72 days

Nina Dolbrite stared dispassionately around the room. Everywhere she looked she saw her old classmates talking excitedly to each other – the men gathering in groups to dredge up past notorieties, the women actively seeking out old cliques to gossip among, all finding a way to play the ‘my-stick-is-bigger-than-yours’ game everyone learnt as they grew up; none seemed genuinely interested in gaining more than a few titbits to gnaw endlessly on until the next class gathering. Nina was fucking bored.

She had placed herself determinedly next to the bar upon arrival, openly asking the bartender to refill her wine glass to the brim twice already which had gained her equally open judgemental looks from the old ‘popular girl’ clique. To be honest, Nina was more offended by their ridiculously made up faces and after the fifth judgemental stare, graced them by flipping them off. She laughed aloud at their righteous shocked faces and then looked away to find someone in the room she did not have the urge to immediately set on fire. She was relieved to see Jake Albert entering the room seemingly looking for someone.

“Jake!” she called out, waving him over when he looked up. With a quickness that befitted his lanky build he strode over to her, a broad grin on his face. They hugged comfortably and he kissed her cheek.

“Fancy a drink?” she asked, gesturing to the bartender who was attentively waiting for him to place an order.

“Just a beer, thanks mate.” As the bartender turned to pour him one of the house beers, Jake noticed the absurdly open scrutinizing looks the group of women standing opposite Nina were giving him. Once he had his beer in hand, he steered Nina outside to the grounds to find a quiet place to talk.

“You really like pissing them off, don’t you?” he said amusedly, sipping his beer and enjoying the beginning warmth of spring.

Sitting on the bench beside him, Nina snorted. “And you don’t? Jackal?”

“No idea what you’re talking about,” he said breezily, continuing to sip his drink.

“Oh, come – on!” She turned to face him, her wine sloshing a little onto her jeans, her usually pale face flushed and blue eyes bright with barely concealed excitement. “Rickie told me you had some huge scoop on an actor! He was being fucking vague about it, of course,” resentment crept up on her face, “but,” and she quickly rearranged her look back to one of excitement, “he told me to ask you today evening, which is what I’m doing now! Fucking tell me already!” Her voice had become loud and demanding, the alcohol allowing a clear glimpse at her desperation.

Jake could not contain his pleasure at holding this ‘scoop’ over her head. His huge grin was back on his face and he let Nina stew in silence for a few seconds. For all her distaste in the women from her boarding school and country club who gossiped endlessly, Nina immersed herself in gossip about celebrities from any source she could get, enjoying the sometimes incredible stories that sprung up around them even though they were mostly just tabloid nonsense. Jake knew she relished the idea of others going through the invasion of privacy but hated when she became the subject of those kinds of talk. She liked it only when they spoke jealously of her, never when they gloried at her downfalls. Finally, when Nina’s face resembled the colour of a cherry tomato, he said, “It’s about Grant Burke.”

She nodded knowingly. “It’s about that wife of his, isn’t it! That gold digger bitch!”

“Would seem like it, wouldn’t it? The way she just waltzed in out of nowhere and married a big time star,” said Jake, “But no, actually it’s about him and Anita Renkins – apparently they’ve been messing around for a couple of weeks now!” He smiled a little maliciously.

Nina gasped loudly and interjected, “But he’s married!”

Jake, who had been about to continue with his news, stopped short and looked at her incredulously, “You’re not starting to pity her, are you?”

“What? No. Not – not really – I…“ she stuttered.

“You’ve been bashing on her for weeks – well, since Grant Burke announced that he had eloped with her – and now you’re defending her?” he continued looking at her disbelievingly.

“Well it’s sad, isn’t it?” Nina said, looking defiant. “You’re supposed to be committed to each other, fucking monogamously, and the bastard just ups and fucks someone else when he’s ‘weak’ or ‘vulnerable’, or whatever his excuse his, and then they come running back to you with their tail between their legs, expecting you to take them back because of love and memories, or whatever shit.” She took a deep breath when she finished her tirade.

Jake looked at her curiously. “Everything okay with you and Rick?”

“Shut the fuck up, Jake, stop prodding for gossip. This is about Grant Burke and Seraphina what’s-her-face and Anita Renkins,” she said angrily, rolling her eyes and turning away from him.

Jake continued to look at her for a while and then said, “He’s not staying with her.”

“What?” Nina snapped.

“Grant Burke is leaving Seraphina Wilhelm for Anita Renkins,” Jake announced a little dispiritedly. He had hoped his news would have invited the usual malicious dissection that occurred every once a week during one of those celebrity gossip sessions he and Nina had. But this session had turned sour. He supposed Nina had had another fight with his brother. He didn’t want to talk about that when they had such a juicy piece of news, but he guessed he would have to hear all about the latest transgression committed by his fickle brother.

Or, maybe not. Nina seemed to be perking up, her overall expression brightening and her mouth agape in shock – the look she usually had when he had delivered gossip that had not yet hit the stands. Jake immediately perked up as well.

No – way. No – fucking – way. How’s that possible? They’ve been married for like two months!”

Jake grinned and waggled his eyebrows. “72 days, to be precise.”

“But – what – for Anita Renkins?” Nina was so taken aback she could hardly formulate a sentence. “He’s leaving his – what did he say to everyone – his “one love, a love beyond his comprehension” for – for her? I mean, Anita Renkins? Why’s he leaving Seraphina Wilhelm for her? And after seventy two – wait,” she turned to face Jake again, “did you calculate that?”

Jake smiled widely and turned to her excitedly. “Okay so this is what happened – Remember Rufus (Jake’s boyfriend) said his boss had someone digging up stuff on Seraphina Wilhelm since she turned up?” Nina nodded eagerly. “Well, I mean, so far they just got that stuff about her mum being a slut, dating anyone who’s been famous. But Grant Burke didn’t seem too concerned about that, waving off anyone who said that stuff to him. So Rufus’ boss apparently gave the order to spy on them – you know, see if they can get any dirt on the relationship itself. I mean, it’s all been so sudden and they’ve been married a while so hopefully,” Jake crossed his fingers, “something would have come up by now. And boy, oh boy, did something come up!” Jake clapped his hands together enthusiastically.

“Today morning – well almost afternoon – Grant Burke came home and had this huge row with Seraphina Wilhelm.”

“In his home? How the hell did anyone hear that?”

“The cheating bastard opened a window and the guy spying heard everything, of course. So anyway, he told her straight out that he’d been hooking up with Anita Renkins for two weeks now and he realised he loved her and he wanted to be with her.”

Nina cringed. “Oh jesus, that’s harsh.”

“Tell me about it. Apparently she was so shocked she just let him ramble on about Anita Renkins and the ‘relationship’ for like 10 minutes without saying anything. Poor dear,” Jake said with a somewhat sympathetic frown. “But then,” he paused dramatically, “she came to and said just five words – “We’ve been married 72 days”.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it! Just that one line after he’d said all his shit. She didn’t plead with him to stay or anything – I guess she was really shocked. But those five words were enough, I think, to sum up his idiocy.” Jake laughed.

But Nina remained solemn. “Hmm. But do you think maybe he had to leave her? I mean we don’t know her, she could be a complete bitch.”

Jake gave her an incredulous look. “Have you forgotten how crazy Anita Renkins is? The drugs, multiple rehabs, the cancelled show just because she had a pimple, the bloody tantrums…” Jake said, counting off on his hand.

“Yeah,” Nina interrupted. “So, I mean, for him to leave Seraphina Wilhelm for all that,” she shook her head slightly, “she must be a crapful of awful, huh?”

Jake pondered on what she had said. “Hmm. I don’t know. I feel somehow like if she was that awful, she’d have said more to stop him or to make him feel bad. She just said that one sentence, it seemed like she was really shocked. And then for her to let him walk out, she must have not known what to think or do. It doesn’t feel like she’s that crazy.”

Nina nodded. “You know, I think you’re right. It is such an asshole thing to cheat on your new bride and leave her 72 days into the marriage for another woman. I mean, Grant Burke’s great, but I don’t know how he’s going to come out of this looking good.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

 

Van Gogh The Starry Night

At the same time in a cosy apartment in Los Angeles, Seraphina Wilhelm sat on a bold red egg chair staring at a replica of Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’ against a pristine white wall. Grant had bought it for her a week after they had gotten married. It had been given to her with beautiful words – words of unwavering love, of steadfast loyalty, and of everlasting commitment. She tilted her head slightly. The swirls seemed to be taunting her now, a cruel visual representation of her delusions of her now failed marriage.

72 days. That’s all it had taken. Well, less than that if you considered how long he had been sleeping with the singer. So 58? But how long before that had he fallen out of love with her (as he had so cruelly stated that he had before walking out)? Optimistically, a week before he had started seeing the singer (she did not want to even think that woman’s name), he had felt distant from her and started looking for a new woman. 51 days. But it could not have been a sudden urge; it would have been coming on a while. So optimistically (she sure was using her depleted optimism rather liberally) a couple of weeks before Grant had truly felt separate from her? 37 days.

Seraphina’s eyes moistened. So she had had a month of marital bliss. Well, it was not entirely blissful, what with the amount of unknown people constantly calling her a “gold digger slut”. But it had been good, really good, with Grant. He had showered her with everything she could have possibly wanted – the house, the dog, the love. “And now,” she said softly to her Golden Retriever, Adaline, “it’s just you and me, baby. Just you and me.”

She shut her eyes and let the tears escape and fall silently. She felt Adaline nudging her leg and licking the spots where the tears had fallen on her white cotton pants. She had felt Grant pulling away from her. She had noticed the distance he had been maintaining between them. But she had believed him when he had said he was stressed about the new projects his agent was pushing him to do. He had gotten angry when she had asked him to talk to her about it, asked her to give him his space. She had accepted because, after all, what did she know about acting and an actor’s process. Oh, why hadn’t she questioned it! Why hadn’t she followed her suspicions!

A phone was ringing in the distance. Adaline barked. Seraphina opened her eyes and was met with abstract swirls of starry vision. Sighing, she got up and walked toward the intercom for the gate. She wondered vaguely who Grant would have already told about the separation (or was it impending divorce?) and would therefore be calling on her for details.

“Yeah?” she said, her voice thick.

“Mrs. Burke?”

She closed her eyes to steady herself from the wave of pain that hit her from that unexpected jab to her chest. “Yes, speaking.”

“Ma’am, my name is Lieutenant Peter Ward from the Los Angeles Police Department. I’m accompanied here by Sergeant John South. We need to talk to you. Could you let us in?”

Seraphina’s eyes flew open. She automatically pressed the second button to check the video of the driveway. There was a man in blue standing by the intercom at the gate next to a police car, where another man was sitting and looking out at the camera. She quickly buzzed them in. “Thank you, ma’am.”

She hurried out of the door to meet them, shutting the eager Adaline in the house. Her mind was completely blank. She did not want to think about what the police were doing here. Wrapping the shawl tightly around herself, she watched as the police car slowed to a halt in front of her. Two police men came out. They introduced themselves again and showed her their official badges. She nodded mutely and stared at them, terrified.

The police man called Peter took off his hat and looked straight into her eyes. “Mrs. Burke, I have some bad news to tell you. Your husband was involved in a car crash and I am sorry to have to tell you he’s dead.”

Seraphina’s eyes widened. She could not speak. Lt. Peter Ward continued, his voice gentle, “He was travelling with a female companion, Ms. Anita Renkins, who I’m sorry to say, is also dead.”

“They’re – they’re dead?” Seraphina whispered. Her face was a ghostly white.

Lt. Ward’s expression was compassionate. “Yes Mrs. Burke. I’m sorry for your loss.”

Seraphina turned away from them slowly. She stared at the distant setting sun, a fiery glow touching every surface of the town. “Where were they going to?” she asked, not looking at the police men.

“We don’t know for sure. But they crashed into a U-Haul on State Route 91.”

“Towards Anaheim?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

She looked back at them now, her eyes wide but dry. “That’s where we going to move to,” she whispered. The police men looked at each other. Pain, grief and anger crashed inside her, wave after wave, weaving together, forming a snake – a thick, poisonous snake.

“THAT’S WHERE WE WERE GOING TO MOVE TO!” She screamed at the top of her voice. She fell to the ground, clutching the sides of her arms; and she kept screaming those words again and again, unaware of the world moving around her.

Advertisements

Failure

We’ve definitely heard this word more than once in our lives – whether it’s when someone else is being called it, when we are called one by someone else, or when we call ourselves one. Having this word being thrown at you, whether by someone else or yourself, creates the most tumultuous emotions. Anger at the person for daring to define what you have done (or not done) as a failure on your part; anger and/or disappointment in yourself for committing an act that has disappointed people whose opinions you respect; a hopelessness perhaps at how often failure occurs in your life, and hence a hopelessness towards life itself.

I had that word thrown at me countless times in my life – many by my parents and teachers, and more by myself. I’ve seen disappointment in my parents’ eyes so many times, but I still flinch when I come home with news of my current failing and see it flash again. Even more than that, I used to beat myself up with cruel words about myself before I approached by parents because I figured that maybe if I’d been punished enough, I’d stop failing.

My therapist helped me stop the treatment I was giving myself, but it was my best friend who allowed me to understand why I could never see failing in school as true failures. One day, after I had failed yet another subject, I was thinking about the immense effort it was taking me not to criticize myself, and I wondered aloud why I didn’t seem to care that much about failing my subjects. And she replied, “That’s because that’s not what you define as ‘failing yourself’.”

That sentence was definitely an eye opener for me. So far in my life I had seen my “failures” from other people’s eyes, not my own. When I had learnt to stop beating myself up for perceived failures, I saw failing the subject and disappointing my parents as two separate things. I’ve always loved learning but hated school. I never cared if I failed a subject or was punished by teachers, but I always cared that I had disappointed my parents. So I saw then that failure, for me, was when I failed to make my parents proud.

I also felt I had failed if I quit learning subjects that I was interested in. It didn’t matter to me if I couldn’t finish learning it in time (for tests) or if I didn’t do that well in the subjects, but it did matter to me if I quit learning halfway. I believe in perseverance, and anything short of finishing learning was me failing myself. My parents, of course, take a different view. For them it’s the destination, and not the journey, that matters.

The more I thought about it,  the more I saw my definitions of failure clearly. I could never be bothered by rumors or gossip about me. But if a close friend of mine was affected and I couldn’t help them, I saw it as a failure on my part. In fact, if a close friendship of mine was affected in any way and I didn’t solve the problem, I felt I had failed. Another thing that I would definitely see as a failure on my part, is if I didn’t stand up for what I believed in.

I believe so strongly in equal opportunities and rights, and knew I was failing when people around me said homophobic, racist or misogynistic comments, and I simply looked on without saying anything. As I grew as a person and became more aware of the different movements and causes, I knew that I could not fail myself anymore. I began to speak up. It did not have much effect on the people who did not believe what I did, but it certainly made me proud of myself. It was a good first step. But I knew I had to do more after that. And I did. I became heavily involved with the movements and causes that promoted equal opportunities and rights.

These are the things that would disappoint me; that if I did not make happen, I would have failed in. It took me 22 years to figure out what really matters to me and hence, what my priorities are in life. What you define as failures are the scenarios when the priorities you have aren’t met. When I need to figure out for myself what they are, I simply ask myself, “What if you died tomorrow?” I immediately evaluate my life to make sure I’m giving quality time to the people that matter most to me, giving great passion to my dreams in life that I ensure I’m attempting to make a reality, standing up proudly for what I believe in, and not wasting time and effort on people and things that bring me down.

After I defined what my failures were, it took a great deal of effort to keep in mind that it’s all right for me to fail. We’re all not perfect and sometimes we slip up. What matters though is how we deal with it. Do we get back up and try to do better next time? More to the point, do we take steps to ensure that we’re setting our priorities straight and bettering ourselves? As Meredith from Grey’s Anatomy said, “Failure is inevitable. Unavoidable. But failure should never get the last word.”

Eighteen

Seraphina stared at the enormous clock on the wall of the shopping mall. It was ticking so slowly…or was that just her anxiety getting the better of her?

She looked around. People walked down the street laughing gaily with their friends, unconcerned and happily drunk. Even the people sitting around her outside the café were chatting away merrily, the caffeine helping to stimulate their conversations. No one seemed to notice her – not the beads of sweat slowly making their way down the side of her face, not the way she kept knotting and unknotting her fingers every few seconds, nor the intensity at which she had been staring at the clock for the past hour.

Her gaze drifted to a couple making out passionately at the table next to hers. Their lips were interlocked, their limbs intertwined. They looked like they were trying desperately to disappear into each other, like their lives depended on it. Seraphina continued to look at the public display of intimacy. She wondered what it felt like to want someone so passionately that you’d want to be one with them.

And then the clock struck twelve.

Seraphina looked up at the clock. The images blurred around her, the sounds turned to white noise, the air seemed to prickle with electricity, and her breathing slowed. She could only hear her heart thumping loudly against her chest. It was time.

This was the moment she had been waiting for. She was eighteen. She could now choose what to do. She could stay or go. She could stay and hide, or run and hide. Her eyes roamed the blurry surroundings. It was now or never for her. She blinked.

As the sounds and images came back into focus, she stood up. She was shaking a little. Whether from the cold or fear, she did not know. She turned her gaze to the house at the end of the street. It was barely visible from the café, only a portion of its grey wall could be seen. She turned then to the other side of the street. She knew what was there, far off to the right, even if it couldn’t be seen from the quaint café she was at. She knew already how the story would play out if she went back there.

She took out her wallet, placed a crumpled ten dollar note on the table, hoisted her olive green duffel bag on her shoulder, and walked determinedly towards the grey house at the end of the street. She had made her choice.

As she left the sounds of the crowd behind, the volume of her thoughts increased. She tried to shut them out but they just kept barraging on. She shook her head, wishing she could shake off her anxiety that easily. A little boy looked at her oddly as he passed her. She supposed she must have looked weird, like a dog shaking water off its body.

Her thoughts had preoccupied her enough so that she was a little taken aback when she saw the grey house coming up close. She walked slowly to the doorstep, a look of reverence on her face. She hoped this would be the place her new life started. She raised her fist, closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and knocked.

She opened her eyes and strained to listen for any sounds. The sturdy house remained silent. She scrunched her eyebrows and knocked again, this time giving three sharp knocks. Still nothing. She looked around desperately. She hadn’t thought of a back-up plan. Her anxiety was threatening to engulf her. She turned and banged on the door. She heard someone moving inside the house, coming closer to the door. She stood back, forced her anxiety to the back of her mind, and plastered a wide smile on her face.

The door flung open. “What is the meaning of this?” said the man who opened the door. He was dressed casually in a green t-shirt and jeans, a harried look on his face.

Seraphina felt deterred by the sharp tone of his voice, but forced herself to keep her composure, and repeat the speech she had practised for months.

“Hello, Mr. Hunter! My name is Seraphina Frank,” she said in a cheery voice.

The dark-haired man stared blankly at her. She continued, “I wanted to talk to you about a business proposition. Would you mind if I came in to tell you about it?”

A look of distrust appeared on his face. “What exactly do you mean by that? And why do you have a duffel bag with you?” His gaze had strayed to her bag.

Seraphina stared at him, her anxiety flooding back. Her fake cheery smile had disappeared. She should have hidden the bag before coming to talk to him. She’d just messed up the plan. He looked expectantly at her but she seemed to be speechless.

He sighed and said, “Okay relax, you can come in. Come on, get in, get out of the cold.” He moved to the side of the doorway and gestured her inside. She gave him a genuine grateful smile, and walked into the welcoming warmth.

As she moved into the narrow hallway, she looked around. There was an ornate umbrella stand at the corner, a short desk next to it where quite a few keys lay haphazardly, and a row of family portraits on the wall. He noticed her looking at them and said, “Generations of Hunter – this was my parents’ house, never bothered to take the portraits down.”

He walked ahead of her and walked through an opening on the right. She followed him into what looked like the living room. “Have a seat. I’ll get you a brandy to warm you up,” he said, pouring the amber liquid into a glass.

She took off her scarf and coat, and sat down. The room was quite beautiful, with ornate carvings in the furniture and artfully designed wall hangings. There were books stacked to the brim on a tall shelf and a few lying around the room. He passed her the glass of brandy and sat opposite her with a glass of his own.

“So Seraphina, was it? You wanted to discuss something with me?” He asked, taking a long sip.

Seraphina nodded as she swallowed her sip of brandy and felt the warmth spread through her. She hadn’t realized she was cold. She placed the glass on the coffee table in front of her and turned to him.

“Mr. Hunter –“

“Please, call me Wilhelm. Mr. Hunter was my grandfather.”

“All right, Wilhelm then,” Seraphina smiled at him. “As I said before, my name is Seraphina Frank. I believe you knew my mother, Sheba Frank.”

Wilhelm was just raising his glass to his lips. At the word ‘Sheba’, however, his hand paused. His eyes moved from her face, to the duffel bag, and then back to her face again. He lowered his glass.

“Oh god, you’re not my kid, are you?” he said disbelievingly.

Seraphina stifled a laugh. “I see you don’t remember me then. I was seven when I last met you.”

Wilhelm wrinkled his eyebrows as if trying to remember Sheba with a seven year old kid. “Oh right, right…” he said unconvincingly.

Seraphina gave a short laugh. “It’s all right if you don’t remember me. I can assure you though that I’m not your child. So don’t worry about that.”

Wilhelm smiled at her. “I’m sorry for that, was a little shocked. Do go on.” He gestured with a nod of his head and leaned forward a little, curious now as to what she was doing here.

“So anyway,” Seraphina continued, “My mother used to speak a lot about you.” Wilhelm raised his eyebrows. “She talked a lot about how passionate you were about writing and books and stuff. She said you owned a bookstore.”

“I do own one, present tense. It’s on the next street,” said Wilhelm, pointing in its direction. “And yes, I’m quite obsessed with writing. Only have a few of my works published though.”

“Yes! Yes, I’ve read all of them! They’re absolutely brilliant!” Seraphina said excitedly. Wilhelm smiled, a little taken aback. “Why thank you, Seraphina,” he said appreciatively.

Seraphina beamed at him. “I love writing too. I’ve dabbled in it a little but I want to learn more.” Seraphina swallowed nervously but continued to smile. “I would love to learn from you, Wilhelm. So I was wondering if I could work with you at the bookstore and if you would mentor me.”

Wilhelm did not respond immediately. He was extremely flattered that this girl (what was she, sixteen?) had read his published works and had sought him out in the middle of the night to mentor her. But there was more to this girl’s story which she seemed determined not to divulge, judging from all the fake smiles and obviously rehearsed lines she’d given him. Unfortunately for her, her eyes gave her away. They were filled with a desperate hope, as if she was clinging to her last shred of rope at the edge of a cliff.

He looked down at his glass as he swirled its contents. “So how’s your mum doing these days?”

“What?” Seraphina said, completely thrown off. “I mean, yeah, she’s doing great.”

“That’s good. Who’s she seeing now?” Wilhelm asked, his brilliant green eyes now searching hers.

Seraphina looked away. “My father,” she mumbled.

Wilhelm kept his eyes on her as he downed his brandy and reached to pour himself more. “Your father’s still alive?”

“Yes,” she said softly, “he is.”

“So who’s she seeing now?” he asked again. Seraphina looked up at him. She was obviously not going to be able to fool this man.

“Some guy called Tony,” she said quietly.

“Artist?”

“Actor.”

Wilhelm nodded knowingly. “Hmm, yes, she always did have a thing for actors – celebrity scenes and all that.” Seraphina didn’t say anything.

Wilhelm cocked his head slightly. “So, your father?”

“He’s still alive, but I don’t know for how long,” Seraphina replied, a slight quiver in her voice.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, both contemplative and sipping on their brandies. Wilhelm stared into the distance while Seraphina looked down at her hands without really seeing them.

Wilhelm broke the silence. “Why are they still married?” he asked curiously.

“Because they don’t want me to grow up in a broken home,” Seraphina replied bitterly, still staring unseeingly at her hands.

Wilhelm shook his head in disbelief. Then he set down his glass on the table and leaned forward. “Seraphina, what do you really want from me?” he asked gently.

Seraphina fixed a determined look on her face. “I need to get out of there. Now. I mean, it’s now or never for me. If I stay there for even one more day, I’m afraid I won’t have the courage to leave. And I’ll end up sinking into the hole that my parents have dug for themselves. I know I’m so much more than this. I know I have something more to offer this world than simply being the daughter of two addicts.

“I love writing, I really do. And I think I can be some good at it if I keep working on it. I have some ideas and I know you can help me with them. I really have read all your published works. I started with that one you gave my mother when you dated her and continued from there. I aspire to be as great a writer as you. Please. Help me.” She pleaded desperately. “I’ll work as much as you want. All I’m asking for is a chance.”

“Whoa Seraphina, please don’t beg,” said Wilhelm, holding his hands up. “I just wanted the complete story, not your fake-smile-rehearsed-speech-one.” Seraphina gave him a weak smile. “You’re definitely hired, and you can start tomorrow.” Her eyes lit up. She opened her mouth to thank him profusely but stopped as she noticed Wilhelm staring pointedly at her duffel bag and then at her.

“Oh, erm, I was wondering if you’d let me sleep in the bookstore until I had enough money to find a place,” said Seraphina hopefully.

“In the dusty bookstore?” said Wilhelm cringing. “No, no, you can stay here in the guest bedroom. I’ll set it up for you.”

Seraphina simply stared at him, her mouth opening and closing wordlessly. She was getting more than she had bargained for. She watched him as he stood up to gather the glasses.

“Why are you doing this for me? You know you don’t owe me anything right?”

Wilhelm looked at her curiously. “I know that.”

“So why?”

He sat back down. “I knew your mother, Seraphina. Sheba was definitely the life of the party. She exuded this energy that drew everyone to her. She spoke so passionately about everything, it’s like she was always on fire. That’s what drew me to her – that passion. I had never seen anything like it.

“But,” he continued, his voice sad now, “I knew her. Everyone saw her as Queen Sheba, but I saw her as Sheba, the sad, lonely girl who was so bitter and dissatisfied with everything in her life that she had to constantly remake it by jumping into someone else’s life; become someone else’s mistress or girlfriend whenever she couldn’t stand the life she was living at that time.”

Wilhelm looked at Seraphina and smiled sadly. “You know I knew her before you were born. I had just published my first book and people liked it; I met her at the book party. We had a fling then but that was it. And then I met her years after, I guess when you were seven, and we dated for a few months. I had no idea she had a husband and child the whole time we dated. I only found out through a friend after she broke up with me for some actor. She really broke my heart.” He grimaced slightly as if he were physically in pain.

“But –“, said Seraphina, looking confused.

“She told me you were her sister’s kid,” Wilhelm cut in.

“Oh. I see.” She paused for a few seconds before speaking.

“I’m so sorry, Wilhelm.” She wore a mournful expression. “You know, she broke my heart too. All the time, in fact; Every time she disappeared and then reappeared after months, begging for my forgiveness and love. It was…really hard.”

Wilhelm nodded in understanding. They raised their glasses to their lips at the same time, Seraphina downing her brandy this time.

He looked at her, contemplative. “I know what it’s like to have my heart broken by your mother, Seraphina. It’s definitely not on the same scale, of course. But it’s a start, isn’t it, to how we are fatefully connected?”

Seraphina nodded and replied, “Thank you, Wilhelm. I’ll never forget this.”

 

 

Bill Mack

Bill Mack

Excerpt from an interview done with Seraphina Zelda Wilhelm on 11th August on “The Late Night Show (P.S. Put your kids to bed and bring out the alcohol)”.

Dave (Interviewer): So Seraphina, what’s all this talk about you dating Bill Mack?

Seraphina: (sighs and rolls eyes dramatically) Ah yes of course – the talk…

Dave: (chuckles) Well there’s loads of it going around; and my goodness, I’ve never seen so many pictures of a celebrity couple in the tabloids in all my years in Hollywood!

Seraphina: (cringing) Oh dear, you read the tabloids?

Dave: Only if it has to do with you, darling.

Seraphina: Oh Davey, were you hoping I’d confess to this illicit affair on your show?

Dave: Sweetheart, I know you’ll confess to me…

Seraphina: (laughs) Okay, okay! The truth is we’re not dating.

(Audience groans)

Seraphina: I’m serious you guys! And I’ve told every magazine and newspaper that’s called asking for a statement about our “relationship” (air quotes) but somehow never seen them print what I’ve said properly! It’s always, “Well she said they’re not dating but she’s obviously lying her ass off”!

Dave: Maybe that’s because after you say you’re not dating, another host of pictures comes out of you two dining and vacationing together!

Seraphina: Because we’re friends, Dave! I dine with you too! No one seems interested in our affair…

Dave: That’s because I’m old, bald, and my balls hang past my ankles.

(Audience laughs)

Seraphina: You’re the sexiest motherfucker alive Davey, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

(Audience cheers)

Davey: (laughing) Thanks love. But that Bill Mack is one sexy motherfucker too. (winks)

Seraphina: He sure is. (winks back smiling). But I’m not dating him. I mean sex complicates everything, doesn’t it? So we’ve decided not to jump each other’s bones and just be friends.

Dave: Oo so there’s been talk of jumping each other’s bones?

Seraphina: Well I discuss with all my friends whether it’s a good idea to jump into bed together. You should know Dave, we had that talk too remember?

Dave: Oh yeah you had a problem with my balls…

(Audience laughs, Seraphina laughs too)

Dave: But, in all seriousness, I think it’s really cool the way you’re talking about dating him like this. The talk out there is mostly about him being so much older than you and you’re not mentioning that at all.

Seraphina: Oh, no way. Age shouldn’t be a factor, unless of course it’s an issue of taking advantage of someone else, but otherwise it shouldn’t be. He definitely is a viable candidate. He’s such an interesting person and has the craziest stories from his rock and roll days. And he’s one of the most generous people I know. But we love just being friends and not going beyond that. Just like us Davey. (smiles)

Dave: Yup, just like us. I hope the rest of the world heard that and will stop hounding my dear friend. THEY ARE NOT DATING. NOT. DATING. Got it?!

Well, thank you for coming in tonight dear. Seraphina Zelda Wilhelm, everyone!

(Audience claps and cheers, Seraphina waves)

13th August, The Panz Station Hotel, Smithson Suite

Seraphina was lying on the bed reading a magazine. She was having a luxurious night indeed. The Panz Station had given her a complimentary spa and their best suite (according to them). She loved how spacious the suite was with the extra living room and enormous bathroom which included a Jacuzzi. But mostly, she loved how you felt you could literally sink into sleep when you lay on the king size bed. Right now though, she was sitting uncomfortably to make sure she didn’t fall asleep.

Finally, there were three soft knocks on the door. She leapt out of bed and hurried across the vast suite.

“Who’s there?” She whispered with her ear to the door.

“It’s me, you doofus! Now hurry up and open up, my balls are freezing out here,” came a whisper from the other side of the door.

Smiling, Seraphina opened the door to let in Bill Mack.

He slipped in and shivered dramatically. He looked very peculiar indeed dressed in a royal blue robe and Christmas-green socks, his hair standing up at different angles.

Seraphina surveyed him for a few seconds before commenting. “Okay why are you dressed like that?”

Bill looked down at himself and then at her. “What’s wrong with it?”

“I thought this was a meeting, a professional one.”

“It is. But I’m a rock star. It never matters what I wear,” said Bill with the smile that had charmed the hearts of countless women since the eighties.

Seraphina didn’t seem convinced though. Frowning she said, “Really? But Jason specifically said we had to dress smart-casual.”

“Oh fuck him. He’s always got a stick up his arse,” said Bill dismissively. He had already turned his attention to the mass of papers sitting on Seraphina’s living room table.

“Okay onto another topic – you didn’t use the password!”

Bill slouched down comfortably on the couch and propped his legs onto the small part of the table not filled with papers. “Sorry darling, I’m not saying ‘polyjuice’”.

“It’s a security thing, Macky. You know what everyone’s like now,” said Seraphina, sitting on the couch next to his.

Bill grinned at her. “Well you didn’t have to tell everyone we’d discussed fucking!”

Seraphina narrowed her eyes. “Fuck I hate this business sometimes. You can never tell the truth. Either you’re lying when you do or you really are telling the truth and it’s a license to get stalked.”

“Babe, you give sensational news, everyone will jump on it. It’s part of the life,” said Bill as he leafed through a few of the papers.

“How’s this sensational news!” Seraphina exclaimed. “I’m sure as hell not the first person to discuss sleeping with a friend.”

“Yes,” said Bill, reaching for another bunch of papers, “but you’re the first person to tell the world that you’ve discussed sleeping with Bill Mack”.

“And I’m getting crap because you’re a rock star?” Seraphina said looking at him amusedly, raising her eyebrows.

“Exactly,” said Bill, winking and returning her smile.

They sat in silence for a few minutes as Bill continued to look through the papers on the table while Seraphina watched him. Then, a couple of knocks on the door broke the silence.

Walking over to the door, she asked again, “Who’s there?”

“Polyjuice!” came the answering whisper.

She looked at Bill, who responded by rolling his eyes, and opened the door to let in Sally Phillips.

A small, curly haired woman stumbled in, several papers falling out of the folders she carried. She quickly bent to pick them up but several more papers fell out as she did. Seraphina quickly closed the door to help her. Sally walked to the table and dumped the folders on the mass of papers, scattering them.

“No! Dammit, I’d arranged everything neatly!” Seraphina cried.

“Oh fuck, sorry babe,” Sally said, taking off her coat and throwing it on the couch. “Don’t worry, it’s part of the creative process.”

“To mess up all my work?” said Seraphina in dismay, staring at the disarray on the table.

“Exactly!” said Sally brightly. “Now hug me!”

Seraphina hugged her but she was still annoyed. Then Sally turned to Bill.

Bill gave her a devilish smile. Sally returned it with one of her own and winked, “Ah Macky, you can’t go a week without making the news eh?”

“Well you know me babe, I love seeing my name splashed across the headlines.”

They both laughed heartily and Bill stood up to hug her. Another knock came at the door.

“Oh that must be Jason,” said Sally, disengaging from Bill. “Saw him talking to the front desk when I was entering the lift.”

As Seraphina walked to the door, she heard Bill say to Sally in mock concern, “You saw him and didn’t wait for him?”

“Oh shut up,” replied Sally, giggling.

“Who’s there?”

“Polyjuice!”

And sure enough it was Jason Burke who walked in when Seraphina opened the door. He had on a crisp grey suit and held a briefcase in his hand.

Bill raised his eyebrows. “I thought this was smart-casual Jas.”

“Did you now?” said Jason sarcastically, with a distasteful look at Bill’s clothes.

Seraphina quickly cut in. “Okay guys, let’s not start this meeting with another fight, all right? Jason you sit next to Sally.”

They sat down; Jason and Bill opposite each other, Sally bouncing on the couch beside Jason in excitement, and Seraphina beside Bill who was eyeing Jason with dislike.

Jason took no notice of Bill and said, “All right so we’ll start this meeting with an update.” He took out a thin file from his briefcase. “I just came from the studio. They’re happy with the updated screenplay but they did say we should try to add a couple more jokes in there.”

“Jokes?” said Sally frowning. “Did you tell them the genre we were going for was drama, not comedy?”

“Of course,” said Jason, “But they think that since Bill’s gonna be in the movie we should try for a bit more comedy. Apparently he’s funny.” Jason wrinkled his nose derisively.

“Fuck you Jas, I’m hilarious,” said Bill with a snide smile.

“Okay that’s fine,” Seraphina said ignoring their exchange. “Anyway Macky’s good with improv so we’ll just let him do his thing when he gets there and edit whatever we have to.”

Sally nodded in agreement. “Matt can do that too, but we’ll have to tell him not to overdo it. How about you, Seraphina?” They looked at her.

“Oh god no. I’m about as funny as a carrot,” said Seraphina, shaking her head vigorously. “I’ll just stick with the lines you wrote for me, Salls.”

“Oh sweetie you’re funny! You’re just nervous cause it’s your first time,” said Sally, smiling kindly at Seraphina.

Bill scrunched his eyebrows as he turned to Sally. “I thought she’s already guest starred in a couple of TV shows.”

“Well, yes,” said Seraphina, “But I always followed the script, never went off on my own.”

“But you’re funny in interviews, babe. Like that one with Dave,” said Bill, winking at her. All of them laughed.

“Did you guys really discuss sleeping together?” asked Jason with a snort.

“Jealous she talked to me about sex and not you, Jas?” said Bill. Jason narrowed his eyes at him.

“Oh my god, is that really the only thing every one cares about,” said Seraphina rolling her eyes. “I talked about my books, the guest starring, my dogs…And all the sites can say is, ‘Seraphina Zelda Wilhelm opens up about her feelings for Bill Mack’. Hmph!” She shook her head in disbelief.

Sally shrugged. “Well that’s all they care about isn’t it? Your sex life? The rest of your life is just too boring to talk about.”

“Well,” said Jason dramatically, “That’ll certainly change when they find out you’ll be a supporting actor and co-writer of a big budget movie.” He smiled at Seraphina. “And then they’ll get their explanations for why you and Bill have been hanging out together so much.”

Bill laughed. “Fuck no. They’ll stick to their story. A secret romance sounds better than bloody acting lessons.” Seraphina laughed too.

The Drawings

The door was slightly ajar. There was a flickering light coming from the room that was tempting her to enter. Seraphina looked around and saw no one. She pushed open the door and stepped inside.

A woody scent and comfortable warmth greeted her. To the left was a hearth where a fire was crackling merrily away. As the only light source in the room, it cast flickering shadows across the rest of the room which seemed to be straight out of an old English home.

Warm, earthy colours greeted Seraphina’s eyes as she took in the room – A wooden bookshelf with distinct carvings on its sides, a deep orange and red carpet on a polished wooden floor, a plush couch in an almost ugly shade of green, and a beautifully crafted table.

She moved further in, feeling comfortable in the welcoming surroundings, and her eyes fell on an opened folder on the table. She caught a glimpse of the paper in the folder and did a double take.

Walking across the embroidered carpet, she looked closer at the paper. Seraphina saw herself staring back.

It was a drawing of her with a wide smile stretched across her face, holding a laughing baby in her arms. She thought, “Well, I look really pretty here… Not exactly how I imagined I looked like when I was cuddling Mikey’s babe.” She smiled to herself, remembering the happy moment.

Her eyes roamed the entire portrait, taking in the incredible detail the artist had gone into to recreate this moment. She was just marvelling at the shape of the sequins on her shirt showing clearly in the drawing when she saw the signature of the artist at the lower right hand corner. She did a double take again and brought the paper closer to her face to see it properly.

Herbert Seraphina stared at the name for a few seconds, her mind blank.

She looked through the other drawings. They were all of her. Some captured real-life moments with her up close, some from a distance, and others were idle drawings of her. But more importantly, they were all signed by Herbert Black.

“It cannot be,” she thought, now staring intently at every signature on the papers, examining them at different angles as if determined to spot a forgery. She was just reaching the last drawing that showed her sitting among a group of her friends laughing gaily, when she heard a noise from the doorway.

Still in shock over the discovery that Herbert had been drawing her for what seemed like months, she turned toward the noise her eyes still widened and her mouth slightly open.

Herbert was standing in the doorway, the light from the fire illuminating the expression on his face. The shock still on Seraphina’s face was only matched by that of Herbert’s. While Seraphina stared at Herbert, a million questions racing through her head, Herbert stared at the drawings in Seraphina’s hands, an expression of utter disbelief on his face.

Seraphina was the first to recover. She dropped the drawings onto the folder on the table. The sound seemed to bring Herbert to his senses. He shook his head and strode towards her determinedly, gathering the drawings haphazardly into the folder and slamming it shut.

“Did you…did you see…everything?” asked Herbert hesitantly, his voice shaking a little, as if dreading the answer.

Seraphina stared straight at him but Herbert’s eyes were refusing to meet hers. She replied, “Yes.”

He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together, drawing a deep breath in as his hands tightened momentarily on the folder. He didn’t reply her but turned toward the door. He hadn’t taken one step when Seraphina said sharply, “I want an explanation”.

Herbert turned back. His eyes flew to meet hers as his thick eyebrows shot up. “Excuse me?” He asked in astonishment.

Seraphina did not falter. “I want an explanation,” she repeated. Her voice hardened. “I want to know why you have been completely dismissive toward me when I’ve tried to talk to you in the past and ignoring me as much as you have when all this time you’ve been drawing me.” Her expression had turned to one of anger and confusion. “I mean what is that all about? I think I deserve to know!”

Herbert looked at Seraphina’s face, flushed now with emotion. But Herbert’s face remained blank. He did not answer her immediately and a tense silence filled the room. Seraphina did not break the silence and held his gaze, but her eyes began to flicker with anger.

Finally Herbert whispered, “It’s not an easy explanation. I don’t know how to start.”

“Well try then, won’t you?” Seraphina retorted.

Herbert looked at her face which was contorted with anger, her eyes flashing dangerously. But he found her no less beautiful. His face softened and he sighed. He gestured toward the green couch for her to sit. Seraphina stalked to it and sat down heavily. He sat on the other side of it. Her eyes were trained on him, demanding him to speak. Herbert, however, did not meet her eyes. He closed his instead and leaned back, crossing his legs.

“I really like you, Seraphina. In fact, I love you.” He said finally, opening his eyes to stare at Seraphina with an intensity she had never felt before. Her anger disappeared. But she didn’t say anything and gazed at him expectantly. He turned away as he continued. The words seemed to tumble out of him as if he had been waiting for a long time to say them.

“When I first met you, I was intrigued. You had no problem speaking your mind. Yet, you withheld your brutal opinions and doled them out only to those who seemed to deserve it or would benefit from it. You were curious about anything and everything, always asking questions about the darnest things; Like that time you asked Michael about his love for nude art.” Herbert smiled widely remembering that moment. “I mean, you had just met the guy and there were a whole bunch of people sitting there! But it seemed your curiosity got the better of you and you just had to ask.” Herbert gave a short bark of laughter.

Then he turned and looked at Seraphina tenderly. “And the way you sit and listen intently to what people say as if they’re always spilling their deepest, darkest secrets to you when all they’re doing is explaining why they prefer mustard to mayo.” Seraphina offered him a smile but still said nothing. Herbert sighed and stared into the distance in silence. Seraphina watched him closely. It was a full thirty seconds before he spoke again.

He leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs, clutching his hands tightly together as if in prayer. “I have HIV. I found out a year ago.”

There was silence. Herbert did not dare look at Seraphina. He was scared out of his mind. This was the woman he was in love with. The woman whom he had loved since the moment he met her. The woman whose every moment he could possibly catch he had captured through art just for a chance to relive them imagining himself with her instead. But he felt dirty, sullied. Of all the people he’d told, only few had insisted it changed nothing and said they would support him. The others… Well, he was now a pariah in social situations. He had thought so many times about telling Seraphina how he felt about her with the hope that she would love him back. But when he had thought about what it would be like to see her face cringing at the sight of him like his family’s now did, he knew that he would rather she think he was an arrogant asshole and be angry with him than know the truth and be disgusted with him. “But now she knew!” He thought. She knew everything. And he would have to face her with the truth out in the open.

He turned to look at her. Seraphina’s expression had changed. Herbert leaped from the chair and pointed a finger at her.

“I knew it!” He cried accusingly. “I knew it! I knew you’d show me either pity or disgust, and look! Pity! All over your face!” He waved a hand over his face dramatically.

Seraphina’s expression turned to ice. “Sit down, you fool,” she said coldly.

Herbert was shocked at the abrupt change in her demeanour and sat down meekly. Seraphina seemed taken aback too. She shook her head and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be cold.”

She wrinkled her eyebrows. “Herbert, have you been treated so badly that you took the softening of my expression to mean pity instead of what it really was?” Seraphina asked him. Her voice was neither hard nor soft.

“What was it?” Herbert asked, confused.

“Understanding,” replied Seraphina. “I understand your behaviour now.”

“Oh.” Herbert didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t expected this.

“But,” continued Seraphina, “what I don’t get is why you assumed I’d respond with either pity or disgust.” Her lips were pursed and her head tilted slightly to the right.

“It’s cause…” Herbert started but Seraphina cut him off.

“When you spoke of loving me, you said things that conveyed that you got who I was and what I stood for. How, for even a second, could you think I’d respond that way?” Herbert’s mouth was slightly agape. He hadn’t thought of it like that.

Seraphina stood up and looked at him, her hands on her hips. “How could you have thought that I’d be so ignorant?” Herbert stared at her. Her eyes were glistening. He didn’t know what was happening.

“Seraphina, I…”

“No don’t.” She put her hand up to stop him. Herbert closed his mouth and watched her, confused. “I understand your behaviour and I can’t imagine what you’ve been through since you found out. I know what your parents are like; it must have been hell for you.”

“How – how did you – you know…” Herbert stammered.

“Michael told me once about their views on sexuality,” she said waving her hand dismissively before continuing as she began to pace. “And of course I know what society is like with their crap so yes, you must have been going through a terrible ordeal.

“Not to forget, of course, how you must have beaten yourself up about the things you felt for me in conjunction with your issues with HIV.” Herbert was a little shocked. He knew Seraphina was intuitive but never guessed to this degree.

“But me, Herbert? You didn’t even give me a chance.” Seraphina said tearfully as she stopped and stared at him. “And worst of all, you were in love with someone who you assumed would either pity you or be disgusted with you, and you kept loving that person.”

“No! What? No!” Herbert shouted as he leapt up. “I loved you! You!” His arms were outstretched towards Seraphina, shaking slightly as if begging her to stop. This wasn’t how the conversation was supposed to have gone.

“No you didn’t!” Seraphina screamed over him. “You loved someone you thought was me! You knew some things about me, yes. But everything else was assumptions; Horrible assumptions!” She bent to pick up the folder on the couch. She opened it and took out the drawings.

Her hands were shaking as she leafed through them and said, choking back tears, “These are all a lie, Herbert. All of them show you in some fantasy world with a girl who’s ignorant, hateful and doesn’t love you back. It’s not me.”

She dropped the papers on the couch and tried to wipe away the tears now pouring freely down her cheeks. Herbert was distraught at the way the conversation had ended up and looked at Seraphina not knowing what to do or say. Seraphina couldn’t stop her tears and the growing pain in her chest.

After a long moment where the only sounds were Seraphina’s sniffs, she turned to leave.

“Wait,” said Herbert. But it wasn’t a plea, more a question. She looked up at him through her tears.

“Ignorant, hateful and doesn’t love you back,” repeated Herbert slowly, a light in his eyes. Seraphina’s tears stopped.

He looked at her with widened eyes, and his voice full of awe he said, “You love me?”

Seraphina looked back at Herbert. Her eyes were swollen and her face blotchy from crying. After several seconds she said, an aching sadness in her voice, “Yes.”

Art, life, love

Aye, delve into art, life and love. Don’t wish for the safer route. Go out there, where life has happened – is happening – and experience life. Fall hard in love to feel loss, and become a part of the great art, so you can create great art yourself.

Cristian Mihai

art_life_love“It is good to love many things, for therein lies true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” – Vincent van Gogh

I see a lot of artists who just want to become artists. They believe novels simply get written, or that somehow they’ll magically get better at this. Many are reluctant to explore new possibilities or try new techniques… but that doesn’t make much sense.

I believe art to be the only reasonable way for us to venture beyond the limitations of our own world, and by doing so we reach the very essence of our humanity. We always feel close to figuring out some elusive answer to life’s most profound questions. Of course, we never do so, and that’s what keeps us going.

View original post 638 more words

An experience with Depression

Depression is not sadness. Being depressed is being empty. You cannot experience any real feeling whether it be happiness, sadness, anger, excitement or jealousy. You are completely devoid of all thoughts except your darkest ones. And these dark thoughts don’t make you sad, they force you into a prison where you cannot think of anything but them. You’re completely overwhelmed. It’s like you’re drowning. And you try to fight to come up for that breath of fresh air, but you can’t seem to escape the tight hold of darkness. After a while, it becomes too hard and you give up. You’re neither alive nor dead; your body has just become a shell that contains darkness and doesn’t allow even a trace of beauty through. There’s nothing you can do to escape from this prison. So you accept this prison as your home. There will be people around you who love you and care for you and sure, you love them too. But nothing they say or do can penetrate that dark shell. They feel so removed from you, somehow. Imagine feeling constantly like you’re drowning.

You sink deeper and deeper until you can’t even tell which way is up. You go about your life looking blankly at the emotions other people feel, the things they experience. You used to wonder whether you’d ever feel happy again but you’ve come to know that you never will so you don’t question the emptiness. You are disinterested in everything in your life – food, movies, studies. You eat just to survive. It takes too much energy to be interested in anything. Sleeping is good though. You sleep for hours and when you’re awake, you feel tired all the time. You just want to sleep, disappear from the world. If someone says they need you or want you, you retreat. It’s just too much pressure to give them anything. You can’t even do that for yourself. You don’t want to be around anymore. But you like sleeping. You get to disappear, to be completely blank.

Then it occurs to you that maybe that’s it – the answer to this emptiness – you need to disappear, literally. You attempt it once and realize that you’ve got to summon a lot more energy than you have to end your life. But it feels like a natural progression, from this emptiness to death. After all, isn’t death the ultimate emptiness? So you try again and again. Each time you’re close to the end, you withdraw quickly. Should you be doing this? But it’s strange, these attempts to kill yourself are the first time, in a long time, you’ve experienced any feelings. You’re afraid. Finally, an emotion! And you’ve finally got some bit of energy! Your attempts become a lot more dangerous, you’re tethering on the edge. That feeling of fear is getting stronger. And you kind of enjoy feeling again – Hey! You’re starting to feel enjoyment now!

Alone in that dark room, the darkness inside you growing deeper and deeper, you feel a little manic. You clutch that sharp knife and bring it closer to yourself. You’ve got to go deeper now otherwise you won’t feel the fear. You slice your skin open and push the knife deeper in. You start feeling a little scared. Blood gushes out a little faster than the last time you tried this. You push it deeper in. You smile a little as the fear fills you. This feels good.

Suddenly you drop the knife. You stare at the blood dripping from your hand, flowing toward the drain. The fear has grown more than you thought it would. What are you doing? You grab a towel and hold it to your bleeding wound. As you collapse onto the closed toilet seat, tears start to flow down your cheeks freely. You want this to end. You don’t want to be empty anymore. You want to disappear and never come back. Why, why couldn’t you just do that. You see the blood, your blood, stained on the floor and lean your head against the cool wall. You close your eyes. A thought flashes through your mind, just a little one, like a beacon, “I need help”.