After a fairly wretched day online I unplug and escape to the porch to do a nightly meditation. I do this because the alternative is to hide under the bed, and that always annoys the cat, who considers it his exclusive domain.
"Second time today, huh?" Depression observes as she plops down next to me. "Is that my favorite color I smell?"
"She's not feeling blue," Despair moans from under the table. "She's too white-lipped. It was that calendar thing. Or maybe the chocolate thing. Or that completely stupid thing. I just don't know. Nor do I care. It's all good to me."
"You mean bad," Do Nothing chimes in as he slithers out from under a stack of unread e-mails. "It's all bad, every bit of it. And -- in case anyone forgot -- she can't do anything about any of it. Not even joke."
"I am calm," I lie out loud. "I am centered. My problems are lotus petals, and I'm peeling them away, one by one."
"Speaking of flowers." Depression peers out at the rose garden. "I think that last bad freeze actually killed that ugly rose bush. You know, the one you love to hate?"
"Cranky," I correct her. "Cranky rose bush. I am centered. My petals are peeling away, like Presidential GOP candidates."
"Cranky, ugly, BFD." Depression sighs. "Such a shame, though. I'd hoped it would torment you for at least another couple years. But no, it's gone. Forever, Bu-bye, pretty flowers that lasted a whole week and smelled so nice."
Do Nothing nods. "That's what you get for listening to me."
"My petals are floating away along with my problems," I snarl. "I am centered. I am calm."
"No blossom will ever smell as sweet again. Oh, woe." Despair curls a cold hand around my shoulders. "Is you."
As the lotus in my imagination grows five times larger, acquires razor-sharp teeth and grins at me, I imagine a beautiful garden. It's filled with cranky rose bushes that are only half-dead and three cages suspended over a pool of piranha-infested water.
"How are we going to plant anything this Spring, with three books in production and that other deadline?" Depression ponders out loud. "And there's no room in the yard for a fish pond. I thought you hated artificial fish . . . " her pallid face pales just a little more. "Hey, now wait a second."
Do Nothing shakes his head. "She'll never do it."
"But what if she tries?" Despair despairs. "I've been busting my ass lately here, but all that art and writing every day is really starting to wear me down. If she were to push me away, I mean, really hard like she does in the mornings . . ."
"Oh, like you should be the one to complain," Depression snarls. "I had to put up with all those Christmas CDs during the holidays. Do you have any idea what it's like listening to her sing the twelve days of Christmas? Twelve times a day? Ten drummers are still drumming in my ears."
Despair sniffs. "Well, someone obviously dropped the ball."
They both eye Do Nothing, who shrugs. "What can I say? If nothing happens, my work is done."
"Okay." I stand up. "I need to do some digging. Which one of the neighbors has a back hoe?" I look at Depression, whose jaw drops before she quickly fades away. "Well?" I ask Despair, who gulps. "Which one?"
"You'd always regret it," she whispers in a tiny voice. "At least, I think you would. It's not like -- I've tried so hard to -- but we've been together for so long."
"You won't do it." Do Nothing sits back and folds his hands behind his scrawny neck, which I grab and use to hurl him off the porch. "Okay, that hurt."
"They don't sell piranha at any of the local exotic fish stores, you know," Despair whimpers.
I nod. "I'll get them off eBay."
"Oh." She begins to shrivel. "But will you really have time for that? I mean, you still have the calendar thing, and the chocolate thing, and that really stupid thing." Her voice ends in a squeak as she turns into a mouse and scurries away.
Satisfaction appears, a big burly biker dude who always laughs from his belly. He cuffs my shoulder. "Nice going, kid."