Welcome to day 8 of our run of Zine 2 submission posts. We’ll be posting each submission, as it appears in our zine .I hope you had a nice weekend.
Day 8 of our submission post features poetry by Ellen McNally. Thank you so much Ellen, this is such an brilliant depiction of depression. I read this one a lot, I love it. You are SO good, poetry below…
Buy a copy of our zine here: http://designingoutsuicide.bigcartel.com/product/designing-out-suicide-issue-2
They were delicate, intelligent little creatures. All of them being hunted.
The group of creatures in question were five, all friends, moving through their little world learning new things, eating and enjoying themselves. The monster was always watching them, ready to pounce, but often just snuck through their house. He watched intently, every day and night. I say he hunted, but they found themselves safe and happy in that little world and he found it very hard to pierce that joyful, ignorant bubble.
However one day the monster gathered itself up and zoned in on one of the creatures one evening as she was wandering through the forest looking for patterns that the leaves of the trees made in the low light of the falling sun. As she walked past this time, it pounced and managed to grab her. She screamed and fought for the monster to let go, but it was quite strong and she couldn’t break free. The monster had a well in the forest and he dragged it over, placed her in the bucket, and dropped her straight in, down, down, down into the deepest depths where no living being could find happy thoughts. The creature had never felt so alone, so isolated, so far away from her friends in that deep dark well near the centre of the earth. She felt so alone now that she started to cry. Bitter, sobbing tears that went on and on and filled the well until she felt that she would drown. This would surely be the end; the patterns of the falling sun on the leaves of the trees were far away, and fading, and soon she would see nothing. This was a very dark, lonely time. The tears went on and on till they reached her chin (those creatures are very small) and she thought again, this is it. But at the moment when they began to breach the tip of her nose she felt a sudden tension on the rope and she was pulled up, back to the fading patterns of the leaves of the trees, back to the surface of the earth.
She gathered up her thoughts, looked around for the creature that had saved her. But to her despair there was only the monster, gazing deep into her eyes. She noticed in that second that his eyes had no room to let in light. They were made of the darkest material known to her, known to anyone. Darker even than the depths of the well. She looked at the monster and the monster looked at her, and it picked her up out of the bucket and placed her on the ground. The beautiful leafy ground, the surface of the earth. He then took the bucket filled with the creature’s tears and drank, drank until it was all gone. The creature, who was usually naturally curious, felt that all her curiosity had been drained but she still weakly watched as he polished off the last precious droplets. Now it didn’t seem vicious, only desperate and starved. She believed this was all it had wanted and would leave. And yes, he looked at her once more with those dark eyes, and crawled past her back into the well.
The girl stood up, shaken and wobbly, her mind still hanging somewhere between the top of her head and the bottom of that deep dark well. However she took all the strength she could gather and made her way back home. She reached home surprisingly quickly, and though her journey to sleep was troubled, she managed to drift into a soft, peaceful nothingness.
The little creature was fine for the next few days. She moved through the world, ate good food and laughed with her friends. As the hours went by she forgot all about the monster.
She was walking down a street one day and she watched her shadow grow and grow in front of her. She thought this was strange, but it was too late when she realised the shade cast by the sun had doubled because the monster was creeping up behind her. She again struggled to break free from its grasp but the monster held firmly, calmly, showing no force, simply keeping her there. Again it carried her to the well, dropped her down and waited for the tears. She was down there for so long that the monster seemed to take pity for a second. Up above, on the surface of the earth, it reached into a mound of dirt and pulled something out then passed it down for the creature to eat. It was thoughts – the monster was feeding her thoughts, maybe so as not to destabilise her completely. So she ate and down in that well she saw all the faces of everyone she’d ever known slowly drift away from her and distort until they became unrecognisable, inanimate objects. She cried and cried but beneath her tears there was a new feeling. It was apathy, but somehow a sad apathy, which was something the creatures usually didn’t feel as they had many opinions and thoughts and emotions. It was if she had been split into two and her physical self was crying, crying, crying, and her inner self was nothing, nothing, nothing. After what felt like a lifetime the monster pulled her back up, and drank the tears. She prepared herself to get up and go home again, but this time the monster was not content. The tears made it stronger, and after hours, maybe days, of staring at her, daring her to move, it dropped her with more force than before back into the deep dark well. And so the tears began again.
From now on this became a daily occurrence. She eventually told her friends, but she hadn’t wanted to trouble them. They comforted her and tried to fend off the monster when it returned every day but the daily dose of tears had made it too powerful for anyone to stop. And so the poor creature grew weaker and weaker with every passing day, and even when she was home she could not make herself happy and joyful like before because she was always just waiting for the monster to return.
One night she was sitting there in the deep dark well. The tears came naturally now as she grew so hungry she ate the thoughts the monster was feeding to her. And she cried and cried. But then suddenly she remembered the patterns of the falling sun on the leaves of the trees, and she looked up. Something tiny sparked within that swaddled brain of hers and she began etching the patterns into the side of the well with a tiny rock. The tears began to fade and soon she wasn’t crying anymore, but she was still inside the well. Then, the rope gave a quick jerk and she was pulled up slightly, then more slightly, then she was at the top again. The monster looked furious, if something with only black for eyes can look furious, and threw her out of the bucket and drank what tears were there. She looked at the monster and the monster looked at her. This time, instead of putting her back in the well, the monster walked away. She knew this wasn’t over but she felt a little bit of hope as she looked up to see the last of the sun casting it’s happy pink hues over the endless sky.
She knew it wasn’t the end, but she hoped. She felt low, and dark, and heavy. Her friends made her food and laughed around her and made her feel busy, until the monster returned. Many more times it took her to the well and she continued to scratch the patterns into the sides of the well, but sometimes the sun went down and she couldn’t see the patterns of the leaves anymore and she had to give up. Despite this, she felt that each time she was getting closer to completing the little mural, the little message on the sides of the well near the centre of the earth.
It was late evening. The creature had just been dropped into the well. She felt the tears well up in her eyes as the thoughts that now frequented her brain prepared to drown all of her thoughts. She was in here later than she ever had been before and she thought she’d never get out – the sun had gone completely, left her abandoned, and she couldn’t see the patterns that led up to the stars, and so she couldn’t etch them onto the side of the well.
Yet this time, something new happened. Something new appeared. The moon, the humble, pale moon appeared under the belt of stars and it shone gently onto the trees. The patterns in the leaves on the trees shone down on her, delicate and sparkling in the quiet of the night. She saw them – she couldn’t believe she had never noticed them before. She etched and scratched and created something beautiful, those delicate patterns of the leaves of the trees stretching up to the stars now reached down to the furthest depths of the world, in that deep dark well near the centre of the earth. And no tears would come. The monster saw that he wouldn’t get any tears from the creature, and he pulled the rope and she stretched out all her fingers to touch the beautiful markings on what had become her prison walls as she ascended back up to the surface of the earth. She looked at the monster and the monster looked at her, its black eyes meeting her dry ones. This is when she realised that she had been so busy living in the sun that the moon was there also, constantly, and it only shone in the darkest of times to keep her safe. She watched the monster as he crawled slowly back into the well, and she hoped that he, too, would find something beautiful down there. And it never came back.
By Ellen McNally