I wrote this piece last year after someone I knew took their life due to depression. I wanted to share something with people going through depression and considering suicide, this being the final result. While I’m no writing genius, I do think this is one of the best short pieces I’ve written. So, without further explanation or excitement, here it is. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.
Walking down the busy mall with the sun wrapping me in it’s warm embrace, the hustle and bustle of people as they walk from place to place and the cacophony of buskers performing their varying arts fills me with a sense of belonging. It turns the everyday monotony of life into something to look forward to. I feel as if I belong. I breathe in, allowing the mixed scents of food, the distant odour of fuel from the vehicles both big and small that whizz past heading to a destination of their own and the heavenly smell of coffee to tease my nose, the individual scents mingling to form one. The ground under foot is hard under my soft soled shoes and the airy yet melodic sound of a violin greets my ears. It’s surprising to some, that being in this busy metropolitan area brings me comfort, yet it does. It prevents the darkness from creeping up on me, although not always. A brush of fabric against my skin, an overheard harsh word or something I see could send me spiralling into the dark, where tentacled monsters wait to take me in their hate filled embrace.
One minute I’m standing happily watching life whizz past then suddenly my vision is blurring, the sound around me becoming muffled and I become unable to smell the scents that brought me pleasure a few short minutes ago. The tentacles reach out and brush my skin, their cold touch sending unwanted shivers running up and down my body. I’d run if I could, but I’m glued to the spot, my feet locked to the hard ground that I no longer feel. Slowly inching forward, the tentacles begin to wind their way around my ankles, their touch now chilling me to the bone. I stand, as they wind their way up my calves, knees and then thighs, my vision blurring further until all I see is black. Tightening around my hips, the tentacles seem to be laughing. The deafening echo of it fills my ears and is loud, oh so loud. It’s a menacing laugh, that is also quite husky and appealing at the same time. The laughter fills me with a sense of dread, but also one of warmth and familiarity. It makes me want to embrace the dark. To let it claim me as its own. To let it guide me into the folds of the tentacles that explore me like an unmapped land.
As I continue to stand there, the laughter surrounding me, I feel more piling onto the existing ones which are now around my stomach. The pressure of them rising and tightening takes my breath away, leaving me gasping in gulps of bitter, fowl tasting air. If I could, I would scream. But like the rest of me, my mouth is frozen in a silent scream that nobody, not even I can hear or see. The tentacles, both old and new are around my chest, constricting like an army of snakes. Their slimy texture makes me shiver again. It makes me wish there were something I could do to remove them, although there is nothing. I must stand, patiently waiting until they have claimed me as their own, or taken pity on me and released me back to what I sought comfort from only minutes ago. They are around my shoulders now, groups of them separating to twist and wind around my arms, my wrists, my hands and eventually, my fingers.
The ones that didn’t separate have now wound their way around my neck and my chin. Some have slithered their way into my mouth, sapping it of moisture and leaving a sour taste. If I could move, I would be vomiting by now, doing everything I can to get rid of the bitterness that coats my tongue, my teeth and my throat. The monstrous tentacles are now around my cheeks and my nose. The smell of death and decay wanders down my nasal passages, urging me to sneeze although sneezing is impossible. My cheeks are covered and now they begin to slide up my face to block out my vision. Some have started twisting themselves in my hair, forming an inky black braid which grows longer by the second. More tentacles appear, twisting themselves into a rope which is used to tie my hands. A force pushes me to my knees, the tentacles shifting with me as I drop into a curled ball of limbs and tentacles. Forming a cocoon around me, the tentacles stop moving, their mission to capture me complete. For what feels like aeons, I remain curled in the ball I am forced into, my heart pounding and breaths coming in short gasping puffs of air which dissipate quickly, leaving me starved for oxygen once more. Then it happens.
Although I have heard nothing during my capture, I begin to hear a distant, frantic barking. As the barking continues, it feels as if someone, or something is pressing against the unwelcomed cacoon the tentacles have trapped me in. Sensing the invasion, the tentacles writhe frantically, waves of what feels like anger rushing from them like water through broken floodgates. The unfamiliar pressure is back, it pushes and prods, almost searching. The barking is louder too, the familiar noise welcome to my ears which are starving for sound, be it familiar or not. Another unseen force lifts me to my feet and I feel the tentacles begin to unwind. Pulling at my hair, they slide free to fall in amongst the others which have also begun to unravel.
Falling from my forehead, then my eyes, the tentacles seem almost disappointed to be leaving. They slide down my face and out of my mouth, taking the bitter taste, they brought with them away. Excitement building, I realize that I can now breathe and that I can once again feel the sun on my face. Unwinding from my neck, the tentacles fall about my chest and stomach, their cold touch barely noticeable. As they free my waist from their chilling embrace I begin taking in breaths of fresh, clean air which is a shock to my system.
As they fall around my knees, I begin to feel the pressure that was responsible for my release. A cold nose pushing against my hip brings me further into reality, my hearing slowly returning, sounding muffled at first. There are people calling to me, although I cannot understand the words they speak. Slowly, the sounds I hear become less muffled. My sense of smell returns, although slowly, and I begin smelling the aroma of fresh coffee. The smell seems to awaken me further, and it aids in the return of the rest of my senses.
The tentacles fall around my ankles, most of the inky black mass dissolving, taking the bitter cold with them. I can move now, although my feet are glued to the ground. My eyes are open, but my vision still blurred, my surroundings covered by a hazy sheet of filmy black. “Come on love.” I hear an elderly woman say from my left side. “Let’s get you settled.” An arm wraps around my thin shaking shoulders and I begin to walk, although it feels as if my feet are being controlled by something or someone that isn’t me. We walk for several metres, my steps slow and unsteady, my breaths ragged and shaky. I notice the aroma of coffee I cherished what feels like hours ago is getting closer, and that the filmy black that fills my vision is fading.
Guiding me to a chair, I hear the now soothing voice of the woman who has shown me kindness say, “Just take a seat love, I will return.” Sitting, I sigh, the breath coming out of me in a slow, yet still shaky whoosh. The tentacles have left, but the fear of them remains. My mind is full of the cold they brought, and the laughter that made me want to run yet go to its creator all in the same instance reverberates through my mind, muffling my hearing and taking my breath again. With slow breaths in and out I calm again, and am aware of my surroundings. The chair under me is soft, the ground under my feet hard. The two are a comforting contrast, something that helps bring me back to reality.
“Drink this. It will help.” The lady is back, mugs of hot liquid in hand. As she places one of the mugs before me, I take a long sniff, the calming scent of Chamomile soothing my jangling nerves and hammering heartbeat. It was as the hot tea ran down my throat that I finally felt calm. The shaking had stopped, and I could breathe normally again. My hearing was no longer muffled, and the filmy black that had once covered my eyes had dissipated. Sitting there, I begin to take in my surroundings, my heart filling with joy and a smile spreading across my face as buskers performed their trade, the warm, spring sun caressed my cheeks bringing comfort and warmth and the woman across from me chattered in a soothing tone.
She told me about her three cats aggy, merlin and suze, her children and all her grandchildren and her knitting and crochet work. Finishing her tea, she placed it back on the saucer and took my callused hand in her wrinkled one and met my blue eyes with her twinkling green ones. With a soft smile, she lifted our hands and squeezed. Her expression growing serious, she leaned closer. With the barest flicker of a smile, she whispered “When darkness consumes you, the light will remind you that darkness doesn’t always win. You are strong, and you are brave. The power to defeat what lurks waiting to overtake you lies within your heart. Know this, and remember it always.” Placing my hand around the still warm mug, she smiled before standing. “Take care.” She said, a smile making the lines on her face prominent. With a wave and a waft of lavender she disappeared, leaving me feeling calm and as if I belonged once more.
Draining my mug of tea, I smiled, her words looping through my mind. “When darkness consumes you, the light will remind you that darkness doesn’t always win. You are strong, and you are brave. The power to defeat what lurks waiting to overtake you lies within your heart. Know this, and remember it always.”