Konnor opened his eyes, city streets coming into focus around him. Everything else had been nonexistent as he drifted within himself.
Now the noise of the city deafened him. Cars, and people rushed by on their way to whatever place they thought they had to go. The hardness of the bench he sat on made him want to stand but he stayed still, the slight discomfort was a welcome distraction.
“You were lost again, weren’t you?” A voice to his left said softly. Konnor looked over to see Sarah sitting beside him on the bench. Her blonde hair rippled occasionally in the light autumn breeze, her cheeks were rosy from the chill. He had forgotten that she was with him.
“Yes.” He had given up explaining how he felt.
“Why do you do that to yourself?”
“My words go unheard, my actions go unnoticed. In the end all of my suffering was pointless. I can’t make a difference because people don’t want anything different, they want things to be the same as they always have been.”
Sarah looked like she was going to say something else, then turned back to watching the traffic. She had only ever known Konnor since he had lost hope, and she had remained longer than those that had known him before.
“You know you can’t go on like this. Eventually you’re going to get trapped in your own darkness again. And then what? It’s what you want but you’ve also told me before about how much you wanted to escape it last time you were there. Do you think you would survive it again?” She said so quietly that her words were almost lost in the noise of the city.
“Is simply surviving enough? Is that all we are here to do? I’ve tried to live to the fullest, I’ve tried to make a difference with my life, and live each moment for the greater good so that our species can continue to evolve. All it accomplished was making me feel alienated from everybody. If I get lost in the darkness again then so be it, if I don’t survive then the world can go on as it is. Comfortably numb in it’s stagnation.”
“No.” She let that one word crack like a whip, pausing for a moment before she spoke again, “The world will not go on as it is. It will go on without you. It’ll be missing one more real person, and you know it needs as many of those as it can get. You see the emptiness of our society, and you feel it more than anybody else, that’s why we need you. If you give up on us like you have given up on yourself then there truly is no hope.” Sarah said, her green eyes burned fiercely.
“You see the world’s pain too. We all cling desperately to what makes us feel okay. Even being broken. Our potential is squandered in routine, and suffering.” His words felt hollow.
“If that is all you think exists then that is what you will see. I know the world needs help, and that’s a heavy burden to carry. It doesn’t invalidate the parts of life that are still beautiful. That’s why we hold on to the hope that we can make things better.”
“How can I help the world when I can’t even help myself?” The question slipped out of him, a glimmer of something more that shifted within his being.
“You have to let someone in. A counselor, a friend, someone. I know that’s hard for you. I know you’re scared to let others see how broken you are but you can’t carry the weight of existence by yourself. You’re so trapped inside your own awareness because you’ve never given anybody a chance to share it.”
She grabbed Konnor’s hand, her skin soft against his, and stared into his eyes. She looked deeper into him than he had ever thought another person would ever be capable of.
Konnor wanted to turn away, to get up, to run. He knew if she saw the truth she would give up on him like everybody else had.
He couldn’t move though.
He couldn’t stop her.
Konnor saw it in the slight widening of her eyes as she realized how dead inside he was. He watched as the same sadness, and emptiness filled her. Tears leaked from the corner of her eyes but she didn’t look away.
She didn’t leave him.
His breath felt forced, and his muscles ached from the urge to turn away. He had let her feel his pain. It was bad enough that Konnor had done this to himself but now he had done it to the only person that actually cared about him.
He watched her struggle against giving into the darkness, eyes closed as she inhaled and exhaled heavily. They sat like this for a long time. Konnor thought he had broken her the same way he had broken himself. Then she opened her eyes, and with tears streaming down her face she smiled at him.
“Please let me help carry this with you,” she said finally.
Submitted by Elan Wayne Thunderfeet