Have you ever seen someone who looked completely dead inside?

Over the years, in life, I have had the experience of meeting many such people from different walks of life. The sex-workers from red-light districts from different countries I traveled to, patients who were terminally ill and had lost hope, friends and acquaintances who were going through terrible heart-break and cheating or had lost a child/spouse/parent/other loved one to death suddenly and so on.

But this answer is about the little girl who gave me my first such very intense experience by almost doing nothing.

Many years ago, when I was still a college student, I was a part of an organization that conducted charity events regularly and I used to volunteer there. We were once visiting an orphanage for HIV+ve children. These were mostly children who were born with it as their parents had had AIDS and they were simply abandoned at birth.

I knew we would be spending the day there helping around whichever way possible -cooking, babysitting, cleaning, teaching, donating money, whatever! We reached, had a little introductory talk from the person running the place. He introduced us to the children and his colleagues who work there and then the place was all back to routine.

I went and joined a group of children and started playing with them, while asking them things about their daily lives – How do they like it there? Who their favorite person was? What do they study? Do they like the food? Turned out, the care-takers were doing an awesome job.. The group had children of all ages, 3 to 15!

While chatting, I had noticed this very quiet little girl, of not more than 4 years of age. Something about her was very unsettling. She would simply not act like a child, even though she was one. Very quiet, considerate, no-tantrums, very caring towards other children…But very dead, on the inside. I kept looking into her eyes, I saw no person there. Dead.

I now put all my attention on her and tried to discreetly claw my way towards her without grabbing any attention. I asked her friends what her name was and then went and sat next to her, starting up a conversation. She was very polite and answered everything, but wouldn’t open up. One of the older girls told me she’s the most sick there (advanced stage of AIDS) and doctors haven’t given her much time to live. And that she has always been this quiet and never talks much.

I asked the child if I can hold her in my lap – she didn’t know how to react. To be nice to me, she sat in my lap for like a minute and then went back to sit on the floor. I asked her if she didn’t like me, to which she had an expression which said “I don’t want to hurt you, but please don’t come near me…for your own good!” That adult expression from a 4 year old completely stumped me!

The older girl told me that the child is aware of her disease and the stigma around it and she avoids humiliating situations. And that she currently has a big open wound on her foot (lower sole part) which is why it is better if I keep away from her.

This was crazy! I was very young (20 yrs), but an educated adult.. I knew there was stigma around even touching AIDS patients in India and an exposed wound was risky…But this whole situation was a bit difficult to digest! Nobody touched that child ever, because of this. She never got any loving hugs, nothing…

I just went to her, scooped her up in my arms and told her that we were going on a tour of the place and she was going to show me her favorite places and which room is for what! I could tell she loved being in my arms and I was determined to open up her rigid body language. I made her rest her head on my shoulders and hug me around my neck with her other hand – we were not going to play ‘touch me not’ anymore. Come what may.

Within only a few minutes, the very texture of her voice changed. Her body language started changing too. The child in her was slowly coming back.. It was as if some invisible source was pumping some life back into her. She started sounding like a child again. I saw her giggle at my lame Marathi jokes for the first time! I chatted her up so much that she was now speaking non-stop. It looked like we were competing on “who can blabla more”!

We then entered the main building where most of my group and the children and caretakers of that Home were. The adults fell silent seeing her perched on me like that…I could see slight visible concern on their faces. One of the caretakers was staring at her feet and a girl from my group let out a gasp when she saw the bloodied open wound.

I just continued my chattering to her and though her giggling was gone from all the seriousness in the room, there was still a lingering smile on her face. I kissed her cheeks and cracked the same joke again and she laughed. I made a few others join in too, in the buffoonery!

I then asked the guy (who had been staring at her wound) if I could bandage it. He said ‘we take care of the children like our own, the wound was open because she developed infections when it wasn’t left open’. I also saw some gratefulness and respect in his voice that I had dared to break the norm. They had visitors, but all their niceties were usually cosmetic, from a distance. Nobody really bothered so much. Not on this level. He tried to convey this as diplomatically as possible so as to not sound ungrateful towards whatever help they received from other visitors.

I spent the whole day with the girl held (literally) close to my heart. She didn’t want to let go of me either. She ate food from my hands (Indian food, chapati-sabzi-daal-rice, normally eaten with bare hands), sitting in my lap. She drew her pictures sitting in my lap. She took a nap, also in my lap. We put her ointment on the wound together. She sang her songs and told me stories their warden told them!

I learnt simply how very powerful and life-giving a human touch can be.

19 Replies to “Have you ever seen someone who looked completely dead inside?”

  1. Yes. My friend’s mom.

    I recently started hanging out with a new friend. My friend has a beautiful soul but she is damaged. She confided in me some of the ordeals that she had been through largely due to her dad. She is to date fighting depression and anxiety attacks. Interacting with her always made me feel helpless and upset since I could never undo the damage that's been done. The damage to a neglected child is profound and deep. A neglected child often has to work really hard on themselves to become good parents. I could see my friend struggled to nurtur her kids too.

    One day I went to her house to meet her parents who were visiting. One look at her mom and I realized my friend still has hope because her mom clearly didn't. Her mom was like a zombie; a robot going through the motions, everything dead inside her, just a veneer. I enjoy talking to people and I'm good at drawing people out during conversations. But with my friend’s mom I didn't even know where to start. On the other hand, my friend’s dad had an overbearing personality and seemed to dominate the conversation.

    One day, a long time ago, her mom woke up, decided she had enough and gave up on life. Whatever she had been through, it sucked everything out of her. She is still living, breathing, eating but there is no life there – just bare existence. Maybe if she had gotten help or found someone to help or fought for her rights, things would've turned out better. But life is messy and not a fairy tale and everyone makes choices based on their own circumnstances. There is a lot of collateral damage when something like this happens. Unfortunately my friend is part of that damage. I just hope the damage stops with her and doesn't spill onto the next generation.

  2. I was 16 when I she brushed by me in the hallways of my previous high school.

    Her eyes were sunken into her skull, deeper than any ship wreck. Her hair was loosely kept, jacket hanging off of her shoulders, shoe laces still untied and her face was a low as could go.

    She didn’t exactly walk, she shuffled across the tiled floor of this hallway. This empty, abandoned hallway, the walls cluttered with motivational posters. As we started to demolish the distance between us, everything became louder. I could hear everything she was feeling.

    Her arms being dragged by her sides, her legs being forced to carry such a heavy burden, her head was exhausted from being held up for so long.

    Her body was finished.

    She has been beaten to the ground and life has kicked all hope from her body. All that remained was a corpse of person. A body of a young girl who is moving out of pure uncertainty.

    As she came closer, my eyes widen. My heart furiously pumping. I wanted to grab her, I desired to hold her tight and let her know she wasn’t alone. I wished for her to understand that life can tear you apart, but she is still standing and we will be just fine! I should’ve told her that everything will be okay and one day she’ll have a family and a nice home, there will be a dog in her yard, a picket fence and the clouds will sometimes be overcast, but for fucks sake there is a sun rising up afterwards! Life might try to kill you, but GOD DAMMIT if you fight, than he can’t take you! I needed to pull her back and her hug her, because , man, I needed a hug too.

    I saw her and I saw myself. Depression has taken a hold of her and choked out all of what is left of what she was. Depression left her body absent.

    Absent of peace.

    Absent of mind.

    Absent of soul.

    She was empty. The whole human anatomy, lifeless.

    You see the funny thing about depression is you can’t see it unless you know what you’re looking for. You don’t know what you’re looking for unless you’ve been through it.

    She and I shared something that day, we shared a singular thought, a notion. We both saw the emptiness in each other. We were both dead walking. I saw that she needed help, but I wasn’t there. I couldn’t be there, I was trying to hold my own self afloat.

    Its unbelievable how a body so empty could weigh so much.

  3. I’m not sure if this counts, but I saw my reflection look like that once.

    Picture the scene: It’s sometime in the spring of 2016, I’m living in a house-turned-into-a-shelter with a bunch of others, I’m still pretty early on in my gender transition, and I’m in the depths of my depression.

    I hadn’t done any form of self-care for days, preferring instead to sleep away 21 hours of the day in a blanket pile in front of the fireplace for almost a week in a row, and had barely eaten. I would have kept doing this same thing for who knows how long if the overnight staff hadn’t got worried and finally kicked me out of my nest and made me go do stuff.

    Resentfully, I went downstairs with my shower kit. I didn’t actually intend to wash myself but to sit in the hot water for a few hours (the water heater was good enough it could produce hot water as quickly as it was used). I went into the bathroom, closed the door, and went to open the shower curtain. But as I finished undressing, the reflection in the mirror caught my eye. I paused, then turned to the mirror.

    Icy shivers crawled down my spine as another person looked back at me. Logically it had to be me that was looking back, but I didn’t recognize that person at all. There was no way it could be me. There was just something… foreign about it.

    Gazing back at me was a man who looked like something out of a horror movie. He had a itchy-looking beard where all the hairs were spaced a little ways apart but were fairly long, looking somewhat like a hairy leg. Acne dotted his drawn, flushed face, contrasting heavily with the rest of his pale body. His scraggly brown hair was an oily mess, and he had a halo of fuzz around his head. Marks from laying on folds of blankets and clothing covered his upper arms, and a distasteful amount of body hair protruded from his stomach.

    But what really hit stopped me cold was his eyes. His sunken brown eyes were completely dead and soulless. They spoke of a yawning void within where a soul used to dwell but had been torn out and murdered, leaving nothing behind but fragments. Their unseeing gaze cut right through me, chilling me to the bone.

    I couldn’t look away. Those empty eyes had me transfixed, and I stared at the mirror in a silent horror, trying desperately to break free. As my breathing accelerated, I thought of the horrors that could reduce a person down to that… that… abomination, but my brain refused to work. By this point, I was feeling afraid.

    The sound of my phone buzzing broke me free of my trance, and I quickly grabbed it and dashed into the shower, huddling up in a ball underneath the water.

    I spent a good four and a half hours in the shower, the whole time trying to comprehend what I had just seen. I couldn’t understand it. I did know that I didn’t want another look, and avoided the mirror when I got out of the shower. It took me the rest of the night to fully process that that nightmare image I had seen in the mirror was none other than me.

    I didn’t sleep well at all that day.

  4. I worked as the Infectious Diseases Nurse for the State Dept of Corrections. I also was a wound nurse specialist. My main job was tracking and controlling infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB, STD's for the whole prison population throughout the state facilities. Also inmates hurt themselves intentionally to get off work detail in numerous ways. As in swallowing razor blades, light bulbs, etc. Occasionally one would do real harm by cutting themselves intentionally. Had an inmate on death row that severed his Achilles Tendon in both ankles. I had to access his wounds for treatment. There was a complete lockdown of the unit for me to come to the facility. He was brought in to the infirmary accompanied by 6 guards and there were also 2 male nurses in attendance. He laid on the exam table face down as I checked to see the damage he had done to himself. As I flexed his feet I asked him about any pain or discomfort. He slowly turned his head to me to answer. As our eyes met. There was nothing in his eyes. Completely void of anything. Not like dead eyes which are lifeless and empty. I'm talking about an abyss of darkness and that went on forever as if being able to peer into the depths of hell and the demons it holds. A person lifeless because the soul was gone already and not to a better place. Void of the capacity for love,caring, kindness, empathy and on and on. The tiny hairs on my arms stood up and my heart was jolted by his eyes. He answered and the guards ordered him to put his face back down. He was the only one out of the many that I treated that had the Dead Look. It is engrained in my mind forever. Worse than a horror movie.

  5. She was the oldest of nine or ten children.

    She got married when she was seventeen.

    The last time I’d seen Leah*, she was a ball of dynamite, a bubbly teenager with a perpetual laugh curling up her lips and crinkling her eyes.

    We first met in camp – she was singing Yankee Doodle at the top of her lungs while perched precariously on top of the bus seat. We drifted in and out of each other’s social circles for years.

    Then she got married. And pregnant. And here she was in the ice cream store, pushing a baby carriage.

    She was tired. Very tired. A snood covered the bouncy red hair she was no longer permitted to show.

    Her face was pale, drawn tightly with tired, wooden lines. There was no trace of that perpetual laugh, and her eyes were no longer twinkling and smirking.

    They were shut down. Devoid of life. Devoid of her.

    She looked up and saw me, and told me hi in a flat, expressionless voice. Not a hint of an expression passed through her face as she stood in that line with slumped shoulders. She handed her child a bottle robotically, and listlessly ordered an ice cream.

    Later, a mutual friend told me that Leah had called her up when she found out she was pregnant. Crying, sobbing. Telling her that she had always been a mother, and never a child, and she couldn’t take care of yet another person. That she was done, depleted, that she had nothing left to give to herself, let alone a child.

    I haven’t seen Leah since then, but I think of her every now and then. And hope she got the space she never had to nurture herself and become alive again.

  6. This was many years ago ago, but I still remember everything as clearly as if it had been yesterday.

    In 9th grade, a new girl joined our class. She looked similar to a classmate who had left for another school the previous year, even had the same name, but she was quite different in every aspect. I don't know if “weird” really describes it.

    For the first half year or so she didn't really have any friends in the class, or even really talked to anyone. She seemed to have problems with socializing. We did sometimes talk to her though, asked her why she switched to our boarding school, to which she replied something like “Well, at home I never really left my room… for like, years, and also didn't do shit for so school. It was quite boring so here I am… still in my room, but doing at least some shit for school.” And she did indeed spend quite a lot of time in her room. However it turns out, she didn't really study for school, but was learning Japanese instead, (sometimes even in school during lessons), or just playing games all day. The teachers and virtually everyone was kind of concerned about what was going on with her.

    It was only in I think 10th grade that she really started talking to people. Up until that point, word was that she had disclosed to another girl in the boarding school that she suffers from depression, but that was about everything I knew, or thought I knew, about her.

    As the year passed, she started telling us more things when we got talking.

    First, she revealed that she had had a date. A few weeks later, she admitted to another classmate she had lost her virginity to him, but that she and the guy were in an open relationship and that she let him still meet other girls. We often mocked her about the open relationship, but we were happy for her as long as she was happy, and she just laughed it off and told us we're stupid.

    However, from there things went downhill really fast.

    When we inquired about how things were going with her guy the following weeks, usually the answer would be “Yeah, met him the weekend, and you know what else”, the usual stuff. But more and more often, it would be something along the lines “Well, I did meet someone… not him, someone else. He knows though.” This came as quite a surprise, as previously she hadn't been involved with boys a lot – but not unusual for girls our age, so we weren't too worried yet. We figured she just wanted to enjoy the perks of living in a new big city with lots of new people.

    Within the next few weeks, she was sick quite often, and was absent from school for weeks on end.

    At some point, a girl from the boarding school discretely informed us that she had been caught with a bottle of strong alcohol in her room. Although in most cases this would have been a valid reason to expell her from the school, the head teacher decided to just punish her some other way and still let her attend.

    However, as it turned out, expulsion would have been unnecessary, because after 10th grade, she decided to just quit.

    When she was in class the last few weeks before the end of the school year, she was very different than before she was sick.

    The dark circles under her eyes had become even darker, her small wrists even thinner. A teacher once asked her outside of class why she was always in her room, and she just started sobbing. When I got a glimpse of her face, she usually just looked pale and incredibly tired. Whenever anyone tried to talk to her, she started nervously scratching her arms while answering, and although she had really short nails, they were covered in red streaks.

    All contact between her and the class broke off completely after she left, and noone has seen her since. She didn't even show up at the class reunion just a month ago. A few classmates had decided to hit her up on facebook and to see if they could find any friends of hers. Apparently they only got vague information about her fate though. Some say she is still addicted to alcohol and lives alone, some say she's in jail, others say she lives with a sugar daddy now.

    I don't really believe any of them, but I hope something better became of her.

  7. As a matter of fact, I have.

    About 2 weeks ago, I saw a man, just a couple feet away from me. His hair was messy and unkempt. His beard was a few days old, rough, but not significant. I looked at him, and he looked back at me, expressionless. His icy blue eyes seemed to bore into my soul, thinking of a thousand different ways I could die, and what it would be like. Where there had once been light, a feeling of excitement and joy for being alive, there was now nothing. A great empty darkness that seemed to have no end.

    I tried smiling, since I've heard that that usually helps. I tried to give my warmest, friendliest smile. He smiled back, but it was absolutely terrifying. Now he looked like he wanted to murder me and he was gleeful about it.

    I wanted to strangle him, but I couldn't. I wanted to hug him, but even if I could, I doubt he would accept. I wanted to cry, but no tears would come out. I could see his pain, his suffering, the madness within, all the bad thoughts and feelings that were controlling and destroying him. He wanted help, but he didn't know how to get it, or where to turn. He was all alone in the world, except for me.

    I was staring into the mirror.

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    I used to be scared that I would look into the mirror, and there would be a monster there beside me, kind of like a crappy horror movie. The monster finally came, but he wasn't standing next to me. I was the monster, and he was me.

    I don't know if counselling or therapy is gonna cut it for this one.

  8. Yes. A cat lady at my apartment. This was in 2010 I think.

    A week before she was found dead in the bathroom in her house, I saw her sitting in the dark, on one of the chairs at the garden area of the apartment.

    I was walking home using my usual route when I glanced at this 50-something lady and for once, I thought it was a ghost. She was fat but her posture was slump, face looking down, long, curly black hair, and clad in black dress. Her face was gloomy as if she had supressed all the loneliness in her chest.

    Then I realised after a few seconds that it was her. Everybody knew her but not personally. Residents would see her feeding street cats every evening.

    Days went by, and nobody hardly realised that she was not around feeding the cats. Until a neighbour smelled something rotten came from the 15th floor.

    Police came, pried the door but couldn’t enter the house as the living hall was piling up with rubbish – all kind of recyclable rubbish such as cans, bottles, newspapers, rubber items. Her living hall was a mountain of rubbish.

    I was there when they tried to enter the house. They managed to break the door and once I saw the living hall, I could sense the atmosphere inside the house just as gloomy as her face.

    I imagined how she survived living in there, how she maneuvred herself to get to the other areas of the house.

    There were five cats in the cage – all dead. Another two cats sprawled on the floor, also dead.

    She laid on the bathroom floor, her body was already bloated. There was a wound on her forehead and blood on the sink. She must have slipped and her head hit the sink.

    I could only watch the body for about five seconds before turning my face away.

    Then, the residents somehow learned about her routine. She would return from work (she’s a part time teacher at a kindergarten), went to the disposal area in every apartment block, collected recyclable items, and fed the cats.

    Judging from the piled up rubbish in her house, it’s obvious that she wasn’t going to cash in on the items, but rather it was an act of obsession for whatever reason.

    For several months, I would pass by that chair she sat that night and didn’t dare to look at it. My stupid imagination would tell me that, “hey look, someone is sitting there. It’s the cat lady. Say hi!”

    There’s a lot to this story such as the cashier who claimed that the ghost of the lady came knocking on her door, my mum who actually smelled something days before the body was found, and how my friend who lived just next door (!) from the lady’s unit begged us to sleep with him.

    But I want my upvotes first!

  9. I have never seen someone who looked as dead inside as Andy.

    I’ll mention that I live in a house for the mentally ill. Most of the people who live in this house have schizophrenia, Andy included.

    Andy was known in the house as someone who was more or less psychotic constantly, which I imagine must be horrible. He was not just psychotic, but also violent. I heard through the grapevine in the house that Andy had taken a lot of drugs in his life. I’ll say that it showed, it really did.

    Andy had picked a particular bullying victim in the house, a girl named Eva. He was absolutely terrible towards her, bullied her, threatened her with violence, rang day and night on the doorbell to her apartment and made his buddies turn on her as well. Andy once cornered her in the elevator and said “I want to assfuck you,” with those empty eyes of his. I dubbed them “the dead fish eyes.”

    I think his brain had gotten so messed up over the years that he now constantly had that look on his face. He was friendly towards me and every time I talked with him I felt weird because he was talking to me, then looking at me and not looking at me at the same time. He looked completely dead on the inside. He was also unusually silent and sullen all the time which added to the dead fish eyes look. I never saw him angry, only dishing out bitchy remarks about the staff and other people living in the house.

    We luckily have a way quieter house now that he doesn’t live here anymore.

  10. My cousin sister.

    She is suffering from Vitiligo (vit-ill-EYE-go) is a disorder in which white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. This happens because the cells that make pigment (color) in the skin are destroyed. These cells are called melanocytes (ma-LAN-o-sites)

    She doesn't smiles much, she teaches in a school and she hardly talks and I can see right through her. She looks sad and dead, like there's no light in her eyes.

    Everyone treats her as a untouchable, it was funeral of my dadi (who passed away last year) she came just to meet me, because I was the only one who didn't see anything wrong with her. I used to hug her, eat in her plate, from her hands.

    MY aunt assigned me work of making rotis, she happily offered help as she wanted to make them. The one which she made were thrown away and she assigned someone else to do it.

    It was really heart breaking, I was with her all day, my aunt grabbed me and took me aside with other ladies and started lecturing about how I am a dumb fuck to move around her, I could catch it too.

    I said, it isn't contagious. They started arguing and giving unreasonable reasons that why I shouldn't be around her.

    She heard them. She was just starting to smile a bit but then again these ladies didn't want her to be happy.

    She left the next day, I went to her house and hugged her tight. Because no matter what, I love her for what she's and she deserves to be treated as a normal human being.

  11. I used to go to strip clubs a lot. (Sue me)

    I had a friend who started working there and so I would go to see her. I met several interesting people during that time.

    Skyler didn't lack character. Abrasive and proud of it, witty, snarky, and always in need of an attitude adjustment, she was so much fun to interact with.

    I was 21, and she was 30. A fact she would never let me forget. And how could she? She spent night after night talking to this little kid (me).

    Skyler had a daughter. She had this daughter when she was very young, 15 maybe. Absent father. I had seen her at her lower points sometimes, and I had seen her when things were going well, and she always seemed to play things pretty close to the chest. She never showed emotion that was overwhelming for her. She would just say yeah things are going well, or things suck right now but they'll turn around.

    One night I saw her and she almost couldn't speak.

    Her best friend had been murdered in her own house, and the state took her daughter away because they deemed that environment unacceptable to raise a child in. They were investigating Skyler to say how she may or may not have been involved.

    In one day, she lost her best friend and her daughter. Then she had to go into a strip club and act all sexy for these guys so she could make money to send to her daughter.

    Imagine what that would be like. The hell that would be to live through.

    She sat on my lap and there was nothing in her eyes.

    No light. No heart. No soul.

    Just.. Concession.

    To fate. To hell. To whatever is worse than those. I don't know.

    I held her and it was almost like she was begging her eyes to shed tears. They just couldn't tho. They were empty reservoirs of black void.

    I held her until she had the strength to leave. She left and I prayed for her.

    I never saw her again.

  12. Yeah!

    When I used to look into the mirror a while back…

    What I felt:

    • I felt like running away.
    • I felt like I couldn’t do anything. That I was not in control of anything happening around.
    • The world became colorless. There was a grey tone to everything.
    • Even in groups, I would be sitting there but not actually be there…
    • I would be fake laughing (which I have mastered) without knowing what is the point or why are they laughing?
    • There was a sickness I couldn’t get rid of.
    • I felt like I was going through an emotional drought.
    • There was an emptiness inside of me.

    But…

    … some way in the middle of last year I told myself that enough was enough!

    • I took charge of the situation with the help of some ‘dear’ friends.
    • I started doing stuff.
    • I started meditating.
    • I started reading.
    • I started laughing and sometimes crying.
    • I slept more. Traveled a little.

    And here I am…

    Still Surviving.

    Oh! It felt so good.

    Just venting out the feelings for the world.

  13. My aunt, after she married.

    She is a timid, quiet woman and always at home after work. She was so pretty and has cheerful personality when she was with her family. However, when my mother got married at about middle 30 something, she didn’t have any boyfriend or a man she’s interested. The family is getting worried, then they introduced her with a widowed man with 2 children. She did not have choice, the family pressured her and she did not have anyone else of her choice for husband, so she married him. She abandoned her job, her family and her big city to live with a man, step children, and living in a small village.

    Her husband turns out to be a heavy smoker, alcoholic, addicted to gamble and mentally abused her (him physically abusing her and having affairs are so far just rumors). She also gave birth to a son who has mental illness. She loves him dearly though.

    When I met her, she is the opposite image of her old self, she lost a lot of weight, I often caught her staring at the distance into the nothingness. Its baffles me, isn’t marriage suppose to be your happily ever after? Shouldn’t it change you to the better? The best chapter of your life? Well in her case, it didn’t.

    She didn’t look “completely dead inside” but she has lost that sparks in her eyes, I’m afraid she is going towards it. If I were in her position of course I will opt for divorce but its different.

    She lives in a village. Remember when she was happier and prettier she is still single? She lost her confidence, she left her job a couple of years ago and her skills has gone, but she still needs to feed her children, not to mention the judgement from the family or the people. I feel sad whenever I saw her, but I don’t want her to think I pity her so I fake smile at her and I knew she did too, faking smiles to everyone else.

  14. “Black eyes”. That’s what I thought when I saw him for the first time.

    I didn’t know what it was : boredom, hatred, extreme anger, sadness or envy.

    We chatted, for several hours. This youngster seemed to regain some joy, happiness and interest – he was challenged, seemed to be rejoicing, joking and drinking some fancy cocktails. It’s like our companionship gave him fuel for life.

    While we departed, his eyes reversed to their normal state.

    Neutral, absent. Bored.

    As he was closing the door, I looked at him for the last time, and our eyes met.

    Mine were shining with gratitude and joy. His were black, with the tiniest look of sheer sadness inside.

    I understood. No matter what – he was already broken.

  15. A few days ago, I was just walking down the corridor at school, as you do. I’d been having a terrible week. I was having problems with my friends and I’d fallen into a spiral of never being able to motivate myself to do anything. For the whole week, I’d been completely numb.

    I was just walking down the corridor when I saw a girl walking in the opposite direction as me. Her hair was untied and it was falling in front of her face, her uniform was crumpled and unironed, and she wasn’t wearing the regulation school shoes. She was also walking with her friends, and they were laughing and chattering. But not her. Her face was absolutely expressionless.

    She didn’t look sad, or angry, or frustrated. She was just completely expressionless, and her eyes were glazed over, as if she wasn’t seeing the things in front of her. She didn’t walk hunched over as if she didn’t want to be seen, and she didn’t walk confidently as if she wanted to. She just walked normally, as if she just didn’t care about anything at all. Although I only saw her for around 5 seconds, there was something off about her movements. She walked normally, but it just didn’t feel right.

    The first thing that came to mind when I saw her was this girl is just like me.

    I never saw her again, strangely enough. Maybe I did but I didn’t recognize her, or maybe she left the school, but either way I have no recollection of seeing her again. I hope that she was able to overcome whatever problem she was facing, and that she’s okay now.

  16. One day I arrived in the morning and realized people were acting weird, and suddenly a girl I know started to run away from me, crying. I followed and when I could grab her, the answer was: “You didn't hear?”

    “Hear what?”

    “It's all on the news. A guy invaded Chris's house with a knife and tried to kill everyone. Isa is dead, her father was taken to the hospital and we don't know if anyone else is alive.”

    Chris was my dear friend. I have known her and her little sister since we were kids. Her family adopted an autistic child some years ago, and they loved him dearly.

    I cried. I panicked. I called my former boss who lived close to her family and begged for her to go there and find out what happened. Our friends started to find out, everybody was going into shock. Then, someone discovered Chris was alive at an aunt's house, we got a car to get to her. When we got there, she had just found out her sister didn't survive the attack and had died in her father's arms.

    When I looked at her at that time, I realized a part of her had just died. She wailed and wailed while some older woman tried to calm her, since she was screaming begging to die, for the Lord to take her from this world. She couldn't even stand, so I just held her while she screamed until there was no more strength in her throat.

    You see, her sister was the first in a surprise attack in the street, at 8:50 a.m. and everyone in the family saw it happening in front of their eyes. The father tried to stop the assassin and save his middle daughter, and got injured. The attacker tried to murder everyone else, but didn't succeed.

    Two days later we tried to move everything from their house to an aunt's, and she didn't allow anyone to touch her sister's things. Every time she tried to get clothes, or a piece of paper with her sister's handwriting, she would scream again and again, a true wail full of hurt and loneliness. I had some nightmares where I would just hear her screams, for many months after.

    Life moves on. Today there is still grieving, but at least they are living, and there are some smiles here and there. The thing I ask the most is for Justice to be done.

  17. Well this isn’t someone else, but this is me. Something embarrassing that happened in front of these girls I had a crush on. So let’s back in time 4 or 3 years ago.

    Back in 6th grade we did this presentation for class. It was something we had to do over 3 weeks. So I told my parents about it the day we got the assignment. Unfortunately I had to wait till last minute to even start doing my project. So we went to Target to pick up my project a lot of other kids did their’s homemade or by a kit. So I picked up a kit, and I was really nervous when I got it. So we went home and I started working on it. The only thing I forgot to mention about it was it was a girl kit. So already feeling ashamed I just started working on it. All the colors looked way to girly for me, and I realized I fucked up. I was hoping in my mind that we wouldn’t have to present our projects and we just put them in the library, but unfortunately I got unlucky.

    So Presentation comes on Thursday January 10th, 2013. I looked at how good everyone else’s project was and I told my friends that my project sucks. They tried cheering me up, but it didn’t work. My last name starts with an “A” and we go from alphabetical order by last name so I was second to present after this girl that I thought was cute presented. So I went up and I was sweating so much cause I also had this crush on this other girl too so I was really paranoid. So I started presenting and the teacher said “Tony where’s the labeling for your project ?’’ man I remember getting so nervous and embarrassed, when he said that. So I kept presenting and you could tell how nervous I was and how I fucked up. So not only was my project made out of a girl kit, but to make matters worse it was a bad project and presentation. So after I got done talking I grabbed one of the papers, and the teacher said for me to show my project(it was also smaller than everyone else’s) and I showed it, and then when the teacher asked for someone to say something good about my project a few hands went up. I don’t know if one of my crush’s raised their hands, but he called on this popular kid and he said “I like how it’s homemade.” So I went to my seat and man was I sad. For the rest of class I looked really sad. 2 kids were asking if I was OK, and I just ignored em’.

    Then the teacher asked quietly “Tony are you crying ?” and at that moment everyone in that classroom turned their eyes towards me including the girls I liked. Man I’ll always remember that happening. I slowly turned my head and looked and then everyone just kept presenting. But I looked really sad though. The teacher just tried making my project better, after everyone was done presenting and then after class we went out for recess. Two of my friends said “Tony that was a good project.” So I just sat at the bench till recess was over and at lunch a kid asked me what was wrong. I told him and he tried cheering me up. Then this other kid asked what was wrong and I told him he said. “Well you’ll probably get an A.” Then I said “No I’ll probably get an F.” He started laughing, so I didn’t take him seriously anymore. We had a math test and I kept hitting myself with my notebook. After that we had homeroom, and we put our projects in the library. I was walking back still looking sad and then the kid who complimented me earlier asked if I was OK and I said no. He asked me what was wrong and I almost got to tell him, but the teacher interrupted and asked if I was OK and I said no since I didn’t feel comfortable saying it to the teacher, so I just went inside the classroom and I was just sitting rolled up in a ball with my head down. It looked like I was crying, but I was just sad. So a kid asked me what was wrong and I explained to him and he said that I’d probably get an A, and if I get a C I could tell him. So then a few minutes later one of my crushes walked in to return a book and I looked at her for less than a second and then put my head back down. When I got home I started crying, my parents never found out about any of this, but man that was embarrassing.

    A week or so later I got a B+ on my project. But the lesson from this is do the best you can on something, cause you never know if you’ll present it. There’s no denying that was embarrassing especially in front on my 2 crushes, but I could tell everyone kind of felt bad for me. But to this day that is the worst day of my life.

    Sorry for making it long, and for cussing.

  18. I wrote this from outside English class. I got kicked out of class for the second time ever.

    The sub, Mr. Gage, was giving my friend Angie a hard time about being late. He berated her for a solid minute.

    “Why aren’t you on time?” he asked

    “No reason,” said Angie.

    “Everyone else was here when class started. Why weren’t you?”

    “No reason,” said Angie again, face blank. She looked totally dead inside. It’s a look I’ve seen on homeless people, and my grandpa when he’s having an Alzheimer’s episode. Its a look no sixteen year old should have. It’s a look I never want to see again.

    I feel compelled to mention at this point that Angie’s single mom is dying. Angie essentially lives at the hospital. Some of us have taken turns staying with her.

    It’s the most depressing thing I’ve ever done.

    For what are hopefully obvious reasons, she’s not always at school on time.

    “Mr. Gage, may I speak with you outside?” I asked.

    “Sit down,” he said.

    “No,” I replied.

    Then he sent me out of the classroom.

    How the fucking hell did this man become a teacher? There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be late. Including the impending death of one’s only family who had cared for you alone since birth.

    Is there any good left in this fucking world?

  19. In the early 90’s, Washington DC was in the grip of the worst of the crack crisis. In my neighborhood, it sometimes seemed like there were zombies about. There happened to be a crack-house in the alley behind our business.

    One woman in particular used to linger on the street right there (others generally would go do what they did and then come to our alley to score a hit), so I’d see her for hour after hour, for months.

    This lady, probably in her mid-thirties, stood there, with a blank, vacant look in her eyes, and every time someone walked by, she’d reflexively say: “’Scuse me; you got some change?” Eventually she’d end up in our store, empty out a big dirty pocket full of dirty coin change, exchange it for paper money, disappear into the alley, and then eventually show up in front again, standing like a zombie.

    What struck me, though, was that her world had been reduced to that small theatre: A movement in your field of vision spells potential change, which becomes money, which facilitates your next fix. Period. And so, in the place of thoughts and responses and human interactions, any human being that triggered her sense that someone animate is near, prompted the “’Scuse me, got any change?” impulse. Nothing more; humans were literally nothing more, in that constrained ‘consciousness’ than the button a guinea-pig learns to press in a lab experiment to release a food-pellet. Other than that, people, or anything else, were of no use.

    The troubling thing to me, though, is that she was really a stark exemplar of what a lot of our world really has been reduced to, once you strip away the refinements: Much of what transpires between people in business and interpersonal exchanges is really just a glorified version of this bleak transactionality. Too much of our interactions are really little more than: “Someone alive is near. I sense a human; a potential ‘mark’, a potential buyer, a potential consumer. A potential opportunity to benefit from”, only in the place of a crack-rock, we sense potential profit, a sale, or a chance to score.

    In the place of a divine encounter, or an opportunity to experience another soul, too often the meeting of another human triggers the “Here comes a mark” reflex. In the sacred world, the Most High intended our thought to always be “What can I do for you?”, whereas in a crass, self-interested low-life, the primary impulse upon encountering someone, especially in the realm of business, is always “What can you do for me?” In other words, how can I parlay this encounter to benefit me best? At its very heart, most of our world in this low age, is really non-different than that abject crack-head in DC: “I sense movement. An animate soul is near; an opportunity to profit from them.”

    Yeah, I’ve seen thousands upon thousands ‘completely dead inside’.

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