Eva, 11th- Burlingame, CA
“I think I’m depressed, mom.”
Raindrops dribbling, kitchen water running, she stands at the counter.
“It’s getting harder to wake up, getting harder to do anything really, most of the time, I feel like I’m just dragging an empty body around.”
The end of a knife hits a cutting board - a piece of apple drops to the floor and slides by my feet. She bends over, tucks a grey hair over her ear, and mumbles “There is no such thing as depression.”
A rhythm returns to the kitchen: apples slicing, water boiling, rain drumming.
“I think I’m depressed, mom.”
I grip my knees closer, until I am buried in myself, until I am as small as an ant. A pair of burgundy scissors lie across from me, with strands of leftover hair poking out.
I feel the uneven fringes of my new haircut brushing along my shoulders; they stab at my skin. I catch a glimpse of the bottom half of her body leaning against the doorway, her cotton slippers swimming in an ocean of blonde.
“What did you do?”
The question hangs in the air, sour and dry.
“My hair felt heavy. I cut it off,” I choke out.
“Are you done?”
“Get going then, it looks good.”
It’s still raining and I count the number of times the rain hits the window… then I count the number of footsteps it takes her to leave, then I count the number of days since I last told her I was depressed. Twenty-two.
The walk to the car feels heavy, like the weight of my body has been multiplied by a million. I sit in the back seat, cold black plastic crunching beneath my palms.
She turns the rear mirror, and I hold her stone gaze from a distance before breaking it off to study a seagull soaring in the sky.
The report card slips out of her hands, rows and rows of C’s and D’s stain the car seat.
Only one B. It’s in P.E.
“What is this?”
The car keys are still left in the ignition slot, a group of friends walk past, their laughter leaving a trail of echoes behind them.
“He told me you often fall asleep in class, most days you refuse to do any of your work. What happened? You weren’t like this last year.”
Did “last year” even exist? Last year feels like a fever dream, like all the memories and days are blurred and blended, lost in the pool of my mind. Was there really a time where everything didn’t feel so vacant, so grey?
“Are you even listening? Lia?”
Her words are stiffer now, each question packing a punch.
“... I think I’m .. depressed.”
Silence is now the loudest thing in the car.
I roll my hands into a fist, aching for the gaggles of the teenagers to return - longing for the squawk of a seagull or the crack of a branch to break the tension.
Instead, all I get is the tapping of the rain,
then the moan of an engine,
and we are off, on an empty road, the silence louder than ever.
She says “You don’t even wake up anymore.”
We are back in the kitchen, with the low heat of the stove crackling and the soft whisper of the water boiling.
I read this in a book once - symptom one of depression: where sometimes your bed becomes both your best lover and toxic girlfriend, where sometimes the sheets feel as warm as home but if you stay for too long your bones begin to mold and whine like wind chimes.
Before I can respond she lets out another long sigh,
“You don’t even write poetry anymore either, or bike, or read, or do anything really.”
This time, I let myself melt into a weak smile, my face wavering behind the sounds of eggs frying against the pan.
The funny thing is that this is exactly what happened to Amy from English, who used to eat with her mouth wide open and juggle jokes around in class, who slowly began sleeping through Algebra and fading to grey. Amy, who the teachers started dubbing “special” after she began disappearing the fourth week in.
My name crumbles out of her mouth like rocks, stiff and hard.
“Lia .. I’m … sorry.”
The whistle of the kettle halts to a stop. The fire from the stove flickers.
“I think I was .. wrong. I’m sorry .. for not listening to you. I think you might be depressed, like you said. It’s hard watching you sleep through dinner and your body looks like it’s shrinking too. I heard you Lia, I heard you last night -- how you cried, how you wished for tears but they never came. I want to help Lia .. I want to get you a therapist, is that okay?”
There is cotton clogging my throat now. I feel something burn against my skin and I realize that I’m crying.
Instead of responding, I stare more.
I stare until my head taps out a small nod. I stare until I unfurl the sea of emotions caged inside my body, until I cough up a quiet “yes .. yes please.”
I stare until mom is in my arms, until the heat of her body sinks skin deep, until the rain finally stops pouring.
Students 6th-12th Grades