He walked into my room.
“What are you going to do today?”
“Um.. I’m not sure.”
“Weren’t you going to start running? I’ll go with you.”
“In a bit.”
“Any calling today?”
“I don’t believe you, but I’ll see you later. Sure you don’t want to come with?”
“Yeah. It’s all fine. Bye, man.”
“Bye... you know you’re like my brother, right?”
“And... Cindy didn’t change me all that much... did she?”
I could tell the subject was uncomfortable with him, which did not happen often. If I was in Cliff’s position, I would not have asked. But that was just who Cliff was.
“That’s not what you said.”
“I was angry.”
“OK.... I’m going now. So, bye.”
“I love you man. You know I’m worried.”
“Yeah. I know. Bye.”
Immediately once he closed the door, I sprung into action. My phone whipped out of my pocket, and my fingers danced over the numbers.
Today was a good day, yet I still wanted to call someone. A stranger. It was relaxing. I hated myself for admitting it, but whatever was wrong with them was what made me feel better about myself.
I called the depression line.
“Hello?” Came a female’s voice.
“Hi, I’m depressed. Things suck.”
“Yeah. I guess they do.”
“What about you? Why are you depressed?”
“It’s a long story.”
“I want to hear.”
“Of course I am.”
“Well, this girl I was trying to hook up with stood me up for my roommate. I came home to them...”
“Ew. Sorry. But, honestly, that doesn’t sound too terrible. It could always be worse.”
“Yeah. I mean, it seems to be everything. Just piling up. It’s like it’s weighing me down. It’s keeping me grounded. It’s the cycle.”
“Yeah. Life. It’s like a cycle. You get up. You go do your thing. Your same boring, mundane thing. Then you sleep. Then you do it over again.”
“Go out and do something different.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“No. I don’t have the power to do things like that anymore. But I’ve got to overcome that feeling. A lady I talked to on here my first time, her name was Cheyenne, she said ‘ It does not leave until you do something. It tells you to stay, but you have to overcome it. Trust me. It’s worth it.’”
“And she also told me to never lose track of what’s important. Go out, do things, and have fun. Go crazy. But don’t lose the grip on reality. She’s so right. You’ve gotta have one attachment to keep you grounded, and one to keep you in the clouds. To keep you soaring high.”
“I’ve always lived how ever I wanted. That cycle stuff is something new to me. Anyway, I hate my life.”
“My dad raped my mom. That’s why I was born. She was fifteen, or something. He was about forty-five. The fucking asshole. I spent the rest of my life dealing with drugs, him always drunk, and occasional beatings.”
“Oh, my God! Tell someone!”
The girl gave a sick little laugh.
“Yeah! Right! Don’t worry, uh....”
“Don’t worry, dude, I don’t live with him anymore.”
“Yeah. He murdered my aunt. So now I live in Maine.”
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I remained silent. She went on.
“The first person I talked to was Leeland. He was diagnosed with terminal... something. Some disease. It started with an ‘M.’ He said now he’s just waiting. Silently waiting. Just for death to come. I realized that we wait a lot.”
“Me too. I’ve known that. It’s very common once you’re in the cycle, trust me. You realize everyone is just waiting.”
“He’s only eight. He made me have strength. I felt strong, suddenly. He’s not supposed to live past ten, and... as much as I hate admitting this, I feel better because I’m not the one dying. That makes me a horrible person, doesn’t it?”
“No. Not at all. I actually feel the same thing.”
“Thank God! And it made me realize that I don’t actually have it so bad.”
“So why are you here?”
“I can’t fight the depression away. I can’t fight of the longing for death. It’s like this is a drug. The high lasts for a little while, then it fades away, and you’re left deflated and depressed again.”
“Agreed! But it helps while it lasts.”
“Lately, I’ve been holding on to them, so that they last longer. I cling until I can call another.”
“Yeah. Then Charlie and I talked. He was the next person. His fiancé left him, just like my roommate’s fiancé left him. My roommate’s name is Cliff.” I gave a little laugh. “It’s funny, he’s one of my only friends.”
Even though I didn’t know this girl, I blushed.
“Juliet is the only friend I can say I’ve ever had.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“And my name’s Ida, by the way. Ida Cambell.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
“So what about Charlie?”
“Charlie was losing faith. That’s gotta be depressing. I mean, faith is what lives are completely built on at times. I mean, I’m not very religious-”
“As am I.”
“But that’s gotta be bad. It’s like your whole foundation, everything you’ve ever stood for, just collapsed under you. That’s how he made it sound. That’s gotta be bad.”
“Oh... wow. That would suck.”
“It was weird. When he told me that, the first thing I thought of was death. That’s what comes to mind when religion is mentioned. Death.”
“Death, as I’ve figured out, is a re-enforcer for religion.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, have you ever lost someone close to you?”
“No. I’ve never had anyone very close to me. Except Juliet.”
“See. This is where I think many religions are made up... you know, unless they’re actually true.”
“They might be. I just don’t believe in them. Anyway, when someone you love dies, and there is no heaven, where do they go?”
“Yeah. They go to the ground. I’ve figured that people don’t want their loved ones to be gone, and they themselves don’t want to die, that they create God. Or some god. Something. And suddenly, they don’t have to worry so much about death, because they’ve got an afterlife ahead of them. You know, tyrants and such probably created religion to have fear, but I really like my theory, too.”
“Yeah. That makes sense. I talked to Louis. He made me feel terrible. I hate him. The asshole. I came out feeling worse than I came in. That’s not good. If I ever get a therapist on the phone again, I’m hanging up, I swear to it.”
I laughed. She went on.
“Seriously! He sucked at his job! I wonder if that’s all therapists do. Them make you feel worse about yourself. They tell you the truth. No. I would’ve liked the truth. He was a liar.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh.”
“Yeah. It’s fine. What time is it?”
“No reason. My aunt probably isn’t home, then.”
“Do you live in Shoreville?”
“Well, it was nice to meet you, Austin.”
“Yeah. You should meet Juliet. She’s really nice.”
“Cliff’s my best friend in the world.”
“I thought he slept with your... that one girl.”
“He slept with Samantha.”
“Juliet has a friend Samantha! She lives in Shoreville!”
“I live in Shoreville. They know each other!”
“Wow... maybe it’s different.”
“Did her Samantha just graduate?”
“I... I don’t really... no. Maybe. I don’t remember if she mentioned that.”
“I’ll bet it’s her.”
“Juliet doesn’t have a lot of friends.”
“Well, I’m sorry for her. I bet I’d be her friend. I doubt she’d want to be my friend.”
“Oh! She would too!”
I still doubted it.
“Anyway, I bet she’d love you.”
“Cliff’s my best friend, either way.”
“Yeah. It’s not like he knew that I was trying to get with her. She’s just a tramp. Or something. She’s a bad name.”
“A bad name?”
“Yes! Anyway, if you met Cliff or Samantha, you’d know what I meant.”
“I suppose so.”
“I don’t know. I like talking to you.”
“Well, thanks. I like talking to you, too.”
I wasn’t sure what to say, so I decided to use the company for it’s original purpose.
“You know, death doesn’t even sound so bad. Tranquil, you know?”
“Yeah. It sounds like it would hurt, though.”
“But what if you lived?”
“I know. I think that’s exactly why I’m still alive right now.”
“Look, if you ever feel depressed, you should call me.”
“OK, want my number?”
I gave her mine once she gave me hers.
“So we’ll call each other?” she asked.
“Yeah. We will. If you ever need anything, just... uh... just call.”
The determination was set, and I was afraid it would become manifest.
“OK! I will, and you will too?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I will.”
“Alright, cool, good. Nice meeting you, Austin.”
“Nice meeting you, Ida.”
“See ya later.”
She was silent for a moment.
The line went dead. Then, the monotone started.
“To connect with another depression victim, press-”
I hung up. I knew I would call Ida. Eventually. Maybe I’d wait a couple of days. She sounded about my age, and that was alright with me. It was time. Again, but this time, I would not fail, I was going to break the cycle.
Already, I was doing that in small steps. I was calling strangers. I was crying in the bathroom. My and Cliff saw each other slightly differently now. I knew Samantha saw me differently. That bitch.
Even crying in the bathroom and being on the verge of slitting my forearm open felt better than the cycle. To me, sitting around going in circles on a merry-go-round life was worse than anything. I was breaking it. It was time to be a different person.
I touched the spot on my head that was missing all of it’s hair. It didn’t look so bad. People had done it before, and my hair was long enough that I could part all the remaining hair to the other side. It looked strange. Yet it looked new, and I loved it.
Yet it was still depressing black. It was still a reminder of the old me. I picked up the phone, and searched through the contacts until I found it. If I was going to get my hair done this time, it would be professional.
Not only that, but it would be new. It would be a different person. With my blue eyes, pale skin, and brown eyebrows, I realized that I could pull of a blonde easily. I would be me. A new me.