I found a short story I wrote a few years back, and have since reworked, and decided is pretty relevant to the struggles of teenage girls in particular today. It explores the notion that depression can come and go, and the hormonal rollarcoaster that exists during adolescence. I also thought a Monday morning was a pretty good time to share this, as sometimes you can feel the weight of the world, only to wake up and realise it was just a;
Bad Day, Not a Bad Life
Emma was having a bad day. The concealer was somehow making her pimples more obvious than they were before, and she had an extremely painful one on the bridge of her nose that her mother would surely point out later, as if she didn’t already know it was there. The morning had trailed into mid- afternoon and then to musky evening without anything slightly entertaining happening. The boy she liked had been unable to come over as expected, but it was a staggering disappointment all the same. She felt hopeless and desperate and simply foolish. Her ex-boyfriend is trying to chat her up when she really isn’t in the mood, but it counts as entertainment in these present boring moments. She lies on her bed and contemplates sleep, but why waste a perfectly good evening when all it would do is bring the next day to reality quicker than necessary. There was a pile of homework waiting for her and a shift at the pizza shop looming at the bottom.
Today she tried on her flowing white skirt and completed it with a big blue ring and hanging necklace to try and feel unique. As if style could erase the depressing emotion inside her and bring about a brighter attitude. It was a good theory, but it didn’t work. Boys are annoying, she’s decided. They make you feel silly things and change the way you feel about yourself. Meanwhile, Facebook is just a world full of fake friends and a competition of ‘who can get the most likes’ which quite frankly she will not be manipulated by. A camera sits next to her on the bed and she wishes she could just scoop it up and snap away to capture every passing moment in life, but it’s not possible. The drawing she did earlier is beside that and it remains quiet. It just lies there innocently and refuses to speak. She feels like a kiss; a soft careful one that sends a spark racing down your tongue and brings a smile to your lips. The kind you only get with a person you really like; and it scares her shitless.
She rolls over onto her back and stares at the ceiling, trying to remember a time when she didn’t feel this way. Bored, overwhelmed, lacking in motivation. It’s almost impossible to imagine. It feels as though her heart has dug its way deeper into her chest; far too lost and too difficult to yank out. This isn’t just because of a boy, of course, this is much more. She lets out a sigh and sits up, looking around at her bedroom. Parts of herself, her life, scattered and placed and remaining silent.
There’s a round lamp on the bedside table and a glitter lamp next to that. A red electric guitar, some hanging lanterns and a pair of patterned shorts. A typewriter that doesn’t really work and an old television hidden nearby. A forgotten empty bottle of Rekordling – premium apple flavour – and a silver chain with a key. There’s a vase of flowers and a plaited piece of ribbon. On top of a shelf that sits on the floor lives a tv with an aquarium inside, home to Ariel the mermaid and three gold fish. Next to that is a jar of paintbrushes and a bottle of orange nailpolish. Assorted shelfs attached to the wall hold an array of knick-knacks – a bottle of Kate Moss perfume, an old camera, a shell, some blocks that spell “LIVE”, three old keys, a bamboo ‘Sabah’ cup and a small china teapot. There’s a clay dolphin, a row of linked elephants and a bottle of sinus clearing blend.
On the biggest of shelves there is an assortment of books, and three fancy cats. On the top you can see a dreamcatcher, a globe, blue sunglasses, Tigga, Piglet and Pooh, a Rubix cube, two die and an orangutan plush toy. There’s a netball trophy, a San Francisco hat, a ukulele and a fur real friend’s cat. There’s yellow and orange pencils, the ace of spades, a bratz doll named Yasmin, Paddington Bear, a ‘Where’s Wally?’ book, a rainbow slinky and a purple pig money box.
Emma buries her head in her pillow and tries to block out the memories, but no matter how hard she tries they just creep up on her. From her room she can hear her mum bustling around in the kitchen, oblivious to her daughter’s misery. She hears the pots clink and the pans clunk and a cupboard closing and the oven opening. “Dinner’s ready,” a shrill voice calls, and Emma drags herself out of the room of memories.
One day she’s not going to have broccoli with dinner. She’ll have carrots and cauliflower and peas and green beans, but no way is she having broccoli. One day she’ll get a tattoo of a tiny mermaid on her shoulder, for a time when memories begin to fade. One day she will see the world and travel around buying expensive novelties and dangling beads and glass crystals. One day she’ll get a scuba-diving licence and swim with the fish and the dolphins. She’ll ride a camel in faraway places, scoff a whole box of rock candy and make a fortune out of selling authentic balls of wool. She will fall in love and get married and live in the country and see the snow and smile. But today she’s just a teenager with a sore back and a stupid heart, reading a book on a lonely Saturday night.
On the contrary, Monday morning is surprisingly welcoming. And the day continues on much the same. Tuesday rolls by a little less merry, but as the afternoon sun dips below the horizon she heads home with a smile. She pours a coffee from the kettle and dawdles into her room. The light is dim and the curtains are drawn as she sits down in the warm evening night and brushes her fingertips across the crisp pages of a worn book. She loved how books allowed you to delve into the depths of a life completely different from your own; escaping reality. She could live off toast with small dollops of vegemite and just the right amount of butter, and life didn’t seem so bad anymore.