If you have ever been to a park on a warm day, you will know how it seems to literally breathe. The squeals of children and happy lolloping of dogs seem to imbue it with a life that is not its own; parents watch adoringly as their darlings dash to and fro, beautifully oblivious to all of life's miseries. Warm contentment shines from each blade of grass like a sunbeam, even as it is trodden upon by a waddling toddler chasing after a piece of fluff caught by the breeze.
There is only one thing wrong with this picture, and that is me.
I sit upon a hard wooden bench at the edge of the park, beneath the shade of a hulking beech tree. The children do not come near me as they play: it seems that even my presence screams of misery and hopelessness. The bruised circles around my eyes are warnings: don't come near! they seem to say, This person doesn't belong!
The bench is not particularly comfortable. The seat is too hard, the back pressing uncomfortably against the unnaturally prominent ridge of my spine. Good. Contradicting its very nature, the discomfort comforts me - that dull ache is all I have to remind me that I am alive.
In happier times I had often sat here, people watching. For a people-watcher, parks such as these are perfect: brimming with people, each one with their own life and story. Someone like myself could spend hours simply observing in perfect contentment.
But not today.
People watching holds no pleasure for me any more. I try and stir myself into action, but there is no point. The absolute disinclination to do anything hangs about me like a storm cloud, tainting everything I do with the fog of futility. It is an accomplishment for me that I have even dragged myself from the comfort of my sofa to this bench: to expect pleasure from it is too much.
Clouds begin to drift into the painted blue sky, obscuring the sun. All over the park there is a reach for cardigans and jumpers, and the crowd begins to dissipate. Children groan and whine their complaints, yet are obedient as their parents tug on their arms. One, a dark, headed toddler with an overlarge t-shirt, begins to cry as he is pulled away from his beloved slide.
I sit and watch, unmoving. Dully I note that my skin is beginning to prickle with cold.
The sky is greying - it will rain soon. I know this, yet to lift my leaden limbs, to make any sort of movement, seems impossible. There is little point to it anyway - I'll never get home before it starts pouring it down, so what's the point of trying?
The thick syrup of lethargy drips from my limbs, holding them as dead-weights at my side. Globules of it dribble from my head, so heavy that my neck cannot support it and it droops upon my chest. I must look pathetic, slumped alone on this miserable grey bench on this miserable grey day.
Rain, light as mist, begins to descend from the sky. Now would be the time to rush home, avoiding the inevitable downpour, but I do not move. I cannot move: I am simply too heavy.
The droplets slither down my neck, causing it to prickle with the cold. I note this only with detached disinterest. The sensation is there, but it is separate from me; awareness, not feeling. The misery that engulfs me is also my armour, guarding against petty discomforts like these.
The rain begins to increase, soon drenching me to the skin. For the hundredth time that day, I think of how much easier everything would be if I were dead. But meaningless as my life is, I do not want to die. Life is hard - death is scary. It is non-existence that I want; if I could simply stop existing, erase all trace of myself, I would do so without hesitation.
Waterfalls of rain plummet from the sky so that I can hardly see the spot in front of me. I have to open my mouth to breathe, the water too thick for my nostrils. This little movement is the first I have made in hours.
I realise that tears are streaking down my face, mingling with the rain. Pathetic. The thought comes unbidden to my mind. I am pathetic.
Self loathing drenches me as thoroughly as the rain does, only - unlike the water - this seeps beneath my skin and penetrates the very marrow of my bones. Useless. it hisses, pinching and biting my skin in hatred. Stupid, worthless bitch.
I am too tired to argue. I let the words wash through me, allowing them to consume me and fill my mind. I know that they are right. Anyone with any strength in them would be able to claw their way out of this pathetic, miserable slump and I do not for I have no such strength. I don't have the energy in me to fight any more. I'm done with fighting.
And so I simply sit here alone and watch the rain.