Sad Drama

This story contains sensitive content

TW: Mentions of mental health issues and suicide

“Mental Health Hotline, this is Joanne. Who am I speaking with this evening?”


“Hi, this is Joanne. What’s your name?”


“Hi Darren, before we start, I have to ask. Is yourself or anyone else hurt or in danger of being hurt?”

“No. No one else.”

“What about you, Darren?”

“What about me?”

“Are you in danger of being hurt?”

“I don’t know. I just wanted to talk to someone.”

“Well, I’m here to listen, Darren. But I want to make sure you’re not going to hurt yourself. Can you promise me you won’t hurt yourself?”


“Can you promise we can talk things out before you do anything?”

“I called, didn’t I?”

“Yes you did, Darren. That’s a good start. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on? What makes you want to hurt yourself?”

“I didn’t say I wanted to hurt myself.”

“But you can’t promise you won’t?”

“It’s not about what I want.”

“Who is it about Darren?”

“It doesn’t matter. They will just be better off without me.”

“Who will, Darren? Are you talking about your kids?”

“Not like I see them anyways. That bitch makes sure of that! Says I need to deal with my problems first. She’s one of my problems. Maybe I’ll go deal with her.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Darren, but let’s focus on you. It’s always hard to be away from your kids, but I want you to see them again, so why don’t we talk about some of those problems? Maybe I can help with those.”

“Nothing you can do about my bitch ex-wife hiding my kids, or the last two girls I’ve dated leaving me, or being so fucked up from Iraq that I can’t hold a job and I make poor life decisions.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Not all of that is your fault though, Darren.”

“Sure it is. My decisions made me the person I am. I didn’t choose to get PTSD, but I chose to enlist. Like she said, it’s just another shitty decision I made in my life.”

“I’m sure that’s difficult, but you shouldn’t blame yourself. Sometimes things happen for a reason and they lead to something better waiting out there for you, you know.”

“Except there isn’t.”

“You can’t know that.”

“Sure I can. Things have never gotten better. This job was worse than the last job. This apartment was worse than the last one. The next one won’t be an apartment, it will be the street. Women already don’t like me. What chance would a jittery homeless bum have? ”

“That doesn’t have to happen, Darren. There are lots of resources out there to help you before it comes to that. I can provide some additional infor-”

“What, like veterans’ affairs? They don’t do anything. I’ve called all the numbers. I’ve been to all the meetings. No one cares about us once we come back.”

“I care, Darren.”

“You don’t even know me. You’re just supposed to say that.”

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care, Darren.”

“Sure you would. You’re just doing your job. You will hang up with me, and go on with your life, and never think about me again.”

“That’s not true, Darren. I volunteer here. I want to be here. I want to make a difference.”

“Do you think you actually do?”

“Make a difference? Sure. One person at a time. Right now, you’re my person, Darren.”

“I’m glad I can be your project of the day.”

“I’m on your side, Darren. Why don’t we keep talking about things? We can talk about some good things going on.” 

“There are no good things.”

“I’m sure there are. Sometimes they can be hard to see when everything feels like it’s going wrong, but there is always something.”

“Is this where you tell me all the reasons to live?”

“I can’t tell you what they are for you. We all have different reasons to keep going.”

“Oh yeah? What are your reasons, Joanne?”

“My daughter is my reason. She is also the reason I’m talking to you. “

“Oh yeah, how’s that?”

“She was like you, Darren. Until someone helped her find a reason to keep going, even though she thought there was nothing left. She is still here because she had someone to talk to.”

“Let me guess, you were her reason for living?”

“No, I wasn’t her reason. I wasn’t a good mother. We didn’t talk. But we fixed that, and we are each other’s reason now. It wasn’t easy for either of us. It took time and work. We both had to make the effort to call each other, and commit to seeing each other, and talking things through.”

“Are you going to tell me to call my mother now Joanne?”

“If that’s your reason, Darren. How would she feel if you hurt yourself?”

“She would be happy, probably throw a party.”

“I doubt that’s true, Darren. What about the rest of your family?”

“They don’t give a shit about me. All of them have said they are done with me. They would all prefer that I’m dead, so they don’t have to deal with me and my bullshit anymore.”

“Sometimes family can be stubborn, but they wouldn’t want you dead. You just need to go back to them better and stronger. Show them your value. Show them your strength.”

“Is that all you have?”

“What do you mean, Darren?”

“I mean, I called you hoping there was something you could say to me. Something that would change my mind, but you have nothing. This is all the same shit everyone says, and it’s all bullshit. I’m glad you have something to live for Joanne, but not all of us do. This world is cruel and doesn’t care about people like me. I’m done with it. I’m done with all of it.”

“That’s not true, Darren. I’m sorry you’re feeling like this now, but things can and will get better. My daughter is proof of that.”


“What was that noise? Darren? Is everything ok?”

“Darren, are you there?”


February 20, 2023 21:57

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Aeris Walker
00:19 Feb 21, 2023

Oo good job pulling off the all-dialogue format. Dialogue is not my strong suit, so I’ll be passing. I liked how you managed to include both characters’ backstories to show what has led up to Darren calling and what has happened in Joanne’s life to make her want to volunteer. It felt natural and believable. I had a feeling it was going south after the line, “Is that all you have?” Darren just seemed too far gone. Well done and best of luck to you. Minor edits: mother and daughter do not need to be capitalized. :)


15:11 Feb 21, 2023

Thanks for the comment! I feel like dialogue is one of my best skills, so I wanted to try this one. Now I just need to work on show vs tell, description, setting, and tense lol. Good catch on the capitals! Thanks.


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Riel Rosehill
10:24 Feb 23, 2023

Great character voices here - they were distinct, consistent and believable. I like the idea of the phone conversation story for this prompt too - it fits so well!


03:05 Feb 24, 2023

Thanks, that means a lot!


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