Now it’s time
To set the queen
Locked inside me
Unshackling the Chains of my Depression
The prime of any one man’s life, I pondered, is constrained between the day he is born and the moment he finally understands and accepts the absolute lack of genuinely altruistic purpose there is for him to discover as a human being. Some reach this deadening recognition earlier on than others, while a seemingly lucky few never realize it at all, remaining entirely in a child-like mindset of blissful ignorance for as long as they exist. I was not a lucky one.
Sober for the first time in months, yet stuck in a state of intoxicatingly deep and almost crippling thought, I sat on a park bench overlooking the schoolyard I once roamed free and mightily on as youngster, back in what now seemed like a completely different life to me. I hadn’t been there in forever, and I wasn’t exactly sure what brought me to return -- on that crisp, Chicago fall day -- in the first place. Quite honestly, it was probably something of an intrinsic longing for the innocently joyful days I spent in that schoolyard so long ago, throwing the football back and forth with my childhood best friend, Jonny, discussing the prepubescent crushes we had on the cutest girls in our class, as if we were mature enough to understand the true complexities of what it meant to find an illuminating feeling of love, amongst what I had now otherwise come to accept as the dull reality of living. This very thought prompted me to recall the fact that the only woman I’d ever really come to feel sincere and utter love for was currently living thousands of miles away, in Madrid, Spain, “happily” married to another man -- or so she made it out to be on her Instagram page, which I knew was total B.S. It didn’t matter anymore, though, considering the predicament I found myself in that morning.
Don’t ask how the information reached me, because I had no clue myself. But I woke up that day positive there were only seven days left, not just for me, but the entirety of mankind. Never in my life had I been at all spiritual or religious; I always viewed that kind of stuff as a complete load of crap. Yet, it felt as though God singled me out by placing this ultimate burden of knowing on my shoulders. Maybe he was aware of the reality that if anyone could take it, I’d be the one. Afterall, it had been years, almost a decade, since I last felt an honest motivation to live in any particular way. A cosmic warning of the world’s end, a week before it were to happen, actually gave me a slight sense of liberation, as opposed to the crippling fear I’m sure it would strike into most others. Besides attempting to experience pleasure in the short-term, usually through drugs and sex, I had already reached the conclusion that there was no fucking point in doing anything else with my life. My doctors called it depression. I called it the simple recognition of the fact that there was truly nothing to live for; all of this stuff would end someday, anyway. I just hadn’t known that it would be this soon.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two kids playing catch behind the playground situated to the left of the bench I was sitting on. It was a Saturday afternoon, so there weren’t any other school children around. Knowing that nothing mattered anymore, I got up off the bench and began walking over to them, drawn in by the way they reminded me of Jonny and myself. At first -- as I ducked under a new, bright orange slide and swerved between the same rusty swingset that had been there since I was a kid -- I looked on with sadness, as the young boys obviously had no awareness of the death that loomed in the coming days, like a dark shadow on the horizon. But, as I got closer, I heard their careless laughter, and my empty sadness was replaced with a sense of contentment, which only that present moment could have given me. I introduced myself and joined in with their game, purposelessly tossing the football around with them for what seemed like hours, just as I used to do with Jonny, as young lads. We talked about the NFL and who their favorite teams and players were. I knew the conversation didn’t matter, being that the season and every single player’s career would end next week, along with everything else on Planet Earth, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Suddenly, one of their mothers appeared in the distance, shouting from the parking lot that it was time for the boys to leave. We said our goodbyes, and I stood in-place, looking the opposite direction as they walked away towards where she stood with her rundown minivan. A wide smile pasted itself across my face, which was weird because I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that. As the thought of the remaining six-and-a-half days crept into my head, I stopped and began to think back on the way I had lived thus far. My darkened take on life was totally mistaken. There was no genuinely altruistic purpose behind the game of catch I had just played with two random little kids, both of whom I’d probably never see again. Yet, nevertheless, the experience had given me a sense of happiness, happiness with the present time.
As the next six days passed by, so too did my feeling that the world was on the brink of finality, because, let’s be honest, that thought could only be the pigment of a severely depressed imagination.
The prime of any one man’s life is not constrained by his ability to find some genuinely altruistic purpose, because that simply does not exist amongst humankind. Instead, it relies on his ability to find joy in any given moment, an ability that only diminishes when one allows it to.
The first couple of paragraphs in my book: Anchors Aweigh!
'As the sun set over the Pacific, seven ships made their way to a confidential location that only one person knew about. That person was Admiral Sunny Hunt.
The year was 2053. War had torn the world in three parts: air, land, and sea. The United States had almost collapsed under the sheer immenseness of its military. When Sunny had been drafted to fight in World War Three, she was put in command of the U.S.S. Victoria, an old, converted oiler built in the early 2040’s.
Sunny had been in charge of the ship when it was attacked and almost destroyed, kicking off the start of WW3. Had it not been for his trusty crew and his leadership, the ’States would’ve lost its best sailor.
For two years she fought in the most exhausting war in history, making her way to Fleet Admiral and taking over the fleet designated as head of Operation Killer Whale, an American attempt to cut down on terrorist attacks in the vicinity of Hawaii.
For the time being, however, Hunt focused on capturing a key territory: a man-made island off the coast of Japan.'
I sob as I watch you
sail out of my life
toward a new horizon,
knocked right out
of my brine,
leaving me adrift
on a rudderless raft
without a compass
Chapter 7 - Derik’s POV
“Hello to you too. Yeah, I’m late.”
“Are you sassing me?” He says it in such a harsh tone that I almost flinch. I know I should flinch, but I don’t want to give him the satisfaction.
“Yes, I am. Is there a problem.” There’s now a crowd around us. My dad can’t show weakness towards his son. There’s already talk of favoritism.
If only they knew what goes on behind those tightly shut, locked, and probably soundproofed doors. They’d never say that bullshit again.
“Hell yeah there’s a problem! Sadie Heathrow still isn’t dead!”
“So you were supposed to kill her!” He explodes. The crowd backs up a step, all in one fluid motion. Even though I’m surrounded by people, it feels like I am alone with my dad. And I don’t like being alone with my dad. I can’t help it. I shudder. This causes me to get embarrassed, and I look down.
The crowd disperses, and I really am alone with my dad now. His stone glare could freeze Hell.
“Derik, I swear to God-”
“No. You don’t swear to God anymore. You’ve signed your fucking life over to the devil.”
“I’m righteous,” he hisses.
“Righteous my ass.”
“Don’t talk that way to me.” He gets out of the chair.
“I’m amazed your legs are holding up, Grandpa.”
“SHUT UP!” He slaps my face with the force of a tractor. He slaps me so hard that my usually superior balance fails me and I fall over. Now I’ll have a bruise on my ass as well as my face. I close my eyes and brace myself for another hit, maybe to the face again.
But instead I get kicked in the balls by a five hundred pound man.
Let me tell you, that does not feel good. But I learned crying never helps, I learned that when my stepmom arrived.
Okay, so my dad was a wreck after my mom died. Sure, he forced her to do all kinds of stuff, like have me at age sixteen, but that’s what love is, right?
My stepmom was his recovery. He found her behind a dumpster at a bar, crying about her husband cheating on her.
Yep, it was love at first sight. It makes it even better that she’s a bitch who hates my guts.
“Hello, Derik.” Her cool voice rings evenly in my ears. I touch my forehead and my fingers come away red. This is not going to end well. Either I’ll pass out and be beaten to death, or I’ll manage to stay conscious long enough to be beaten to death. I’m not sure which is worse. Her voice makes me flinch every time I hear it, but not this time. This time I blink the red haze off my eyes and stare into her coal black eyes.
“You’re a bitch, you know that, Raina?” She twists my wrist and I try to ignore the sound of cracking. My bones aren’t broken yet, she’s just stretching me out.
“What did you say?” she asks, to which the right answer is “Nothing.” And to which my answer is
“You’re a bitch.” I say it because I know she won’t break my hand. Only my pinky. My pinky is crooked because of all the times she’s broken it before.
“My name isn’t Raina, you ungrateful bastard. I’m your mom now.” Don’t remind me, I want to say, but the pain in my finger is beginning to bother me.