My soul was damned from the start and it is no wonder to me that I will die here.

Those who do not suffer from melancholia do not understand the density of it. It is a thick mood, unlike the airiness of happiness.

Like water, looking into it from above refracts the view and masks the true depth. The energy to swim to the surface is more than moving through the aether, and it is easy to tire and sink again.

Often overlooked is the fact that even a substantial improvement that is shy of neutral leaves one in the depressive state. Contrast that with a letdown of happiness that can leave one with a tingly, residual happy glow.

The graph of sadness is also often logarithmic, which explains how hard it can be to escape its clutches. We track below the x-axis and struggle to turn positive. This belies the easy mendings and cheer-us-ups that suffice for those whose mean resides above.

I sought refuge from it all in the wild, open spaces of this great land while working towards our manifest destiny. Each victory buoyed me for a piece, but I kept slipping below. I followed the sunset to this place and its summer beguiled me and lifted my spirits.

But now my mood reflects the weather of this accursed place. Foggy, overcast, bounded and hemmed by diffuse grayness and the dark, towering firs, cedars, and pines that sag under the weight of ever-present water dripping from boughs and coursing through their slow veins.

I swim in mud-puddles of sewage and stumble on root-choked trails haunted by grizzly beasts who barely contain their animal natures when visiting the town. There is no light here, it was only a mirage in this culturally deserted forest, and I sink into the understory.

Sunshine is but a memory to be made in the future, and the brief respites from the gray cacophony that do peek through taunt me with their promise of a warm embrace by instead feeling tinny and sharp.

I secretly hope to fall into these mists and be bourne away ocean-side, to drift across a hurricane’s eye and dwell in the peaceful waves as my foul storm spends itself in furious, reeling, tumblings.

I am already spent. I am ready. The surface is a mirror, and I cannot tell if I am above or below, I am floating.

Down, down, and away; up, up and away, it does not matter. I am helpless against the physics of it.

Being of the soundest mind I can gather at this time, I hearby bequeath the remainder of my estate after the settlement of my debts to Talisha, a local Native chieftain, who showed me the greatest courtesy as I negotiated his heritage away from him.

I know that my meager remains will not atone for the travesty forced upon him, his people, and their lands, but it is my fervent hope that it will support potlatch until such time as they are in a position to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Set by my hand in the presence of Thomas Burke, December 29, 1887, Seattle, Northwest Territories.

(Signatures follow)

[Bartholomew died the following day of smallpox.]


  1. @Chris – thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I’ve tweaked it slightly to be a bit more time-periody, but I’m invoking poetic license on the technical terms. 🙂

    @Bill – thank you.

  2. pinklightsabre

    Nice story, Chris – I can relate.

  3. Seasonal affective disorder much? 😉
    Don’t know if you want feedback on your story, but here I go:
    So, in your 5th paragraph, you use language that seems a bit incongruent with the time period you are writing within. I’m thinking that there wasn’t much use of the the word “depression” back then, especially among laymen. Maybe “melancholy” or some such word? Also “logarithmic”, “x-axis”, and “mean” – somewhat technical words for the time/character. Also, “quick-fix” is a fairly modern term, I believe.
    Just suggestions that might contribute to a better flow.
    Otherwise, great writing and amazing description.

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