem in space.

..and now the new hit single from Taylor Swift!

The flamboyant voice and car engine fade in unison as I remove the key from the lock cylinder. I don’t remember anything from my drive other than the dark thoughts that accompanied me. My hand instinctively reaches for the glove compartment, removing the small orange bottle. Two small white tablets roll into my hand as I tip the cylinder. They don’t work, they never have, but I still complete the daily ritual since it’d be too much work to break the habit now. 

“Good morning, Scott!” 

I grunt in reply to the smiling coworker as I make my way to my cubicle, finding the comfort of isolation as I collapse on the half-functioning office chair. I boot the computer up only to give me something to stare at as I rearrange the papers in the folder on my desk. Slipping all the papers into the trash bin becomes more and more appealing as I stare at them for an hour. Nobody would notice if they disappeared. After all, I’m just a body to fill this small space. They don’t need me for anything else. Any interactions I have are trivial and scripted, something managers must do to keep their meaningless positions. 

11 A.M. Lunchtime. I retrieve the lunchbox from under the desk, laying out all the items neatly on my desk. It’s the most work I’ve done all day. A sandwich with a tub of mayo, a bag of chips, and a Chips Ahoy cookie all sit next to the butter knife. A knife. I grab the metal instrument and stare at the distorted and meaningless reflection that stares back at me. Without thinking, I jab it into my leg with all the strength I can muster. I need to feel something. I must feel something. A crimson stream escapes from the fresh wound, allowing gravity to become its new master. I notice the stark contrast between the murky red and the bright white of the mayo that still rests in its container. I still feel nothing.

“—ott. —cott. Scott!” The gruff voice repeating my name brings me back to reality. “Hey Scott, you okay? You’ve been staring at that knife for the past five minutes, man.”

“Oh...hey Jim,” I say, giving him a weak smile. My eyes glance back to my uninjured leg. 

“Wanna grab lunch? I think you need to get out of your cubicle for a bit. This place really drains the soul, ya know.”

“Uh, no. I think I’m good. Maybe tomorrow.” I didn’t mean this one bit. I’d be surprised if there was a tomorrow. “I have quite a bit of work I need to catch up on.”

Jim looked at all the uncompleted work on my desk, raising his eyebrows and slightly shaking his head. “Riiight. Sure, Scott. Alright, tomorrow it is, no backing out on me.” He patted my cubicle wall a few times with his palm and continued on his way. 

The rest of the day was as productive as the first half. Guess what? Nobody noticed. It didn’t matter. My only purpose was to steal oxygen from the others that inhabited the office. 

The car engine turned over a few extra times before starting this time. I noticed the fallen bottle on the passenger floor mat, the pills and white cap splattered in a perculiar fashion. 

Hope you grabbed that hot cocoa or have some stored away. It’s projected to be a record low…

I never found out what the record low previously was or the projected one for the night. My thoughts didn’t allow it. They turned to the rooftop of my apartment building. The one with a door that was always unlocked, allowing teenagers to sneak up there at night and partake in activities their parents would surely be ashamed of. Or maybe not. Maybe they didn’t care as long as their kids weren’t there to interrupt the nightly news they watched religiously so they could spread the meaningless tidbits at the watercooler the next day. 

The brisk wind brought me to my senses once again. Snowflakes surrounded me, some finding their resting place on my eyelashes. My toes teetered over the edge of the high-rise building as my hands rested by my side. I took in the other large skyscrapers that surrounded me, temporarily impressed with humans and their ability to create such structures. Maybe life wasn’t that bad. Maybe it could be beautiful. I glanced down at the black shadow that sat on the edge of the building next to me. It looked at me with blank eyes. Yes, there is beauty in this world, but there is also pain, sadness, longing, and hopelessness. Forces much stronger. Forces that pulled my body off the edge.

I pull the NeuroGear device from my head and look at my son. I study his hunched-over frame on the chair across from me. He looks up at me, the dark bags under his eyes telling the history of a battle he has been fighting for many years. His fingers tap on the chair, awaiting my response with a fearful, yet hopeful, gaze.

“Oh, Scott,” I say, but that’s all I can manage before my emotions overwhelm me. He becomes blurry as tears fill my eyes, eventually overflowing as streams down my face.

“I need help, mom,” he says, his own eyes watering now, “but I needed you to understand what it’s like.” 

I let the tears continue to fall as I looked down at my lap. What do you say to your child who has been struggling with these thoughts and emotions for all these years? The guilt I felt for being so frustrated with him when he wouldn’t do simple tasks or come see us hit me with great force. I gained a glimpse of his internal war, but I knew it was only a fraction of his struggles. It was only a day I experienced, but it was years that burdened him. 

I grabbed his hand, squeezing it tight. “I’ll be here, Scotty. I’ll always be here.”

August 04, 2021 14:53

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15 comments

Lisa Lacey
20:57 Sep 10, 2021

This story does a really good job of illustrating the daily struggles of someone suffering from severe depression. I love the idea of a device that could show someone who has not had these struggles what it is like in order to increase their compassion and understanding. Until such a technology emerges, stories like yours are a very realistic representation. Very well written!

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Alizah Muhammad
17:47 Aug 12, 2021

This was so well written, I felt the pain as I read the struggle and my heart breaking, only realised of the tears when it ended. My heart and well wishes remain with everyone struggling with depression.... Thank you for writing out what so many feel and can't speak of... I hope this can help others understand their loved one's who are struggling with their mental health.

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Marina Savva
02:58 Oct 15, 2021

This was an incredibly emotive piece of writing that depicted Scott's daily struggles so well. The contrast of imagery that you use with the news cast being perky and Scott's thoughts being dark creates such a powerful affect that I haven't seen that often. When he stabbed his leg, it really took me aback and made me stop there for a second! The switch of the point of view puts another perspective on it, which I really enjoyed. Great job, Riley!

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Keya Jadav
05:48 Sep 19, 2021

Brilliant! Life isn't always easy for everyone. Somewhere in our lives, we all face it, those dark days. I liked how you ended it, summarizing all the dark emotions into one single solution- to share. Bcz the other person won't know unless you tell them. Nice Job Riley!

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Riley B.
13:47 Sep 20, 2021

Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, Keya!

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Jon Casper
09:28 Aug 05, 2021

Cool idea! Reminds me a little of Brainstorm (Christopher Walken movie) where they invent a device that allows you to record your reality and play it back for someone else. Very engaging and good job illustrating Scott's torment.

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Riley B.
14:25 Aug 05, 2021

Thanks Jon! I've only seen clips of that movie. I'll have to check it out again.

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Kevin Marlow
02:07 Aug 05, 2021

The reality of depression is unfathomable like the distance between planets. The chasm swallows all thoughts and empties all the tears.

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Danny G
00:24 Aug 05, 2021

Well written, confronting and (sadly) relatable for some. One thing I noticed was a lot of use of the word 'as' in the first 3rd of the story. Not a major thing (and I am no professional critique-r) but thought I would point it out. Otherwise really well done and a good story.

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Riley B.
06:05 Aug 05, 2021

This is great feedback, thank you! Definitely something I would like to pay attention to moving forward.

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Danny G
06:07 Aug 05, 2021

You're welcome and all the best.

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Nathalie Menard
17:57 Aug 04, 2021

Nicely done. I really felt for Scott... and for his mom. Thank You for the good read.

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Riley B.
14:17 Aug 05, 2021

Thank you!

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Eurus T.
15:35 Aug 04, 2021

I really loved the story! I think you did a really good job in the writing two different narratives. Scott was so relatable and real. Unfortunately many people battle with such mental problems and the way you represent it nearly brought tears to my eyes by the end because as I have mentioned, characters felt real and solid. Plot is really clever thinking, super fit to the prompt. Thank you for sharing :')

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Riley B.
06:07 Aug 05, 2021

Thank you for your kind thoughts. The ending to this was a challenge for sure. I really wanted to capture the proper emotions you’d feel in a difficult situation like this.

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