Robin sat in a chair, its uncomfortable plastic shape becoming familiar at this stage; it was his third time here. He felt considerably better than he did the first two times, perhaps due to the medication, perhaps due to him actually doing something, other than decaying at home, lost in thought, worry and paranoia.
Dr. Silman sat across from him, scribbling, as he had been all the times Robin had saw him, and, as always, the window behind the good doctor was wide open. The sounds of traffic from the bypass on the other side of the horse-filled field behind the clinic drifted through, the effect was calming.
‘Well,’ began the doctor, and at the exact same time Robins phone buzzed in his pocket, on silent mode, a text message, his hand twitched, the rest of the doctors words were lost to Robin, he wanted to look at the message, he knew who it was from.
Robin stared right into the doctors eyes, but he was not looking there, his thought were miles away, in the city. Dr. Silman’s words were background noise, though the words ‘breathing space,’ and ‘fluoxetine’ registered. He thought of the rest of the day, and suddenly he was seized by an urgent need to leave.
Robin blinked. The drone of traffic returned to the room, although he knew it had never left.
‘The medication, is it having any effect?’ the doctor said, clearly repeating himself.
‘Yes,’ Robin replied, truthfully, the medication had started having a noticeable effect in the last week, it had been surreal, ‘I can continue on it, can’t I?’
‘I think that would be for the best,’ said Dr. Silman, beginning to scribble again, this time a prescription, which he handed to Robin
‘Thank you,’ Robin replied, relieved, standing to leave. He needed to leave, already his hand was wrapped around his phone in his pocket.
‘Oh and Robin,’ began the doctor, Robin halted, “I’ll see you again, in a months time, just to check up on things”, and with a warm smile, Dr. Silman continued to scribble.
As soon as the door shut behind him Robin had his phone out, the message icon on the screen informed him it was indeed, from Jacky, just like he though, he opened the message.
“I miss you babe xx”
Robin felt lighter, a feeling like relief, Jacky’s texts always had the same effect.
He typed a reply “miss you too, I’ll see you soon xxx”
The sense of urgency became more pronounced, it was a need, although his anxiety was dulled by the message, he held the prescription tight in his fist as he hurried past the lines of dull faces in the waiting room.
On the steps outside the clinic he found his mother, smoking, as usual, how ironic she should smoke outside a health clinic, Robin thought, not that smoking bothered him, he was used to it, besides, it calmed people, especially his mother. At least for a while.
‘Ready?’ she asked, as she turned on her heel, dropped her cigarette butt, and headed back towards the car, she hated this.
They sat in his mothers two door coupe, waiting. Robin looked out of the passenger side window, fully aware of her stare, burning into the back of his neck.
‘You’re not going to tell me what it is are you?’ she asked, the same question she asked the last two times they had been to the clinic.
‘Its to do with me, it’s personal’ Robin replied monotonously, bracing himself mentally.
‘And I’m your fucking mother, Robin, I don’t understand why you can’t tell me, I don’t know how you can expect me to watch you take those fucking anti depressant happy pills every morning, and not know why,’ she shouted, almost pleadingly, it made the car unbearable. She was different this time, it wasn’t anger, it was desperation.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Robin, just as tonelessly. His mother lit another cigarette, briskly turning the key, firing up the car and speeding out of the lot, muttering.
The truth was he didn’t even know himself, sometimes he felt so utterly desolate, underneath everything was a constant sadness, every sad thing in the papers, in the news, on the radio, had a profound effect. It was suffocating, he couldn’t explain, who would take him seriously? Dr. Silman had put it down to depression, he didn’t understand, he had asked barely three questions and prescribed pills, and easy solution, although they did help, even if only a little, that much was undeniable. Robin was another member of a depressed nation, lost in a sea of pill-happy nobodies, Dr. Silman probably treated ten more like him.
The drive through their tiny town took less than five minutes. Robin barely breathed until he could leave the car. He entered his house, greeted by the dull thumping of his brothers tasteless music, emanating from his room, lair, Robin thought.
He was halfway up the stairs and he heard his mother slam the front door as she walked in, she continued straight to the kitchen, no doubt for another cigarette and gossiping phone conversation with another member of the nosy brigade.
Shutting his door behind him, turning on his own music, Robin felt relief, almost detachment, heavy guitar riffs drowned out everything.
Robin upended his over-the-shoulder schoolbag onto the floor, he held no sentimentality for anything that fell out. He began to pack for the city. He ticked off an imaginary checklist in his mind; train ticket, keys, phone, money, clothes, he had everything.
He sat for a while, a rare moment, when his mind was clear, when he knew exactly what he wanted, the music was soothing, he checked his watch, he had a half hour, time to go.
Switching off the music brought him back to the real world, brought back the urgent need to leave, the need to escape from here. He slung his bag over his shoulder and left his room, he made as far as the front door when he turned back.
‘I’m leaving,’ he shouted back into the kitchen, he heard his mother pause mid sentence.
‘Goodbye Robin,’ she shouted back, and then ‘I love you.’
‘Bye,’ he replied, and left.
The walk to the train station took barely twenty minutes, a little longer than usual. He had to collect his pills.
Across the village he saw only strangers, although he had lived here for more than a year he knew nobody, he went to school in a different town; there was no school here. They all seemed so unlike him, so different to him, nobody said hello. He was foreign to them, “from the big city,” he appeared strange to them, with tight jeans, pierced lip and long hair, he was nothing like them, nothing at all like them. What could he do? He couldn’t open their minds for them, and for that he hated them, they were narrow minded, shallow in their own way. The fact they felt the exact same about Robin made him wonder, who was right?
Me, he concluded, whenever he had this internal battle with himself, they refused to accept his difference, he despised their prejudice.
He arrived at the train station, anxiety faded a little when the train pulled in, he was barely an hour away, then he would be ok.
He found a seat in a compartment, alone, a stroke of luck. He leaned back, sun spilled into the train through the window, it was hot and stuffy. Robin opened his bag, and took out the pills, he read the side of the box “20 mg fluoxetine, take once daily.”
Fluoxetine, he thought, the third most prescribed anti-depressant in the world, according to the internet, no doubt effective. It increases serotonin levels in the brain, Dr. Silman had told him, basically like walking along in a sort of dream, robin thought, feeling different then you really should be feeling, but better. It was worth it, although sometimes he wondered if the medication would change him, as a person, affect his judgement, well, that was unavoidable, different feelings meant different choices, the pills would change him, he wondered if Jacky would notice.
He popped a pill into his mouth and swallowed it whole, easy now he thought. He remembered the first time, trying to swallow one had been a nightmare, it was a month later. Now he was a pill-swallowing pro.
He lay his head back, and let the sun shine on his face and neck. He just needed to wait now, soon he would be the happiest he had been since last time. His anxiety was replaced with nervous anticipation. This weekend will be good, he thought.
Robin didn’t remember falling asleep. He was awoken by somebody lightly squeezing his arm, he looked up, it felt like it had been hours, the train was stopped, it was a ticket inspector, he smiled.
He presented his ticket to the smiling ticket inspector, who punched it and returned it, heading back out of his compartment, with a chuckle. A nice man, he was familiar to Robin.
From the L.E.D. readout above his compartment Robin knew they were stopped at the stop right before his destination, the end of the line. he checked his phone. There was one message.
“I’m here, can’t wait to see you xx,” it read.
Robin couldn’t suppress a wide grin, his anticipation swelled inside him, he knew what was coming; happiness, the likes of which nobody could describe.
It was a sunny day, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He lifted his bag as the train began to move again and exited his compartment to stand at the door. He thought of the pills in the bag and wondered why he needed them so badly, it all seemed so silly, but he knew once the week started again the anxiety, the depression, the darkness, would all come rushing back. Why, or how, Robin couldn’t understand, not at this moment, not now. Each weekend was like it’s own little dream, separate from the rest of the week, different people, different place, different feelings, like an escape.
The train came to a slow, agonizing halt. Robin hopped from one foot to the other, he was animated, ready, he couldn’t wait.
The doors slid open with a hydraulic hiss, and Robin bounded from the train.
There, at the end of the platform, shoulder against the wall, was Jacky. The one true cure to his depression, the feeling of looking into his brown eyes was impossible to express.
Robin ran to him, they embraced, Robin was truly happy, and he would be for the next day, until he had to leave, and in exactly a week from this moment he would be right here again, doing this exact thing again, and in exactly two weeks, and exactly three weeks, it would continue. The routine would continue, just like taking he pills, going to the doctors, going to school, getting up every morning, but for Robin, it all led up to this.
It’s what he lived for.