(Where We Keep Our Sorrow- Excerpt)
She stretched, reveling in the feeling of her joints popping loose, of the way her toes tingled and if she focused very very hard she could almost feel the blood in her body thrumming along its path, keeping her alive, keeping her moving, keeping her her.
What a heady feeling, being alive.
Autumn cracked her knuckles, slowly, one by one, taking joy in the simple act. The sleeve of her hoodie rolled back as she held her hand over her head and for the first time in years the sight of her own scars didn’t make her flinch. She ran a finger across the raised skin, the scars creating a roadmap, detailing the pain in her heart she hadn’t been able to vocalize. It hadn’t been right, she knew that. Still fought with the desire some days. When life became too much, when the thoughts in her head crowded together, buzzing like bees, when the very act of staying inside her skin made her feel like she was full of ants: itchy and crawling and wrong and when it felt like her heart would drown in the sorrow she had no words for, had no anchor for. There was nothing, on those days, for her to point at and say “I’m sad because this happened,” nothing for her to fixate on to fix, only the emptiness and sense of too much and overwhelming dizziness that came from being Autumn. Those were the dangerous days, when she wanted to go find the nearest sharp thing, or even not sharp, she’d make due she had before and she wasn’t proud of that, stopped to prod the jagged scar on her thigh that had never healed quite right. It was high enough up that nobody would see it, not right now anyway, and maybe by the time she had to worry about being naked in front of someone else it would be faded out, something she could redirect a lover’s attention from.
She was learning though. Learning how to talk about these impossible feelings. Maybe not in so many words, maybe some days all she could get out was “I’m sad,” but the people around her understood what that meant, didn’t push or pry. They were steady, a warm blanket on a cold night kind of friends and she couldn’t imagine trying to get through this without them.
It wasn’t just her friends. Evan had been the best brother anyone could ask for in these dark times. Learning to read her subtle signals, decoding what the different styles of music she would blast through her bedroom meant, bringing her peace offerings of comfort food, never pushing her to eat, just offering it with a shrug and an “it’s there if you get hungry.” Turning on her favorite movies and pretending it was an accident, like The Labyrinth was on some sort of freaky marathon on tv and he’d either hover nearby at the end of the couch, most of his attention turned to his phone where he carried on a lazy text conversation with gods only knew who, one eye always on his sister or else he’d disappear completely into his room. Except it wasn’t a normal disappear, he wouldn’t log into any game he couldn’t pause, which meant no playing with his friends, which meant when Autumn was feeling lonely and didn’t want company she was forcing her brother into the same kind of solitude.
There was a fight once, but only once and that has to count for something, as she stared down the line of medicine bottles edging along the counter. I’m tired of being tired. She eyed the line of prescriptions wearily. This one to help her focus, this one to encourage her appetite, this one to prevent migraines, this one when the previous one didn’t work all the way and she still ended up doubled over clutching her head and breathing through her teeth, this one to keep her head above the splash of suicidal waves lapping daily at her shoulders. It was too much and she felt a rage in her heart, a resentment at the bottle of pills. Shanda had joked once that Autumn was on enough drugs for them to use as color swatches and she wasn’t wrong.
Why can’t I be enough? She turned away without cracking open one bottle that morning. Why can’t I be enough as I am? Evan had caught her, had read the stormy expression in her eyes and sighed.
“Autumn,” he kept his voice quiet, talking to her like one would a rabid animal they found themselves cornered with and was afraid would lash out. Even Evan, steady and constant as a star, some days she wanted to punch him in the mouth just to see if it would get a rise out of him. “Did you take your meds?”
It was the wrong thing to ask. It was always the wrong thing to ask on a day like today.
|What I Write
Above is the first draft of a novel that is pretty much my characteristic wheelhouse: stories about depression and coping, about family both blood and found. Stories about finding your way, your voice, your path when everyone around you says no, says hush, says listen I know best. There will always be an edge of once upon a time (in this case: a knight errant, a touch of death, a decision thrice made.) There will, when I do my job right, be feelings and resolutions and moments that you, the reader, walk away from feeling better for having experienced them. (there will be comma abuse until I run things by an editor. Alas, the comma splice has me deeply in its grasp.)
None to speak of yet. Most of my writing can be found on my website listed above or if you’re brave enough, a collection of fanfiction over at Archive of Our Own