Issue 97 Aug 2021
Jade Stephan is from Mulhouse, France, and attends the Lycée Schweitzer High School. She is her class delegate, and involved in environmental issues.
Her school held a flash fiction contest and Jade was the winner. The theme was societal issues. Jade chose to write about student depression to raise awareness for mental health worldwide. Since Covid-19, student depression has increased. Jade has dedicated this story to them. With only minor edits, this is Jade’s story exactly as she wrote it.
1-800-273-8255 - Suicide Prevention Lifeline – US
1-833-456-4566 – Crisis Services Canada - CA
Victoria is not sleeping anymore.
She goes to bed when asked; the girl is wise.
"She has always been an easy child," says her mother.
As soon as the door to her room closes, she turns on her phone and, hidden under the sheets, she waits for the message that will change her life, or a sign from her friends. She plays games she knows are stupid. She’s smart, but she’s not sleepy. She’s never sleepy. And when she finally sinks into a black hole, nasty nightmares wake her up.
Victoria doesn’t eat anymore.
The first time I thought I was too poor was in the third grade, the first day back from Christmas Break. We were still in the old middle school, which smelled like dust and dead flowers. The walls were covered in pictures: maps of the United States, the new 1999 calendar, family photos with you in brand-new pressed shirts. A color of green that had only been popular in the 70’s leaked through the cracks between. Every time I looked at it, my stomach turned; something about those chinks in the armor forced my eyes back to the bright posters and beaming faces.
But that day, the green just reminded me of the Christmas tree that still sat in my living room. I was so excited to show off all of the gifts that Santa had left under it: a tiny stuffed horse, a soft blue sweater, and three extra-large packs of peanut M&Ms. I wore the sweater now, and my mom braided my fire-red hair into two plaits, just like Anne of Green Gables. I’d never felt better.
How did I get here?--Sprawled out in pig crap. A second ago, two angry sows pushed me down. I quickly hop up before one of those beasts tramples over me.
I hate pigs.
I am like the prodigal son (daughter), finding myself a keeper of pigs. I jump out of the pigpen as pig poop drips from my clothes. This time, the foul stuff has embedded in my hair.
Out of my pocket, I pull the letter from my twin sister, the sister who is home enjoying my inheritance of the trampoline, and all my friends, while I slave on this forsaken pig farm.
Squeal. Another sow is on a rampage, attempting to mount a smaller pig, which sends the other pig bucking and racing around the pen. That is how I had gotten knocked over.