Rachel cried too often.
She was depressed.
Admitting to herself that she had some type of illness with a name, made her feel worse.
She wished she had noticed when it first started to crawl across her skin like an infectious insect.
She would’ve slapped it.
Flicked it away from her as discard.
It came from somewhere she once was.
It must’ve been hiding within her forever.
It might’ve been within the hands of a man who once cupped the side of her pale thin winter face aged twelve.
Perhaps it was on the tip of a male appendage she had been forced to trace with her mouth when she was seven.
Maybe it was within the click of a gun trigger pointed at her head of teen.
It was no doubt within every illicit escape she’d pasted between her front teeth and tasted with her pestle tongue.
It was in the lyric of every sad song sung.
It wasn’t on the dance floor though it was sometimes waiting at home.
She’d racked it and snorted it into her breathing dome.
It fed her then stole serotonin for fee.
It was her fault.
It was his.
It was in everything she received and all that she could give.
Her depression was a mirror she stared long and hard into.
She didn’t like her reflection anymore.
Those sad eyes all weeping and red like Jesus.
Get off that fucking cross.
It was most certainly within the freshly dug earth of a hole prepared for her father.
She remembers staring into that hole with her thirteen-year-old eyes full of salt and wondering how many holes in the world held secrets and insects and bugs feasting.
Rachel felt like something was feasting on her now.
She was being eaten alive from the inside.
Her heart had turned itself against her, pounding too hard within her chest sometimes.
More often, feeling far too heavy to carry.
Its weight made her shoulders slump forward and mouth turn down.
It made her eyes pour like a lonely waterfall on the side of a pretty hill that people rarely see.
It pooled around her.
It was up to her cheekbones today.
She tilted her head back to breathe.
Beneath the water of drowning she paddled her legs and sometimes pointed her toes.
Every hour felt longer than it ever had.
She contemplated giving in and surrendering to the depth below.
I might slip gracefully under.
Sink to the beneath.
She knew she was weak.
And so many said she was strong.
They were wrong.
She was once.
Now exhausted, Rachel opened her eyes every morning and sighed because she was alive.
I often want to die.
She didn’t want to be put in a hole.
She wanted to get out of one.
She wanted to fly.
Though she was too broken.
Her wings all tangled and cracked deep within where the strong bits need to be.
Rachel had stitched her wings back together many times.
She’d tied double knots and cut loose threads and even tried to choke herself with her own dangle from a metal overhead beam in a garage where nobody with a real smile would choose to take their last breath.
She’d swallowed too many pills and drank spirit from a shot glass, slamming it all down into her belly and hoping her eyes would close and never open again.
Rachel once borrowed a friends car and drove herself to the highest bridge she could find with an intention to jump from its edge and her own.
She never reached the bridge.
At an intersection on the wrong side of town, the right people stood wearing fluorescent vests over white t-shirts whilst shaking tins for cash donations.
Don’t approach my car I’m dying.
One of those humans holding a collector tin turned their back to her that day and she saw the writing on his shirt.
Prevention For Youth Suicide.
Rachel’s sad eyes said HOLY FUCK! If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is.
And then she cried.
She pressed the button to open the car window and emptied all of her money into a tin being held by someone wearing the words she needed.
She completed an illegal turn at the traffic lights and drove home ten kilometres slower than when she’d been on route to die.
And she remembered every time she’d been within the spin of an out of control car and the slam against a telegraph pole.
Rachel considered how she could never recall the bounce of herself from an overturned vehicle though how its occurrence sat deep within her psyche and tapped on her itchy feet and said, “You’re a survivor. Stay. Stay. You’re meant to be here.”
At seventeen she watched six nineteen-year-old thugs repeatedly kick the head of an innocent youth who smiled at the wrong girl.
As clotted blood spurted and flicked itself from his mouth and his body jerked with each solid hoof of hate against his rib cage she screamed, “STOP! STOP! YOU’RE KILLING HIM!”
They stopped then and made her run with them after they casually stepped away.
“Get in the car Rachel.”
Rachel folded her arms and wished she could walk the four-hour drive home.
She always wondered about that guy.
Did he survive?
One of those thugs was her boyfriend.
A poor choice she’d made with the calculation of her sum of life.
He was an asshole.
You’re shit Rachel.
You don’t deserve goodness.
Love was tied up with complicated string.
Love reminded her of pain and knives and teeth.
Love made the fibre weak.
Love was a dog with sharp incisors sometimes growling and sometimes laying in the sunshine on its spine.
It took bites out of her and gnawed at her flesh down to the bone.
It buried things and dug deep to unearth what should probably be best left hidden.
Rachel felt like she had a dog sitting either side of her now.
She wanted to run away.
When Rachel was eleven she bought a Greyhound Bus ticket with money she had stolen.
She was going to choose a seat above the turning wheels and be driven toward the city where no other human being knew who she was or what her father had done.
Her mother had left her behind when she was a child though Rachel knew if she were her own mother, she’d be gone too.
The man is an animal.
She loved him.
She wanted to pat his head and say everything is going to be ok.
You’re a good dog.
Be a good dog.
But he was sick.
And now Rachel was sick though she knew she wasn’t as diseased as him.
She counted her blessings and tried to divide her strengths from her gnawing insects within.
A dog with fleas.
I’m infested with sadness.
My paws are sore I’ve been running so far from him and then and her and them and every when.
She dug holes and tried to bury herself.
She tipped into the upturned earth of her every day since birth.
The insects always crawled back out and flew to her, landing on the edges of her mouth and in the crease of her frown.
Rachel, don’t look so down.
She wanted to snarl and become rabid.
Eat her festering self from the outside in.
Where to begin?
Sometimes she sat in silence with only the tick of a wall clock tapping itself against her time.
Keep breathing Rach.
It’s going to take some time.
She looked back and saw herself standing at the rear of a long line, impatient and darkened by shadow.
The slow shuffle of her paws against a tilted ground.
She dug her nails into anything.
Everything that was going to happen already had.
At the back of her neck was a mangled wreck of twisted cars and scars and crossroads.
She wanted to crawl into its centre and wait for the driver with his foot pushed hard to the pedal.
I am lying on this broken line.
It’s going to take some time.
Rachel hated her depression.
It was a dog that needed putting down.
Shot with a green dream.
It made her hands shake and her feet not work properly and she missed herself.
I don’t know who I am anymore.
Depression felt like a thick winter coat that needed to be shaved from her.
She was so thin without it.
It had stolen her appetite and her strength.
She felt like a burden.
She was tired of carrying her heaviness and embarrassed by its existence.
And although Rachel knew all the answers, she couldn’t piece it all back together.
All the broken bits jagged and full of ouch.
She wished she could stab the insects and the darkness and bleed it all from her.
Swim in my emptying and drown festering fuckers.
The insects survived.
She kept her mouth mostly shut to avoid their distaste.
And she paddled like the dog she never wanted to be.
Her paws beneath where not many had ever been.
She scratched at the bed way down below and stirred up the earth until the dark murkiness made everything feel like it should.
I can’t see much farther than where I am.
The insects swam and some flew away.
Some days, Rachel felt less heavy.
Today she was sinking.
Water for Wings – PJ Ryan