Nathaniel's mind was awash with wonder as he prepared for the next day's trip.
What the hell happened back there? I could feel mom's every emotion, and even see some of her thoughts! Is it the eyes? It has to be, there's no other explanation. Why would Mary change me like this? I don't understand... Is this supposed to help me?
At that moment, Nathaniel's mother wrapped her arms around him from behind. The boy stopped what he was doing and sighed.
"Mom, I'm not a little kid," he scolded in a half-jocular tone.
She laughed, "I know, sweetie, but I just worry about you. I want you to get over this thing so you can be happy."
A painful kind of spark arose in Nathaniel's stomach. The sincerity in his mother's voice took him off guard and made him feel vulnerable.
"Were you ever depressed, mom?"
She shook her head, "I don't think I was ever in the same place you are. I got sad sometimes, but it never lasted or turned into anything more."
Nathaniel frowned, "But how? There had to be some time in your life where you felt destroyed."
"Well, yes, but I never gave up hope that I would see better days. I could always find something to hang on to, however small. Sometimes even the stupidest little thing could keep me going, like a song I heard on the radio or a friend smiling at me as we walked past each other."
The boy nodded, "What if you did give up hope?"
"Then I guess I would have to find it again and put it in a place I know to be safe."
Nathaniel nodded again and slipped out from his mother's embrace.
"Dr. Telesfore wants to take me somewhere new tomorrow. Is that okay?"
"If you think it will help you, yes. I want you to be better again."
And so they said their 'good nights' and Nathaniel ran up to his bedroom. The despair was creating that familiar black void in his heart again. He felt as though a hole was being bored into his chest, and if he were to touch it, his hand would go right through. He gave a disheartened whimper as he climbed into bed.
It never fails to return. It's always looming over me, where ever I go. Why can't I just shake it? I want to be happy...
His thoughts continued in this manner until he drifted off to peaceful sleep.
"Late. You're late, Nathaniel."
Dr. Telesfore indicated his flashy rolex as the dark-haired boy stepped out of the SUV. His mother watched with concern and uncertainty in her eyes. Nathaniel rolled his eyes at the doctor and turned to bid his mother goodbye.
"Just don't come back with something else changed, okay? You've done enough changing for one week."
The boy laughed, "I'll try not to change too much mom."
With that, he slammed the door and turned to the doctor.
"Then I guess we better get going, shouldn't we?" remarked Nathaniel.
"Allow me a word with your mother first."
The doctor waved to Nathaniel's mother and she rolled down the window. He whipped out his keys and unlocked his own white BMW.
"Go wait in the car while we speak."
Nathaniel did as he was told grudgingly. From the BMW, he watched the doctor. He presumed he was telling his mother where they were off to, and Nathaniel himself became curious. A few moments later, the doctor waved goodbye and the SUV took off. He trudged to the BMW and climbed in, slamming the door.
"Where are we going today?"
The doctor drove through the north side of town, which boarded on a rural landscape with rolling plains and verdant foliage. The gentle rays of the morning sun made it look all the more beautiful. The doctor drove further north, leaving behind all the buildings and concrete. It wasn't long before they could only see fields and forests of green in all directions.
"I haven't been up here in a long time. Years, actually."
The doctor grinned, "Then you're in for a treat. I do hope you brought a lunch."
"Yup," the boy indicated a sack lunch stuffed inside his jacket.
Outside, the road was becoming narrower, and the fields were turning into dense forest. The sun lost the brunt of its glory behind the thick leaves of the forest canopy, and there were no more cars passing the opposite direction. Nathaniel noticed how quiet the atmosphere was.
"We're here," the doctor announced, pulling into a gravel side road. It broadened into a col-de-sac of sorts, allowing the BMW to situate itself comfortably before parking. The forest was thinner here, and the plants were tinted with a lighter shade of green than was seen throughout the rest of the forest. The boy climbed out and beheld the scene.
"We'll have to walk a little ways down here," the doctor indicated a dirt path leading into the forest. "It's not far, so we needn't worry about getting lost."
Trudging along the path, Nathaniel began thinking. He thought again about his eyes and what happened with his mother the previous night. He also gave some more serious thought to his own depression. The bleakness existed inside him, it was part of him, how could he possibly rid himself of it?
All this doctor nonsense is pointless, a voice inside cackled. You think you can just talk this away? Better think again. It's here to stay.
Nathaniel's heart sunk as he stumbled along behind the doctor.