I am jumping on the band wagon of a new flash fiction challenge. As soon as I read the stories from last week’s prompt, I knew I wanted to participate. It’s music, after all, and if you know me, you know how much I am drawn to music. So, the challenge was put forth by Naomi Harvey to write a piece of flash fiction up to 1500 words inspired by song lyrics. The lyrics this week are:
I’m the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I’m the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare
I don’t normally explain much about my flash fiction, but I feel this week’s story pretty much requires it. It started with the devastating news of Robin Williams but was firmly cemented by a close family member who is thankfully still with us. Both brought up memories of times in my life when I’ve been in a similar dark place and while I haven’t been able to write openly about suicide and depression and the devastating impact of the thoughts we think, I was able to write some flash fiction that I hope conveys my thoughts to some degree. While I realize it is a bit fanciful and the understanding comes quicker in the story then it does in real life, I think all who suffer from depression have a spark of hope that wars with their despair. I only hope it wins every time, but for those who fall victim to it, I for one, don’t blame you. I know what it’s like to stare it in the face and not see any outcome other than an end. I’m grateful every day that I’m still here, that I’ve been able to watch my children grow. Some days are harder than others, but I’m a living example that it can get better.
The story is a little over 1100 words.
The Voices In Her Head
“It’s time. You know it and I know it.” He was the cold hand of logic, all smooth, sharp angled planes.
“I know no such thing,” she answered in her usually brightly colored voice, now dragging at the edges with sadness.
“She’ll be better off.”
“And what about those she’ll leave behind? Will they be better off?” A single tear crept down her face, its fluorescence leaving a radiating trail behind.
“They will. Time heals all wounds. They will learn to adjust. It’s better that than her constant emotional outbursts. Do you think that’s any better for them? You can see for yourself the damage she causes.”
“I see it, but I also know they love her. They forgive her each and every time.”
“Do they? Will they, when they realize the scars her toxicity has caused them?”
“She’ll find a way to do better. She has it in her. I can feel it.”
“How can you still have hope after so long?” The once gossamer threads of the web he weaved began to strengthen, fusing and melding into nooks and crannies, blotting out the shining colors she was emitting.
“Hope heals. Hope strengthens. Hope is time and space and everything in between.”
“You are the fanciful one.”
“You can’t do this to her.” Her bright, crisp voice came out muffled, his grey mesh clotting at sounds, twisting and turning her sideways, each color dampened by creeping darkness and fraying at the edges.
“I’m not doing anything to her. I’m actually helping her. She’s done it to herself, after all, and she just isn’t strong enough to take any more. She’s in so much pain. Can’t you see that? How can you stand by and let her continue in so much pain? What she needs is peace, rest. Things will be better for everyone once it’s done. You’ll see.”
“I can’t let you do this. I won’t just stand by and let it happen.”
“Do what you must, but realize, I will do what I must. We will see whose voice is loudest, in the end.”
Silvery threads danced and tangled with yellow-orange hues as if the sun and moon had met at dusk, a brilliant tango filled with alternating bright light and dark shadows; a prism of colors slowly fading as the moon in all its glory tried to outshine the sun.
Gray-strangled colors danced around her as she poured a bottle of pills into one hand and picked up an almost empty bottle of whiskey with the other. She was blinded by the tears welling in her eyes and seeping down her face to land unchecked where they fell. She hesitated in the last second and a tiny light spilled through the almost impenetrable darkness. Shaking, her hand tilted slightly sideways on its way to her mouth, depositing some of its contents onto the ground. The rest made their way into her mouth and down her throat, sizzling and burning with the whiskey that followed.
She was shaking even harder once it was done and panic started to settle in. What have I done?
His words echoed in her head.
It’s better this way. It will be over soon and everyone will be better off, happier without you.
She took the comforting words and wrapped them around her, a steel gray blanket of smooth ice; lies and half-truths wrapped up in self-doubt and self-loathing.
She made her way slowly to the couch, the room growing fuzzy around the edges. As she sat there slowly fading, noises erupted around her and flashing lights burst in staccato beats across her eyes. She couldn’t grasp it, couldn’t hold onto it, confusion and doubt warring with oblivion. Soon, peace overwhelmed her and she let the cold, comforting hand of darkness consume her.
She was openly crying now, silky tear drops pooling in bright colors all around them. “She dropped enough on the ground, didn’t she? She’ll be okay, won’t she?”
“There was enough in her hand to do the trick and the whiskey will only add to the maelstrom.” He was ice cold composure, steel gray and hard.
“But, they found her and the ambulance arrived quickly. They should be able to pump her stomach, get out whatever didn’t seep into her blood stream.”
He raised an eyebrow at her illogical reasoning. “You think you’ve helped her, but you haven’t. If she wakes up from this, she’ll be left with the shame of trying. That will only add to her burden and she’ll end up right back where she started. You should have left well enough alone.”
“I am what I am. It isn’t in my nature to sit back and let despair take over.”
“You’ve condemned her to a worse fate.”
“I’ve given her a chance; a second chance at life.” Even in her grief, she managed to emanate the joy she felt in hope. It seeped through the cobwebs creating rainbows of color in the silky strands.
She opened her eyes to the sterile white hospital room, deathly quiet except for the steady, rhythmic beeping that announced she was still alive.
I’m still here.
Relief flooded through her, seeping out of her eyes and down her face. She didn’t know how she was going to live, but for some reason she couldn’t quite grasp, she didn’t want to die. Not yet, anyway.
The doom was still threatening, looming at the edges, but she held onto the hope that she had something to live for; many things, actually. And as she thought of each one, they caressed her heart and the blackness started to inch slowly away, replaced by tentative light. She wasn’t sure how she would face them; how they could possibly forgive her; how she could possibly forgive herself. She didn’t have any answers; didn’t feel much better than when she swallowed a handful of pills in complete despair, thinking it was better. But she knew she had to keep trying.
She noticed a mirror on her bedside table. She wasn’t sure why it was sitting there and couldn’t fathom why she even wanted to look, but she picked it up anyway and stared at the image. She didn’t recognize the face; didn’t want to think that she was the ugly creature reflected in the glass. But she kept looking; stared into those dark, sorrowful eyes and made a silent vow.
I choose to live. I choose to accept who I am at this moment and what I’ve done.
The brilliant light that had furiously fought the sticky, dark cobwebs of doubt and despair finally burst through and surrounded her, pulsing with warmth; love; hope.