This Is Goodbye (Short Story)

It’s surreal standing next to her grave, almost like I’m dreaming.
I used to have bad dreams nearly every night, I’d wake up kicking and screaming and it took minutes of desperately clinging onto my blanket with sweat running down my face and tears falling from my fever-bright eyes until I was able to catch my breath again.
But this is different. This is not a nightmare, because that would mean that I’d still be feeling something, and that there’ll be some kind of relief when I wake up.
This is more like one of those rare dreams that you forget instantly, but that leave you with a strange, undefinable uneasiness for the entire day. Dreams that make you feel like you’re floating through never-ending nothingness with your heart heavy in your chest, seemingly pulling you down. Dreams that make everything around you seem completely illusive, even after you wake up.
I’m still waiting for the moment when it hits me, so I can finally feel the pain that I know is sealed inside me. But so far, there has been nothing but suffocating numbness.

I’m surrounded by people, most of them Drew’s family members whom we always railed and giggled about whenever she took me to one of their family gatherings, some friends and a few people who knew her from school. It’s weird to think that she, the person that connects all of us, is the only one missing.
I picture her standing beside me and try to think about what she’d make of all of this. I almost have to hide a smile envisioning all the sarcastic comments she’d make about how pretentious people at funerals are and how at least one person is probably holding in a fart right now.
I’m pretty sure she’d resent most of this ceremony. There are dozens of flower arrangements cautiously draped on the still fresh earth below her tombstone, but Drew has always disliked flowers because they reminded her that even the most beautiful things wither and die eventually. And how right she was.

A pianist is playing the first few chimes of yet another atrabilious anthem and I feel my body convulse at the thought of how wrong this all seems. Being here in the first place. Staring at Drew’s tomb together with at least 150 other people, only half of which have ever spoken to her much longer than for a few seconds at a time. Listening to this depressing hymn in commemoration to my best friend when a Green Day song would have been the only suitable tribute to her.

As I feel more sadness well up inside me and reach into my pocket for another tissue, I feel something round and smooth against my hand. Pulling it out, I realise it’s one of the apples Drew and I packed for the picnic we had on the meadow near her house only a week ago, just one day before the car crash that changed everything.

Suddenly, I know I have to leave. I turn around and head straight for the gate of the cemetery, walk right out and start running. It seems almost fallacious to feel my heart racing and my lungs panting for air, to feel so alive when she is not anymore.
Drew was always so vibrant and buoyant and probably more in love with life than anyone else I’ve ever met, which made the fact that she out of all people had to leave this world at only 17 even more preposterous.
Why her? I’ve spent most of the past few days asking myself the same question over and over again, but the only answer I found was that there is none. Drew often used to say that things rarely make sense cause we live in a ridiculously coincidental world and I never used to agree, but maybe she wasn’t so wrong after all.

I can already see the meadow in the distance now and start sprinting down the road even faster until I finally reach it and let myself fall down onto the grass at the same spot the two of us sat on about this time last week.
It’s odd to see how nothing seems to have changed here since then and how peaceful this place still is, when my entire world has fallen into pieces after the last time I was here.
The day of the picnic seems like an eternity away now, the memories already becoming blurry and vague, regardless of how much I try to hold on to them.
As much as it scares me, I know that the treasured memories of my best friend will fade all the same. Remembering the sound of her voice will get harder and harder with each day that she’s gone and I might not be able to picture her face in a few years time. But as I begin to dig a hole in the ground with my hands, I promise myself to always keep her in my heart.
Once it’s deep enough, I take one last look at the apple, which is already a bit squished and covered with brown patches, before I carefully put it into the hole and cover it with earth.

An almost placid sadness overcomes me as I look upon the meadow, recount the many happy reminiscences we shared here and mourn the ones we could have had if Drew could’ve stayed a little longer, if we had been given only a little bit more time.
Wistfully, I eventually stand up and make my way home, still crying at her loss, but feeling incredibly grateful at the same time. Grateful that Drew, the best friend I ever had and ever will have, has been part of this world and will keep being one, albeit in a different sense.
She will keep on living. Not only in my memories, but also in the tiny tree that will hopefully sprout at this exact spot next spring. And although I’ve never believed in heaven or life after death, I find myself wondering whether she’ll be able to watch it grow.


A Day In The Park

Today has been one of the greatest days in a long time and even though nothing particularly exciting happened, I feel like I’ve got to post about it. Yesterday, before I went to sleep, I was actually sort of dreading today since I’d had quite a busy week already and honestly wanted nothing more than to have a quiet day at home, but since I had an appointment at the Apple Store at the other end of the city to get my phone fixed, there was no way out of it. I’d also agreed to meet a friend afterwards, which I was of course looking forward to, but also quite overwhelmed with since I felt like I’d already had a little too much socialising the days before and admittedly just really needed some alone-time to “recover”.

Nevertheless, I got up early, made my way to the train station, managed to start crying over a book on public transport for the 4th time (“This one is not gonna be as bad, I’m sure I’ll be able to hold back my tears”) and, frankly, didn’t have the best start to the day. After arriving at the shopping centre, I additionally had to deal with crowds of noisy people all around me and, to make it worse, ended up running around in a circle two times because my orientation skills are rubbish. Somehow I still found the Apple Store eventually, handed in my phone for repair and was told to come back two hours later.

Glad to escape the noise and busy clamour around me, I made my way to my favourite park, which instantly made me feel incredibly calm. I settled down on one of the canopy swings, continued reading my book and occasionally looked up and across the pond in front of me to watch the ducks and swans swim around. When I felt a fresh breeze that smelt distinctly of spring brush my face, I first thought that this day might not turn out to be too bad after all.

Once I had left the peaceful atmosphere of the park to pick up my phone and had once again gotten lost in the shopping centre, it was now time to meet my friend. After having a stroll around a few of the shops, we decided to go to the park again and, while looking for a nice spot to sit down, discovered the probably prettiest tree in the entire world. Naturally (get it? cause we were outside in nature? hah!), we let ourselves fall into the green grass and started making daisy chains while singing along to Panic! At The Disco songs. Suddenly, I felt very aware of the fact that, in this moment, I was truly happy. I know that most people won’t really be able to relate to this, but this feeling of being somewhere public and socialising, especially after an already eventful week, without feeling any sort of anxiety and being content in the situation instead of thinking about how much easier it’d be to be alone in the safety of my room, was honestly wonderful.


The day got even better when we went to a cute little cafe and discovered some record stores and a comic book shop on our way, but I guess the point I’m trying to make by telling you all this is, that, even though you might feel like your mental illness is gonna determine every day of your life forever, it’s probably not gonna be like that. A couple of weeks ago, I honestly thought my anxiety would only get worse and worse with each day, and it did for a while, but although it seemed impossible at the time, I’m fine now. It’s obviously not gone and there will probably be other times when it’ll hit me really hard again, we all know that mental illnesses don’t “heal” linearly. But during the past few weeks, I’ve started feeling more and more relaxed, even had a few days where I completely forgot about my anxiety.

I totally understand if you hate this sentence, because so do I, but it will get better. And maybe it’ll get worse after that, but without you realising, the good phases will hopefully get longer and the bad ones shorter.

I’m sorry that this turned out to be so weird and messy, but although I’m not making much sense and this is obviously quite a personal topic not everyone will be able to make use of, I felt like sharing it might be helpful because I imagine it could’ve comforted me a little bit to read about an experience like this when I was going through a difficult time myself. Anyways, I hope you’re all well and are having a nice day as well. Talk to you soon! x

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Love on Movie Screens (Short Story)

Paige had always believed in love like it was pictured in movies.
Just after her 12th birthday, she was first allowed to go to the cinema without her parents and from that day on, she had spent almost every weekend there, spending every pound of her pocket money on tickets to see as many films as she possibly could. At first, she used to take her friends with her, but they soon got bored and started to protest when Paige dragged them into the same cheesy love movie for the third or forth or fifth time. That’s why she began going to the movies on her own, at first feeling a bit awkward about not having any company, but soon enjoying to watch films without being distracted. At 15, Paige was already spending more time at the movie theatre than at her parent’s house, the staff greeting her like a sister, giving her free snacks with every ticket and chatting to her for at least two hours each day. As much as she loved being with her mum and dad, they had become her second family and the little movie theatre with the small entrance hall, plushy red seats, big posters and the familiar smell of popcorn felt more like home than the house she lived in.

Even when Paige wasn’t at the cinema, her mind was always occupied with the film she had last seen, recounting the details of every dialogue or conversation, thinking about her favourite characters, imagining alternate endings and making up new storylines. People were worrying about her, saying that Paige had lost track of reality, that she always had her head in the clouds. And it was true, she was constantly dreaming, mostly of love and how much she wanted to find it. More often than not, Paige felt lonely in her group of friends, misunderstood, and longed for someone who’d truly understand her, someone who’d make her feel like she belonged.
To her, love was the ultimate purpose of life, the one thing that would make everything else seem small and insignificant, that would bring her endless happiness. And she was determined to find it.

Nevertheless, it came as a surprise when it first hit her only a few days after she had turned 16.
She met Nick at a friend’s party and at the beginning, it really was like in the movies. There had immediately been a spark between the two of them when they had looked at each other across the room that day and after exchanging a few shy smiles, Nick had taken up the courage to talk to her. Their conversation was like nothing Paige had experienced before, from the first sentence on, Nick and her just clicked. There was no need for smalltalk or awkward silences, nothing had ever been as easy yet fascinating as speaking to him. At some point, he asked her whether she wanted to go to the beach to chat some more and while they sat on the cold sand only comforted by the warmth of each other’s bodies and talked for hours, she noticed how his eyes had the same colour as the ocean. The sea had never seemed more beautiful.

When he walked her home and kissed her goodbye on her doorstep, Paige was over the moon. This, she thought, is what I have waited for all my life.
During the next few days, Nick and her got closer and closer and one week after they’d met, he’d first called her his girlfriend. Their kisses were not exactly like the ones of two movie stars, but that didn’t matter. Nick made Paige laugh, feel wanted and be like herself again and that was all that counted.

For about two and a half months, he wrote her a script to her own perfect love story.

Paige’s favourite films usually ended at the point when things couldn’t get any better, but when she felt like she’d reached that point with Nick, life surely didn’t stop. It went on, Autumn came, the seasons changed and so did Nick’s feelings for her. Deep down, Paige had already sensed that the way he looked at her wasn’t the same anymore, that his mind was elsewhere when they were together and that their bond wasn’t as strong as it used to be, but it still came as a shock when he told her he had fallen out of love as they were sitting next to each other on her bed one rainy Sunday afternoon.
He said he was sorry. He said he had been trying to make the feelings come back, but couldn’t. He said he didn’t want to lose her. But when he saw the hurt in her eyes as she looked at him, searching for a reason why everything had gone wrong, he knew that he already had.

It was three months since the breakup and Paige was still thinking of Nick every day. She still went to the cinema every Saturday and on Wednesdays if she had some time and money left, but she watched the films with different eyes now.
She hadn’t given up on love, not at all, she still held on to the thought of it as much as she had done before. But when she walked past the seafront one afternoon on her way home and stopped for a minute to watch the waves crash against the seashore as she had done with Nick on their first evening together, she became aware that it was not all there was to being alive. Loving and being loved in return might be one of the most wonderful things in the world, she thought to herself, but so is looking at the sea.
For the first time after losing Nick, she thought of the future and felt anticipation well up inside her. There was still so much to do, so many places to visit, so many people to meet, so many dreams to chase. With or without him.
She would take her GCSEs this year, go to college, maybe study direction at uni afterwards and perhaps, in a few years time, she would be making her own movies and create her own love stories. Not only stories about people falling in love with each other, but also about people falling in love with themselves.
She once again took in the beauty of the ocean and smiled to herself before she continued to walk along the shore. That was when she realised she didn’t need anyone to complete her. It was just her, the waves and the fresh, cold air surrounding her, and, in that moment, that was enough. She felt whole.

The End.