Black Nature

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short story account of a young woman's struggle with a bipolar disorder and depression.

 


Just yesterday I’d been as normal as I could get and now I was gone. When I was just “okay,” nothing bothered me. In my invincible mode, I could sit in a park for hours with a steady heartbeat and no distractions. When I was calm, I didn't feel sorry for myself or see life as a punishment. Sadly those days were wearing out.  
 I waited patiently at the park bench but wasn't okay in the least. With Molly on her way to pick me up, I wish I could be feeling normal today. She had stuck it out with me and voluntarily so. She wanted to remain my friend through thick and thin. There wasn't a need to plead or sell out or cave into pretense. So frankly she was the only person I never got tired of. 
We were supposed to go to her parents’ chalet in Sutton a while ago but she’d gotten sick and her hectic schedule pushed things back. I was also to blame since I’d cancelled a few times, pretending I had my period or what not. Molly should never be lied to yet I did for reasons I couldn't grasp. 
She’d also started seeing someone though it didn't work out. I was secretly relieved because it meant I could have more time with her. But true to contradiction, I felt terrible. Molly would make a good wife and mother and friend to other people. Life wasn't about me and hers wasn't about me exclusively. 
So this weekend seemed like a rare opportunity to catch up on things. Once again, my mind was out of it.  I decided to stop taking my pills. I didn't go cold turkey as that might be risky but as per my doc’s orders, I stopped them gradually. 
Part of me sincerely thought I could beat this, as if it were the common cold. I wanted to believe that the “normal” me would surface for good, if I let it somehow. Pills weren't necessary because they didn't deal with the source of the problem. In an attempt to get better, I’d become my own erratic guru.  Perhaps I had too many high hopes. 
Molly’s car pulled over. I sensed her good spirits from the outside in. Going to California blared on the radio but she lowered the volume once I piled in with my backpack. 
“There you are, hun!” she greeted, planting a kiss on my cheek. 
Though we were close in age, sometimes I saw her as a mother figure.
“They’re calling for super weather,” she remarked. 
Her hair was braided and her lips slightly glossed. She was in full-swing weekend mode. 
“God I’m so happy I’m not working the weekend shift,” she said, letting out a sigh and stretching out her arms. 
Two years ago, she would have lit a cigarette. She managed to put her habit behind her, although the temptation never went away. 
“So you ready?”
“Yep, I sure am.”
I felt a fog misting over the hollows of my mind. I had no choice but to fight it, or try to.  
“Coffee?”
“Sure,” I said, craving caffeine in my system. 
She would probably pull into the usual Tim Hortons by the gas station. Without traffic, the drive would last an hour and twenty minutes. 
Her parents’ house was a charming number by a vast lake with a view of the mountains. The place was isolated but just enough so that I wasn't afraid.  One of the neighbors had a small goat farm and a lush garden that never failed to draw me in. It was the kind of house I could move into if the city didn't hold me back. 
The coffee momentarily made me feel better, as if giving my veins a much-needed boost. Molly harped on about her day at work and how crowded the hospital was and how she needed this break. 
Molly helped to raise money for cancer research and children’s illnesses, and tried her best to be healthy but her only real goal was to be the best nurse she could be. 
When we arrived at the house, Molly opened the windows to change the air. 
“It’s been empty for three weeks,” she announced. 
Her younger brother sometimes went to the chalet and usually left behind a mess. He threw parties, campfire and all, and the neighbors sometimes voiced their complaints. Needless to say, her parents had been there last. 
I went upstairs and slumped on the bed where I watched dust settle in the air. Molly wasted no time turning on the water supply and check up on a few things. 
On the bed, I momentarily felt like a child basking in the safety of cozy blankets. I heard buzzing, dying flies by the window’s screen. 
I took a deep belly breath as my yoga teacher had instructed. “Always pay attention to your breathing,” she’d instructed in a perfect posture.
The calmness of the surrounding woods made me sleepy despite arriving just a few minutes ago. 
Knowing that I’d soon fall asleep, I stood up from the bed and gazed out the window. Clusters of withered hornets and mosquitoes lay by the sill, as if they’d gone down in a war. 
More realistically, they’d suffocated.  
“Jenny!”  Molly shouted. 
I dashed downstairs. 
“Oh poor thing, come have a look.” A dead mouse lay on the mousetrap. 
Despite its violent fate, the mouse looked at peace. It reminded me of a dead embryo gone before its time. 
“I’ll bury it,” she decided. 
Molly fetched a Ziploc bag, slipped on gloves and gingerly tucked the mouse.
“And now…a funeral,” she said.
I wondered if the dead hornets counted as well. Since they were equally part of the universe, I extended my sympathy to them. I did so by leaving them where they’d died and summoning their spirit. With what I’d seen in a short while, it occurred to me how something always died each day.  
So we spent the afternoon under the umbrella on the strip beach. Molly put on her bikini top and shorts, and settled in like a seal. 
She asked me what I wanted for dinner and dozed off afterward. Her plan had been to barbecue hamburgers and though I wasn't hungry, I didn't want to crash her idea. 
While she slept on soundly, I headed toward the deck. I sat down Indian-style and as I swayed along with the waves below, I momentarily felt like clouds. As serene as it was, darkness crept in thoroughly. It was an unsettling kind of darkness that made me question my very existence. I stood up and focused on the water, followed by its depth. 
I could barely make out my reflection, not that I wanted to. I just stood there, steeping in the stillness. 
The mood swings frightened me the most. Save for some people, nobody knew I could be sweet one minute and hot-tempered the next. That I could be on top of the world one day, jaded and suicidal the next. Unapologetically free-spirited and painstakingly contrite. 
Still ensconced in sleep, Molly didn't know what was happening. I must have lied to her again. 
I couldn't maintain my only worthwhile friendship and the realization of it made me sick. It could only backfire on me someday. 
A bird of prey distracted me as it swooped below, followed by a plopping sound in the water. 
I hated that I’d stopped the pills too soon. Now my brain felt messed up and nothing I could do would restore the peace I’d enjoyed for a while. 
I had come here to die but didn't know how or why. But I wouldn't plan and carry out my demise in a small lake. It was more about ending the cycle of instability and sadness that kept me in despair. 
I saw my body being pulled in by the murky water. It soon tangled with underwater plants, branches and undercurrents that gave no breathing room. Then, like a piece of wreckage, I was gone. 
Before I knew it, I was being swallowed down for real. I thought my feet touched the ground but they didn't. Realizing what I’d done, I scrambled to the surface where I was relieved to see the landscape. 
Molly rushed toward the deck and jumped straight into the water. She let out a whoop and splashed water like a fledgling bird. 
“You were gonna swim without me?” She splashed cold water on my face. 
Still consumed by my thoughts on the deck, I couldn't answer. 
“You coulda put on your swimsuit at least,” she said gleefully, indulging in the Indian summer weather. She moved about in the most natural way and momentarily, I let her ease rub off me.  
“I forgot to bring it,” I said. But she hadn't heard my delayed answer.
The realization that I was safe from drowning set in. I watched her radiate with the autumn colors while my lungs dilated with relief. 
I couldn't tell her that I’d seriously imagined killing myself for the first time. Most people think about it at some point but only fleetingly. Just a few minutes ago, my intention had been for real and the thought of it made me shudder. 
 I would hang on to Molly for as long as I could. If I was going to get better and carry on in this world, I wanted her around until my old age. But I wanted her to see everything. The ups and downs and ups.  
Though I never knew how to get help, I would come up with a plan. One day when I’d return to sanity, Molly would know the whole story about today and the other times I’d cheated her. 
I’d never been a saint, not that I aspired to be. I simply believed in making mistakes and growing up in the order YOU were supposed to. My only true goal was to be pure in my thoughts and actions. Even though, non-conventional people always paid a heavy price.
When I’d moved out of the house, I hoped to rebuild a family from people I would meet--kindred spirits who would gradually shape my happiness and sense of belonging. But few people came along the way and more people left than stayed.
My biggest problem wasn't my job, who I hung out with or what not, but the fact I’d fucked up in the family department. I was a late bloomer but nobody really cared about that. My mental issues weren't something my family liked to accept or talk about, much less deal with. Molly had been there for the journey but not my parents. They just wondered why I wasn't married and had everything settled. 
Mom still discreetly begged for grandkids so she wouldn't feel like a failure. As if bringing up kids of my own would fix our generational shortcomings. It would honestly be a shame not to have kids but I wasn't mentally fit to be a mother. As for Dad, he had rebuilt his life with a much-younger wife. My mom had also remarried a man with kids of his own. In the midst of their second chances, I’d grown progressively diluted and alienated. 
 Molly was the only one who’d shown me how actions spoke louder than words. She cared about sincerity, not milestones. For that reason, I loved Molly with everything I had. 
Even in nature, in the face of serenity, I wondered why everything seemed so out of whack. 
Molly kept swimming, frolicking happily in the warming water as if summer hadn't left us. 
On such a glorious fall day, I decided I would wake up to another morning and possibly, many more after that. After all, it was business as usual for me and the rest of the world. 

 


Submitted: October 15, 2013

© Copyright 2022 Vanessa Telaro. All rights reserved.

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