Live Through This

The Mistake

A nonstory.

I’d pass my days staring at the ceiling, full of anxiety, afraid to speak to anyone. I had actual fear at the mere thought of speaking. I dropped all my seminars and took only lecture classes, because in lectures I wouldn’t have to speak, even though I missed out on a lot of classes that I wanted to take that way. I’d often find myself tearing up when called upon to speak, even to people I was close to, like my friends or my parents or L.; I’d obsess over the sound of my own voice, and it’s like I couldn’t just talk, I would hear myself talking and think about the sound of my voice before even opening my mouth, and when the time came to say something it felt impossible because I had obsessed over the sound of my own voice for so long. So I’d continue being silent. I felt like L.’s clunky Silent Bob friend—I’d go with her to parties and conquer my fear of speaking by getting trashed on booze, dancing hella hard, and spinning spinning spinning like I was some sort of mystic twirling in the woods…

I was depressed. I felt blank. Not empty—not like some vessel waiting to be filled by some spirit—but bitter and blank and full and solid like the white noise and bright flickering of a TV screen. I was not a mystic. I was a depressive blob. I felt like very, very soon I would break.


When L. told me about that story she’d read, the one about the man who is an empty vessel waiting to be filled, I was silent. I was not listening. I was focused on how I’d respond to her—as usual, I was putting all my energy into dreading the moment when she’d stop speaking and I’d be expected to open my mouth and reply… I do remember feeling hate towards her when she told me that, though, I didn’t want to hear about people who are empty inside. I wanted substance. I wanted that full feeling. Why did L. feel like a man with no insides? Go ask her. I certainly was not listening.


A Conversation Between Teddy and Anna

Where: Teddy’s basement bedroom. Dull red light. Cigarette ash rubbed into the wall-to-wall carpet. Bare mattress with come stains. Multiple posters of Bob Dylan wearing dark sunglasses. Scattered bottles on floor. Scattered books on floor.

When: 4 AM-ish. Immediately following the Mistake. Teddy and I have been kissing on his bed. I had to start kissing him because he kept spewing all these lies about how everyone was always lying and it was getting annoying and I needed him to shut up. Plus, it was already too late. I am stoned outta my head, pebbled. I am asking him what I should do, I am freaking out about the fact that I just kissed the one boy L. is in love with. He tells me to tell her sorry and continue seeing him.

A: But…that’s not sorry. If I was sorry I wouldn’t have done it. If I was sorry I wouldn’t keep doing it.

T: Sorry, what is sorry? L would say “sorry” in the same way. Nobody means what they say, they just say what they say to get what they want.

A: She is my friend and she loves you!

T: She doesn’t love me. She says she loves me because she wants power over me, she wants to possess me, by claiming to love me. She doesn’t know what love means. Anna, if she tells you not to see me, she’s just trying to hold power over you, too. We haven’t seen each other for MONTHS and she is getting all these girls not to go near me because she’s trying to have some claim over me. She’s manipulative, Anna.

IV. The Mistake, Part Two

Wait. This is THE MISTAKE, yeah? Tell me more! Juicy deets! Whys! What happened?!?!

Nothing happened, it was stoopid. I don’t wanna make excuses for why I did what I did, but I will say that I was at this super-low point in my life, and I was beginning to see that I could just walk away from my values or nonvalues and it wouldn’t even matter and I felt sick and tired of feeling depressed and sick and tired of everyone I knew, including, most of all, myself. I didn’t even like Teddy. I dunno. I didn’t care.

It started because I had to go over to his house for some dumb reason or whatever and when I got there he handed me a piece of paper and a pen and an Adderall and a joint. I rarely did drugs, and I never wrote. That’s the big one. See, I’d always wanted to be a writer since I was a li’l girl, and I used to write a lot, but since coming to college I had stopped completely because I’d started feeling dumb. And Teddy said that he would write with meee. Teddy was a writer, and so was L., and L. would always gush about the fact that they were always writing together. At Teddy’s house that day I felt guilty, like I should not being doing this very special intimate thing—writing—with L.’s boyfriend. But I took one hit of that joint and I was effed up and wired, and so we wrote together. I wrote about Teddy and L. and how annoying they were. It was the most fun I’d had in as long as I could remember. I don’t know if it was the drugs or the writing or probably some combination of the two, but I felt free as a bee and happy as a clam and fast as a cheetah and no longer like a depressive blob and I was writing, which is what I’d always wanted to do but was too damn scared to, and it was just great.


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  • sarahf July 16th, 2013 11:45 PM

    ohhhh shit this is great. FINALLY i’ve read my own thoughts, felt and written down by some one else.
    love you anna,


  • jenaimarley July 16th, 2013 11:59 PM

    Anna, you are as brilliant as Rumi.

  • Drippingpixies July 17th, 2013 12:07 AM

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Melisa July 17th, 2013 12:13 AM

    I really love the way you write, Anna. It’s different — in a good way. xx

  • katmelon July 17th, 2013 12:26 AM

    really spoke to me. My depression, my emptiness, my imperfections, my need to think about everything before I voice it out.

    I love how you write. I wish I could be a writer too.

  • kolumbia July 17th, 2013 12:27 AM

    I feel the exact same way. I’m overwhelmed with guilt over something that happened two years ago. I identify with everything Anna writes. It’s so beautifully conveyed, and the language is perfect, and I just love it all so much.

  • I love Mark July 17th, 2013 12:35 AM

    That story was very helpful to me

  • onehandclaps July 17th, 2013 1:53 AM

    Woah. This is easily one of the most powerful (and personally affecting for me personally) pieces I’ve read so far on Rookie. Thank you.

  • Ella W July 17th, 2013 4:34 AM

    I.. Wow. That was pretty intense. My mind is kind of reeling at it.
    So far in my life I’ve not had anything that I’ve particularly regretted, but I know I will, and maybe this will help me.
    I love your writing Anna!
    Ella x

  • Glenny July 17th, 2013 5:01 AM

    This is SO beautiful. So poetic, so touching. I have to ask because I am one: are you an INFJ personality type, Anna?

    I relate to this mental state so much it’s ridiculous. Great writing. I love your work. I agree that this is probably the most powerful thing I’ve read on Rookie.

  • Sam July 17th, 2013 6:08 AM

    This is powerful, powerful writing.

    I have nothing else to say to express what I’m feeling but that. Thank you.

  • Sophie ❤ July 17th, 2013 7:26 AM

    This is just so beautiful! You finally wrote down some if my own thoughts- thank you, Rookie!

  • dragonfly July 17th, 2013 8:10 AM

    <3 this is so good.
    I can really relate to thinking and thinking and thinking before attempting to speak.

  • magenta04 July 17th, 2013 11:01 AM

    Best thing I have read on Rookie. I am in love with this story. Thank you.

  • Simone July 17th, 2013 1:46 PM

    The message that acknowledges how very difficult it can be to be compassionate but how important it is to do so could definitely count as a capital T truth. Thanks for the reminder.

  • kikikaylen July 17th, 2013 1:46 PM

    Insanely great. I love how the format flows so naturally. I’m happy you were able to make sense of your “non-story.”

  • fromanotherearth July 17th, 2013 4:36 PM

    This is so well written and intriguing, I really enjoy the perspective that comes with distance and age. I really love this story/nonstory.

  • Anna M. July 17th, 2013 7:11 PM

    hey thank you dudes for the encouraging words and i’m glad that it resonated. also thank you “coalesce” for commenting on my piece last month, reminding me to read more dfw!! i keep reading and rereading “girl with curious hair” these days! and amy rose toooo who sent me “little expressionless animals”! yeeeeaaahyeahyeaaahhhhhh

  • yumi July 17th, 2013 9:00 PM

    I don’t know how to say this in a way that truly translates my feelings about it… But I love your writing Anna, thank you for writing and sharing it.

  • kendallkh July 18th, 2013 12:27 AM

    wow this is seriously wonderful it has been a while since ive had enough concentration-ability to sit and read something longer than a few paragraphs but this was totally enthralling and interesting and great, thank you so much for writing and sharing it

  • Rivka July 18th, 2013 12:01 PM

    This is truly beautiful. Your way of writing is immensely poignant and powerful.

  • Julianne July 18th, 2013 1:14 PM

    Anna, I love your writing so much.

  • Mira July 18th, 2013 3:25 PM

    This is amazing and brilliant and I really needed this right now

  • loonylizzy July 18th, 2013 8:16 PM

    this is so beautiful i have chills… such amazing writing

  • allie.x July 19th, 2013 5:35 PM

    Amazing. Honest, moving and one of the best pieces I’ve read not just on Rookie but anywhere, ever.

  • abby111039 July 22nd, 2013 4:45 PM

    These are, like, my innermost thoughts put perfectly into words by an excellent writer. Well done, and thank you for sharing this; it’s something I could never do.

    The part about L’s story about the man who was empty inside really resonated with me as well. That’s exactly how I feel. </3

  • chunmun August 24th, 2013 5:23 AM

    <3 i am speechless

  • cryingflowers September 4th, 2013 4:12 PM

    beautiful thoughts omfg ^.^

  • gabriella551 October 1st, 2013 2:20 AM

    This story pulls at my heart strings I wish it was longer!