The Passenger

by | Apr 1, 2011 | Little Angie, The Red Dress Club | 67 comments

As soon as I arrived, I could tell she didn't like me. She ignored me for the longest time: pretended I wasn't there. Until she couldn't pretend anymore.

I admit, I forced myself on her. I was not invited. I never am. This has made me opportunistic. I look for weaknesses: a window left ajar that I can creep in through. She had been careless and it was easy to get in.  

I am quiet when I first arrive. But she knew I was there. I waited. She tried her best to carry on but my presence built in her, like ants swimming in her veins, an irritant, sharpening the  edges of her words. I was the friction in her day to day interactions, pushing her tolerance levels way down. In the mornings, I showered with her, the mingling of hot water and tears the thrilling culmination of my quiet, constant work.

One morning, she stood before the mirror. Staring at her reflection, she saw me looking back. I was there in her eyes: they were full to the brim with my emptiness.

When she sat down with her mother and boyfriend and wept uncontrollably, my own emotions were conflicted. I was revelling in my success but she was exposing me to others. I knew that they would not like me either. They would tell her she could force me to leave.

So I stepped back a little. Biding my time. She had become expert at denying my existence. She was expending incredible amounts of energy compensating for the weight of my passage, so careful not to let others know that I was travelling with her. When she was alone, the exhaustion crushed her. She tried to keep it from her boyfriend but that was impossible. Increasingly, she was exposing me to him and increasingly, he was agitating for my removal. I was nervous.

Finally, like an intervention, her boyfriend and mother convinced her to see a professional. It was the only way to be rid of me.

She began to drug me. I was weak, swimming through molasses and slowly, she started to push me away. Where previously, she had lay resigned in my arms, now she wrestled me. In the mirror, she stared right at me, angry, defiant. I had to look away.

Eventually, she stopped looking for me at all. 

But I did not leave.

I had a lovely moment of resurgence when she got pregnant. She stopped drugging me and I pushed my way back in record time. Fucking agitators were quick to step in. Drugged once more, I felt myself fading again but not before I drank in her tremendous guilt.

The months passed and I felt her apprehension grow. Once the baby arrived, the time would be ripe for me to take control again. But I stayed trapped. I was too weak to offer any resistance. And this time, she wasn't ignoring me. It was like she didn't recognise me at all.

But I did not leave.

Still drugging me, her second child arrived. This time, I could feel electricty pulsing through me. In small amounts, I was breaking through to the surface. She felt it, too. Tiny jolts that brought out the fight in her but the fear in her eyes was unmistakable. I was not winning but I was in the game. I have learnt to survive on very little.

Recently, she decided not to drug me. Having weakened me substantially, she was feeling confident. I was choking on her happiness. Within twenty-four hours, I could feel myself like a noose around her fucking neck.

Stupid bitch. Doesn't she know that we'll be together forever?  


This piece was written in response to a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club. This week's assignment was to think of someone – it could be a fictional character, a public figure, someone you know – who gets under your skin, and write a piece from his or her perspective. 



Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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  1. Jane

    A very brave and touching piece Angie. Loved it, can feel that one hun. Love to you xx

  2. Dorothy

    That’s awesome! Just loved it!

  3. Bronniea

    Wonderful writing Angie. You should be proud of this piece. One to keep to reread later one. I live in hope that the one inside me will one day disappear.

  4. Bronniea

    Wonderful writing. This post is one to be proud of. I am living in hope that the one inside me will fade away.

  5. E

    you’re amazing. feels familiar, I like.

  6. Kim

    Nicely done. I had to re-read it to get what you were talking about – I’m a bit slow. PPD? Great take on the prompt.

  7. Amy

    This is such great writing. I was drawn in from the first couple of sentences.


  8. Robyn

    Oh wow- that just got me so hard… I totally get it. You write so well.

  9. Erica M

    Very brave. That brain sounds as mean as mine, but I’ve asked it to stop calling me a bitch. What did I ever do to it?

  10. Sara

    Wow. This took me by surprise. At first I thought it was a real person, but realized where you were going. As someone who has suffered from depression, I thought you did an excellent job or expressing the feelings.

    Well done:~)

  11. Mad

    One word: powerful.

  12. julie

    OMG, “like ants swimming in her veins” – that gave me chills.

    This was a really unexpected take on the prompt. “I like it” sounds wrong, but it sure did get to me!

    Very, very well written! Thank you for sharing it!


  13. Frelle

    oh honey.

    this was such a well told tale of the ugly that is depression. and it really resonates with me right now. So many fantastically descriptive lines, and so much truth to the sneaky, able to live on very little yet never die, and opportunistic nature of the beast. You are brave, and your sharing is worth it. *HUG*

  14. MamaTrack

    Wow. This is such a powerful way to express it. I’m really moved.

    I loved how you expressed the antagonism, “doesn’t she know we’ll be together forever?”

    It’s haunting, which seems appropriate.

  15. Galit Breen

    This was just..incredible. Poignant, sad, scary. You revealed so little at a time, really forcing me to pay attention and hang onto every detail.

    Which I did, for the record.

    But the ending? Damn, if that’s not chills inducing, I really din’t know what is! Excellent post. Truly.

  16. Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

    Not what I was expecting – but it was awesome.

    Concrit: Your imagery is powerful. Some of my favorite lines:
    “In the mornings, I showered with her, the mingling of hot water and tears the thrilling culmination of my quiet, constant work.” and “I was there in her eyes: they were full to the brim with my emptiness.”

    There are a few parts that could be cleaned up to make it even more powerful:

    “I felt myself fading again but not before I drank in her tremendous guilt.” The second half of this is creepy and powerful. Try to avoid using “felt” and switch to “I faded again” or “My power/strength weakened again but..”

    The ending was the only place I was confused. “Having weakened me substantially, she was feeling confident. I was choking on her happiness. Within twenty-four hours, I could feel myself like a noose around her fucking neck.”

    First the depression was choking, then only 24 hours later it was doing the choking? Or it was merely a pain she ignored? It could be made a little clearer.

    Amazing writing. I loved how you didn’t choose a person, but a thing so many have suffered from.

  17. Elaine

    I’ve taken that passenger along for a ride myself at times. I could feel how determined “it” was from your writing here. Very nicely done.

  18. Jennifer

    This was so brave and very well done. It could not have been easy to write. I admire most the idea of depression as an entity that needs a host, like an alien virus.

  19. Ladybird


    I have not left a bowl out for my black dog for a long time now – but she still comes back. I keep the gate shut good, but like all dogs she waits for the slightest opening.

    Love you. xxx

  20. Tracey

    WOW……. xxxxx

  21. Victoria KP

    This was really powerful. Fantastically written!

  22. Jenny

    Wow Angie. Your writing is incredible. Your willingness to write from such a deep place is inspiring. xx

  23. Renee

    This is good writing.
    I was caught immediately.
    Such a strong piece.

  24. HonestConvoGal

    I applaud you for writing something so raw. Generally when I piece is this close to the bone, I don’t do a writing criticism unless you specifically ask for it. Let me know if you want more specific feedback and I’ll email you. I am so happy you are at a place where you can write this. Knowing your demons is the fist step to inviting them to leave. I like to think of my neurotic voices as monkies (got this from Anne Lamott Bird by Bird), I acknowledge them, drop them in a jar, and close the lid. It helps. It helps a lot when I’m writing.

  25. Mommy Shorts

    This was a very powerful take on depression. It took me a little to get it but you still held me the entire time. Feeling the story gradually sink in and finally understanding the perspective seemed like it took the exact same path as it’s hold on the woman in the end. Which made it exceptionally brilliant.

  26. Ally

    Amazing. This demon is worse than any other person could be, because there’s no getting away. And you nailed that with your writing. A different spin on this prompt, and you did it very well.

  27. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Kim.

    It’s actually about depression. I think being treated for depression prior to my children meant I largely escaped PPD. A funny little blessing, in a weird sort of way.

  28. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Oh Erica, I know! The self-talk that goes on – well, I wouldn’t dream of speaking to another person that way.

    Thank you for reading.

  29. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Julie. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

    It’s funny, I ummed and ahhed about the ants bit. Wasn’t sure it worked. Thank you for that feedback.

  30. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Frelle, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

    I am sorry that this piece resonates with you but also, pleased that it did – which is confusing but I hope you understand what I mean!

    I’ll take that hug. xo

  31. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you. Really, thank you.

    We write and we hope to hell that it holds meaning for someone other than ourselves. I am so thrilled that this was meaningful to you.

  32. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much.

    I think haunting is a good word for depression in general. It just hangs around, sometimes ghost-like but always, in some capacity, there.

  33. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Kelly, thank you for your thoughtful and indepth response.

    I was just over the word limit and your first suggestion for tightening up is a good one. I tightened a fair bit but it was late, I was tired and I think at some point you stop really ‘seeing’ it. So thank you.

    I also see what you mean about the second last paragraph – I can see where that might be confusing. To be honest, I didn’t purposefully juxtapose the choking and being choked! But that actually works in terms of what I was trying to convey. I’m thinking about how to express it more clearly but the point was that ‘it’ was choking on her happiness but when she stopped taking her meds, it took just 24 hours for ‘it’ to assume it’s strangle hold on her again. Does that make sense?

    I’ll need to think about that one a bit more.

    Thanks again, Kelly. Awesome concrit and much appreciated.

  34. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Elaine.

    This passenger certainly gets around, doesn’t it? And determined? Scarily so.

  35. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Jennifer.

    It’s funny, I don’t feel brave. I think I have lived with this passenger for so long that I have become accustomed to sharing it’s existence as a matter of fact. From early on, I came to understand that I reclaim the power when I admit it is there. The little fucker doesn’t like to be exposed.

  36. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    And I love you.

    Keep that gate shut tight, Ladybird. And if ever the black dog is leaning against it too hard, you let me know. xxx

  37. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Oooh, maybe I need a jar? I think I do. I love that concept.

    And yes, I am definitely in a place where writing it is okay. I have been dealing with this particular passenger for long enough that I can write with some disconnect, almost as an observer. I have written about anxiety too and found that MUCH harder because of the propensity for anxiety to feed off thoughts about anxiety. It’s a vicious circle.

    If you have anything specific in the way of feedback then absolutely, I would love you to email me your thoughts. Thank you!

  38. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Ilana, thank you. Your comment is kind of thrilling to me, that the piece could work in that way. I certainly can’t claim credit for crafting it to do that very thing. I think I just got lucky.

  39. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you, Ally. Thank you so much.

    I had several ideas for the prompt but decided on this slightly different take – I’m glad you think it paid off.

  40. Jenn

    Funny how someone who’s suffered from depression automatically recognized it…I loved this. Brilliant!

  41. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Thank you so much.

    To know that this instantly speaks to those who have also suffered is the greatest of compliments.

  42. Mumma

    Girl, you really got me – your incredible description of depression, especially the denial, “no, I’m just being silly” and, in my case, the embarrassment “I should be able to pull myself togethter” and the knowledge that it will be there, treatable yes, but there for life. Angie, I’m so proud of you.

  43. Mumma

    Just one more comment. I so admire your writing but I hate that I shared the horror of depression with my beautiful daughter as my mother did with me.

  44. melbo

    So good Angie. So, so good. You’ve nailed it once again.

  45. Knowitallnanna

    Well done…her depression becomes a reality that dwells inside, a seperate person within. depression hurts….

  46. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Yes. Very much it’s own entity. But inextricably linked as well.

    Thank you for reading.

  47. Mandyland

    What an amazingly powerful piece. There were so many lines that jumped out at me and lingered. This personfication of depression hit hard. The long term issues and treatments and knowing it’s always there, waiting. Wow.

  48. Galit Breen

    This is so haunting. It has really stuck with me.

    You wrote so beautifully about something so very scary.

    And that last line? Is perfection!

  49. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Galit – a second comment? You’re such a love.

    I grin stupidly when you comment on my writing. True story.


  50. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Mandy, thank you! Your comments are always received with joy at this end.

    Thank you for reading my stuff. xx


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