A short story written by EB
All artworks are written, photographed and developed by EB, unless otherwise stated. D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6
This booklet serves as a creative project for one of the authorâ€™s subject for the semester. The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.
TRIGGER WARNING: DEPRESSION AND SUICIDAL IDEATION
To all those who have loved, and have lost
It was a typical Wednesday evening. I was sitting in front of my laptop, typing my paper, when Alex’s mother called. “Alaska, I don’t know how to tell you,” Olga’s voice broke. I could hear her weeping but she went on and said, “Alaska, this is so hard for me to say it but Alex is dead. She ju—“ Her voice resounded in my head like it’s the only sound in this world. She mumbled a lot of things after that but they no longer registered. ALEX IS DEAD. I burst into tears and I let myself cry out loud. This isn’t happening. This isn’t possible.This isn’t real. ALEX IS DEAD. I threw my phone against the wall and I swiped my laptop away. ALEX IS DEAD. And nothing else mattered anymore.
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55 DAYS BEFORE
It is that time of the year in school again when lockers are filled with hearts and flowers. Boys give their hearts out, while girls just break them. They’re lucky if they don’t. This somehow became a yearly competition, which girl will receive the most number of letters, flowers, and chocolates? Which boy will have their feelings reciprocated? The fun starts when a lot of boys like the same girl. Alexandria Guskova, the only Russian student in school, usually wins this competition. Her features are so exotic that a lot of boys find her attractive and beautiful. Not only are her outfits so on point, but also her full-on make up. She always wears her mascara and winged eyeliner everyday. It’s as if she’s always dressed to kill. A lot of boys would die for her. She also constantly excels in all her classes effortlessly, indeed she’s the beauty and the brains. Her life seems to be perfect. At least, that’s how everyone sees her; except for me. I met Alex during our second week in school. She looked like death with her black dress and high heels, matching with her thick winged eyeliner. She was the type of girl who draws attention to herself, without her intentionally doing it. She sat beside me in class. At first, I was hesitant to talk to her because she looked like a predator ready to devour her prey. I felt like I was her prey. No one else in class tried to talk to her. I felt like I had the obligation to update her on what happened for the past two weeks. With the tiny amount of courage I mustered, I talked to her. She was surprisingly warm and polite, despite her outward appearance. Her voice was soft and sweet, it’s like music to my ears. I never thought that this girl would be my best friend.
93 DAYS BEFORE
One night, Alex asked me to call her on the phone. Her voice was shaking when she said, “My parents haven’t stopped fighting.” “Why? What happened?” “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because of me.” “Why do you think it’s because of you?” “There’s something I haven’t told you,” Alex tried to stop crying but I could hear her struggle. She paused for a moment. “What is it? Are you okay? What’s going on?” “Promise me you won’t tell anyone about this?” “Okay, I promise. What is it?” I lost her. She got disconnected and I didn’t hear what she was saying. I texted her, “What did you say? I didn’t hear you.” She didn’t reply. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Maybe I shouldn’t have told Alaska about my parents. Maybe no one else should know what’s happening. Besides, I don’t think anyone can help me.
73 DAYS BEFORE
It was hard to catch Alex nowadays. She was usually the first one who exits the room while everyone was still fixing their stuff. I kinda missed talking to Alex. I miss the times when we usually talk to each other all the time. One day, I had an opportunity to talk to her, “Hey Alex, what happened to your parents?” “I don’t want to talk about it, okay?!” Alex snapped back at me. It was the first time she ever got mad at me like that. She walked pass me. I stopped moving. I didn’t know how to react. She was already several meters away when I shouted, “Alex, I’m sorry!” Just like that, I felt like I was a leaf slowly falling away from my branch. The Alex who’s here now isn’t the Alex who was my best friend. I don’t want to lose Alex but I don’t know what to do. Lately, it has always been me who starts the conversation. She’s not even trying to talk to me about anything anymore. It frustrates me that I couldn’t get into her head.What’s going on, Alex? What’s happening to you? To us?
54 DAYS BEFORE
Finally, Alex and I were talking again. She told me she received the most number of letters, flowers and chocolates this year.Yet she just dumped all those in the trash and gave the chocolates to me. I asked her why she did that, I mean, some guys were actually nice and cute. She just said, “I don’t have time for that.” What struck me the most is that she even threw her blueberry cheesecake away. It’s her favourite dessert for as long as I could remember and she just threw it away. Something must be seriously wrong with Alex and I don’t know what that is. There were days when Alex would show up in school but most of the time, she was nowhere to be found. She’s obviously avoiding people. Whenever I see her around, she always looked like she’s on the verge of crying. I asked her one time if she’s okay, she just said she’s fine. So I just let her do her own thing. I still tried to ask her out for lunch but she would barely touch her food. I have also noticed that she looked thinner than usual. Did I do something wrong?
22 DAYS BEFORE
Alex’s mood hasn’t changed for the past few weeks. What once a pocketful of sunshine turned into a stormy rain. She rarely wears her make up anymore. She’s also wearing a sweatshirt and pants. This is so out of her character because she barely wears anything that covers her skin. Perhaps she’s trying to hide the purplish black bruises on her arms and the series of band aids on her wrists. I knew she doesn’t want to talk about it.Whenever I ask her about her parents or her family, she would snap at me and she would avoid me again for weeks. Then we would talk to each other again, as if nothing ever happened. It has been a vicious cycle of pretending to be okay. I’m afraid I’m losing my best friend. Should I just leave her alone? After all, she doesn’t want to talk about it. I love her but it sucks to see her suffering like this. I don’t want Alaska to know. I love her so much that I wouldn’t want to trouble her with my own problems. I don’t want her to see me differently. Besides, she doesn’t have to carry the emotional baggage that I have. It’s not her problem anyway. I think this is what’s best for the both us, pretending to be okay even if everything clearly isn’t.
10 DAYS BEFORE
It was around 2 am when I heard my phone beep. I could barely open my eyes and read Alex’s text, “Will you go to my funeral?” “Of course I will, as long as there are chocolates.Why are you still up?” “Good. I’ll make sure my mom will give you chocolates, if ever. I can’t sleep.” “Haha kewl,” I replied as I fell asleep.
5 DAYS BEFORE
I couldn’t stop thinking about Alex’s text. She hasn’t been talking to me ever since. Should I be worried? This isn’t the first time that we haven’t talked for such a long time anyway. Maybe I should message her mom just to check up on her. Or maybe Alex would just talk to me again after a few more days. Nah, I would message her mom.
3 DAYS BEFORE
It’s been a week and I badly missed Alex. I sent her a message a while ago, she still hasn’t opened it. “Alex, how are you? Are you okay? Are we okay?”
*** Do I need to say goodbye? Maybe not. My corpse would be my goodbye. I no longer believe in life and love, I don’t think anyone could ever save me. Life has always been and will always be cruel. As long as I am living, I will continue to suffer extensively. The only way out of this suffering is death. And that’s what I’m doing, that’s where I’m going. The cold wind was blowing so hard against Alex’s face as she quietly climbed up to the roof top of their condominium while her whole family was sleeping. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. For Alex, the only thing that could stop her pain was through death. And so she jumped. Her body became as cold as the wind, pressed hard against the pavement, after jumping from the 43rd floor of their building. It was 2 am. A few people watched her fall, yet no one dared to catch her.
1 DAY AFTER What do you do when the person that you love committed suicide? Nothing.You do nothing. Because nothing in this world could ever alleviate the pain of losing someone you love. The pain that resonates from your brain, to your heart, to your bones and to every part of your body. My heart hurt so much I want to rip it off me. My eyes haven’t stopped crying ever since Alex’s mom called me. My nose began to clog and my ears turned red. Every atom of my body hurt and I don’t know how to deal with this pain. This is how it feels like to lose someone you love. I have destroyed every thing in my room that could be destroyed. My room looked like a hurricane walked on it. I punched the walls of my room until my knuckles started bleeding. I wouldn’t stop crying, shouting and punching the walls. It hurt until it doesn’t. I was numb. The news about Alex’s death spread like fire. It was all over the internet, the TV and the school. Everyone in school knew that I was her best friend. I feel stupid for not being there for her. If she just told me what was happening, I would have helped her. If I knew what was going inside her head, I could have saved her. If she just let me in, if she just gave me the chance, if only she— I let myself bleed for a moment until my sister saw me lying on the floor. She put on some bandage on my hands. She knew that Alex died, she knew who Alex was in my life. So she just let me cry the whole day.
2 DAYS AFTER
ALEX ISN’T DEAD. I said to myself for the 20th time. Maybe if I repeat it more, it would come true. Alex couldn’t possibly be dead. I just saw her in school two days ago. She looked perfectly fine. ALEX ISN’T DEAD. Maybe it was another Alex, maybe it was a misidentification, maybe she’s in a state of comma. ALEX ISN’T DEAD. God, why Alex? Of all people who could be dead right now, why her? Of all people, God, why does it have to be MY BEST FRIEND? Why is this happening to me? If I pray to God right now to give Alex back, would He let it happen? If I offer hundreds of lamb and sheep to different gods, would they bring back Alex to life? IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE LEFT I CAN DO TO SAVE ALEX?
3 DAYS AFTER
I HATE YOU ALEX. Why do I feel so much pain because of you? Why do I feel like your death is actually my fault? Why are you gone so soon? Why didn’t you even explain to me what was going on? I blame myself for this. I blame myself for not being a good friend to you. I blame myself for not trying to save you. Alex, why did you leave me so soon? You didn’t even say goodbye? Alex, why? WHY? I wrapped myself with my blanket and cried hard against my pillow. I haven’t moved nor eaten anything yet ever since I heard about Alex’s death.
Photographed by TongTong
7 DAYS AFTER
I MISS YOU ALEX. I think about you all the time. I think about all the adventures that we had. I remember the times when we would just talk to each other non-stop. I remember when we would just talk about the most random things in life. I remember that one time you stayed in school for me because I had an event and you supported me. I remember the heartto-heart talk that we had in our school grounds after class. I remember everything, Alex. I don’t think I will ever forget you. I still haven’t moved from my bed. I skipped all my classes this week. I don’t care about anything anymore. It’s so hard to go to school because I know I would only look for Alex in every corner. I would hope that I would see Alex at the far most corner of the room. I would want to ask Alex out for lunch even if she doesn’t eat that much. I want Alex back in my life. Yet I know Alex is gone. Now that she’s gone, I see her everywhere.
9 DAYS AFTER
It’s my first time to go outside of my room. My sister said I’ve lost weight. The sun burns my skin, I have never looked so pale. There are heavy dark circles under my eyes, probably from the nights I couldn’t sleep. Alex once told me that getting out of bed was hard for her. I only get her now. It’s been more than a week. I’m sure if Alex would come back, she would have been here by now. She would have messaged me. Today is that first day in school. We would usually go to school together. But Alex is no longer here. It’s hard for me to accept that but no amount of sulking would change that fact. I honestly don’t feel like going to school today, but I will go anyway. I am now sitting in the room, trying to listen to whatever my teacher is saying but I couldn’t concentrate on anything. It’s like my mind has lost its ability to pay attention and comprehend. I just want to get over with this day.
Photographed by Noelle Osvald
14 DAYS AFTER
I still miss Alex. I don’t think I will ever stop missing her. I haven’t been talking to anyone for the past few days.There might be an upcoming exam tomorrow, but I’m not really sure. I don’t care if I fail. I lost my motivation to do anything at all. I would usually stare at the clock until 3 am, wishing that Alex is still alive, and then I would fall asleep and wake up at 6 am and feel nothing but pain. I don’t have the energy to get out of bed. I only eat once a day. Sometimes I wish I was dead instead of Alex.
16 DAYS AFTER
My sister went inside my room and said to me, “I know it’s been hard for you for the past few weeks. I know how much you love Alex. But do you think Alex would want to see you suffering like this? Do you think Alex would want to see you failing your classes? Alaska, Alex is gone but you are still here. We’re worried about you. Don’t you want to help yourself?” “I want to help myself but I don’t know how,” I replied. “Do you want me to take you to a psychologist? Seeing how you have been for the past few weeks, you might be depressed.” “Maybe I am depressed. But what can a psychologist do? Can he/ she bring Alex back?” “No, no one else can bring Alex back. But the psychologist can help you bring back your motivation to live.” “Why should I even want to live? Do you honestly think a psychologist can talk me through it? I doubt it.” “Shouldn’t you at least try? Just one session and if it doesn’t work out, I won’t force you to.” “Okay. Just one session.” What if I’m actually diagnosed with depression? What would people think of me? Would they think that I am just another sad teenager? My feelings are real and I’m afraid no one can understand me. Does my sister think I’m going crazy because she’s taking me to a psychologist?
Photographed by Noelle Osvald
20 DAYS AFTER
The psychologist asked me, “What brings you here today, Alaska?” I honestly don’t know what to tell him. So I just told him, on top of my head, “My best friend, Alex, is dead. She committed suicide. And I haven’t been okay ever since.” “Can you tell me more about it?” “She died 20 days ago. I haven’t been able to eat, to sleep nor to concentrate in school. I no longer have the motivation to do anything. Losing her just hurts. Sometimes I think it’s my fault.” “Why do you think it’s your fault?” “Because I didn’t help her. I didn’t try to save her.” “And do you feel guilty about her death?” “Yes. I do. I really do. Sometimes I wish she’s still alive to make things easier for me.” There has been a long pause. And I talked more about Alex, how we met, how we became close and why her death affected me so much. The psychologist just asked for more questions and scribbled down some notes on his paper. We have been talking for probably an hour already. I think I have said the things that I need to say. “Okay, Alaska. Based from what you told me today, I can say that you have major depressive disorder. Are you familiar with that?” “It means I’m depressed? Actually, I’m not sure what that means.” “Major Depressive Disorder, more commonly known as depression, is a mood disorder that is characterised by the presence of at least a depressed mood and or loss of interest or pleasure.The things you have disclosed fit the symptoms for MDD. But I don’t want to box you in that term. These terms are just classifiers of the symptoms that you have. It does not necessarily mean that you will be a depressed person forever. You are more than that.” “Okay, thanks for telling me that. So what do I do? How do I get better?”
“Since you’re a student and you mentioned that you’re failing your class, the fastest way to recovery is through meds. As you can see, I’m also a psychiatrist so I can prescribe you the meds. I will give you list of meds that you can try out. You have to figure out which medication would suit your body. We don’t want any side effects while you’re taking the meds. Given that you have depression, there is an automatic assumption that you may have an imbalance of chemicals in your brain, specifically, the lack of dopamine. Now the meds will help you stabilise the chemicals in your brain.” “How will I know if the meds that I’m taking is the right one for me?” “I have listed down the side effects, both physiological and psychological, on this paper.You can check it from time to time.You should take 1/4 of the tablet on your first and second day, 1/2 on your third and fourth day. Then one tablet per day for the succeeding days. If you already feel the side effects on your first day, stop taking the meds for a day or two then proceed to the next one.” “Thank you very much. When will I go back to therapy?” “Get back when your mood is better and if the meds that you’re taking has no side effect for 2-3 weeks or more.” “Okay, thank you. I will keep that in mind. Wait, does this mean I have to take the meds forever?” “No, you shouldn’t depend on the meds forever, which is why we’ll have the therapy to deal with the issues. You’ll know after your first session if you need more sessions after that.” “Okay, so I will only get back to you when I’m feeling happy?” “You can have your session with me while you’re taking the meds, if the issue is really urgent. But if it’s not, then I’ll see you in a few weeks.” “Got it. Thank you very much!” Suddenly, the earth fell on me. I already lost Alex and now this, I have depression? I have a mental disorder? Sometimes, life can just be too much. This is just too much.
21 DAYS AFTER
I got diagnosed with depression. It’s disturbing and comforting at the same time. It was comforting to know what I have and disturbing to know that I actually have it. I told my family about it and they have been very supportive and understanding, as usual. I cut the tablet into half and cut it again so it becomes one fourth. I took the tiny pill in my hand. For Alex. I drank the meds and swallowed a glass of orange juice. I went to school today. For Alex. Nothing feels different. I still feel down and sluggish. I still don’t have the appetite to eat. I could barely concentrate on anything. The meds has no side effects so far. Of course, happiness can’t be attained in just one day, especially not just by drinking 1/4 of a pill. I don’t know how many days or weeks would it take me to become finally okay. I still miss Alex but all I can do is miss her from afar. The pain of Alex’s death still plagues my heart, but I am slowly starting to accept that life must go on, even without Alex.
38 DAYS AFTER
It’s been weeks and I can say that I’m feeling better. I am slowly eating more than once a day. I can get out of bed each morning without having to think about it twice, or thrice. I am only two weeks behind all my requirements. I am also exercising in the morning and eating foods with omega-3, my therapist said it will help. I am starting to talk to a few people now, as compared to before that I only talk to my immediate family. Although I am not in my 100% yet, I can say that I have come a long way from my state of mind one month ago. Alex must be proud of me right now. I still miss Alex but I no longer cry about her every night, which is why I can sleep before past 12 now. Maybe this is what acceptance feels like. I acknowledge that I miss her but I accept the fact that she can no longer be here with me.
40 DAYS AFTER
It was a typical Wednesday evening. I was sitting in front of my laptop, typing my paper, when Alex’s mother called. “Alaska, do you want to come over tonight? We will be commemorating Alex’s death. It’s the 40th day today.” “Sure thanks for letting me know! I will be there soon.” “Of course, Alaska. I know how much you missed Alex too. I saved your favourite chocolates for you.” “Hahaha you didn’t have to, Olga. See you in a bit!” “Alex specifically told me to give you chocolates if you visit our house. See you, Alaska!” I went to Alex’s house, commemorating her death together with her loved ones.We all missed you Alex. But I hope that wherever you are, you have already found peace. We will move on but I will always love you and remember you.
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*** And so, I lived.
A short story written by EB