Something different today – a story.
She found everything moving. Her eyes would fill with tears at the news, at stories in the papers and she had even been known to cry at adverts – you know, that one with the Billy Joel song “Always a woman to me” where it shows a baby girl growing into a woman – yep…. tears.
She was moved by sad stories, happy stories and stupid posts on the internet. She could be moved to tears, to outrage, to anger. She was never simply indifferent.
She was everyone’s mother, everyone’s nurse and everyone’s conscience. Real life relationships were a nightmare – she couldn’t hide her emotions. She would wake lovers at 4am to cry over something she had seen on CNN or Al Jazeera and, as their relationship moved along and they found these middle of the night discussions didn’t lead onto sex, they stopped pretending to find them either interesting or moving.
She didn’t understand. She would cry and they would become tired and irritated and very soon they found her exhausting to be around and drifted away to find less intense people to love. She began to find it difficult to engage with people who didn’t find things as moving as she did. She didn’t understand them. Why didn’t they find the attitude of politicians outrageous? Why didn’t they shout at the TV when question time was on? Why didn’t they see all the badness and neglect in the world? How could they not notice? She found this baffling.
People asked her why she cared so much – and she responded by saying there is nothing if we don’t care about each other. She explained how important it was to be aware of the state of the world, of the hardship people were suffering. She was so passionate that people raised their eyebrows and nodded knowingly at each other thinking she was a little….erm…odd. The tears came frequently – not huge wracking sobs – just silent crying – they would run down her face and she would wipe them away with the back of her hand like someone would brush their hair out of their face. She didn’t even notice them most of the time but others did.
When her tears interfered with her work as a journalist it became a nightmare – she would cry when interviewing the family of a murder victim but she would also cry over the story of a lost purse. She would weep at the laptop as she wrote about a missing child. She would shout, get angry and cry as she commented on debates in Parliament. She wept with anger, with impotence and with sadness. Her editor mentioned his concern for her. She went to see her doctor and he prescribed anti-depressants and told her not to care so much. She thought he might as well tell her not to breathe. She couldn’t understand why her colleagues didn’t feel like she did but eventually they put her on a performance improvement programme and then, when her performance didn’t improve – which meant when she didn’t stop crying – they paid her off due to inefficiency.
It was about this time she started to fade.
She stayed at home. Unrestricted by being with other people the tears were pretty much constant from the moment she got up in the morning to the moment she went to sleep at night. She didn’t notice them. She wrote long rants to politicians and business people asking them to pay more tax or to be more compassionate in the laws they were making – to care more. She rarely went out. Then one day her ring fell off. She bent down to pick it up and looked at her fingers and saw they were thinner. She was surprised. Slim all her life, her weight hardly varied at all. She didn’t look thinner when she went to the mirror. She seemed the same although – she peered at her reflection – she looked perhaps a bit less substantial. Wiping the tears from her cheeks she went back to her computer.
She stopped opening the curtains – she spent her days going from one dreadful story to another. She ordered food online which she ate at her keyboard , addicted to the 24 hour news. She only left to sleep and pee – going to the bathroom one day she caught a look at herself in the mirror. She really thought that the light was very strange in the bathroom, she looked almost transparent. She had a shower and washed her hair but it didn’t make much difference…. She looked almost not there. The postman delivering junk mail and letters which were addressed mainly to “the householder” thought he saw a shadow through the glass but he couldn’t be sure.
And then one day the keyboard was silent. The room was heavy with quiet. There was a pile of slightly damp clothes and there was a damp patch on the carpet where her tears had fallen and soaked into the floor but nothing else. Her tears hadn’t fed anyone, her sadness hadn’t saved anyone, her outrage hadn’t made any difference. Her emails had been ignored. She hadn’t really DONE anything. Her emotions had swallowed her up. She had literally cried her life away. No one missed her – no one noticed she wasn’t there anymore. No one called the police. There was no body, no sign of a smell, nothing to alarm anyone. She had no friends. Only the politicians and business people whose inboxes became suddenly lighter wondered in passing where she was. Then they got on with their day and never thought about her again.