Depression is a Neighbor

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.
8:00 am
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.”
“Close enough.”
“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?

Short Story Sunday – Part II

shortstory

Well well well, if it isn’t another Sunday. I know I said I would update this story on a bi-weekly basis, but well I got sick, and it blowed. I really didn’t bother updating the blog at all, and then had work to catch up on, but enough with the excuses here. If this is your first visit, then you will want to read Part One of the story.

PART ONE

Now that you read that, here’s Part Two. Enjoy!! Please note that I do this on a whim. No editing goes into it, and I basically just want to do this for fun. It helps get the brain flowing, so that I can go and work on my other stories. 😀 Still I really hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to share, comment, and like!! Peace and Love!!

NOTE: TRIGGER WARNING for Sexual Harassment. Please do not read if sensitive to this subject. 

Part Two: Invitations and Hesitations 

I really should tell you how I ended up locking myself away like a depressed Rapunzel in her tower. Yes, it comes down to that party invitation. I spent the next few days being extremely indecisive about it.

“I mean it could be fun.” I would say to Patrick one minute. “but then again, I think I would rather just stay in on Saturday.”

“Something new, then.” Patrick would reply. “Look I know you hate parties, and not everyone needs to be belligerent and drunk 24/7, but you haven’t really done much other than work on your art and selling pieces online–” As I was about to defend myself he cut in again,”Which works for you Zara. You are the way you are, but don’t you ever feel like trying? Try and meet new people, or just break out of your shell a little?”

After another day or two of me being wishy washy, and Patrick barely listening to my excuses by Friday night, I finally said while I was making dinner, “FINE! We will go, because YES, you are coming with me. Let’s be social. Let’s walk into the lion’s den!”

I didn’t get dressed up because it didn’t seem like that kind of party. Skinny jeans, white tee, and a black hoodie seemed like a perfect outfit. As we both walked out of our door to head down stairs to the party, patrick turned to me before locking the door, “You are sure you want to do this?”

“Well don’t question me NOW Pat. For fucks sake.” He moved aside and I closed the door to the apartment, took a breath and locked it.

When we arrived, I couldn’t find the host. It was already crowded and excessively loud. “I’m going to grab us a couple of beers. You’ll wait here?” I simply nodded at his question. I shoved my hand into the pockets of my hoodie and based myself against a wall. People kept walking by, dancing and spilling their drinks trying to get through. Suddenly someone was next to me, and he came really close to my ear to talk to me, I realized then that it was possibly just because over the loud music that there was no other way of communicating, but smoke signals would have felt less suffocating to me. He continued to talk, and I zoned out completely, as I tend to do under normal circumstances anyway.

“…and that’s how I ended up here.” Is what I heard from this tall stranger with black hair, green eyes and a chiseled jaw when I finally tuned back to earth. I laughed because he was laughing, and I responded with “Haha, that’s cool.” His expression kind of flickered, which told me he realized I hadn’t paid attention to a single word he said. At this point I could see Patrick carrying two beer bottles in his hand, all I could think was ‘thank god’. I turned my back on the stranger as Pat handed me a beer.

“Sorry they only had hipster microbrews here.”

“You mean cereal and milk left out in the sun for too long? It’s okay, I kind of expected that with this crowd.” I took a sip and shuddered. Patrick then waves at some dude across the room.

“It’s my coworker Daniel, wanna come with me?” Pat asked.

“No no, you go. I will be fine here.” and Patrick walked away. He glanced over his shoulder and his forehead creased as I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I turned, the stranger was still standing there.

“That your boyfriend?” he asks.

“Umm, no. Just a friend. Best friend actually.”

“Good.” and he put his hand on my waist. I winced at the touch. I grabbed his hand and placed it back on his side.

“Playing hard to get huh?” and the most disturbing grin crossed his face. I took a step back, as far as the crowd and walls would allow me, but he stepped forward. “I am not playing at all actually. Thank you, but NO thank you.” He wasn’t having it though, and he once again put his hand on my waist, grabbed it actually and brought me close to him with no effort at all. His face was close to mine at this point, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. “Can you please let go of me?” and I glanced over at Patrick, but he wasn’t near his friend, he was struggling to get through the crowd to come to me. Suddenly I felt like a boulder fell onto my chest, and the hand on my waist felt more like a giant bear trap. I started to panic, and began to push myself out of his grip. At this very point he said “Fine, bitch!” and pushed me off. I stumbled back, my breath caught in my throat, and of course in this instance, I fell straight to the floor, the beer bottle in my hand crashing and breaking to pieces.

I knew I was having a panic attack, the heat rising to the back of my neck, my chest tightening. I struggled to get up, and cried out when placing my right hand down on the floor. There was glass stuck in my palm, blood rushing out. Patrick finally reached me, and helped me to my feet. Before I could say thank you, I turned and pushed out of the crowd to the building’s hallway. I ran again. I ran right back to the elevator and right to our apartment door. Realizing too late that Patrick had the key. I slammed my back against the door. I fell straight to the floor, and began to sob all while trying to calm my breathing.

I felt a hand on my arm, and flinched. It was Patrick.

“I’m sorry. You’re okay, you ARE safe.” He sat there with me, me against the door to our apartment, and him against the wall next to it. He didn’t touch me again. He let me calm down enough, to finally open the door. He guided me into the apartment, “Let’s get your hand cleaned up.”

“I…I Don’t want to gg..go to the hospital ththough.” I struggled to speak.

“No. No we will do it here, and if it needs more care, we can go tomorrow. Okay? Where’s your medication?”

“Ba-Bathroom.”

We walked slowly to the bathroom, and he cleaned out my hand. Carefully and slowly, cleaning out all the cuts as he went. “Take your medication, to calm down, and I will go make you some tea.”

I took my meds, and headed to the couch. I sat there crying, and I’ve been going back every day since. To sit there, occasionally crying. Patrick occasionally brings me tea. What a way to live.


Well that’s the end of part two. I know, it got a little dark, but I hope you liked the read.

See you next time!!

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

©2016 Joana Simoes. All Rights Reserved

Short Story Sunday

shortstory

I wanted to share some random writings with you, so I will start Short Story Sunday. Which may be a bi-weekly thing rather than a weekly thing. This particular short story will be shared in small bursts, till we finally reach the end. Please note that anything I post here is a work in progress, and has gone through ZERO editing. I just wanted to be able to share some of my writing. Not everything I write is fantasy or historical fiction, and this is a prime example. This one has some dark humor in it, but it is definitely going to twist at some of your emotions. This is a work of fiction. Enjoy!


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

©2016 Joana Simoes. All Rights Reserved

Part One: A Party You Say?

It’s been a month since I have stepped outside of my apartment. I want to say it’s a choice, and plenty of people would argue that it is– my mother tells me I am overreacting all the time. I have gotten fully dressed and ready to step outside a grand total of 8 times. Winter coat on, scarf at the ready, I place my hand on the doorknob and start the pep talks.

“Come on Zara, you are just going to the grocery store for eggs and milk.”

“Come on Zara, you just need to step out for some fresh air.”

“Come on Zara, go to the bookstore! YOU LOVE THE FUCKING BOOK STORE!”

I take a few deep breaths, turn the doorknob,and as I do so, sweat begins to drip down my forehead, down my neck, and pools on the small of my back. I slam my back against the apartment door. “Not today!” I yell, and walk down our short hallway, back into my bedroom, and straight back into my pajamas. Just so you know, I am not always like this. I can leave the apartment on good days, but for the past month it has just been a never-ending chain of bad days. Sometimes those bad days are really awful and for the past month even on Okay days I have just been too exhausted to go anywhere.

I live with my best friend Patrick. He takes care of the grocery shopping when I get like this. We moved to Portland from Pennsylvania about 6 years ago. Sharing an apartment seemed like the best bet to save money, plus I don’t think Pat and I know how to function anymore without the other one around. From the outside looking in, people assume we are a couple or really weird siblings that moved straight from the womb to an apartment in Portland. We are not, and have never had any sexual entanglements. I have barely dated, and he’s brought home a couple of girls. They always wake up the next morning, run into the weird chick wearing the batman pajamas eating oatmeal from a disney princess bowl, and are never seen again. Whatever a great wingman is, I am the opposite of that.

Patrick is patient, and the past month a lot has fallen to him. He doesn’t complain, but I apologize profusely a million times a day anyway.

About a month ago I was invited by one of the many downstairs neighbors to a party. Figuring that everyone there was going to be between the ages of 18 and 25, I asked Pat to come with me. Technically I gave him no choice, I’m awful like that. I always tell him I am way past my partying stage and he reminds me that I never went through a party stage. Usually Patrick is the one that gets all the invites, and he will always casually drop by, while I stay upstairs watching tv. This time I got caught in the crosshairs of a conversation in the laundry room. As I threw my laundry into the dryer, a girl of about 22 with shoulder length blonde dreadlocks turned to me and invited me to her party.

My initial thought was “No, I don’t want to go to your patchouli infested apartment where you will serve tofu and vegan brownies and talk about that month you spent in India, appropriating another culture. I’ve seen you in that Sari bitch!” But I am good enough at filtering my thoughts and making them less rude quite quickly. I also had just spent 30 seconds staring at the shell bead hanging off of one of her dreadlocks, and needed to say something and get out of there.

“Uhhh, Sure.” I stammered.

I sped down the hall and straight into the elevators. I hit the button for the 7th Floor, and hit the close door button knowing it is not actually going to make the door close any faster. When I reached the 7th floor I practically ran to our apartment.

Patrick was in the living room on his laptop as I step inside and he looks at me quizzically.

“Why are you out of breath?” he asked.

“That blonde girl with dreads just invited me to a party.” I say in between huffs and puffs. Shit I really should work out more.

“I think her name is Mandy, or Amanda.” Patrick said this like it mattered.

“Of course it is.” I reply.

“I’m guessing you said no?”

“I said sure, which I mean, kind of leaves it open to interpretation.”

“No it doesn’t Zara.”

“Sure it does. For instance, ‘Sure, but I would rather pull my teeth through my ass.’ or ‘Sure, but I have to wash my hair that night, try it some time.” I explained.

Patrick laughs as he continued to type on his laptop and then said, “Only you would think that ‘sure’ is open to interpretation.”

“So we have to go to this thing?”

“We?”he asked.

“WE!”


Hope you enjoyed the very short first part to this story! Leave some comments down below and let me know what you think! Happy Sunday!