Below is a short story that is portrayed through the eyes of a young girl going through depression and anxiety, which leads it to take a physical form. Imagery inspired by an illustration I saw once-upon-a -time.
LAFAYETTE by Pao
I remember when I first met Lafayette. No, I am not talking about a town in Louisiana. The image still haunts me. The face, those deep black holes he has for eyes. Every cavity on his head is a harrowing reminder of a past experience. I feel every inch, crack, and scale on his skin without touching it. It looks like worn out leather, barley covering his naked body. It’s hard not to stare. His body, crippled by his pain and all the weight he carries on his shoulders. The sinful creature on his back whispers unimaginable things to him and he can’t take it anymore. However, Lafayette has no mouth. I just know what he wants by the expression on his featureless face. It folds and wrinkles in the right places. The grunts and moans indicate it all. He can’t take the voices in his head either. His only friends are the bunny and alien figure on his back, but even that causes him discomfort. He doesn’t understand that he’s my only friend as well. I look into the mirror and he is all I see. It’s all too much.
You’re probably wondering why I have such vivid image of Lafayette. He follows me everywhere. Always with me like a best friend, but unlike a best friend he augments my anxiety and depression. It’s always dark when he comes crawling on his knees, trying to soothe my aching soul but instead he makes it throb. It started by him crawling out the big mirror, but he gradually came out of different places. Yet, it’s better to have him there than being alone. Being lonely is the equivalent of being dead amongst the living. If I’m ever alone, I rather die.
I first met him when I was twelve years old. My parents were yelling once again. I had locked myself in my room after my father’s, or should I say sperm donor’s, hand struck both my face and my mother’s face. I screamed in horror when I saw the marks on my mother’s face.
“Mama?” I whimpered.
My father turned to me in an instant his hand was wrapped around my hair, yanking me to the ground. He snared and said, “You will never make it in life. Your plans of ever making a somebody out of yourself are a waste of time.”
The lines on his forehead softened and he smiled sarcastically. I grabbed my mother’s hand and she told me she could handle it. I ran to my room and locked the door behind me, leaving my trembling body to plummet to the floor with a thud. I was contemplating whether I should call the police like I had once before.
Instead, the tears came streaming. He was right I was nobody. Who was I? I’m no one in this life. My name means nothing. Nothing for a nobody. The room was dark and out of the mirror in front of me. The mirror was large in comparison to the room. The frame was gold with intricate baroque-style details. It’s rare for someone to have one of those in those days. Lafayette crawled out from the abyss. Was it me or was it my imagination? An enigma. Slowly he came slowly with two things on his back, moaning softly.
“Who are you?” I murmured.
It just stared right back at me. “L—L—Laa- F-Fa- ye—TTTT-e”, he managed to produce from deep inside. The bunny and alien on top of Lafayette stayed quiet.
“What are you? Who made you?”
It stared back at me. I could feel his eyes penetrating my soul. Hmmm, I thought to myself. I wonder who made Lafayette, that hairy bunny and alien figure. Was their creator sad too? Maybe mad? Is that why they have no mouths and such dark eyes? The bunny on the top of Lafayette. what an inconsiderate bastard doesn’t it see that it’s hurting him?
He moaned again, getting closer. My tears came to a complete halt. My mind could not process what was going on, but I felt a connection to him. I felt his agony and a sort of magnetic energy pulling me towards him. He needed a friend and so did I. I let his darkness in a dark room. It felt more like a spark. A chance. The friend I never had. I mean that: never had. He was my “green light”, a beacon of hope in understanding the wicked and corrupt things in life. The only thing he managed to say that night was “ I just want to be accepted.”
Lafayette followed me throughout my life. He was the shadow to my thoughts and he was there when I most needed him. He was on his knees and so vulnerable, but so loyal. He crawled his way through life, knowing the burden on his back and his sin would never let him. He himself is a very sinful creature. I once asked him, “Why do you carry that bunny on your back? Why do put up with the little man controlling him?”
He shrugged. “Keeps me from being alone for too long. Bad thoughts.” I hugged him immediately.
“It’s ok, we will be together for an eternity,” I answered. That probably sounded better inside my head.
I recall every time he was there for me, he was not all bad as I have made him out to seem. Every funeral he was there, besides me staring at the casket. Funerals were a constant reminder that our time would end sooner and later and how one could never become attached to anyone. My mind was chaos. I couldn’t let go, it was when I was most desolate that he was the most quiet, but he took my anxiety and sadness and inflicted it on himself. It wasn’t him and those creatures on his back always augmenting my fucked up emotions. Sometimes they helped. Every time I started a new school year or semester, he was there. Fueling my paranoia, but at least no one else saw him like I did. Every time we went out in public, he took on a human form. Interesting, I thought. He looks like me. Yet, nobody noticed only I did. I’m pretty sure what I saw and how I feel is not normal, but I preferred to keep it to myself.
Lafayette was also with me when I got in trouble. I saw him creeping, taking over. Was I hearing the same voices he was? How connected were we? I think I saw a bunny growing out of my back the other day or was it on my other side? I might not know how connected we were, but I was sure of how I felt at certain parts of my life. I wanted to blame him instead of seeing what was wrong with me.
I just know he was there when I got my first hangover and my first heartbreak. Oh, how I detested him. Why didn’t he tell me how that would feel like?
I yelled at him. “How did you not tell me it would feel like dying? Why did you let me fall in love? You disgust me. My head hurts and now my heart is in pieces! How could you?!”
He just stared and tears fell out of those dark holes, except they looked more bloodlike than tears.
“I’m sorry, it’s not your fault. At least it won’t feel so bad when I pass. Just promise you won’t break my heart.” He nodded.
“Goodnight Lafay”, I drowsily said.
He nodded and kneeled next to me. Watching over me like a night terror every night. Maybe he was trying to protect me from hurting myself or from other creatures like him. I never found out.
Whenever I was happy he was still there. He hung out in the corner, slouching. I could see him through my peripherals. I think he got kind of jealous when I was happy. I could make out a frown where his mouth would have been. It did not matter either way because my happiness did not last long. Music always made us both feel better. We would look at each other a likeness of one another. Rock made us giddy like two gossiping girls. Jazz made us sway while we sat and I would always pop out the wine bottle. Lafay’s, as I soon called him, was always bewildered by the psychedelic genre of music. I would see him. It was then that he did not look like the most miserable being in all existence. His burdens did not seem too heavy at that moment. I forgot about all my problems.
Again, he followed me, rooting himself deep into my veins. At certain angles I too looked like worn out leather with black holes for eyes, but instead of tears it was blood shedding out. My life continued like that and still does. I sometimes hate it but I know that he has shaped who I am. I still learn from him everyday and he shows me different types of pain. I feel numb with pain at this point. Pricking me through the sides every hour, every minute. The mind never stops. Think, thinking, thunk. I wish I could shut it off. “Lafay” always understands when he sees me struggling with my thoughts. That’s okay, I think, at least when I’m gone it won’t feel that bad. That’s what I always tell myself.
The years pass and it’s still almost routine-like. He greets me like a grey cloud over my thoughts. No, he is my silver lining. He must be. Every time I go to the bars or concerts by myself, “Lafay”, reminds me that those strangers are not my friends. They are just looking for someone to talk to and use so they don’t look as alone as their pitch-black eyes. They are burrows of the unknown. I thanked him for that. He reminded me how ungrateful people are. Hell, if anyone knew the exact details of my life they would want to hang by a noose as I once tried.
“It’s not worth it, it’s better to live with the despair. Friends forever right?”, Lafayette said that and it was hard to believe. It’s as if he read my mind.
How could he say forever if forever is only momentary? What happens after we die? I look in the mirror to see him not me!
I look down at my arms like worn out leather, brown for being in the sun so much it is beef jerky. I see sunken eyes and bags under my eyes. I scream because I Know I will never escape this feeling, but it helps to have someone even if you later discover it’s only you that sees it. It’s a ghost or maybe a figment of the imagination, a reflection of the soul. At least he makes meaningless bar conversations worthwhile because I know Lafayette and I can laugh about them afterwards.
Crawling on my knees next to him feels more human than walking. Every scar I get is just part of life. I’m glad to know that at least I have one friend. Depression is real and one does not have to go through it alone. Depression is like having a massive black hole inside your brain in which it only sucks up the happy memories and leaves the bad ones creating an abysmal reality, which might or might not be true. It remains hidden in our minds until one day it’s ready to pop out in full force. Not only that, but reality can also be a confusing subject matter, which is also hard to avoid. One has to learn how to deal with it and the distinction is hard. I might be a nobody, but at least I won’t die alone.