Mark appeared at the reception of A&E but he didn’t have a burn, scratch or break anywhere to be seen. A few people in the waiting room watched him as he spoke quietly to the receptionist. With a soft smile, she pointed him over the waiting room seats. He was walking fine, not as if injured, but he moved over to the seats with a strange sway—like a ventriloquist’s dummy—as if his weak body was being held up by an invisible force.
He looked dishevelled, his mousy hair a greasy mop, his eyes red as if he hadn’t slept in weeks. He hadn’t. Not properly. He seemed troubled, his breathing was shallow and rasping. As he took a seat, a little girl with an injured arm cuddled closer to her mum, her mum whispered something in her ear.
‘It’s okay, sweetie,’ she said, gently brushing the girl’s hair. ‘He might have drank a little too much.’
Mark did look drunk. He had his head down, groaning slightly, with his hands clutching onto his greasy hair as if trying to ring out all the oil. As if experiencing the worse hangover in the world. Everyone was looking at him. They were nervous, almost leaning back in their seats, he seemed unbalanced like he was wound up and could strike out at any minute.
But he didn’t care—he was busy trying to stop thinking. He had too many thoughts rushing through his head. He could feel the poison coursing through his body. A thick black tar starting to clog up his veins, making his chest feel heavy, making his mind foggy with a dense mist— the thick fumes making it hard to breathe. He started gently rocking himself backwards and forwards. A bulky man in the waiting room sighed at him, as if his baby-like rocking was a personal offence. You’re worthless dirt. You’re a waste of air. He could feel their thoughts—they were his thoughts.
He felt a painful throbbing in his temple, like something was trying to dig its way out. He closed his eyes tightly. His veins had turned black, they were filled with pitch-black blood. An overwhelming feeling of doom was pulling him downwards. He tried to think of something happy. Anything happy. He’d had some happy times surely? What did that feel like?
For a moment a memory almost came. It was from a long time ago, several summers ago. He was sitting at the top of Scafell peak, back then he wasn’t thinking about falling. Back then he was still with Melody, he had a life. She was posing for a picture when an elderly couple interrupted them. They had walked straight in the middle of the picture unaware.
He couldn’t quite picture their faces now, instead they just had grey hair, wrinkles, eyes, nostrils and mouths. In his mind they looked like old demented moles, their faces squashed like old apples. At the time, they had noticed their intrusion with a laugh and then scuttled away. But they didn’t now. Instead, Melody skipped away down the side of the mountain, singing ‘I can do better’ as she went. Her voice echoed across the valleys below before she disappeared. ‘Try harder.’ Mark wanted to run after her but the old couple closed in on him. Their eyes were pitch black and growing bigger.
They hissed together, creeping towards him like creatures.
‘You should be dead.’
Mark opened his eyes, keeping them fixated on the floor. He groaned at the pressure banging against his skull. The bulky man groaned back, he looked like he was bursting to say something. Mark’s entire body was covered in a network of darkness, all his thread-thin veins and arteries looked like an ink painting on his paper white skin. He looked grotesque, like he had been poisoned, like he shouldn’t be breathing.
It was the middle of a sunny day but he felt freezing. That’s all he really felt. Cold. Empty. Past the point of feeling like crying. Like he was sinking through the earth until he found himself at the precipice of a dark core. A bottom-less pit. Instead of an inferno, complete nothingness, an empty shell. But, he didn’t enter. He was here, he hadn’t given up. He just had to hold on, resist the urge to leave.
Mark groaned loudly as his fingers began to snap, the bones sticking out of his knuckles. He could feel the darkness filling up his skull. All of his bones were starting to snap out of place, they were breaking from the inside. He became silent as a black liquid began to ooze across the waiting room floor, creeping over to the little girl’s feet. It saturated her baby-blue trainers—the love hearts on them stained a deep black.
‘You’re scaring the little girl.’ The bulky man said. ‘Get a hold of yourself.’
Mark felt like he was falling into a hole of shame. He was scared, he didn’t want to scare anyone. His skin became covered in deep slashes, like he was being flogged by an invisible punisher. The black ooze poured out of the wounds, drenching his clothes like a thick oil. The mum looked at the bulky man, she frowned and shook her head gently. A wordless, ‘leave him be.’ The little girl had started to cry slightly, her mum brushed her hair gently and whispered.
‘It’s okay, sweetie…hush…’ she stroked her cheek. ‘He’s not a monster.’
The little girl watched him. She was crying gently.
‘No mummy, there’s a monster inside him.’
I feel like I have to say a few words because of the sensitive theme.
This story is inspired by suicidal depression (something I have experienced). I know the story is incredibly dark and grotesque—so is depression. The message I want to leave to someone reading this who may be depressed is that you aren’t worthless or a waste of air. I want you to understand that it is a “monster” or a weed lurking inside of you so be kind to yourself and don’t be hateful to yourself. If you feel suicidal treat it like you would a broken bone—seriously. For people who aren’t or don’t understand it—don’t judge people too quickly by appearances. Injuries can be invisible. Thank you for reading. Don’t be afraid to talk.
If you value this story please leave some feedback. It will make my day. If you have work inspired by mental health please share with me.
This story was inspired by this insightful & thoughtful quote:
‘People assume you aren’t sick unless they see the sickness on your skin like scars forming on a map of all the ways you’re hurting.’@EveyHammond19
I also recommend @fablesofmymind and their inspiring site healseeklove.com
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you want someone to talk to.