Trust – A Short Story

I have something special for you guys today. It’s a story I wrote for a creative writing class back in in 2015 or 2016. I’d never attempted a short story before. In fact, this was before I began blogging, so it’s the first narrative I’m proud of. Not so much for the writing skills, but more so for the twisted message. Enjoy?

 

Trust

            “Jump!” he screamed, hurling himself from the precipice.

I, unprepared, stumbled a few steps before tripping after him. I jumped, kind of. “Why did I jump?” I wondered as I flew down the mountain close enough to it that had I not been hugging my arms to my chest I would have sanded myself on the way down. “You meet a nice guy and next thing you know you’ve jumped off a mountain.”

On one of my morning runs, I met Jimmy. His father owned the grocery store in town that I typically passed. For several days I had seen a figure lurking in the shadows of the brilliant pink and orange sky of dawn. The figure was the size of a young man. Short and wispy, but with a sort of strength to it I could see from the path. There he stood, leaning against the door of the shed his father used to store inventory. I saw him there every day for a month.

In June, after six weeks of living in town, I passed the solitary dirt path and glanced over to the shed about twenty feet into the property. No one was there. I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. Since I had moved in, I had met several kind people, but it seemed as if everyone had already found their niche. The farmers’ wives chattered away when they found the time, the mothers regularly met up to exchange gossip, and the men, I had heard from a little girl who had wandered to my house one evening, sometimes met up for a night of card playing in someone’s basement. The women of the house would be ushered upstairs and only be allowed down if they brought food or refreshments.  What a strange place. It was like traveling back in time.

Lost in my thoughts, I had not heard him running beside me. A light tap on the shoulder brought me back into the present moment. Startled, I jumped, then took off in a sprint. He looked ahead, a few steps behind now, and began to laugh. Curious, I looked back.

“Didn’t mean to scare you” he said, still laughing, “You’re Alice, right?”

“If you didn’t mean to scare me you shouldn’t have snuck up on me!” I said, irritated that I had jumped like a jackrabbit at the first sign of danger. “Yeah, I’m Alice. Who are you?” I replied with a scowl.

As if he didn’t hear the annoyance in my voice, he replied, “Jimmy.” He had caught up to me with those sluggish steps of his.

I looked him over, wondering if he would say more. When he didn’t, I invited him to walk with me. We walked until lunch time, him talking about the past and me talking about the future. At the time to depart, he walked to his house for lunch with his family and I walked home for lunch alone. After that day, I wasn’t alone much anymore. Jimmy and I would walk in the mornings, then go to his place for lunch. His family all seemed to enjoy my company and I loved theirs.

This morning we took a new path, to the mountains at a distance.

“You still haven’t told me why you moved here you know,” he began.

He’d asked me several times, but I would always make up some excuse to avoid the question. One time, the fish we caught in the river just happened to get knocked out of the bucket we’d put them in. Another time, I tripped out of nowhere, scraping my knee. Now, I regarded him. It’d been two months since he’d last asked me.

“You haven’t figured it out yet?”

“No, for all I know you moved out here to escape from a flesh eating disease killing off city dwellers.”

“How’d you know?” I said with false surprise. “The disease doesn’t eat your skin though. It eats your soul.”

“Huh?”

“It’s greed, desire, selfishness. I wanted to get away from it.”

“You can’t get away from that Allie! That stuff is in the air!” He shook his head, as if to rid himself of my foolishness.

The mountain air became louder, more forceful as we reached the base of the dry, rocky mountain.

“No, I guess not, but hey I tried.”

I was glad we had reached the mountain. Now we’d be even more alone. Only nature balances out human folly. The rest of the climb we spoke about lighter subjects. His sister had recently had her first child, so I gushed about her for most of the hike. When we reached the top no one spoke. The silence coated us like frosting on a cake, beautifying the moment.

As far as I could see were blue skies. Not a single cloud lingered. Even the dull gray rocks below us seemed to shimmer. The peak was flat and wide, so we sat and looked at the eagles soaring past. What seemed like hours later, Jimmy took my hand and led me to the edge. Afraid of heights, I hung back. He let go and stood with the tip of his boots over the edge.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Of course.” I replied solemnly, unsure of where this conversation was headed.

“Will you do me a favor?”

“Yeah, anything.”

“Jump!” he screamed, hurling himself from the precipice.

So I jumped. Not knowing where it would lead, only trusting him, I jumped. It was terrifying. First you feel nothing, then your stomach lurches into your throat and your heart flutters as if trying to take flight and save you. Several endless minutes of abdominal clenching later (as if that could stabilize the air whooshing around you), the body begins to recognize this new speed and direction as normal. Your body releases its tension and it feels like flowing through a lazy river. It feels safe and natural.

I know this isn’t natural or safe, so while my body has calmed down and accepted its fate, my mind goes into overdrive and begins scrambling for ideas. I open my eyes. When had I closed them? Rocks and only rocks surround me. Jimmy! Where is he? If two objects fall at the same time, they will reach the ground at the same time regardless of weight. I jumped a few seconds after him, so he shouldn’t be too far below me. I never would have guessed physics would be one of the last things I thought about before I died. Then again, I didn’t think I’d die by jumping off a mountain at the request of my best friend.

There, about three seconds below me, is Jimmy. His eyes are closed. He looks completely peaceful. My brain begins to slow.

Suddenly, he opens his eyes and yells, “No more human strife!”

“What?” I think, my mind going wild once again. I see him splat on the grassy valley. His limbs are bent every which way, but his eyes are open and he smiles at me as I join him.

 

 

You are Going to Have to Figure this Out on Your Own – Personal Poetry Collection

Junior year in university when my first romantic relationship was going sour, I wrote this poem reminding myself that I mustn’t rely on anyone but myself. It still rings true today.

April, 5 2017

You are Going to Have to Figure this Out on Your Own

 

On my own,

There is nothing that I own.

 

This is nothing new.

Despite my might,

since I could think, I knew

I am no more than a mite.

 

No one will hear,

or see beyond first sight.

Nothing more for me than here.

Where my words no one will cite.

 

And that is right!

Of the night,

why would one write,

instead of a knight?

 

I am a single cell.

Nothing together to sew.

Nothing to sell

and no will to sow.

 

On my own,

I mourn

there is nothing that I own,

this or any morn’.

Why am I not enough? (Remembering to put on a fake face to survive in the “real” world)

I’ve had problems with depression and anxiety …also probably paranoia and anger management at least since 8th grade. Everyone has traumas. Mine happened when I was 10 years old. It was no one’s fault. Who was I to be angry at then? I think humans need to blame someone or something or else all that anger gets internalized. At least that’s what happened to me.

 

Brief Overview of my Life Growing Up

I’m not ready to write about what happened. I don’t want pity. What I want is to explore its effects. At 10 years old, I learned that loved ones aren’t a given. They can be there one day and not the next. (No one passed away, if you’re wondering.) But I learned no one is a sure thing. Not even my parents. However, through this turbulent time I still had my teachers and classmates. I learned that was my constant.

Middle school years

That’s all that I carried with me: my school friends and academic success. (More so my friends, but at the end of the day I chose academics and switched schools.) 8th grade. New school. I don’t know why since I’d always been the kid who had a friend by the end of the first day of school, but I didn’t make any friends that year. I didn’t feel the need. I wasn’t interested in talking to other people. So I didn’t. Academics. That’s all I had.

High school

I tried, but by now it wasn’t just a lack of desire. It was full-blown anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone. I’d only talk when teachers called on me in class. Even then my heart worked overtime from the stress of being called on. Academics. That’s all I had. Not having friends, I dreaded school breaks. Winter break, spring break. The worst was summer break. My mind would over think. I’d get into existential crises. At 15 years old, I knew I needed a distraction. I needed a purpose. Without school, my life, I feared death. Or maybe I feared not living.

I lived (arguable choice of words) like this for 3 years. By senior year of high school, I began to wonder. What if I didn’t treat academics as my life. What if I did poorly? I felt my parents weren’t proud of me with all A’s. (My dad praised anything and everything, while my mom questioned my A+’s for not being 100’s.) Would they freak if I got C’s? So, I stopped trying. I tanked my GPA in the last year. Began failing tests. (I’d never failed an exam before then.) And. Nothing. Happened. They were disappointed, but they didn’t lecture me. Just told me to try harder.

Or maybe they did care. I don’t even know how I felt. I’d say I didn’t care, but I did because I was worried that they didn’t care. I was nervous watching my grades drop and them not bat an eye. I wanted them to care. I wanted to matter to my parents. Not that I didn’t. I knew, intellectually, that they cared about me, but at the time I needed to proof to believe it. My dad’s praise was so frequent it meant nothing and my mom’s was nonexistent. Positive wasn’t happening, so I sought negative attention.

But I didn’t get it.

Then I went to university

I’d made a friend during those last two years in high school. I’d stopped trying so hard to keep my grades up and still passed. My priorities shifted. I learned the wonders of human connection. School didn’t matter. I had friends! Maybe it was my depression or paranoia or broken trust in family stability (no one got divorced either, in case you guys are wondering). Whatever it was, I could not feel or believe that my parents loved me. I knew that as a fact. Not as a feeling.

But I knew my friends liked me! And that feeling was indescribable! A feeling! That itself was surprising! I was numb all throughout high school. The only time I felt anything was during that short-lived flirty time with the boy I snuck off to the library with (blog post on that here). Often I remember anger. But that was it. Anger or nothing. It was like I wasn’t alive. Emotionally, at least.

But in university, I made friends and felt emotions. The most important of which was happiness. I’d had that spark of nervous flirty happiness with the boy in high school, but not like this. Not from friends, and later happiness all to myself, from myself. I found freedom in university. I wasn’t always at school or at home surrounded by people. Being watched all the time. Or not, but that’s what the paranoia told me. I had my own space. It was scary at first. I still struggle to do things by myself. I don’t think I was ever allowed to be alone growing up (bedroom doors were not allowed to be closed in my household and I didn’t go out with friends, much less on my own). University was life changing.

I learned what happiness is. I learned what friends are. I learned who I am. When no one was watching, I knew who I was and amazingly, I liked myself.

What did books matter when I was learning all of this?! They didn’t. And while I was learning who I was, I had to decide on a career. (Blog post about how I came to that decision here.) And now I’m here. In Puerto Rico. A place I knew nothing about when I decided to move out here for a year. Much less did I know anyone here. All the interns in my program were strangers. Now, I wish some of them still were.

I’ve learned that people can be mean and care only about themselves. I’ve learned people can be indifferent or too interested. I’ve learned people can be angry. They can be distracted. They can be cruel. And they are hypocrites.

I knew these things as fact before. But now I know them as feeling. …It makes me wish I didn’t have emotions again. It’s an empty wish and a common one of mine, to go back to the numb high school days. But in those moments with friends, some with romantic interests, and others through my own personal accomplishments,  I’ve learned what positive emotions are and I believe they are what makes life life. Only being able to feel anger, which later morphed to sadness, is not life.

When I was in high school, it was a numb, unfeeling depression. In university, with happiness, I learned sadness. Harsh, deep sadness. The peak of which occurred in my senior year of university. This year I lived with a great friend of mine. And I hurt her. Before her, I always had a facade up. An act. It wasn’t to be cruel. It was to be kind. I didn’t want to expose others to my sadness. But with her…

Life Changing Friendship- Learning to Trust and that it’s Okay to be Myself. Flaws and All!

To Mariah I gave all of my trust. I let go completely. I let her in as far as she wanted to go. And she went far. She saw me at my worst. I’ve never been that depressed since. Even though she’ll deny it, I know I ruined (or at the very least) inconvenienced many of her days. We spent Thanksgiving (2017) angry with each other and that weekend trying to drag me out of bed, literally. I made her suffer. It wasn’t on purpose; it just goes with depression. With depression and anxiety and paranoia and anger issues and what ever other labels exist for all the not positive aspects of my personality.

But she refused to give up on me. We’re still friends. I know that woman would do almost anything for me. And I don’t know what I did to deserve her. I don’t feel like I deserve her. It’s rare, someone like that. So loyal (against their own good even). And I was spoiled.

Post Graduate Nutrition Internship- Learning to Distrust and that it’s NOT Okay to be Myself. Flaws Should be Well Hidden.

Now, I’m here in Puerto Rico working on a dietetic internship (when I doubt I want to work as a dietitian for the rest of my life) almost attached to the hip with my internship partner. I go from rotations where I’m supervised and evaluated. Hello, paranoia and anxiety! Oh, there you are anger! To an apartment where everyone has beef with at least one other person. The environment is toxic. Doesn’t help my depressive tendencies.

Sorry I can’t be positive and supportive 24/7. I still try. It hurts, but I try. Thing is, I can’t give what I don’t have. Every day I feel more paranoid, more anxious, angry, and sad. Or then I’m manically happy! But one misplaced comment and I’m underground again trying to dig myself out. Or not. Sometimes I don’t ever want to surface. (Related blog post here.)

I let myself believe, due to my experience with Mariah, that people can be trusted 100%. I can let go and be my completely flawed self and not worry about the repercussions. But I now know how truly lucky I am to have someone in my life like that, because that’s not the case with anyone else. I already had trust issues. Maybe everyone does. However, I was healing. I was learning to trust again.

But now, I feel as if there is nothing to learn. From my experiences here, no one wants the real me. No one wants my flaws. I am, as I always feared, an inconvenience. I have to pretend to be only the best parts of myself, because that’s the only parts people care to get to know. That’s understandable to me with the preceptors who supervise and evaluate us, but I mistakenly thought it wouldn’t be the case with my fellow interns. I was hopelessly optimistic. And I was wrong.

I have to learn how to fake it. Something I wasn’t 100% successful at during my customer service-y job as a cashier during university breaks (2015 to 2018). I could do it, but only for so many hours a day. Here, I share a room, I go to rotations where I am supervised and evaluated 5 days a week with my internship partner plus travel to the site and work on assignments outside of those 8 hours with her and I come home to an apartment where people aren’t happy to see each other.

 

Constant People, Constant Need to Fake It (to fake sanity/happiness)

The only saving grace is that I feel that genuine care and friendship from my roommate. But, he’s still another person I am around every day. In university, I had space. I had freedom. Now, it’s back to how it was when I lived at home. Constant people! But higher stakes! The only time I’m alone is when I go out by myself. Remember my friend anxiety? Don’t forget depression! To motivate myself to go anywhere is difficult enough. To not change my mind is another thing. Depression tells me it’s not worth it. Anxiety tells me it’s all going to go wrong anyway, so why try?

I don’t wish to blame my hard times on these mental health issues, but I know they are a big factor. And I feel like I have to keep them to myself now. My struggles and thoughts should remain my own to not affect others. Even then, there’s nothing I can do about my energy or aura. If I’m that depressed and empty inside, it doesn’t matter how big I fake smile. I’ve lost my ability to act believable. Thank you Mariah, for making that ability obsolete in me and damn you.

I’m truly going to have to fake it and hope I make it. Seven more months until the end of this internship. Wish me luck, please.

 

 

Note:

Featured image is of me last Halloween (2017). I’ve always loved goth fashion, so I enjoyed expressing myself that day through dress, hair, and makeup. I use it as the image for this post because it represents how I feel at the moment. I am in no way saying goth culture equates to sadness or anything like that, but that’s how most people seem to take it. And I feel like this is how I come off to people without make up and even when I do put on non-goth makeup. I feel like no matter what I do outwardly, all people see is my obvious sadness or negative aspects of my personality. And what can I do about that?! (Nothing overnight!) Why am I being punished for that?! Isn’t the depression, anxiety, paranoia, distrust, anger, and self loathing punishment enough??