Disclaimer of liability-
By now, you know I’m not a doctor, therapist or professional on depression, self-harm and other related topics. That being said, please review my disclaimer below:
I am not a licensed medical doctor, therapist or expert. The purpose of my story is to send a message and address a topic, and to offer a little entertainment along the way.
If you are seeking a professional opinion on how you should proceed to achieve your personal goal. PLEASE CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL.
She hasn’t laughed in a long time. I remembered when she used to laugh, dance, talk... I was so high off of love that I wasn’t expecting to see anything bad when I looked down. My smile quickly faded and Leah instantly knew what I saw. She desperately tried to cover them with her hands, but I removed them. Dozens of scars were dug into her body. Older ones. Newer ones. There were even some cuts that were fresh. Still puffy, red and bloody. Deep cuts against an unfinished canvas. It wasn't fair. “What are these from?” My voice was shaky every word wobbled. But she didn't have to answer I knew what they were from. “ Why Leah?” She couldn't answer. She couldn't breathe. And she definitely could not look at me.
It breaks my heart to downgrade my expectations of her, but I don't want to end up bitter. “Leah. Why did you do it?” I ask as gently as I could but she wouldn’t answer. I ran a quivering hand through my hair and decide to go out for a cigarette.
Stars shone as sugar spilt over black marble, glistening in the sun. The night sky was such a welcome sight, appearing like magic at each sunset, promising to return as she faded in dawn’s light.
The wrinkled toxic stick had a slow creeping stench. Within moments its chemicals invaded everything I was, from a sickly yellow film over my skin to the air in my lungs. The cigarette smoke had this entitlement, to be closer to me than some subway creep breathing in my face, touching as if random yet calculated. It was the hope it gave me when fighting for Leah.
I throw what’s left of the cigarette and make my way up again. My fade and taper haircut was supposed to impress: especially the beard. The beard she hated being bushy and prickly now clean shaven. I gently open the door and embrace myself for what she is doing. She was sat on the bed, in the same position I left her in. She sat with all the grace of a sack of wet cement. Her body seemed to conform to the shape of the easy chair, even her face seemed to slacken and sink as if pulled by invisible strings gently downward.
Our conversation used to be so much more than words. It is the smiles, the gentle shrugs and the light in our eyes. That we are both elevated by each other's presence is obvious and even the silences are comfortable. Now they are dull, grey, clouded by Leah’s issues. When she looks in the mirror shes see brokenness, anger, hurt, hungry, pain, sorrow and the list goes on and on. When other people look at her all they see is her, her reflection. But that's because they don't see her true self, her inner pain because she hides it from the world. Afraid of what they would think of her.
I settle myself next to her and wrap my arms around her frail frame. “Tomorrow will be a better day.” I whisper in reassurance. “Go to sleep.”
I shut my eyes and hope for a better day.
Once I met someone and they said: ‘if you’re a drummer, then you’re not musically talented. Drummers are just an excuse for musician.’
Firstly, I play the drums... so, apparently, I'm not musically talented? But I also sing, and play guitar, and play piano... so I am or I am not musically talented? Secondly, who made you the expert?
I sit in my music room and begin playing the drums. To me everything was a drum. I drummed on the kitchen counter and I drummed on the car dashboard, I drummed on upturned pots and pans and I drummed on my thighs when there was nothing else available. Even as an infant I had tapped my feet to the beat of any music playing. I could find the beat in cat sick if it had one..
The scuffling of feet from behind me alerts me and I stare into the direction: Leah.
“How are you lovely?” I ask.
“Good. Jack I want to learn how to play the drums.” She says.
“That came out of nowhere?” I say taken aback. “Sure.”
Leah takes a seat next to me. “We’ll start with the basics. Okay.”
“Kay.” She replies.
Wiping my brow, “First, I’ll teach you how to hold onto the drum sticks.”
She chuckles, “I can hold onto a stick.”
“Yeah but you need to learn it the EXPERT way.” I mock as she nods.
A pause, “So this is the matches grip, basically you hold the stick between your thumb and your index finger… yeah, about there. Then wrap the rest of your fingers around the stick and make sure your hands are facing up and not to the side… well done.”
“Now, go wild!” I slightly raise my voice.
Leah has no knowledge at all but everything she did looked perfect. It overtook the assigned steps to replace them in her perfect version. She then stops bashing and starts playing rhythmically. Her wrist moves swiftly with each movement.
I wait until she stops, “Where did you learn the rhythm from?”
“I copied it from you, I liked the sound of it.” She says as she smiles.
We smile together. The first time she’s smiled in a long time; it puts me at rest.
Over the few weeks, Leah has learnt how to play the drums. I find a flower blossoming inside of her; making her new, fresh and confident. She sees clear on life and why she lives. She knows why others love her and why some help; it’s not because she is vulnerable, it is because everybody wants her to know they are there for her. They want to be apart of her life because she is special and hurting herself degrades herself. She needed to know she is who she is and everybody loves her for that; I do.
Leah has always had this nag of singing; she’d sing in the shower, whilst trying to sleep, and even during her work at home! It may become annoying to sum, but to me she sounds like an angel at perfection. So we go ahead and plan our first concert of many.
My forehead beads with sweat and the nervousness creeps up my spine. We are only doing a live concert from home, people will see it on there gadgets and gizmos! Why are you so worried Jack! Surprisingly, Leah is calmly reading over her lines. Noticing me, she walks up and hugs me. “You’ll be great, I love you.” She says and rubs my back.
“I love you too.” I say and wipe my forehead. I look down at the gleaming droplets forming across my hand, this is life in front of an audience, except in front of cameras which will then be set up on media platforms which will then be seen by people… who will then praise Leah and laugh at me. No Jack!
“Come on Jack. Do you want a practice run?” Leah asks.
I read her face, she looks so eager to go live now, I might as well. We’ve practised enough… and I’ve been worrying for no reason!
“Do you wanna go live now? You ready?” I offer.
“Only if you’re ready.” She determinedly says.
I seat myself in front of my drum kit and flash a thumbs up at Leah who starts recording.
“Hi guys. Jack and me thought we could encourage everyone on singing or playing an instrument. And so we’ve prepared a motivational song for you.” She says.
“Hope you enjoy guys.” I manage to get out.
Leah taps on her phone to get on a prerecorded bass guitar tune and I count us in. Once in, the melody tunes us both together and carries us both on. At last we had finished, coming onto the last tune, Leah and I faced each other and forgot the camera was rolling. I leant forward as my pulse raced. A small lock of hair tumbled in front of Leah’s face, resting just in front of her cheek, but with one swift move, it was brushed out of the way.
Looking into her eyes I saw deep pools of blue that displayed her soul. My lips touched her cheek. Time stopped. My heart came to a halt. Our fingers locked together similar to puzzle pieces. A grin crept to our faces and her cheeks painted themselves rosy.
We face the camera and stifle a laugh. Of course it had to be put up on the internet! We couldn’t say anything more but turn off the camera and jump into bowls of laughter.
This was Leah. Leah was not broken anymore. She had lost hope to harm. But I built her back up again. She was back up again.