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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Tokarz

A Deteriorating Soul Compares Herself to a Pumpkin

There comes a time when pumpkins are plucked from the vine, carted off to somewhere strange, stabbed and scraped hollow, maybe even carved and filled with a little column of wax and fire, and then left to slowly rot until they become nothing more than garbage.

It’s that time of year now – Halloween – and I feel like a damn pumpkin.

I was plucked from the vine two years ago when my Dad died. Just like a pumpkin, you couldn’t tell right away that anything was wrong, I couldn’t either. It’s that funny stage of grief when everyone expects you to be falling apart at the seams, but for some reason you don’t, and life goes on around you, and everyone moves on. Except you’re not like everyone else, still on the vine. Even though they are the ones who distance themselves from you, it is you who are left alone in a whole new world, somewhere strange and alone.

And life could give a rat’s ass what you’ve been through, it just goes at you, alone and unprotected, stab. And a chunk of you is gone – but it slides neatly back in place so, from the outside, you look whole.

And out comes everything inside you, your will, your strength, your ability to get enough sleep and form coherent sentences. And, just as no one notices that nicely-sealed wound, no one notices the trail of vitality which trails behind you as you strive to continue on like nothing is wrong and be there for other people. Until there’s nothing left inside – and you’re left as a shell of who you once were.

Maybe you’re finally given the opportunity to open up, life’s affronts finally break through and your mask falls away, a face reveling the injury inside, but that damn little light which accompanies this new change fools everyone. You’re not giving up hope, but that’s all they focus on. “It can’t be that bad,” they may think. After all, you’re still standing. You’re still a pumpkin. But what they can’t see is the gradual decay of even what you have left. A shell cannot sustain itself, can’t defend itself, and the world works its way gradually in to eat away at the substance of your walls.

Sure, they’ll eventually see how bad it really is, but at that point, you’ll no longer be a pumpkin, you’ll just be an offense good for nothing except maybe throwing on the compost heap to allow the earth to benefit from those last few nutrients which persist within your corpse of a form.

I’m not there yet, but I feel like I’ve barely received nutrients for these long two years – haven’t had a chance to really slow down and breathe as I finished up my senior year, moved states, prepared to head to college 1000 miles away from home, got through a year of that, came back home only to move again and spend a stressful summer in a perpetually split family, and then back up to college again to face a cantankerous mess of friendships vying for my attention alongside an insanely busy schedule. I went to counseling last year, which helped, but my councilor was a Grad student and she moved on, and I haven’t found a suitable replacement. I don’t want to burden others who I know are carrying their own load, but at the same time I can feel myself slipping slowly into oblivion.

How long until I, just like a month-old pumpkin, am fit for nothing more than casting away, unable to so much as stand on my own.

God help me, I don’t know what to do, but I know it has to be something.

Please, I can’t make it on my own.

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