You stare at the phone in your hand, tapping the screen to look at the time. 1:10 am. You bite your lip, debating.
Today had been a good day. Work was fine, an easy day even. You had even gone out to get lunch for once. Everything should have been going great. But for whatever reason, when you got home, things went downhill quickly. From the news stories you saw, to the hateful comments on tumblr, to the close-mindedness of the people in your Facebook feed, it all built up in your chest. Every harsh word, every depressing sentence, all the pain you saw seemed to cling to you, crawl inside your chest and take roost in your heart. You could feel a physical ache, your body curling in on itself slightly in response.
With your mood in free fall, your mind began to spiral to dark places. The harshness of society, if this is all humanity was as a whole, if any change at all would make a difference or if the cycle was too set to be changed. You think about people whose lives had been destroyed or irreparably damaged by uncaring, unthinking bullies, how much pain they had to endure, what they had to do to get even a fraction of their life back. If they were okay now, or if they still felt twinges of pain to this day. Did they experience this pain too? You hoped not, it’s awful, like a weight on your chest, making it harder to breathe.
Getting lost in your own head isn’t a new thing. You were usually very good at handling it. After 20+ years of dealing with this, you know the tricks to break yourself out of a downward spiral when it starts. However, none of the tricks were working this time. Sure, you could play any game in your extensive collection and that would work, for as long as they held your attention, but the second you turned them off, it would hit you again like a stack of bricks, and you were back to square one. Scrolling through tumblr just made it worse; as did anywhere else on the internet for that matter. It felt as if everywhere had been infected with the darkness that thrived in your heart and soul. No, you had tried all your tricks, and you were down to the last option, your trump card.
You hate doing this, dragging him in with you. But he is the only one who understands. You remember the first time you met in that little Starbucks, both of you hiding from the rain that had just started pouring down. You had sat at the table there, idly sipping your drinks and talking for hours, long after the rain had stopped. When he had left, he had given you his number on the back of the receipt laying on the table with the message, “If you ever feel scared, alone, or just want to talk, you know how to call me.”
With that, you had started texting back and forth, and he was now one of your best friends. You told him nearly everything, you gamed a lot, hung out at his flat or yours as often as both your schedules allowed, which wasn’t much. Even with all that though, you hated to call him at this hour, just to beg for help escaping your own mind. It made you feel like a useless, helpless child who couldn’t even keep herself sane and functional without assistance. But there wasn’t anyone else you really felt comfortable talking about this with, who wasn’t across the ocean.
You took a deep breath, and shot him a quick text of ‘You up?’. What you got in return was a call. “Who do you even think I am?” He answers, sounding wide awake.
You give a short laugh. “Of course, how could I ever contemplate the great Dan Howell would ever be asleep at the measly time of one am? Shame on me.”
“Damn right. Now, what’s up?”
You use your free hand to cover your eyes. “I’m… I’m having one of those nights where my head is spinning out of control. I keep thinking about the negativity in the world, how harsh and cruel society can be, how heartless the world is, and now it’s depressed me to the point where my chest actually aches, and I’m in too deep to pry myself out. And you’re the only one I know who knows how to get out of this pit.”
You hear him shift, no doubt setting his laptop aside. “Contemplating society and human nature after midnight never gets you anywhere good, that’s for sure. You doing okay? Do you want me to come over?”
“Dan, it’s after one, don’t be stupid. Just talking should be enough. If you’ve got the time, that is. If you’re busy I can-” You say, remembering that he might have better things to do than talk you out this mess of your own making.
“Hun, what have I always told you? I’m always here when you need me.” The endearment sets of a small spark of happiness and affection in your chest, easing the ache a bit.
You end up talking for hours. What you love most about talking to Dan is that you can mention what you think are silly stupid feelings and thoughts, little throw away comments, and he will treat those with as much consideration as he treats your deep insights into the human nature, or thoughts on the path humanity was on.
You eventually seem to hit the release valve keeping it all locked up inside, and you start sniffling a bit as silent tears slip down your cheeks. Once your tears dry, you take a deep breath, noticing the weight that sat on your chest is missing. You give a small smile. “Thanks Dan. I feel like I can breathe easy now.”
“Glad I could help. We have to stick together, you and I. Someone has to be there to pull us out of our existential spirals.” You can hear the smile in his voice. “Now, go get some sleep, it’s half four.” You yawn, realizing how tired you are. “See? It’s late, even by my schedule. Remember, I’m always here if you need me, okay? Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Dan. Thank you.” You say before hanging up. You drift off into an easy sleep after that. The conversation left a warm, light feeling in your chest, knowing Dan will always be there when you need him.
my favourite thing about afrocentrist conspiracy cults is that all of the figureheads have schoolyard insult names for eachother (e.g. natural tehuti=nasty tefruity, sara suten seti=salty soup and spaghetti)