the short story project


Draven Barber

A new day one

By the time she stepped outside the leaves were on fire, everything around her had burnt themselves into ashes and the embers fell to her feet, completely disappearing before her eyes could lift their gaze back up from the ground. The skies gave a purple hue with the sweat of regret and hopeful glances swaying back and forth between what once was trees; but are now boneless stumps with new twig like leaves. The world was different to her now. Nothing had changed for her, except the mentality that she now carried, but the world didn’t change its appearance. It was still just as cruel and heartless as she had left it, but she was now finding small glimpses here and there in its shadows of the good in the world that everybody so desperately wants, longs, and stubbornly holds onto.

She was different. The world dug its hooks into her and now she was different. She no longer cared for common decency towards others, if you dropped something, she wouldn’t pick it up. She now just walks on by and acts like the person doesn’t exist, she was definitely different, a product of a non-submissive mind that caved and listened to the depression and anxiety- becoming less of who she thought she was.

She got into the car, turned on her phone and was so overwhelmed by the seeming endless messages she had to turn it off. She wasn’t ready. The doctor told her she could leave if she felt able, but she wasn’t ready. She thought she was, but she came to realize that she was wrong. She couldn’t bring herself to answer messages or be ready to go to work. The thought of general conversation scared her—let alone returning to work, where customer service demands just that.

Thank God, the psychiatrist gave her the week after she got out. She could sort everything together. She could catch up in school, get her bills squared away, she could turn in the paperwork she needed for her insurance, do her damn taxes, which were beyond overdue, recuperate. Do some yoga, go to the gym, get a better eating habit, or start with it. She could actually plan it to where her meals were jam packed and ready to go for the week just by cooking ahead. She was ready, she was ready to face the world- just not ready to talk to people.

She didn’t expect people to notice that she was gone, or that people would actually care about whether or not she was safe or just okay in general. But as she stepped into the car, while talking her fathers ear off on the new medication and how the psych. Ward helped her more than she had expected, she mentioned the initial visit to compare her appearance now.

When the hospital transported her, after she had checked in and was escorted to her room, she laid straight down and didn’t say a word. She just stared herself off into the distance, just stared at the wall and wondered how she could escape the world, then her mind went blank and she thought of nothing at all. She heard the words, “what happened to her?” and then she slept.

She slept the whole day, then partly into the next before she got out of bed for more than a meal and water. The consultations with the doctor led her to new medication and it helped. She became social and began to go down with the rest of the patients out to the smoke breaks, though she didn’t smoke, she did enjoy sitting in the sun and soaking up its heat. She began to read again, she started eating- her appetite came back after the nurses forced her to eat, and she started talking to people again, she started writing and laughing without the feeling of guilt, she wanted to play music, which she hadn’t done in a long time, reading, writing, music, all things she’d lost her passion for because of her depression now coming back and coming back hard. She could barely stand it, how the thought and feel of wanting to do the things that she loved were starting to come back without the excuses of why she couldn’t do it. She was getting better. And she couldn’t wait to tell her father, so she talked his ear off while he sat and listened with the response of “I’m glad you’re doing better.” Simple words but with the most genuine and loving meaning behind them.

They drove to his house, and she tried to get to her work but saved it for the day after, a day where she wouldn’t be so overwhelmed with technology. She’d been in a place where she wasn’t allowed to have it, so it was something she had to get used to again. Though it wouldn’t take long to do, she just didn’t feel like it. She wanted to continue to be outside of the tiny little screen that consumed everybody’s lives, pulling them in like the gelfings being drained of their essence in “The Dark Crystal”. It honestly was the most breathtaking relief that she had felt in a while. She was no longer tied to the action of being forced to check her phone on the thought or notion that someone messaged her or put up a funny post or picture. She no longer had that distraction to avoid her mental state. She had to face it head on right where she was and be okay with whatever came to pass. And she did. She realized in her time there that she had used her phone as a crutch rather than a means of communication, and she was relieved to have had it go away from her. Another patient though wasn’t so lucky for that relief. She screamed and yelled and cried even for not being able to have her phone after two days, it was then that she had realized that a phone addiction was a real thing, though the other patient was more than likely there for another reason—it was then that she realized that she was lucky to have had the relief instead of the stricken panic to add on to the severe depression that she carried on her shoulders.

So she turned the computer off, turned her phone back off, which she tried to turn back on for the day, and excused herself from the digital world and brought herself to where she should be, face to face with people that loved her and that she loved back.

And as she told her father this story, she realized the effect of the medication and how well she had been doing since her going in. She was proud of her progress, and pride was something that she hadn’t felt in some time. The world was once again at her feet. It was as if her suicide didn’t happen. She watched TV with her father once he came back home from work ate dinner with her family, and relaxed. For the first time in months, she relaxed. Her father said he loved her, she reciprocated it, hugged him goodnight and sat with the notion that she was going to get better, she was going to climb as high as she could and jump to fly the rest of the way. She had her life by the reins and her destiny by the hand, and she was going to be okay. There was no other way around it, she was going to be okay.


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