by Max Orkis

Once there lived a writer who didn’t know he was depressed. He was depressed because he thought a writer of depressing stories should himself be depressed about things like the meaninglessness of life and the human condition.

He did find life quite meaningless and humanity—well—conditional, but he didn’t really have any feelings about it. That made him worry he wasn’t cut out to be a writer of depressing stories. How could he make his readers depressed if he wasn’t depressed himself?

He thought about it more and more. Soon he was no longer able to write. He would try for hours and hours, but the pages remained blank. Luckily, there was nobody to witness this disaster because he hadn’t been seeing much of anyone lest somebody find out he wasn’t depressed.

As he wasn’t writing anymore, he asked himself what his task was, why he was there. With nothing to do and no one to turn to for advice, he went to a doctor who listened, then broke the news to him. The writer suffered from a mild case of depression caused by persistent thoughts about human existence.

What an exciting diagnosis! The writer was truly happy to be depressed. It meant he was qualified to render his stories depressing. He finally had something to say about the meaninglessness of life with authority.

The doctor confirmed: writing about his feelings and ideas might help. Elated, the writer couldn’t wait to get to it.

Afterwards, he re-read what he had written—all about the joy of having experienced the meaninglessness of life and depression.

That wasn’t depressing at all. He wondered what might have gone wrong. “Absolutely nothing,” the doctor answered. In fact, he had never seen a patient get so much better so quickly. Writing about depression had cured the writer of depression.

That made him really depressed.

Max Orkis lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He works as a writer/editor in a high-tech company. His English prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Weber — The Contemporary West, The Milo Review, Gravel, Words with JAM, and The Thought Notebook. His Russian poetry has been published in the 2011 Grigoryev Competition Anthology, Topos, Polutona, and elsewhere.