Fishing became Tristan’s passion. Not only because he felt a responsibility to Amira to find the angelfish for the ambrosia but because he loved being outdoors… and away from the house.
One day he was chatting with a woman who was fishing next to him in Oasis Springs when she mentioned that she wished the old blocked off area was still open because there were rare fish in the cave. She pointed him in that direction and he checked it out. This might just be exactly what they were looking for!
But when he rushed home to tell his dad he overheard his parents arguing about him in their room. His dad was telling his mom that he was worried about Tristan because of his low grades in school and that he always seemed upset about something. Lia told him that it was just teenage hormones and that Tristan’s grades wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t play sick so often. She said if he tried to do it again she was going to threaten to take him to the doctor.
Deflated, Tristan made his way to his room. They’d never understand. School was torture for him. Hell, being home was torture half the time too.
That night he told Amira about the boarded off area at the park and what the lady said about rare fishes. She agreed that building his handiness skill in order to get into that cave was a great start in his search for the angelfish.
He knew nothing about repairing things so he got a book and started studying in his spare time, mostly at night.
He was sitting on the couch studying the boring book one afternoon when he heard the door slam. He knew exactly what that meant. He sighed to himself.
Sure enough like a heat seeking missile Rose found him. She always found him no matter where he was in the house. She plopped down next to him and started in on him as usual. She said he was just making an ass out of himself studying stupid books all the time trying to act like their dad. That he’d never be anything like dad. That he was a loser with no life and no future and he should just give up already.
Most days Tristan could ignore Rose. Some days she made him so mad he wanted to punch something. And some days, like today, he wondered if she might be right about him.
His parents thought something was wrong with him. Hell, even his friends made excuses for him. A new girl had joined their club the other day, Skyla. Tristan was too busy in his own thoughts to really notice what they were all talking about until his cousin Ellie came up and told him not to listen to Fernando and Omari, that they were just trying to impress the new girl. He started listening to them talk and heard Fernando tell the girl that Tristan was just moody and not to worry about him.
Family meals were the worst. He had to sit there and act like nothing was wrong, half listening to everyone talk while inside he was screaming.
One night when he was feeling really down he asked Amira why Rose was so mean. Amira said that even the rose flower, despite being beautiful, had thorns. She said sometimes a pretty package doesn’t mean that what’s inside is pretty as well. He forgot how old she was usually, until she talked like that.
Fernando and Omari were the only ones that could force Tristan out of the house. They would come over and bug the hell out of him until he finally relented and went wherever they had planned.
Which tonight was apparently out dancing. At first, Tristan did his best to cheer up.
But when Fernando made a comment about his mood he realized he wasn’t fooling anyone.
He went outside for some fresh air. Inside it was too loud, too crowded, too bright. He felt like everyone was watching him thinking what a fool he was to try to fit in.
He found a bench and sat down. His heart was racing and his breath was sawing in and out so quick he felt dizzy. He remembered something Amira had said about how hard it was for her being in the darkness during the day and that she pictured happy memories to get her through it. But he couldn’t think of anything happy. His breaths started coming faster. He started to concentrate on each breath. In and out. Eventually, his heart rate slowed as well as his breaths. He might not be able to think happy thoughts but he could breathe. It was something. For now.
There’s a song, I can’t remember the exact words, but it says something like he had to get the words out before they killed him. It’s like it eats at your insides. That’s the way I felt about writing this chapter.
I’ve been told that mental illness is a chemical reaction in the brain but outside stressors and the environment a person lives/works in can affect how severe it is and how early it appears in a person.
Rose, in an attempt to make sure that her brother didn’t tease her or be mean to her like she feared he would when he was born, found every opportunity to torture Tristan. I’m saying that here because I didn’t want to just take 20 screenshots of her bullying him to prove my point.
Lia says in the chapter that Tristan stays home sick from school a lot. Technically, he hasn’t missed a day of school but I wanted her to say that because it’s a sign of depression.
I am in no way making light of a very serious topic by having it in this story. On the contrary, I felt that if I could get just one person to understand how it feels, not the bullying but the depression, then I did my job.