Lazy Day | Flash Fiction

The rain out my window holding me captive in my bed until it lets up. I toss and turn, but can’t bring myself to pull down the covers, afraid to introduce myself to the cold that is Not My Blankets. So, I pull them up to my shoulders, curl up into a ball, and fall back asleep once again. Time passes and suddenly it’s afternoon. Did I really spend all morning in bed? The rain has let up, but now I’m just groggy. A wave of uselessness takes over me and I force myself up.

I brew a cup of coffee and figure out ways to salvage this day. The grogginess never seems to disappear as I scroll through social medias and notifications from my lengthy sleep. I spend the rest of the day yawning, cursing myself for sleeping in, and not doing much of anything. But it’s good to have days like today, I reassure myself as I drift off to sleep again that night.


Emma Carter (Part 2) Surviving is an uphill battle

Missed part one? Check it out here!

A week had passed since I saw that Tumblr post. I saw my therapist today. I told her everything that had changed in the last few months. I cried, she listened, then offered advice. I took it. She said to do little things that are productive. I don’t need to get a job, but I can start looking. I don’t need to do the dishes, I can just move them to the sink. I don’t need to hang out with my friends, just text them good morning. If I feel like doing more, I can, but I won’t push myself. It made sense, and I was mad I hadn’t thought of it before. 

I came home and texted my roommate Penny “morning.” Collapsing onto the couch, I sighed. My stomach rumbled, I hadn’t realized it was already noon. I had breakfast earlier, just a bowl of cereal. Food had always been a big stress reliever for me before this big wave of depression, so I opened up my recipe app and began scrolling. I saved a few recipes I thought sounded good and looked for the ingredients. My other roommate stumbled out of his room. I nodded to him, pulling out ingredients from the fridge.

“You’re cooking?” Richie asked, surprised. Normally, I would have been angry he asked. I would have bitterly spat something rude back at him. He would’ve sighed and left me alone.

I wasn’t mad, though. He had good reason to be surprised. I hadn’t cooked in months. The most I had was a peanut butter and pickle sandwich. That was my depression meal.

“I am.” I nodded back to him.

“What are you making?” He asked politely, trying not to anger me.

“Avocado and chicken salad. Where did you guys hide the knives?” I asked, almost laughing at how absurd of a question it was. They hid the knives from me in fear of me hurting myself with them. I understood why, but I hadn’t hurt myself in a year. I was over that. I felt silly to be asking him, and it was even sillier for him to hesitate to answer. I could tell he wanted to just use it himself. “Richie, I haven’t cut in a year.” I assured him.

“I know, Emma, I know. I’m proud of you. I’m just worried because you’ve lied to us before and I don’t want something to happen to you.” Has Richie always been this nice to me? I remember furiously hating him because of how rude he was. Was I seeing him differently now? 

“If you want to do it, you can. I just have to cut the avocado and chicken.”

“What changed, Emma?” Richie asked me.

“What do you mean?”

“You put dishes in the sink last week and actually left the house today, after you hadn’t left your room in almost two weeks. What changed?”

“I don’t know. I guess I realized I should get help. I kept falling into a pit of depression waiting for me to be at my absolute worst when I didn’t need to. I thought it wouldn’t mean as much to come back from a depression wave if I hadn’t destroyed my life beforehand. But I realized I don’t need to be at my worst to get better. It is still progress if I feel better in some way.”

“You don’t think you were at rock bottom?” He asked delicately.

“No, do you? All I was doing was sitting around all day, it’s not like I was actively destroying my life. You guys didn’t kick me out.”

“That’s true, you make good points. We wouldn’t kick you out, anyway, Emma. You’re our friend, no matter how depressed. We love you.” Richie said. I smiled genuinely, feeling valid. 

“You’re a good friend, Richie. So is Penny.” My phone vibrated, it was Penny responding to my text. 

“Hey, sunshine!” Penny’s text read. I was a little bitter about her overly-positive tone. I didn’t respond right away. Anger still stewed in my chest, even if I was beginning to feel better. This was going to be a long process. It terrified me to think how much work I still needed to do to feel better. 

I knew what I needed to do. I had to train my brain not to think so negatively. That could take a while. It was going to be exhausting, I could already tell. I was smarter than my depression, though. I wanted to get better, my depression didn’t. It was just an evil parasite living inside me, feeding me lies about how I feel and how I should react to situations. I was a good person, I wasn’t my depression. I knew that much. 

Derek Westerly (Part 1)

I’ve never been one to care about mundane tasks. I always just hired someone for that. Cleaning my house? Hire a maid. Mowing the lawn? The neighbor’s kid could use an extra $20. I bought two cars in one year just because I wanted to. I was living my best life. But then my job went under. It all happened so quick; one minute we were on top of the world, the next we were bankrupt. 

I suppose I can blame it on the fact that we were a group of stupid 20-somethings who hadn’t run a business before, but no one could be prepared for what we went through. Everything was going so well, then there was the fire. Our whole building went up in flames in the night. Luckily, no one was hurt, but we never recovered. We got insurance money, and we thought for a while it was a blessing in disguise because we found this greatnew building in what seemed like a perfect location. There wasn’t a store like it for miles, and we quickly found out there was a reason for that: no one wanted it.

I try not to dwell on the past, but if I had been there the night of the fire… if I made sure the stove was off… if I moved the paper towels a foot to the left….There had to have been a reason for it. I’ve been racking my brain for a reason but come up empty every time. It’s taking a toll on my mental health. 

I’ve been applying for jobs elsewhere, but no one wants to hire some washed up, used-to-be rich kid whose whole business went under because of a bad location. My wife is still with me, bless her. I can tell it’s getting to her, too. She’s been picking up extra shifts at the hospital. I’m always home alone with the dogs, at least they’re happy. 

My wife tells me to look on the bright side, she’s always so positive. I love her for it, but honey, what could possibly come from this? It’s almost been two months and I haven’t had a single paycheck. I’m done with dead-end jobs, too, I need at least management. I can’t afford to live off minimum wage. The weather is starting to get better. The sun stays out later and it’s been warm enough for just a light jacket. That helps, at least a little. I’ve been taking the two pups for walks daily. Some days, if I’m feeling extra down, we’ll go for two. Or one long one. 

I’ve gotten friendly with the neighbors. We started just waving at each other when I passed them on my walks, but lately I’ve been stopping to chat. Last week, I had a cup of coffee with this nice elderly lady who lives at the end of the street. She has a tiny Chihuahua. He sat on my lap while we chatted. My two chunky, yellow Labrador Retrievers were unsettled at first, but they were given treats and they were satisfied.

She was very sweet. Her name is Nancy and her husband died a year ago, leaving her with a fortune, but she chose to live comfortably in the house they spent most of their lives in. She gave a lot of money away to charities and local businesses, but also invested a lot for herself. I asked her for advice. It wasn’t like me to talk to strangers so openly, but I hadn’t talked to another person besides my wife in two months and I was missing having friendships. All my coworkers from my old job moved back home with their parents, so I was left with nearly no one. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife more than anything, I just was used to having platonic friends, too. 

Nancy told me to apply to every job I find, even if it’s less than what I want. She pointed out that I could probably move up in the career, I was a CEO after all. A CEO that failed, but a CEO nonetheless. Whenever I began talking down on myself, she stopped me. She made me say one good thing about what happened. 

At first, the only positive thing I could say was that the fire was warm. It melted the snow around us. I chuckled sourly. The insurance money was more than enough. If we did our research…. It was a learning experience. Her words, not mine. I agreed resentfully. There’s nowhere to go but up. That one I came up with. She smiled warmly, offering me another cup of coffee. I declined politely, I had to finish up this walk. We parted ways and I’ve stopped to chat with her for a few minutes every day since. Never that in depth, just her asking how the job hunt has gone and our dogs investigating each other. 

I did apply to a few places. Nothing major, just two sales jobs and a manager at the local coffee shop. The last thing I wanted was to work at a coffee shop in any sense, but I thought about what Nancy had said. It was better than no paycheck. 

One of the sales jobs called me in for an interview tomorrow morning. I planned on calling the coffee shop tomorrow after the interview. I didn’t want the coffee shop job, but I’d rather a manager than a sales person. 

I practiced the interview with my dogs. I smiled politely and shook their paws, chuckling slightly at the absurdity of it. I introduced myself and professionally went over my resumé. They tried to lick my face. 

“Sir, this is extremely unprofessional.” I laughed, patting their heads. I guess I could find joy in the little things, so I wasn’t totally hopeless. And now I have potential jobs in the works, even if the crushing weight of my past still hung over me. 

Nancy asked me last week if I wanted to start again with the business, but in a better location. I told her no, and I had thought about it a lot. It was in the past now, and even if I wanted to, all my partners moved away, I’d need a whole new crew. Not to mention, I lost all my money when we went under, I’d have to take out a loan and my credit has been decreasing rapidly. 

As depressed as I was, I’d never been one to dwell for too long. I pick myself back up after a grieving period and I get myself back out there. Yeah, I was bummed about the company dying, but it could’ve happened to anyone. We were young, just out of college, what else could you expect?

Maybe someday I’ll start a new business. I’ll figure out what the town is in need of and I’ll make some new friends who want to be involved, we’ll save up some money, and we’ll start over. This time, we’ll be thorough. We won’t be hasty for the sake of opening sooner. We had the money to hold us over a few months, we could’ve spent more time planning…. I digress. 

Emma Carter (Pt. 1)

My room hasn’t been clean in months. My head is a cloudy mess. My body isolated from society. I haven’t left my bed besides to binge eat in two weeks. I don’t remember the last time I showered. My friends gave up on me. I don’t blame them. Maybe I should get out of bed today. Or maybe today will be the day I finally disintegrate into this bed…. 

Mornings are all the same: alternating between sleeping and scrolling through the internet. I was having an exceptionally bad morning, seeing horrible news on my Twitter feed and angry people in the comments on Facebook. I’d seen everything on YouTube last night in one of my binge-watching late nights. Bored was an understatement. 

In the middle of another suicidal thought, I found a post on Tumblr I’d never seen before. It said, “you don’t need to hit rock bottom to get help” and it resonated with me. Maybe I had been subconsciously looking for a sign, maybe I was open to advice at that moment, or maybe that was just what I needed to hear. Either way, it helped me out of bed that day. 

I hadn’t done it in almost six months, but I texted my therapist for a new appointment. I made myself cereal. I had a whole glass of water. I took a screenshot of the post. I sat at my kitchen table, old newspapers and dirty glasses scattered. Making room for my cereal, I stacked a few glasses in a corner. I might move them to the sink after I eat. 

Eating is tough. Nothing really has a taste anymore unless I’m manic. Today, I could actually taste again. Granted, it was chocolate-y sugar cereal, but I was taking it as a win. There was still a weight on my shoulders, but it was lessened. At least for now.

I wanted to take small steps. I didn’t want to overwork myself with self-care. So, I put the dishes in the sink. All of them from the table. Then I took a nap on the couch. It was a depression nap, but at least I was out of my dark room. The sun shone from the window behind me, warming me up under the blanket. I smiled for the first time in a month. It felt good. 

“Maybe I’ll be okay eventually.” I whispered to myself before drifting off to sleep.

A year’s time.

            Mid-summer. Sticky air. The sun set at 8 pm, now it was 9. The stars were out. The humidity ran high, but so did our spirits. We all had the weekend off from work. We could be out all night if we wanted. The possibilities were endless. We sat on the beach, the sand still warm from the day’s hot sun. A fire roared in front of us, and I looked over at you and fell in love for the millionth time. The fire illuminated your smiling face, your laughing body, and it burned deep inside me. We were young, and we had our whole lives ahead of us, the unnerving future far away from our minds.

            What we didn’t know was how little time we had left. What we didn’t know was that by this time next summer, we wouldn’t talk anymore. No one on this beach, not even me and you. The grief sits on our shoulders, knowing we could have done something, but instead we let it happen. We didn’t stop him, and we should have. For a while after the funeral, we tried to stay friends, but he was the glue that kept us all together. Without him, we were a broken group. We fought constantly, over every little thing. 

            What happened? We had so much time, just graduated high school, no real plans for our future. And now, it’s forced upon us, all because we didn’t reach out after he had another episode. We didn’t say anything when he told us he was done living, because he’d said it before and he never meant it. He was just dramatic, he’d get over it in a year or two. 

            But now he never will. And neither will we.

This story is a little different from my poems, what do you think? Just wanted to remind everyone that it’s not true, it’s just a little vignette I thought of.