This is a short story I wrote for a contest. I did not get chosen this year but I was last year so it’s okay. I did want to share this story with all of you. It means A LOT to me. So here it is:
Depression is a Neighbor
©2018 Joana F. Simoes
I don’t mean to take over people’s lives. It’s my job. I don’t have an excellent reputation, but I am also hugely ignored by many. Hence why I am still around. It’s a conundrum.
The people I affect give me a horrible name, but the ones who don’t believe just go on
pretending I am nothing but a figure of everyone’s imagination. “It’s all in your head,” they say to those who I visit.
That’s the truth. I do enter straight into their thoughts and slowly take over, but my job is very misunderstood.
Today is an especially interesting day; it’s some of my busiest days. The dark clouds are
blanketing the city like everyone in town let their toast burn this morning.
I have so many appointments today that I had to skip having breakfast, like most mornings.
I skip a lot of things throughout the day. In fact, I am not entirely sure I am wearing a clean shirt at this very moment. I always walk to my appointments. I find cars, buses, and trains too nerve-wracking for me. Who knows what can happen to those things?
I look over my shoulder and put up the hood of my black jacket. It’s not raining yet, but I like to stay within the comforts of my clothing. The world is an ugly place, and I am not here to make it any prettier.
I knock on the door of the first appointment. I visit Maggy every day; she lives on the next street over.
“Maggy? Are you there?” a barely audible grumble comes from within the apartment.
“Maggy you have to let me in.” I look at the time. I have another appointment in 20
minutes. I can hear footsteps from behind the door. She turns the lock, yet the door doesn’t open.
“Hello?” I ask.
“You’re not coming in! Not today Satan!” Maggy is in a mood today. She’s usually my easiest appointment. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, the door was unlocked when I arrived, but she just locked it.
“My name isn’t Satan, Maggy.”
“Maggy, you’re atheist. You don’t believe in Satan.” I remind her.
“Stop telling me what I believe in! You don’t know me at all.”
“I’ve been coming here every day for the past three years. I know you very well.” Silence
follows. “I know that you stay in bed until noon. You try to get up earlier only to head back to bed in the afternoon. You cry in the shower and cry in the corner when no one else is around. You pace your apartment when you should be sleeping at 2 am, and sometimes you forget to do normal things like eating or drinking water.”
“That’s your fault!!” she yells back at me. I shake my head. The ugly part of the job.
“You’re not wrong, but that’s the deal.”
“I never made a deal with you. I never asked for this.”
“No one does. It just is the way it is. I used to visit your mother every day.”
“Don’t. Do NOT talk about my mother.” A touchy subject with Maggy, but one that usually
gets her to open the door. I try to turn the knob. Still locked. I have 15 minutes now.
“Maggy, you need to open this door.”
“How about you just go to hell. Or do I not believe in that either?” she asks.
“ Well if we are going to be perfectly honest, you do not.”
“You’re a pain. Did you know that?” I do in fact know this. I am not like a broken bone, but I inflict some of the worst kind of pain known to humanity. I make people feel worthless, really less than worthless. Insert “it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it” cliché here.
I start tapping my foot on the wet stone steps to an imaginary beat. This has never
happened before. Maggy has never fought me. My quota has been going down the past
couple of months. I get yelled at constantly to pick that quota back up. Sometimes I wonder
if the world would be better off without me in it.
“Why are you still at my door? Haven’t gotten the hint yet that I am not letting you in Mister know it all?”
She will eventually break down, they all let me back in. Maybe not today but ultimately I see their names on my appointment list once again, but Maggy, she’s a regular and If I lose her, I may very well lose my job.
I keep tapping my foot and staring at my watch. Suddenly the curtains on the windows to
the right of me fly open, and Maggy is tapping at the glass. She shows me a bottle of water and sticks out her tongue. Right there, laying there is a pill.
“Don’t you dare!!!” I yell at her.
She gulps down a bunch of water, and I know the pill is surfing straight down. Maggy smirks, and suddenly slams her two middle fingers against the window and the curtains once again fly closed.
“RUDE! That was a little unnecessary and a little hurtful to be quite honest.” I say.
“Here’s a tissue.” And she slips a tissue through her mail slot.
That’s the moment I move onto my next appointment. I make a note to pass back around
before heading back home.
My next appointments all go smoothly. They let me in, and they crumble into a pile of
melted thoughts and numbness. They get up, and then head back to bed or find solace at
the bottom of a bottle. At the end of the day I feel drained, but still, decide to head towards Maggy’s again.
I tell myself it’s because it’s just on the way home, but it’s because I’ve never had anyone put up so much of a fight. Not in years. As I walk through the streets hearing
pieces of conversations. I find myself entranced by human emotions. I usually numb most of them, but listening to them and wanting to know more is against our rules.
As I turn down Maggy’s street, I hear a beautiful laugh from the opposite side of the road.
I turn to look, and it’s coming from Maggy. Something inside my soul tears to shreds. I’ve
never seen such genuine happiness on her face.
I turn and walk the opposite way to avoid her seeing me. I keep walking with my hood up, and my eyes look straight ahead. The day has been miserable, and that is the essence of my job.
I stop at my door and think once again, would the world be better without me here?