Written by junior English/Philosophy major Sam Marlinga, “A Day in the Life” is a brief but powerful impressionistic portrait of depression. As the speaker goes about his “pale,” nightmarish existence, he develops a troubling relationship with a nevertheless alluring woman – a clever personification that he’s not quite ready to embrace. Read more below.
A Day in the Life
I met her when the world ended. Sure, the bombs hadn’t dropped and everyone just went about their lives in the morning, but as far as I was concerned, it was all over. The infinite and miniscule choices we make ultimately determine the end of our lives. That is where I met her. We’d seen each other before, briefly, and only from a distance. Now we were face to face, and my god she was enchanting with her quiet, knowing smile and grey eyes piercing with finality.
I didn’t go with her then, though part of me wanted to, we just talked for a while. She was the patient type, elegant and kind. Then she left, without a word of when she’d return, but I knew she’d be back. So I kept moving. Life was normal. Just like it was for everyone else. But every once in a while we’d talk to each other, like sending love letters during a war. She came to say hi when my friend left us. I remember sitting with her in silence for a long time, just looking into those grey eyes.
It’s impossible to dream when your whole life is a nightmare. Most people’s nightmares are pitch black and frightening. Mine are pale and look like every other day of my life. Today is no different. I wake up, attempt to drown myself in the shower, and when that doesn’t work I dry myself off and get ready for the day. I try not to puke when my stomach turns from me forcing it to work so early in the morning and I get a text from her, asking if I’m feeling well enough to exist today. Of course I’m not. But I do anyway.
Monotony and minutiae and plastic conversation are what my life has become, but I try not to care. After all, everyone else does the same thing, don’t they? The air is dry and stagnant and white. The low hum of the air conditioning that isn’t quite cold enough barely masks the deafening silence. She writes to me again. Is all of this worth it she asks? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I’ll leave it behind.
I don’t enjoy speaking with her. In fact, most of the time it isn’t even pleasant. But it feels meaningful, and I’m drawn to her. So I do it anyway. The day drags and I remain still, just like time. When the sun finally sets, an eternity has passed but nothing has changed. She talks to me on the train. What if we were to derail? Wouldn’t it be so beautiful? I get off at my stop and leave her.
We talk again when I lie awake as I so often do. I think about the grey of her eyes and wonder. Should I call her and invite her over? No, I’m not ready to leave with her. Not yet.