Hi, Everyone. You’ve all seen my posts on Depression before (Ironically, most of them show up in my HAPPY THINGS tab). You’ve seen how I’ve tried to reach out to people. Well, other people are doing so, too, and I try to feature them when I can. As such, I’d really like to introduce a new book to you: Sunshine is Forever by Kyle T. Cowan (that’s right. THAT Kyle T. Cowan).
Here’s what Cowan has to say about his book:
“A fiction novel for anyone who’s ever been depressed, or knows someone who suffers from depression. Sunshine is Forever is full of life lessons, but it is ultimately a story about a teenager learning to take responsibility for his mistakes.”
While Kyle T. Cowan has posted the first several chapters online for your convenience, I thought I’d also post the first chapter here so that you have an idea of what you’re in for.
Sunshine is Forever is currently funding on inkshares. You can pre-order a signed copy, read excerpts, and watch a trailer for it by going to inkshares.com/books/sunshine-is-forever.
Please consider pre-ordering. The world needs more good things in it.
Sunshine is Forever
Life and death are a series of miscalculated calculations.
Sounds confusing, but if you really think about it, it’s true. Everything about my life has been a miscalculated calculation, and if I’d just been doing what I was supposed to be doing on that day, none of this would have happened…
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I wouldn’t want to spoil what some would consider the best part of this story. Humans love mystery as much as they love misfortune. You can tell a person a million good things about yourself, but they will only ever remember the bad things you reveal.
So what will I reveal at this point in my saga? I’m Hunter Samuel Thompson. Not to be confused with the much more famous Hunter S. Thompson. I’d like to tell you that I’m just a normal teenager who goes to parties and enjoys them. That I take pleasure leaving the house, and that I’m a part of all sorts of extracurricular activities, with all sorts of friends. But if I told you all of that stuff, I’d be a liar. And I hate liars.
The truth is that I spend most of my time sitting around, munching on Cheetos, and playing video games. I have the hairiest legs in my class, and I’m exactly five foot six and three quarters. Yes, the three quarters matter to me. I have alluring blue eyes (or so I’ve been told), but it doesn’t make much of a difference because I’m short, stocky, have somewhat of a unibrow, small hands, big feet, and tiny teeth. No, I’m not a hobbit, but I am one of the most insecure people on the planet.
It used to be that when I wasn’t sitting around playing video games, you’d usually find me hanging out with my stoner hippie girlfriend, Claire. Like most awkward kids who are lonely and want to have a girlfriend, I would have done anything to get Claire to like me. Thus, I started to experiment with drugs to try to gain her acceptance. I’d smoke weed five times a day, and I started to really like it. Heck, I began most of my days with a rip from my favorite bong, Lola. But drugs are what got me into trouble in the first place. So after the incident, I quit doing them altogether.
See, to tell this story, I have to go back to three days after the worst day of my life, when I was sitting in the back of my car with Dick and Patricia in the front seats. Dick is my dad; yes that’s his real name. And Patricia is my succubus of a mother…more on her later.
Patricia kept sniffling to make me feel even guiltier, as if I didn’t already feel bad enough. She wore this loose black dress that she hadn’t worn since my first communion. Her roots were coming through at the base of her dyed hair. The pores on her face were like bottomless pits. And she had deep bags under her piercing blue eyes.
Fun fact: I got my eyes from my mother.
Dick was so busy that he didn’t even have time to get his wrinkled black suit dry-cleaned. He was too lazy to dye his gray hairs. Too preoccupied to shave. And he claimed that his massive gut was a side effect of too much work. Dick is a doctor, in case you didn’t catch on. Doctors are way too busy for everything, including their family.
I stared out the window as the hills streaked by, thinking about how the gloom that day reflected my mood. The grass was greener on the other side of those hills, but on most days it felt like the hills went on forever.We spent the entire car ride back from the countryside in silence. I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened.
The tall buildings of the city came into view at dusk. The sky turned purple and the metropolis ignited into a thousand stars. We sped across the bridge, over the expanse of the deep blue lake. The rivets in the road caused the car to bounce in a perpetual rhythm.
My house is located just outside the city, in a quiet neighborhood, where it snows a lot in the winter, and rains just as much in the summer. We live in a big house, the type of house that is fit for a person of Dick’s stature. The house has gigantic windows, a four-car garage, multiple peaked roofs, and a brick exterior. To put it into perspective, on the rare occasion I invite people over to my place, they often tell me it feels like they’re entering a castle.
When we got home, Patricia went straight for the master bedroom, and Dick went straight for a glass of whiskey. I sat down at the kitchen table to eat a bowl of Corn Flakes. The golden flakes rang through the air as they crashed into the empty bowl. The milk splashed like rain. And with each crunch, I broke through the deafening silence.
After a few bites, Dick looked up at me and asked, “What?”
I finished my bite and stared into his eyes with a puzzled expression. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Oh, you don’t have anything to say?” Dick asked.
I couldn’t think of a single thing to say as he stared into my eyes as if he was searching for my soul. I wanted to tell him that it wasn’t my fault. That Patricia should have gotten home when she was supposed to on that day. That if Dick didn’t work so much, none of this would have ever happened. But instead, I bit my tongue. And Dick went back to his whiskey.
Suddenly, I lost my appetite. I got up, rinsed out my dish, and escaped into my bedroom.
Fun fact: I could stare at a ceiling fan for hours.
That night was no different. I lay on my back, watching as the fan slowly twirled around and around. I listened as my parents had the same fight that they’d had every single night since the incident.
Patricia bawled. “I can barely look at him. After what he did!”
Dick protested. “He’s our son. What do you expect me to do with him? Toss him out on the street? Patricia, he’s our son.”
Patricia snapped. “I wish he was gone.”
I picked up my phone and started to compose a text message to my girlfriend at the time. I still don’t know what Claire saw in me. Maybe it was my alluring eyes. I wasn’t even sure how much I really liked her. But she was someone to talk to, and an excuse for me to get out of the house.
I typed: YOU AWAKE?
Then I placed the phone facedown on my chest and waited for a response. The argument continued….
Dick protested. “You don’t mean that.”
Patricia asserted. “I swear to God, I do.”
My phone beeped on my chest. I picked it up to see that I had received a text message from Claire.
It read: YEAH. WHY?
I typed: K.
I jumped up from my bed and made for the window. It screeched through the dead air as I forced it open.
Dick declared. “I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.”
And that was my cue to jump out the window.
Don’t worry. I live on the first floor. Would have been a lot cooler if I super hero jumped down from the second story, and slammed my knee into the earth, cracking the asphalt. Am I right?
I’m not a super hero.
It was foggy that night. The beams of the streetlights were visible in the mist. My footsteps echoed as I walked on the sidewalk. The leafy branches of the trees were like skeletons. And the moon was nowhere to be found.
I stepped off the sidewalk and onto Claire’s lawn. My one pair of dress shoes sank into the muck as I trekked across the squishy grass. Claire’s two-story Victorian house was completely dark, but I didn’t care. I picked up a pebble and tossed it at her window. The breeze picked up as I waited for her light to come on. It didn’t, so I picked up another pebble and tossed it too. Nothing.
I’m not joking. I literally threw two pebbles before I remembered that I don’t live in an 80s movie. I pulled out my cell phone, and dialed Claire. The phone buzzed three times before she picked up.
Claire’s voice cracked. “Yo.”
“I’m outside,” was all I said, before I hung up and pocketed the phone again.
Claire’s lights flashed on, turning her house into a beacon on the dark street. She peered through the glass, and I held up one of my hands to awkwardly wave hello. I saw her sigh, before she opened her window. A puff of smoke spewed out from her room, forming a cloud that rose up into the cool air.
Claire took pride in always being high, even before bed. Her bloodshot eyes made her look like the undead. Her pale cheeks glowed like moonlight. Her long brown frizzy hair exploded out from her head. Her thick-rimmed glasses were perfectly perched on the bridge of her nose. She definitely wasn’t the model-type, but neither am I.
“What do you want, man?”
I didn’t like her tone, but I desperately asked. “Can I come up?”
I don’t even know why I was there. I knew she cared about me, but it’s not like I loved her back. I think I just wanted to know that I mattered to someone. I just wanted her to hug me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.
“Not tonight, Hunter.”
She was just like my parents. Claire hated me too.
She twisted the knife. “Actually not ever again. I can’t even look at you, man.”
Claire didn’t understand. She wasn’t there on that day. She didn’t have to live with Dick and Patricia. I wasn’t the monster she thought I was, but I had no way of convincing her of that fact.
She continued, as if she hadn’t already said enough. “I don’t know how you can come here on a day like today and act like nothing happened.”
She took a slow rip from a bong. I could hear the bubbles bouncing in the glass base, and I could see the red ember in the bowl glow brighter as she sucked in the smoke.
I froze. Like an idiot, I froze and just stood there like a statue. I wanted to tell her that I needed her. That even if she didn’t love me back, I just needed someone to show me that I mattered. I just needed to feel like everything would work out in the end.
Claire exhaled the hit as she waited for me to say something. It became clear to her that I didn’t have a response. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m sorry. Go home, man. Get some sleep.”
And with that she closed the window on our relationship forever. She turned off the light and left me in the darkness on the lawn. Just like that I had lost my girlfriend, and my family. I was completely numb to my existence. So numb that I didn’t want to exist at all anymore.
I had lost everything.
I had nothing left to live for.
I ran home, grabbed my keys from my bedroom, and got into my car. As soon as I started the engine, I floored it. I wasn’t sure where I was going, or what I was doing. It started to rain, and the droplets left trails across the windshield as I sped down the highway. I waited for a cop to pull me over, for someone to stop me from what I was about to do, for God to step in with all of his might to save me from myself. But I don’t believe in God, and a cop never flashed his lights.
I could hear the engine purring as I stared at the cinder block wall of the back of a ShopMart. I expected the tears to come. I wanted to cry, to feel sad, to feel angry, to feel something, but I didn’t feel anything. In that moment, nothing mattered. I didn’t matter. My parents didn’t matter. What happened didn’t matter.
I pressed the pedal to the floor, slammed the car into drive, and peeled out towards the wall. The last thing I remember was the sound of metal slamming into concrete, and the airbag punching me in my face.
After that, everything went black.