As I grew older, and entered into high school, I began to realize how much wider the chasm was between me and my peers. I was quiet and stayed to myself. I kept to my books and my media. I stayed from my classmates at any given opportunity. Honestly, I could've made friends if I had just tried. But I shut everyone out before they could even say a word.
"Hey Guinevere! You wanna come eat with us after school?" No
"Come on, let's be friends!" No
It wasn't like there was a shortage of kindness. There was a shortage of me.
Of course, I had no idea I was depressed. It wasn't like I woke up one day and suddenly knew everything about my mental health. That didn't click until years later. And so people drifted away from me naturally. I wasn't particularly worried about that. I had become numb due to the ever present coldness that had infiltrated my home life.
One day, I was sitting in the hallway after lunch - in our free period - when a girl came to sit beside me. She did not say hello. She did not pretend to be nice.
"You're kind of a bitch.", she said facing me.
I glared at her but said nothing.
"You're a year away from graduation and you have not done a thing to engage with a single person around you. Sure, a few people bully you but for the most part, everyone leaves you alone. What's the point?"
I said nothing.
"Honestly, it's pretty pretentious. Your whole catcher in the rye act. You gonna grow up and murder John Lennon? Pathetic."
At this point, I had no idea what she was doing. Is this creative bullying? Is she using me for stress relief?
"Even now, silent as a brick. Can't even talk back? God, this is pointless."
Finally - I decided to say something back.
"Why are you talking to me?" I said.
She immediately got more interested than before.
"Why not? Maybe I wanted to see what would happen. Or maybe I was curious to see what you were like."
"I'm not really anything."
"That's bullshit. You are more than the silence you put off. You're very pretty and you scribble stories in your notebook. I sit behind you in class and I read them. And they are so good. Your outside and your inside does not match and it's frustrating."
I immediately blushed and tensed up.
"You read my stories... they were not for anyone to read."
"They were on your desk. Public viewing was possible."
I scooted away from her and put my head in my hands.
"Whatever. I just write about things I'd rather be doing so they're pretty sad anyways." I mumbled.
"Come on, we are not doing this emo act. Let me see your face."
I would not lift my face and she scoffed.
"Tell me - why do you act like this?"
For once, I decided to tell the truth. I didn't dodge the question or ignore it in its entirety. I spoke my truth defiantly.
"I want to be alone. I feel hollow around other people. What if they notice? That I'm not even fucking laughing, I'm just acting. I'm sad and I'm angry and pretty dismal. It would turn into a pity party. People would feel bad for me. I'm the depressed girl. If I keep people away from me, I control the narrative. No can hurt me more than I'm already hurting."
My voice became haggard as I continued. My shoulders raised up and down as my heartbeat quickened and my palms became sweaty.
"Do you know how it feels for everyone around you to look at you like an accessory? You try to speak your mind and tell jokes and it's being drowned out by a door slamming shut in your face. It's the empty house with the empty fridge. The feeling of someone saying they love you and then leaving you alone in that. You can't ask for help. You have it better than most people. Be grateful. Be grateful..."
I was started to cry and I couldn't speak anymore. I was panicking and I couldn't stop.
I wanted to let go. Let the fear consume me and give up. To stop my breath right now.
But then I felt this nameless girl hug me as I cried on the floor.
"I'm sorry... I pushed too much, didn't I?" She said.
I nodded as I wrapped my arms around her in a desperate embrace. Forgetting how to hug another person, I was hungry for the warmth it brings and sought to become closer. She obliged and hugged me tighter.
We sat on the floor as I let everything out of me through tears.
And when I was finished and everything was silent, I laid on the floor with my head in her lap. Stroking my hair she leaned down and kissed me on the lips.
"I'm sorry." She uttered softly afterwards.
But I didn't mind. In fact, she had become my first love.