4th of July, America. People paint their souls in stripes and stars, eat unprofessionally barbequed steaks, laugh and wait for the sky to light up with fireworks.
4th of July, Westminster Street, London. I lie in my bed, eat Nona’s not so delicious pasta, crinkle my nose and wait for my parents to show up.
Time zones: making difference, incomparably.
Despite of not being a good sleeper, I manage an hour’s sleep, before my mobiles buzzes. It’s midnight, and the only day you receive messages from more than one person followed by multiple happy emoticons at this hour of night is on your big day. It’s my birthday. I read through the greetings and lie still, hoping to catch a sound of mum extracting a cake from the oven or dad trying his clown nose. But Nona is softly snoring in the guest room and that is it. With all the chaos in my brain, I have a strong urge to give myself up to depression, but very ridiculously my head feels dizzy and sleep which echoes with the remains of the articles I remember having read.
'Spread on the couch, living on coffee and chocolates, which date back to the year you still don’t want to think about, because it brings back memories of how the crowd erupted and smeared your face with cake, and bought you presents, for it was your birthday. It’s been two years. Tomorrow is again your big day, but you haven’t taken a bath in two weeks and a half. You’re sure the only thing erupting this time would be your mom’s call trying to make up for the loss.
The loss you created. Cutting all the strings that held you to the people that you called yours, you’ve entangled yourself in a pool of things that were for others to handle.
The strings lie all around you wrapping up everything, and nothing at all. You repeatedly scroll up for new messages but all you see is advertisements about getting ombre hair. It reminds you of the time, you did your hair on Saturday nights, nice and crisp, and it strikes you, it was before you drowned five thousand feet into heartbreak.
Now, if everything you’ve read, in your perspective seems depressing, I think you would want to stop. Because I would say it once, then twice, then as many times ad it takes for you to believe that your idea of depression is deceptive, it’s glamorous. Not having ever been under depression, I’d be lying, if I say I can explain you all of it, but putting aside all hypocrisy I know for one, it isn’t a definable state of mind. You can’t put it in a box, in words, in songs. It just is.
Depression wakes up to a bright sky, hoping the sun wouldn’t shine. Depression doesn’t kick in and sleep for longer; it kicks out all blankets, puts on disguises to hide hopelessness and goes about the day. Depression hates caffeine and music. Depression doesn’t talk itself out loud. It lives insides, bangs and screams in silence. Depression does not whimper under blankets in the dark of the night, it looks back at you from the mirror in a rundown grocery store in broad daylight at three in the afternoon. Depression cannot cry. It has run out of everything that can flow. Depression bites its tongue and whimpers at every sound that escapes the mouth. Depression is monosyllabic. Depression has unanswerable questions. Depression never has answers. Depression shakes a lot. Depression is a faker. Depression cannot tell itself apart, it loses parts of it in crowds. For Heaven’s sake, depression cannot even spell itself; it is usually around a group of people, preparing to introduce itself as, F-I-N-E. Depression begs you to stop glamorizing it.'
Depression is rock bottom. I haven't hit it yet, I won't.
In the morning I regain consciousness when I hear Nona talking to some people in hushed voices. Thank God. Good try, mumdad. I run from my room to the living room like I never have and bust against somebody’s shoulder. It’s Luke. I have never been more disappointed to have seen him.
“Happy Birthday,” Hanna shouts from behind Luke. I manage a smile and a guttural groan escapes my mouth. “Yeah, happy birthday,” Luke hisses rubbing his shoulder. I walk back to my room. Both of them follow me in and we cut the cake. Hanna’s got me three books which I decide to open later and Luke, for the third year in a row has bought an eyeliner, and the card it’s stuck to says: Happy Legalday, Zara. Now you can drink and drive. Not both at the same time, of course.
We eat the cake in silence. Nona gets us coffee and biscuits. “Okay, what’s wrong?” Hanna finally asks. “Long story,” I half whisper. “Do we have time, Hanna?” Luke mockingly asks his sister, sticking his head behind his mobile and continues without a pause and drama dripping voice, “Yes, we do.”
I am not so bad at verbal explanation of incidents, but it’s really hard for me to put together all the little details about the past twenty four hours. I don’t look into people’s eyes when talking. My mom says that’s a sign of lack of confidence, but then again, she also claims that, so is not asking for extra ketchup at the pizza place and that Guardian Angels are a true thing and the most half baked of it all- if dad tries he can transform into a serious man. Some stuff is just hard to believe. As I near the end of my story Hanna has chewed off the rim of the teacup and I’m afraid it’ll shatter under the pressure of her fingers so I slowly take it from her and put it down on the tray. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Luke’s mobile lying unattended and I turned around to find him gaping at me with his lower jaw unconsciously hanging low.
“You know we have to do something, don’t you?” Hanna finally says only to break the silence because as if we already hadn’t thought of that. I nod in agreement. Luke gets up suddenly, putting on his sneakers, “I need to talk to Mr. Andrew. I mean not me, you, Zara. I mean us.” He leaves the room and Hanna hugs me for a good three minutes. It’s suffocating but therapeutic. She goes to the living room with the cups and plates while I brush and get dressed. I have an urge to call Hanna to toss at me something to wear from the cupboard but I feel like I’ve already put too many people at uncalled work. I tell Nona about being back by six. She wants to know where I’m going but I honestly have no time. I ask her to not worry about my lunch, lying that I’d be eating at the Hood’s. Luke has parked Colonel Hood’s Lexus at the door. The SUV is comfortably warm and smells like lavender scented lemon juice. Luke isn’t as good at driving as Hanna but in his right senses he can get us to my parent’s office safely. It’ll take a little longer, but nobody has the patience to switch seats right now. The car’s silence is washed by the feeble voice of the radio and my fingers constantly drumming against the window. It’s when we’re stuck in the jam that Luke looks at Hanna through the rear view mirror for confirmation. I am not sure what he exactly wants to confirm right now. We reach the office and there’s absolutely no space to park the car. Luke gets off and Hanna goes away to find parking.
“It’s the office hours, there’s a lot of rush, she’ll take time,” Luke says.
“Yeah,” I respond, realizing it’s not the most appropriate answer.
“So, should we move?”