The Humber Bridge at sunset - "The Last Cig in the Packet" short story

I wrote this story nine months ago and put off publishing it in case it was too morbid or doleful. It’s certainly a lot different to the silly, whimsy fiction I tend to post. I was also scared of sharing too much of myself. This story is fictional, but it is inspired by own experiences with depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK right now. I figured that sharing fiction like this might help in one way or another.

Ask for help. Lean on your loved ones. Don’t be too proud to admit when things are getting too difficult.


‘What are things like at home?’

I think of the thick layer of dust that sits on every surface in my living room, the unopened mail which carpets my hallway and the stacks of dirty mugs in my kitchen sink.

I shrug. ‘Fine.’

‘Do you live alone?’

I nod.

Dr Taylor looks away from his computer screen. ‘And how do you find that?’

I shrug again. I’ve lost count of how many shrugs I’ve given him over the course of the past five minutes. ‘Fine.’

‘What about when you need support? Who can you turn to?’

Another shrug. ‘My mum, I guess.’

‘Does she live nearby?’

I nod.

‘You see her often?’

I nod.

‘Does she know about the self-harm?’

My hand automatically moves to my forearm so that my fingers can poke at the fresh wound which lives there. It’s just beginning to crust over. The stab of soreness calms me. I’m looking forward to the inevitable sting that will occur later when I peel away the fabric from sticky, angry flesh.

‘Yes,’ I say.

‘So if you were in crisis you could go to your Mum’s house?’

‘I s’pose.’

‘And do you?’

Course not. When I’m in crisis I wallow in it.

‘Sometimes,’ I say.

‘Good. So your mum is an important part of your support network. I’ll make a note of that.’ He turns back to his computer screen and taps away at his keyboard.

I look at the beige walls of the bland office and wonder how Dr Taylor himself isn’t stir fucking crazy.

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