“Cliff! Hey, Cliff, are you here?”
“Yeah! I’m in my room.”
It was Tuesday morning, and I went down by the beach and on the trail for a morning run. Yesterday left me feeling confident and fresh. Maybe all I needed was to break the cycle. Now, I was in the air, soaring. It was like my broken wing was healed, and I could fly again. I felt like a god.
“Dude, where’d you go?”
“Uh.. I was just at the beach this morning.”
I should have thought of a better excuse.
“Dude, I don’t believe you.”
“It’s for no reason.”
“Fine, you don’t want to talk about it. Have it your way.”
He got up off the bed and grabbed his shoes.
“Where are you going?”
I rolled my eyes and he walked out the door. I listened for the sound of his car starting, and once I heard it, I knew he wasn’t coming back in. I pulled out my phone and started dialing. It rang a couple times before the monotone came on.
Press one for depression. Press two for guilt. Press three for fatal illnesses. Press four for suicidal thoughts. Five for uncontrollable desires. So on. So on. Should I press one or four? Even though I didn’t know these people, and I knew they didn’t know me, I didn’t want them to know I was suicidal. On the other hand, they were suicidal, too. I knew I was alone, but I still looked from side to side to make sure.
I pressed one.
Some female was on the other line.
“Hello?” came her deep, raspy voice.
“Is this your first time at this?”
“Oh... well, I don’t really know how this works.”
“Me either. We talk about our depression, I guess.”
“You want to go first?”
“Uh... do you?”
“Here. A little bit about me. Let’s start here. I hate my life. It sucks. Sometimes I wish I was dead, but I thought my depression was greater than my thoughts of suicide. Is that enough?”
“I don’t know... I’ve never done this.”
“A little about you now, I think.”
She wanted to hear about my problems. She actually wanted to hear about them. She was genuinely interested in what I had to say. Though, she couldn’t see how repulsive I was, so that was probably why.
I ran my hand through my thick, greasy black hair and began to talk.
“Well... let’s see. I hate life. It’s not really life so much, it’s the cycle. I hate it.”
“Everyday, every single day, it’s the same old thing. Over and over and over again. We’re caught in a cycle. I’ve realized I’ve been sitting here waiting for something to change, for something new. I’ve been waiting for a big enough break in the cycle, but it won’t come!”
“Yeah. Recently, I had a small break in it. I did something different for a change. I had fun. I loved it. Now I feel like I want more. I need more, and it’s what I crave. So I went on a jog this morning. I want to start again. I want to do something amazing. I always have. And I’m starting. But I still have this feeling that looms over me. I feel like I can’t do it. I feel like it’s pointless.”
“Trust me. I’ve had that for forever. It never leaves unless you do something. It’s telling you to stay put, but you have to overcome it. Trust me. It’s worth it.”
“Death doesn’t even sound that bad.”
“No? It sounds horrible to me.”
“Well, you’re dead. You’re just there. In nothingness. It sounds calming. I mean, it’s not like it would matter all that much if I was gone.”
“Oh! Don’t say that! I’m sure your parents would miss you!”
“No. I don’t even live with them.”
“Honey, trust me, eventually you’ll miss your parents.”
She made me smile. Listening to someone else’s story gave me some strength. It filled in the missing holes, and supported me. It lifted me higher into the sky.
“I’m Austin. I just graduated.”
“You don’t live with your parents?”
“No. I live with my friend Cliff in Shoreville.”
“I’m sixty, and I’ve lived in Saco for my entire life. Trust me, I had the same feeling as you at your age. I wanted to go out and prove everyone wrong. I wanted to leave my mark. So, I started my singing career. Well, I tried to. I lived off of whatever I made preforming in bars and restaurants, and whatever I made being a waitress. My career never went further than that, and I was happy with it. But I lost my voice when I was about thirty-five. I didn’t take care of it. I smoked too much. I strained it. I ruined it. Then all I had was waitressing. I was a thirty-five year old sack of lard. I was too old to get married and it was too late to do anything else. I lost it all.” She stopped to take a long, quivering sigh. “Honey, it’s fine to go out and follow your dreams, just make sure they stay afloat. Don’t lose grip on what’s important. Trust me, it’s a horrible thing to have happen to you.”
I was silent for a moment. Though she was a stranger, I wished I knew her. She seemed like she understood me perfectly. I wanted to reach out and comfort her, yet I had never met her before. Suddenly, I felt like crying.
“Oh. I’m so sorry...”
“Cheyenne. My name’s Cheyenne.”
“I’m sorry Cheyenne.”
“Yeah. In the end we’re all sorry. A while back I thought of killing myself. But I had a good run. Now I’m just here.”
“Exactly. Just waiting. Things aren’t ever as bad as we make them seem, so I keep my head up.”
“Wow. I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry for you, too. No one ever should feel the way you do. Get out of the cycle while you can. Go crazy. Chase your dreams. Just don’t get hurt. Don’t let everything else slip away from you. Trust me.”
“I won’t. I’ll follow my dreams. I’m going to start jogging daily.”
“Yeah. I’ll go running. Next year I’ll be in college.”
“Will you? Well good for you! Do something important.”
“I won’t let life slip away, either. I’ve got Cliff.”
I knew Cliff would be devastated if I died. Cliff had lost his fiancé before I moved in. That was the worst I’d ever seen him. I came in, and brought him up. He was acting a bit then like I was now. Cliff loved me. He was an only child, and I was like a brother to him. I loved Cliff, too.
“That’s good. It’s too late for me. I’m here all alone.”
I felt sorry for her. The poor woman. She didn’t have to be alone.
“Oh! Don’t say that. Come on, you’re sixty, right?”
“I’ll be sixty-one in August.”
“Exactly! You’ve still got decades ahead of you, varying on how good science is in twenty years. Go out. Go on a dating site. I’m sure you’ll find Someone, I’m positive!”
“You know what? You’re right. Thank you, kid.”
“No, thank you, Cheyenne. You’re welcome.”
“You’re welcome, too.”
“Yeah. I’m glad I’m doing this.”
“Yeah. Sometimes all it takes is a friend to talk to. I live alone in a small little apartment and my neighbors can’t stand me. This was good for me.”
“Well, I’m glad.”
I truly was.
“I hope you’re benefitted by this as much as I am. Truly, kid, this is amazing! I feel wonderful.”
“Me, too. I guess it just feels good to get it out and get some advice.”
“Yeah. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
“Well, I felt that way. I don’t think I feel the same anymore.”
“You know what... me either. Thanks kid.”
“I’m off to go on a dating website!”
“Congrats! I’m off to... well, I’m not really sure where to start.”
I didn’t know what to do. I was ready to make my mark. I was ready to start again. I felt good. Yet, I didn’t know where to start.
“Can I make a suggestion?”
“Go out, kid. Live a little. Don’t get too crazy, but just enough to live. You deserve it. Go out. Get a nice girl. Take her home.”
“Thanks, I will!”
I would. I was determined.
“Alright, bye Austin.”
“If you even need me, just look up Cheyenne Walker in the phone book.”
If I needed her I would have to buy a phone book.
“Bye, kid. Thanks again.”
The phone went silent. Cheyenne left me with a large smile plastered on my face. I sat there, smiling stupidly. I was soaring high up in the clouds.
Samantha, she was pretty. We had been best friends since I moved in with Cliff. She had been the one who showed me around school, and helped me get to all my classes. In our junior year, we got real close and spent most of our time together. One time, actually, she kissed me. She was dating a kid named Travis. Had they not been together, we probably would have hooked up. At least, that was what she told me.
I wanted her then. I wanted her when she had a boyfriend. When she told me we could be together soon, it angered me. I stopped talking to her and started spending most of my time alone. She was my one friend and a relationship ruined it. That was the way it always went though, wasn’t it? Relationships were nothing but bad news. Especially with me, I was do dense.
In senior year, meaning just five months ago, she tried hooking up with me, and succeeded. This was something I had never told anyone, not even Cliff. Mainly, I didn’t tell because I was angered by it. Also, I was saddened by it. Also, she told me not to say anything. After it was over I asked her to be my girlfriend.
“Baby, I love you. It’s just... I’m tired of relationships. I’m tired of breaking hearts and getting my heart broken. I don’t want a relationship. It’s just that relationships suck. I was hoping you and I could be together and not call it anything.” she would say.
I knew it was bullshit. Either way, I thought I loved her, and I wanted her to feel the same about me. I wanted to please her. I thought maybe if I stayed with her she’d start to feel the same. Maybe eventually.
The next week she was in a relationship. Again, she was with Travis. I hated it. I hated her. I was so angry, I just wanted to prove everyone wrong. I wanted to do something big. I wanted to leave my mark. Of course, I didn’t, and instead got stuck in a cycle. A boring everyday cycle filled with a roller coaster ride between happiness and depression.. After a while I gave up my dreams of becoming something, and just let the depression take me deeper and deeper into the cycle, somewhere where you were always in too bad of a mood to think about leaving a mark.
Cliff pulled me back up towards the surface when we went to the caves. I was here now. I was in the best mood I had been in in a long time. If there was a time to leave my mark, it was now.
After it had all happened, I told Samantha I was fine. I told her I understood, when I really hated it. I tried apologizing. She accepted. She stopped talking to me, and I stopped talking to her.
That was one of my motto’s: “Keep your head up, and, even if you are, don’t let them know that you’re dying inside.”
Somehow, though I knew it didn’t matter much, I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of destroying me, though she had.
That was then, and this was now, however. I was over her. Actually, I had almost forgotten her, had it not been for Cliff. It was perfect. I had a plan.
I’d get with her, because I knew she was single. Then, the next day, I’d do the same thing to her as she did to me. It was perfect.
I laughed to myself in satisfaction. She deserved it. Being out of the cycle felt amazing. This was a place I had never been; I was being mean. Normally, I was nice, mild-mannered, and was the one who held all the keys at parties, if I was ever invited to them. Usually, I was not. Either way, I had never had a chance to be an asshole. I was too busy playing nice guy. Yet Samantha didn’t play that game. She played dirty. She played foul. It was my turn. It was my move.
“Um, hey... Austin?”
“Yeah, it’s me.”
“I know it’s you... I’m just...”
I could tell she was uncomfortable. A sly little imp began to operate in me. I had never done this before. Why? It felt amazing.
“I was just thinking about you!”
“Not like that. I was thinking about us. I miss us.”
She was silent, so I went on.
“I really miss you. I mean, I’m sorry about what happened. I think that we should try this again.”
She was still silent. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.
“I-I don’t know, Austin.”
“I do. I think it’s a wonderful idea! What’s the worst that could happen? Let’s just try it.”
I could tell she was thinking.
“Alright, I guess. Wanna come over?”
“Be over in ten?”
I head her give her signature flirty giggle after she said this.
“Bye, Samantha. I miss you.”
Yes. It was working out perfectly. Now suddenly I realized why Cliff was who he was. It felt so good to be bad. It felt so good to be out of the cycle. It was a rush. Suddenly I was done waiting. If I stayed here in the clouds, I never had to go back into the cycle. This high up, I never had to land. Not as long as I kept doing things. Suddenly, life was interesting enough to bear. Suddenly, it was livable. Suddenly, I was out the door. I had my keys, and was ready to drive over. Life was great. Life was fun. It was exciting, when you actually did something with it. I was soaring high in the clouds, all thanks to DHS and Cheyenne. They had changed it all.