Short Story: The river of dread

The river of dread overcame me, like the dam keeping it back couldn’t hold any longer and the river had to pass through. The river was littered, those upstream didn’t seem to care and so down came their trash. The unwanted goods. 

It is beside me how they were able to get depression, anxiety and self-hatred into the water. How they seemed to mix it in with the small patches of water that looked clean. 

Once the water rushed over you were a fool not to see the fools that we were. Once I was blessed by this ungodly water the forest became gray. It wasn’t a loss of color, it wasn’t like a black and white movie. It was dreary, it was cold, it was dark. It was closing in, getting tighter and tighter. Darker and darker. 

The river flowed with a mighty force, splashing up onto the ground, making its presence known. 

I couldn’t stay there, I had to run, but as I looked down at my feet, I couldn’t. The water had turned the bank into mud and as I had sat there watching the world around me be drained of all its colors and be repainted with a layer of ominous tones and dreadful highlights my feet sunk deeper and deeper into the mud. As the river crashed into the bank more and more mud came upon me.

My mind left my body, wandering off, but even the rabbits do not know where to. As I stood there, unable to fix the problem there began a small bubble of hate. 

The situation was frustrating. The world I knew suddenly changed. I had been overcome by waters tainted to do no good. I lost the ability to see what I once knew was there. But there were also discoveries. I discovered the looming anxieties in my life, I discovered the discomfort that depression brings, I discovered the part of myself that hates me.

My eyes wanted to cry, they tried to but the tears wouldn’t come out. Without the tears, how would anyone know something was wrong? The river side had not been quiet when the dam broke. It was blossoming with friends, lovers, families. The water caused havoc on their days, but somehow they moved on. Literally stuck there, I felt even more like an outsider and it felt like confirmation that no one likes me. The crowds bustled about, not paying attention to me, stuck in the mud unable to cry.

Eyelids tearing my eyes apart. It felt like thousands of small, red, irritated sharp edges were living on the inside of my eyelids. Digging in as that drug across my eyes with each blink, each time I closed my eyes and as I slowly opened them to see if this unwanted reality was still my own.

And that was just it. It wasn’t that everyone was going on about their day ignoring me, stuck in the mud wondering if I could find something to get me out. Then pondering if I should use that tool to take me out. They didn’t see me. We were in different realities on the same page. They remained where I wanted to be, where I had been. I – I somehow got washed away. 

It began small – this is all your fault, the voice in my head said. Then it was louder and louder. It is all your fault, you should be able to fix this and you aren’t, it began to exclaim. I began to exclaim. The voice in my head had a face and that face was mine. I was telling myself how terrible I am. How if I had been better this wouldn’t have happened. And I believed it. I hated myself. Then I was mad at myself for hating myself, so I hated myself some more.

The need to cry was overwhelming. The need to do something was overwhelming. Before I knew it my body burst with movement. It thrashed into itself, half trying to get out and half trying to make the situation worse. Were my feet being pulled from the mud or was I sucking myself deeper and deeper down? 

I reached out trying to grasp onto the ankles of those passing me by as I began to feel the feeling of cold wet mud on my back. But, each motion was a miss. They were there, but they weren’t really there. Not in this reality. I was alone. Stuck falling deeper and deeper into the mud. No way out insight and a mixed desire to stay and to get out.

In the dark hole I sat and hated myself I did. I rocked like a baby in the corner. I pulled on my hair, wondering how hard I would need to pull to pull it out and if it would hurt. I dug my nails into the skin on my forehead, running them across each time pushing a little bit harder and harder.

I sat there for hours, days, weeks. Time meant nothing to me. I woke up in pain, aching. My eyes red from crying or trying to do so. My face feeling rearranged from the brute force I used as I rubbed my fist against it. The rain fell, the water passed, the mud stuck to my skin and I still wondered if I wanted to find a way out or do I resolve myself. Do I accept this reality to be my true reality.

The trees were still shades of gray and black on gray and black. The river bank, once full of bright green grass now had a grayscale filter applied to it. The sky which had once sparkled blue, full of puffy clouds, that you can only imagine taste like marshmallows, were dark. The clouds, once pure white, were black like coal. The blue sparkle of the sky had been replaced with the misty, dreadful colors of a rainy day. The sun. The sun was gone. 

Looking at the world around me I began to cry. I fell to my knees weeping as I realized how much I did actually want the world I had once seen. Weeping as I realized that that reality wasn’t meant for me. I looked up and could see the people bustling about again. I reached out but my hand continued to drift through each person and my calls fell on faint ears.

It’s not meant for me, I thought as I continued to grapple with accepting my new reality. I looked around and began to accept that colors were not a thing of my present, but away to describe my past.

I surrendered, gave in, gave up. The fight, if there ever was one, was lost, but I felt like I was where I belonged. I was at least where my mind told me I belonged. 

I collapsed onto the ground and began daydreaming about kitchen knives and how nice they would be to slice a throat. My throat. Or a thick pipe to press on the windpipe until there was no more wind. I wondered if this reality had knives or if there was a branch of wood that could stand in for a metal pipe.

Some voice asked me if I needed some help and opened my eyes, that had somehow fallen closed, I saw them standing there with their hand out ready to help me up. I looked around, my world was still gray, I still had a burning passion of self hate and I still wanted to die, so how did they see me?

I took their hand and they helped me. They helped me from the hole that had become my home. Helped me wash the mud I let cover my body, pull the leaches from my hair. Maybe the fight wasn’t over.

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