16 year old Sophia Brooks has just lost her father. She's in therapy for depression and doesn't talk to her mom anymore since her dad's death. But when she leaves her notebook in class after having an emotional breakdown everything changes. Her boyfriend Derek distances himself from her and a mysterious boy dubbing himself "A.Q." writes back to her in her journal. Will Sophia get over her depression? Will she find out A.Q.'s true identity? Will love blossom between the two?


8. Entry Eight

September 29th, 2013 {A.Q. aka Aidan}

                I’m not sure what to write but I know that I have this endless compulsion to write to you. It’s fucking weird because we’re in the same facility. I should be able to talk to you face-to-face. You’ve seen me now. The metaphorical cat is out of the bag and it feels really awkward. It feels really weird to correspond with someone face-to-face when you’ve been writing to them in their journal. I don’t know how to feel about it really. Maybe I’ll sort out those feelings later.

                You know memories are weird, they’re like these fleeting ideas that you want to swipe up with a net but if you’re not fast enough you never catch them. And there’s something invariably sad about that, you know? There’s something pathetic about the fact that I can’t hold onto the fact that it was snowing when my dad passed. That it’s been years since he’s passed but it feels more like one. That I was eleven when he left this world but it feels more like I was nineteen. There’s this suddenness and rawness to grief that the people on the outside ring don’t always get.

                See I feel like you have this social ring or circle if you will. On the innermost portion you have your intimate people, people who are close to you. It could be your boyfriend or a girlfriend or a best friend or your mom or some shit and then you have the outer ring outside of that. Your interpersonal people like your friends and acquaintances and maybe some family like second or third cousins twice removed maybe jumbled up in there, who knows. Maybe you’re not big on family, after my dad died, I kind of isolated myself from mine but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway in the outer, outer ring, like the very outermost you have your strangers, people on the subway, that guy who makes your sandwich at Subway, yeah, those random people. They’re the ones who don’t know anything about you, the people you may debate for twenty minutes to smile at because if you smile at them what if they’re having a bad day? What if they’re having a bad day and they’re running late for work and they have this mean, strict, stringent boss? Or what if their pet died and they’re like mourning the death of their cat Fred.

                Well sometimes those people make assumptions about people like us—disordered people with minds like scrambled eggs running waterworks that overflow for every little thing. Manic people, depressed people, people with personality disorders and schizophrenia and who suffer from psychosis—we’re like outcasts to them. And the most they hear about us is on the news when one of us snaps and kills someone because they looked at us the wrong way. Or maybe we snap because we’re so misunderstood and we’re trying to fit ourselves into the puzzle that is life and we’re just not fitting.

I guess what I mean to say is—people like us find it hard to assimilate with people like them—like our parents and family members who don’t have mental illnesses. Because they have their own preconceived notions and judgments. They may think that Charlie down the road is cuckoo because he doesn’t socialize with anyone and his closest friends are complex algorithms and algebra textbooks. They may think one day he’ll snap from all the teasing and cause a massacre but that’s not the case. I read somewhere that mentally ill people, especially bipolar people which ding, ding, ding I have, are more likely to be victims of violence than to perpetuate it. Because the truth is everyone’s a little fucked up, especially the people in the outer, outer circle.

                And even though we may grow up alienated and sitting in the back of the class and then to church and then to the lecture hall and then at someone’s funeral, we’re never alone. And when I saw you in that hallway and I went into your class because I’m a Period after yours, when I read your notebook, I knew I wasn’t alone. I said to myself gee someone out there is just as depressed and just as sad and just as worried about their perpetual state and their presentation to people as I am. Someone out there is just as fucked up in the head as I am and for me that was such an oddly joyous revelation because our whole lives we all try to gravitate to people on our polarity. We all try to gravitate to people that fit into our corners and spaces and then we stuff them in our cabinets and select them when we have difficulties or achievements in life and say, “Hmm, this one, this one I like, this one I’ll congregate with today and socialize with and relate to.”

                People don’t understand and that’s what the most frustrating. It’s like yes I have bipolar disorder but it doesn’t define me. It’s not this fucking label that you can just slap on me to define me. I don’t wake up and go gee, I feel like being manic today. I don’t wake up three weeks from now wanting and choosing to be in a depressive state. I didn’t choose to burrow myself in my covers after my father passed and go on compulsive cleaning sprees, clearing out cabinets and closets and drawers full of yellowed photographs and memories I wanted to lock away forever. You want to reorganize everything and lock and scrub away the hurt. The hurt is a film, the hurt is a belonging you never want to see again. It’s a coat you don’t want to put on. You can’t accurately describe hurt. I can’t accurately describe hurt. I can’t accurately describe it because it tastes and feels different to me than it might to you.

                Everyone picks their poison—their own way of mastering and cultivating and nurturing hurt. You know, we tend to hurt, we becomes its best friend and sit down and have fucking tea with it. I have. I’ve done that for years now. I’ve tossed away girlfriends for hurt. I’ve nursed bottles and popped pills and cut myself until I bled damn near dry for it. I can’t tell you the amount of times my mom’s found me passed out in the bathtub, the water all pink, my bathroom smelling like copper. You know what it’s like when you’ve memorized the smell of pennies, it becomes comforting and even welcoming. It’s this old aunt you hug and greet and you let it stay for a while and sit with you and inside of you. You let it just meld with you and the warm water and you let your arms sting and you let yourself feel that and I mean really feel that.

                You let yourself feel the stinging because it’s the closest thing to emotion you’ll let yourself coalesce in. You’ll coalesce in it and it’ll converge into this big tumbling ball of despair. You may even cry a little. When my dad died I cried. When my dad was sick I cried. When he was healthy I was a happy and normal little boy. I loved train sets and I liked to play the drums because he taught me how to play. He taught me how to play riffs on the guitar and to this day sometimes I’ll strum on it and just play a few riffs and chords. Music to me is soothing, it eases me to manageable level. It eases me into this comfort zone that I don’t want to exit out of. It makes me feel a sense of normalcy. At least it used to. See, because that’s how my father and I bonded. We connected over music, over the playing of drums and the impromptu jam out sessions on electric guitar and we’d go to the guitar store and just pick out random ones and test them out. And he’d laugh. My dad had a beautiful laugh. And he’d smile. He had a beautiful smile too and his eyes were this really verdant shade of green. Kind of like mine. People say that in my eyes and my nose I resemble him. I’d like to think that pieces of him—no, portions of him are inside me. And that when I breathe he breathes along with me. My lungs are made of glass …

                I’ve become so breakable and it aggravates me. The amount of girlfriends I’ve cheated on are countless. The amount of fights I’ve gotten into are innumerable. I’ve come home with bloodied fists and a broken nose and near shattered vertebra before. I tell you this because I don’t want you to end up like me. I don’t want you to keep stuffing and stuffing and stuffing because your heart is not a fucking garbage bag. There’s only so much it can handle Sophia and whether we like it or not there is this unavoidable truth that looms over us—that our parents aren’t coming back. I knew years back when, when I was a naïve fifteen year old boy with a girlfriend named Chandra that I used to bury my feelings in her skin, I knew that he wasn’t coming back. I knew my dad wasn’t coming back but I buried my feelings in the deepest parts of her anyway. It was easier that way. Did it hurt her? Of course, especially when she found out about the other girls I used to use to bury my feelings inside too.

                I treated their bodies like coffins. I buried the emotions inside of them and shed a few tears over the corpse of remorse and I drowned it in metaphorical flowers. But you can’t do that. You can’t treat humans like coffins. I treat my mom like a coffin too and therapy will force this all out of me but when I’m ready. I know I treat her like shit. I yell and kick holes in the wall and scream my lungs out. I tear at her heart with my teeth until it’s bloody. I rip at it like paper into shreds. One time I screamed at her that I wished she would’ve went instead of dad and she just stared at me like she wasn’t looking at her child. She had raised me to be better than what I was. My god she cried when I had to come here. She cried when she had to send me to rehab clinics and to detox facilities. Every single time she cried. She never prepared herself for it mentally or emotionally. I think she was and is scared shitless of losing me and I don’t blame her because prior to coming here that’s what I wanted. I wanted to lose myself in something—whether it was a bottle of rum or a few spliffs or in the sensation of listening to music.

                I felt like that Japanese girl from that movie Babel, I felt like I was experiencing the sonorous tactile sensations of listening to music for the first time. It felt like I could taste the pulsations in the beat. Everything felt novel and raw and heart wrenching and it scared me. That’s what it’s like when you allow yourself to grieve. Truth be told I never properly did it until I opened up a case of beers and drank some rum and smoked some weed and then it would give way to feeling. Then I would give into the rawness of the emotion and just sit with it and let it ride over me like a tidal wave. I did that around Chandra once and I think it scared her. She was one of my only constants besides Amaya. Difference is, I never buried myself inside Am—okay, I did once. I did once and it was amazing because I didn’t feel hollowed out. I felt whole. God I adore that girl. Sometimes I wish she wasn’t a lesbian you know.

                She told me about two years ago when we were smoking weed outside on my front stoop. It just left me totally frazzled. I didn’t know what to think or to say. I confided in this girl about everything. When I was splattering blood all over her kitchen counter at one am she’d just make me a turkey sandwich and she wouldn’t say anything, she just did this shit wordless, and I’d tell her how I beat the shit out of this guy because I was just pissed off at everything. You lose a father and it’s like you lose half of yourself.


And I would tell her all this and she’d just nod her head and she wouldn’t smile or cry or anything she’d just slide over the plate with the sandwich and she’d just listen. I’d tell her how my mom tried to stick me into grief counseling—how she did it once when I was about oh, twelve or so, because I was exhibiting anger tendencies. I remember it because it was poignant and ineffective. Poignant, because I look back on it and feel guilty for not having been sincere and ineffective because at the time, it never worked. Every day I went into that cream colored room with its cream walls and sat with that male grief counselor and I told him I felt okay. Every day he’d ask me how I felt and I would say without hesitance that I was okay. And I really wasn’t and I’m still not and maybe that’s why because for so long I didn’t allow myself to feel and that’s what I see when I look at you. I see a girl who doesn’t allow herself to feel and I want to be the remedy for that. 

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