This story was a submission to our March 2022 Short Story Contest.
Maybe the world was falling apart. Or maybe it was just my world that was falling apart. No, no I’m pretty sure it's falling apart for everyone else too. Everyone else still acts like they're world is perfect. Maybe they’re lying, smiling when they want to cry, applying makeup on their tear stained face, washing away the pain with a new shopping spree, posting a new perfectly staged photo to rebuttal every bad comment they got. Or maybe they aren’t falling apart. Maybe it is just me. My world is definitely falling apart though. This is when they tell me to count back from 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
Last year my world was perfect. I mean it too, every single detail of my life was carefully crafted to my liking. I seemed to live a fairytale. The type you read huddled under a blanket with a flashlight, eagerly turning every page, needing to know how it ends, but never wanting to say goodbye. I had everything I wanted, everything I needed. Bad days just didn’t seem to exist for me. I never felt like an irrelevant speck of dust in the universe, or an unimportant, uninteresting character that simply filled the background for somebody else's life. I felt like a star, more specifically the sun of my own galaxy- radiating light and happiness, and undeniably important.
In science we had been taught about the evolution of our understanding of the solar system. How, for the longest time, we had believed that we were the center of the galaxy, and that everything else revolved around us. We thought the stars were painted in the sky to watch as we drifted to sleep, the moon set as a nightlight, and the sun, our perfect sun, ment to light up our day and fill us with warmth. How could we not think it was all built around us? It seems to only be human nature. We didn’t know any better. With everything that came after, I couldn’t help but think that that was me, mistakenly thinking I was the star, the center, the most important thing.
I don’t think I could tell you the point in which everything fell apart. I spent hours mindlessly staring at the ceiling. I made hundreds of stories to explain what had become of me. How I had unraveled so quickly.
“It all started in May when my best friends decided to stop eating lunch with me…
My story begins on a cold evening in late November when I made my instagram account…
It all went wrong the second I was born…”
I won't begin to bore you with a setting, a date, or even a year at which I could trace back all my problems. I often wish it was like that. If I could only understand that my whole life fell apart because of one bad day, maybe, just maybe I would start to understand how to put it back together. I didn’t fall apart in one day though. I didn’t come crashing down in a second. There was just a little voice in my head, a bad voice, it told me I was worthless, and stupid, and ugly, and just about every insult one could come up with. It grew and grew, fed by the mirroring insults from other people, real people. Until, I guess, it just took over.
That's when they sent me to the empty room. Boring wall, boring clothes, boring food, boring days. No shoelaces, or bathroom doors, or privacy, or tv. I didn’t like the empty place, but they said it would fix me, so I went. I was given pudding cups, crazy roommates, group therapy, and naptime. I didn’t like what they told me. I swear my friends were real. I'm not a little kid, I don't have imaginary friends. They told me they weren’t real though. They said it was best to restart. To begin again. I didn’t believe them, but after a while they started making more sense than I did. Heartbreakingly they forced my perfect fairytale life out of my hands and introduced me to the real world.
I don’t go to the empty place any more because I'm all better. I don’t feel all better most days - in fact I feel quite the opposite sometimes. I didn’t want to get better, as much as I hated rock bottom. The idea of getting back up, and climbing back to the top. To sit on the edge of happiness staring at all the beauty in the world, surrounded by warm fuzzy air that suffocated any bad thoughts, just to so easily be pushed off and sent back to the bottom where I couldn’t see any bright happiness anymore. It was all too exhausting to think about. I tried though, it got easier, I guess. I started to realize that as hard as it was to work on myself, staying as I was would have been so much worse. Sometimes I wish I could live in the wonderland of my imagination again. There my days were spent as I always wished they could be, it wasn’t bad there, but the thing was the longer you put off the pain and reality the harder it hit you.
There are still days spent avoiding the worst of it. Smiling when an insult gets thrown at you, as your visions blurs, and your eyes gloss over. Crying till sleep finally lets you take a break. But at least sunshine still warms my face on the coldest days, and the moon still lights up my darkest nights. I guess I'm right where I need to be in the universe, and surprise surprise it's not the center.
Maybe the world isn’t falling apart.
A speck of dust in the universe