Today, I decided to delve into a different aspect of depression: the voices in your head that you never seem able to escape. From what I’ve seen, everyone assumes that people who attempt or commit suicide have some sort of horrible life or an outside source that is directly causing their problems. And, many times, that’s completely true. But other times, it’s just the right mixture of low self-esteem and a few off-hand remarks that stuck a little more than they were meant to. Even when a person has the best support system possible, the voices in their head that tell them they’re being lied to or that they’re not worth the worry and care the people around them are giving them. And some sort of bad past, such as bullying or a less-than-supportive family member can be the catalyst, but there are plenty of times when the source is to far away from the current time to be traced with any accuracy. The voices, however, are still there, always bringing up the dirty laundry that you tried so hard to bury under happier memories and good intentions.
Today’s story is a little more interesting, because it’s from the point of view of one of the main characters, rather than a bit character that I was just trying to develop a back story for. It was a bit difficult to start, since I didn’t really have a plan for it when I began,but it seemed to fly out as I continued. Because of this, it really helped me develop an understanding of her, so that I’ll be able to understand her better when I introduce her. Getting into her head was really interesting, because I discovered just how much pain an loneliness she was trying to hide behind her tough exterior. I hope you enjoy it! Well, as much as you can enjoy a story about self-injury and suicide.
As always, this story contains possible triggers for suicide, depression, and cutting. It also contains some strong language, coming from the mouth of an angry teenage girl.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl would was the best archer in the world. She could hit any type of target from any distance, even moving targets. And she was proud of herself for this, because being an excellent archer didn’t just come naturally. All her life, she had to practice and practice and learn just how to hold the bow steady, pull back the string, and let it snap forward just right. It was hard work, and her arms hurt at first, but she enjoyed it so much. It was the most important think in the world to her.
The little girl lived with her mother and father in a big house on a hill. Her parents were always running in and out of the house, going here and there and everywhere else, never paying attention to the little girl’s talent. They had bought her the bow and arrow, thinking that she would get bored and outgrow in quickly, and paid for the lessons to prevent her from accidentally hurting herself when she was using them. But, to them, it was just like buying her any other toy: they had the money for it, so they didn’t care what happened to it after their daughter didn’t want it anymore.
The little girl wanted so much to show her parents how much she loved archery, and how good she had gotten at it! But, no. They were too busy with work to do that. They couldn’t take the day off to just spend time as a family. They had to keep their business running, or meet with clients, or go to fancy dinners to maintain their professional contacts. They barely even looked at their daughter. They just left her with a stupid fucking maid who followed her around going “Oh! Miss Erika! I don’t think your parents would like you getting all dirty! Come inside and doing your math homework!” What the fuck would they care if I got my pants a little dirty? They could just buy me a new pair if I messed them up. And no, I won’t do my math homework! I hate math! Why the fuck would I need to know the cosine of a fucking circle?
As she got older, archery became more of a way to escape how angry it made her that her parents never talked to her. She would become lost in the repetitive motions of drawing back and releasing the arrows, one after the other. Eventually, however, even that wasn’t enough. The hours she spent out on the archery range just became a constant reminder of how she would rather spend those hours talking to her mom and dad. It was just so annoying! Couldn’t they spare just one hour a day to sit down and eat with her, and talk to her about her day? It made her so angry that she felt like she could punch someone!
One day, however, the problem seemed as if it had fixed itself. At least, it seemed that way for the time being. It was during one of her usual archery practices. She was thinking about a bunch of things as she shot, and accidentally got her finger too close to the arrow, and pulled it back too far. As she released, the tip of the arrow cut into her finger, causing her to miss the target as her hands flinched from the pain.
She hissed through her teeth as she carefully placed her bow on the ground and held her finger, waiting for it to stop hurting, stop bleeding. She stared at it as the droplets swelled on her fingertip and then dripped over the side. It wasn’t a horrible injury. It would only require a quick disinfection and a Band-Aid to fix.
As she turned to go inside and fix it up, she smiled slightly. For a short time, she realized, she hadn’t been worrying about her parents or how alone and angry she felt. All she could think about was the pain and watching the blood. She knew what she would do.
Over the following weeks, cuts and scratched appeared all over her arms. Whenever people would ask her about them, she would just shrug and say she hurt herself doing archery. Everyone knew she liked it, so they didn’t think too much of the fact that the formerly flawless archer was suddenly injuring herself every day. Then, she could do home and, while everything though she was out shooting, she would hole herself up in the shed and cut her arms with a little pocket knife she had found in her father’s desk drawer. The pain filled her with a sense of ecstasy. It was like a drug to her. Then, when it lost its edge, she would go out and shoot off a few arrows, her head still spinning.
A few weeks into it, the moment she had been waiting for finally came. Her father asked her to come speak with him and her mother in the dining room. On her way there, she skipped like a small child. Her parents finally set some time to speak with her, just them.
Everything fell to pieces, however, once she sat down.
“Erika, we don’t want you to use your bow anymore.” her mother said. “You’ve been hurting yourself a lot recently. We believe it’s too dangerous.”
“But Mama-“ she began, but her mother shook her head.
“No buts. Look at your arms; they’re covered in cuts! I’ve never seen you with so many injuries. We’re getting rid of the equipment, so you can focus on your schoolwork and find a hobby that is less dangerous.”
The little girl stood up in her chair, hands clenched. “Gee, I’ve never gotten hurt this much before, have I? I wonder why I suddenly suck so much? I mean, it can’t have anything to do with the fact that you don’t pay any fucking attention to me, or how good I am at it, unless I’m getting hurt by it. No, that’s impossible. Every girl loves to my totally fucking ignored by her parents, right?” She stormed out of the room before her parents could respond, just like they wouldn’t let her respond when they said they wanted to “talk to her.”
When she got home from school the next day, movers were loading up the targets and hay bales she used for targets and drove them away. Angry, she stomped up to her room and stared at the ceiling for a while, then took out the knife and made a nice, big, noticeable cut right over the top of her wrist. Maybe if the injuries didn’t stop, they would get the picture.
Without the archery to keep her calm, however, school became more and more difficult. All she could think about was how much she hated her parents, how much she wanted to do archery, and how she could make her cuts more obvious to someone, anyone. So, she hurt herself more often. In the school bathroom, changing for gym, on the bus on the way home. It was when she tried to burn herself during science class that the school called her parents, and they were forced to realize that their daughter wasn’t a fucking doll that they could create and then leave to fend for herself without interaction for the rest of her life.
They pulled her out of school, and took a few weeks off from their endless business lives to make sure she was “recovering” properly. This means they shut her up in her room with a tutor while they sat in their offices making phone calls all day to make sure people knew that they were all more important than the pair’s daughter, and they would never think forget about them while their daughter was trying to cut her hands off in an attempt to at least make eye contact with her parents once in a while.
During dinner, they asked her in bored voices if she was still hurting herself while they picked at their dinner. With a sneer, the little girl always held up her arms to them, making sure any new cuts were always in full view. They sighed and lectured her about why cutting herself the wrong, which she ignore. She tried to make conversation after they had winded themselves, but they always gave her short, useless answers before going off to make another phone call.
Seeing no point and no end to this useless attempt to attract her mother and father’s attention, the little girl gave up. She didn’t stop cutting herself, of course. Although she still wished her parents would talk to her more, the cuts had made an improvement in their relationship. But, it was beginning to become less of a distraction and more of a chore. So, she decided to up the ante a bit. Going out into the shed, she careful took a rope out and tied it around her neck, then got up in a ladder to tie the other end to the roof beam. Then, pleased with her work, the little girl began to tip the ladder over.
Let’s see what they think of their stupid business now. I’ll find my own happy fucking ending, even if it kills me…
Welcome back to A-Z suicides, which is probably the most depressing take on the A-Z blogging challenge out there. As with the prior 3 days, I advise against reading my blog this month if you are sensitive to the topic of suicide.
Today, I went with free-form parallelism poetry, since I’m going on a trip and needed something quick to set up to be posted at a later time. I thought it would work well with this character, since swimming is a very repetitive motion, and would be a good way to take your mind off things as you succumb to the habit of your strokes. So, I tried to mimic that mechanical movement and seductive rhythm in the poem. And, the discussion we had in class on The Awakening may have also played a part in my dicision to write this character on this day. Regardless of my inspiration, though, I hope you enjoy.
Swim away from the shore
Swim away from the heat
Swim away from the rough sand
Swim away from the oppressing weight of gravity
Swim away from the wall
Swim away from the start line
Swim away from the competitors
Swim away from the cheering
Swim away from the yelling
Swim away from the screaming
Swim away from the fighting
Swim away from the hurting
Swim away from the stares
Swim away from the whispers
Swim away from the questions
Swim away from everyone’s egotistical worry
Swim away from the loneliness
Swim away frolm the crying
Swim away from the sleepless nights
Swim away from the voices in my head
Swim away from the suffering
Swim away from the pain
Swim away from the shore
Swim away from this endless life
In the cool
And float away
Of all the suicides I have planned for this month so far, it’s this one that I’m most unsure of its reception. In addition to the usual warning of suicide and depression that will blanket this month, I also wish to warn you that this story will be unfavorable to anyone who does not like to see religion portrayed in a negative light.
I just want to give a disclaimer that I do not condone any of the behavior, narrator’s or her parents’, in this story. I also do not believe that religion, Christianity specifically, is always like that. I am, however, aware that there are some individuals out there who would take their beliefs to this level, and beyond, because that is what their interpretation of the Bible tell them to. This story was more inspired by the dark side of religious orders, and the catch-22 of suffering from depression under such an order (God’s love should be enough to cure you! You can’t admit you’re feeling these feelings, or be seen in a light of shame, but the only other escape is also a sin. You’re trapped, and will lose your bid for heaven either way). I do not personally believe it should be like this, but I’ve met many people who do see it this way, and for that I am sad.
Anyway, if you don’t find the content of this short story an off-put, then I hope you enjoy it, and will stick around for my continuing journey through the heart and mind of the suicidal teen!
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I have ended the life of one of Your precious creations prematurely.
I am sorry for my transgressions, but I am sure You will understand my reasons. It was a creature who is made better through her death. A pitiful creatures who was already withering under the blinding light of Your glory. Therefore, please see that I was not doing so out of malice. I did so out of pity. Because of this, I pray that You will give reprise to her poor soul once she is in Your arms.
I am sure You know all about the pain she has suffered in this world. She tried to be a good girl, she really did. But, Your plan for her just did not seem to include giving her a break. Her prayers always got jumbled at dinner. Her gown tangled underfoot as she tried to acolyte. She spilled the wine on her pretty new dresses during communion. And, I am sure You did not see it as and big issue, in Your infinite knowledge and glory. Your children, however, are not always so knowledgeable.
The poor creature could find no peace from her suffering. Could they not see that her embarrassment was punishment enough? Could they not see that she was sorry, that it was an accident? That she was only human, and therefore made mistakes? No, they could only see how imperfect she was, how ungodly an image she portrayed in her posture. They yelled at her, sent her to bed without dinner. They made her feel so small. So worthless. So unworthy of the love she was told you held for all…
But, she tried, Father. Oh, she tried. She did everything she was told. She didn’t stay after school with the children her parents considered heathen. She held fast to the teachings her family gave her, even when she knew they were wrong. She tried to be a good Christian…a good daughter…a good girl… And, she was alone. But, she smiled through the pain. As long as she had God and Jesus by her side, what use were friends? What use was happiness…
But it was never enough. No matter what good she did on her own, she always managed to make some mistake in their eyes. She was never good enough. She would never be good enough. No, not ever, not to them. She began to wonder, what use was it to them to have a daughter when she was such a disappointment to behold? Perhaps…perhaps if she could not do anything right, she would do one final wrong, in order to free them from their disappointment forever. She would commit one final sin, in order to end her own suffering.
Father, I ask that You forgive me, as I slip this rope around my neck. I did my best to be good in Your eyes, but I guess that is not enough in this world. If you cannot be perfect, what use are you to the world at all? I pray that You will welcome me into Your arms as I pass through Your glorious gates. But, I do not blame you if you turn me away. I am sure my hideous soul will have already decided that long before this final mistake manifested in my head.
Day 2 of my series of teen suicides. Yesterday was a summarized medical log, and today is the diary of an aspiring start. What could possibly do wrong? (Yeah, I realize this one is kind of stereotypical. It happens often enough to get a pass though, right?) I’m going to try to use different formats for different ones, though I’m not sure how long that’ll last. I hope you enjoy this one, and the rest of the month!
As with yesterday, a month-long trigger warning for suicide and it’s related topics. This one also has eating disorders in it, if that’ll trigger you. I don’t think the portrayal is that bad, but I also don’t know the exact anatomy of a trigger.
I’m so excited! Mom agreed to let my audition for Song Starz! We’re going to New York next week so I can participate in the primary judging. I already have my clothing and song picked out. It’s going to be so awesome! I mean, I’m a little scared of performing in from of the judges, but I’m sure I’ll be okay. If I don’t get it this time…I can always try again next year, right?
Derek’s being an asshole, as usual. He’s saying that I’m going to get in front of the judges and bomb it. It’s practically brothers’ jobs to be dweebs and say mean things, though, especially when there sisters are excited about something. With all I’ve been practicing, though, I’m sure I’ll be great. Positive thinking!
Wish me luck, Diary!
I made it past the primaries! Next stop, LA to audition again, so see if I’m material for TV. Mom’s going to help me pack tomorrow morning, and then drive me to the airport to catch my plane on Friday. I’m a little bummed she can’t come with me, but I’m practically an adult, and I’ll have to get used to being own if I’m going to be *famous*!
Derek came into my room when we got back and congratulated me. His exact words were “Good job. Maybe you don’t suck that bad.” I’m taking it as his own personal form of complimenting me.
The hotel is beautiful! Each room is bigger than all the bedrooms at home combined, practically. I do have to share it with another girl, but it’s not that bad. My roommate’s a girl from Kentucky who’s even younger than I am named Rebecca. She’s really sweet, and likes a lot of the same shows I do. We stayed up until almost midnight talking about it and trying to figure out if we would be free to watch them all together.
The other women here are so pretty! And the guys are really handsome. Most of the older people don’t really pay much attention to us, but the other teens are really nice. A bunch of us when down to the pool to play Marco Polo and go down the slides. It was great! There are a few snobby girls who follow the adults around and don’t mind being ignored, but we just ignore them. Why would they want to stalk a bunch of snuck-up bitches when there’s tons of cool people there age around?
I have to get to sleep now. We’re doing auditions again bright and early!
Guess who’s going to be one TV? Me and Becca both made it through. A bunch of the older girls glared at us, and I heard a few of them whispering about how they only kept us on because we were cute, and we wouldn’t last a week on Song Starz. I just ignore them and went back to my room, though. Why would they do that? Of course we’re going to be awesome. They’re probably just jealous that not all of them made it through while we did.
The first week was brutal. I don’t think I saw Becca at all this week, except for at night and when we were going to and from different places. Almost every hour we were awake was devoted to practicing, costume fittings, and a few brief meals in between. We both came back at the end of every day exhausted and just went to sleep. We didn’t even get the chance to catch up with the shows we like online. Oh well. Maybe after a few weeks pass, and things aren’t quite so stressful, we can hang out a bit.
By the way, I’m thinking about losing some weight. A bunch of the older contestants were staring at me during dinner and whispering. It was cheeseburger night, but most of them ate salads instead. When I want to get some mayo, I overheard one of them say “They do realize nobody wants an ugly whale for a pop star, right?” I tried not to think about it, but I do have a few fat rolls I could stand to lose. Besides, it won’t hurt to just think about what I eat a bit more.
Becca and I were both safe this week. Some girl dropped out because of a family emergency, and they haven’t had the chance to contact one of the runners-up, so they’re just going to vote out two girls next week.
I lost a few pounds, though my stomach still hangs over a bit. Another week probably won’t hurt. I’m a little hungry, but I’ve always eaten a ton, so I doubt it’s anything to worry about. Maybe, if I do really good, I’ll add some chocolate chips to my salad. I hear the restaurant downstairs also has really good watermelon sherbet. Hm…maybe I’ll use that as a reward if I make it through voting next week. Sherbet isn’t that fattening, right?
It’s horrible! Becca got voted off this week. I tried to tell her that it wasn’t her fault, and that she did great, but I’m not sure if she believes me. She tried to sound cheerful, and say it was just because she froze up and forgot her lyrics this week, but it didn’t sound convincing. I hope she’s okay. We agreed to send emails, and she said she’ll vote for me every week so I’ll win. I’m getting really scared, though. What if I’m the next one who’ll leave? I decided to forgo the sherbert, since I shouldn’t really be celebrating my best friend here leaving.
I got moved into another room, one with the roommate of the other woman that got voted off. We haven’t really spoke, but she’s a lot older than me. The other women are always talking about how horrible us younger contestants are, so I’m afraid she’ll want to talk about how crappy I perform and remind me how fat I am. So, I’m going to try to avoid her as long as I can. Positive energy, right?
I skipped lunch today. My trainer was really mad, but I wasn’t hungry, anyway. I really needed the extra time to practice. I don’t want to be voted off yet! I didn’t really eat much dinner, either, because I was really nervous about the performance. I think I did okay, though we won’t know until tomorrow.
Continuing until next week. Gotta sleep. Good night.
I’m not losing weight fast enough! All the other girls are so pretty and skinny, and I’m still a fat lard. I have to find something that works better…
Going on to next week.
Mom and Derek are visiting to watch the performance this week, since it’s Childhood week. They say I’m getting really skinny, and should eat more. When mom was in the bathroom, Derek said he’d beat up anyone who was saying mean things to me. I just told him I was fine, and to relax. They just don’t understand what you need to do to be famous.
Was in the bottom 3. Have to do better next week.
My new roommate, Jessica, stopped me in the hall today and told me I looked scary thin. She tried to make me eat more at dinner, but I told her I wasn’t hungry. She just wants me to get fat again, so I’ll get voted off.
Fainted during practice. My trainer watched me while I ate, to make sure I did. I’ll have to be more careful, so I don’t pass out during a performance.
Bottom 3 again. So tired, I almost don’t care anymore. I’m obviously not going to win, so why am I even still trying?
I woke up in the hospital this morning. I was late for rehearsals, so Jessica went to look for me and couldn’t wake me up. They said I’m malnourished. I’m not going to recover in time for performance, so they told me I was off for the season. If I’m healthier next year, I’ll be allowed back on, but I doubt I’ll be any good after just a year. I’m getting sent home to “recover and get my life back together.” Jessica came to visit me and told me it’s too bad I was “sick” because I had “potential.” She’s probably just glad the girls are getting a free ride this week.
Mom and Derek asked me if I wanted to watch Song Starz with them, but I just wanted to stay in my room. I skipped dinner again, since that’s when it’s on. I can’t stand to watch it, since I know all the girls that are left are a bunch of stuck up bitches. I’ll write more tomorrow to tell you who got voted off. I’m getting kind of tired.
I’m doing my A-Z blogging a little differently this year. Since my April Camp NaNoWriMo novel deals heavily with suicide, and has many bit characters who require more back story planning than they do actual screen time, I decided to use their back stories for my blog post. Therefore, if you are sensitive to suicide, abuse, depression, anything like that, then it may be best to avoid my blog for the month. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to post constructive criticism. Most of these stories age going to be written on the fly, so I wouldn’t doubt a few of them will be kind of crappy. Thanks for reading! 🙂
I apologize that my PI&W contribution is a bit on the long side this week, in comparison to many of my other contributions to flash fiction challenges. Although I could easily shorten this story down a bit by making it a bit more vague, though, I don’t really want to. I don’t feel like it would be the same story without the details and narrator’s little verbal flourishes. My giving the narrator free reign to give the full account, I feel if make the story more memorable. Perhaps you will disagree, and you’re free to do so. All I ask is that you keep your criticism to a constructive and polite tone. After all, you never know who may be on the other side of your responses. 😉
This story carries a language warning, and a disclaimer that the views and attitudes of the characters are of no relation to those of the writer. I hope you enjoy!