The Taylight Zone - Anthology Three

03 - Missing Your Chances - Beaker

I stared at my reflection in the mirror, wondering what was happening to me. I knew I was falling apart, though I couldn't really understand why. Hours had been spent digging deep down inside myself, trying to discover what was plaguing my innermost feelings, causing me the terrible pain I was feeling. I felt totally gone. Lonely, empty, and above all, confused. It was as if one day I just woke up and everything was turned upside-down.

I don't really know how it started, or where it began. It seemed as though it just sort of happened one day, though I am positive that deep down I know the cause of my depression. It was strange, though. No one else really seemed to notice a difference. Maybe I just did a good job of covering it up.

"Hey Zac, are you in there?" Taylor's voice broke my train of thought, and caused me to drop my drumsticks on the floor.

"Yeah, sorry, I was just thinking," I recovered quickly. "All this preparation for the tour is kind of stressing me out." My older brothers nodded, and for a brief moment I actually thought they might try and sympathize.

"We can relate," Isaac began. "But you shouldn't let it get in the way of our job, Zac," Taylor finished.

The words had stung. For the rest of our practice I sat and played, absently and numbly. I don't really remember the rest of that day, or even much of the week. But I still kept on being my usual, hyper, zany self, trying to hide what was really happening inside.

I was falling apart.

I love the taste of my own tears. The sweet, salty presence of them on my tongue almost brings a shudder of pleasure to me. As I lie awake at night, on my oh-so-comfortable trundle bed, thinking, my tears have a tendency to slide down into my mouth. I just let them fall freely, knowing that my brothers are fast asleep and won't hear a sound. Crying helps lift the heavy weights off my heart.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I cry. I can see why girls do it so much, in fact. It does help- but only for me if I'm alone.

I remember the first time I cried over my newly developed depression. It was after a meeting with our agents, publicists, and managers.

"Why can't we cut our hair?" It was a spontaneous question, but I had always wanted to know the answer. Everyone gave me strange looks.

"Zac, you can't cut your hair. It's part of your image. People would go crazy... you aren't Hanson without that hair," our publicist reprimanded. Isaac and Taylor exchanged a concerned glance, because they knew- or actually, they thought- that I had always loved my long hair.

"Don't you people watch tv anymore?" I asked. "Image is nothing!" As soon as the words were out of my mouth I regretted saying them, knowing no one would take me seriously with a comment like that. Of course, I was right. Taylor burst into a fit of laughter and shook his head.

"We know, Zac, image is nothing, thirst is everything. But we're Hanson, not some advertisement for Sprite. Now can we please get on with this meeting?" he begged, giving me a hard look. I fell back into my chair with a defeated sigh, trying to avoid the looks I was getting from everyone in the room.

Glancing up for a brief moment, my eyes met Ike's. He was staring at me curiously, almost as if he were trying to look inside me and find out what was going on. I averted his stare carefully and directed my eyes towards the floor, my heart sinking. He couldn't understand, even if he tried.

After returning home that night, I ran upstairs and into the bathroom, where I took a long, steaming hot shower. I wasn't even aware I was crying until I tasted my tears, but after that, I didn't even care. I could cry a thousand tears for every moment I was happy, but even that wouldn't match the amount I could cry when I was depressed.

Everything was falling apart.

Occasionally I would let my thoughts drift off to where they were in touch with my deeper side, and it was soon thereafter I would have a feeling that depression was settling in again. Each time it happened, it seemed to be getting worse- it didn't take quite as long for me to get depressed, and it would take longer than the last to shake it. I also knew that I wasn't helping myself any.

Sometimes I wish I could just start everything over, and go back to where it all began. It was fun then. We had a say in things, we got to do what we wanted most of the time, and we didn't have to worry about stalkers or obsessive fans. But somewhere along the line, Ike, Tay, and I lost control and suddenly, stardom wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

I know that one thing I would change if we could start over is the impression people have of me. Happy Zac, Zany Zac, Hyper Zac- who, Zac? Depressed? Serious, even? Never! It really got to me inside, the way most people treated me. I get harassed for giving smart-ass answers to interviewers' questions, but I have my reasons. When I can get a word in, it's not like they're asking a question we haven't heard before. Everything is always the same,'s different. And it's very confusing.

I remember last night, at dinner. I was just sitting there, listening to the rest of the family babble aimlessly, when I began to feel depressed.

"So, are you guys excited about going on tour?" Dad asked, spooning some potatoes onto his plate. Ike and Tay began talking excitedly at once, and no one even noticed I wasn't saying anything.

I stared down at my plate, piled high with food, and decided I wasn't hungry. Not knowing what else to do, I just closed my eyes and tried to relax, hoping that for once my mind wouldn't fin it's way into that little black hole of depression in that back of my head.

But no, it found, and it seems to have been the fastest journey there yet. The first thought that flew into my head was, Why are you just sitting there, doing nothing like a useless log? It's strange how even a small thought like that can set you off.

Tears sprung to my eyes, and I worked hard at trying to keep them from streaming down my face. I couldn't let my family see me cry. Taking in a deep breath, I concentrated on keeping my voice steady.

"I'm not feeling so great, may I please be excused?" I asked. I knew a remark like that would send dozens of questions fired at me, but to my surprise mom just nodded. She was busy trying to feed Zoe, and make sure Mackie ate to even look up at me.

As I made my way upstairs, my tears began to fall. I wasn't even aware that my thoughts had drifted to the stage of, They don't care. No one does. After researching some on depression, I knew being in a state like that was dangerous, because often the person could turn to something drastic.

I haven't done anything drastic yet. It's been almost 24 hours since dinner last night, and my feeling of depression hasn't left me. For some reason, I'm beginning to feel comforted by this, and that thought scares me even more.

I have to do something.

"Zac, is there something you wanna talk about?" Isaac offered, his face bearing a look of concern. The three of us had been hanging out in our room most of the evening, and when Taylor went downstairs to get some food, Ike had decided to confront me. He moved from his position on the top bunk and kneeled beside my trundle before saying anything.

I searched his eyes for some type of sign, only to find them filled with sadness and worry. Ike, although a mere seventeen, seemed to be carrying a certain fatherly-air about him right now, and that thought scared me even more.

"I'm fine," I responded gruffly, trying to get him off my back. To emphasize the point that I wanted him to leave me alone, I shifted onto my side and closed my eyes. Tears were starting to form in the corners already, and I knew that I would be needing to leave in a moment so I could go cry in peace.

I heard Isaac sigh from his position behind me, and I figured he would get up to leave any second. Butto my surprise, he grabbed my arm and jerked it hard, making me turn back over to face him. He opened his mouth to speak, but once he saw the tears that had begun to flow over my cheeks he stopped, not knowing what to say.

At the awkward moment of silence the door opened, and Taylor stepped back in, munching on some cookies. He paused in mid-chew when he saw the flabbergasted look on Isaac's face, not even bothering to glance over at me.

"Ike, what's wrong?" he asked. Not able to hold it in any longer I sniffed. A fresh set of tears had started to fall as soon as he said that, because I knew how close Isaac and Taylor were- and how close to them I wasn't. Taylor diverted his stare over to me, and made a strange sound when he noticed my river of tears.

"Zac?" he questioned, not really knowing what to say. I looked miserably at the floor, my replies caught in the back of my throat. With both of my older brothers watching me, as if they didn't even know I could have feelings of sorrow, I felt a second wave of depression wash over me, blanketing the first. Without a word I stood and exited the room, leaving my speechless brothers behind.

Making sure the bathroom door was locked, I sat on the toilet seat and sobbed quietly. It felt nice just to get all of it out. After a good ten minutes of solid crying I calmed myself down, then faced the wrath of my reflection in the mirror.

"I look like shit," I murmered softly, not expecting an answer. My face was red and puffy, not to mention tear-stained. My eyes had dark circles under them, accompanied by heavy bags, a result of crying myself to sleep so much. But my hair was the worst. I'm not sure when I washed it last, or even combed it. It was standing out in every direction possible, almost as if it were waiting for a bolt of lighting to strike.

I remember what I had vowed to myself earlier, about having to do something. And it was only then I realized what I had to do. I needed to find some way to start over, but first I had to find myself. Of course, I had no idea how to do either.

My eyes searched the room carefully, and I knew sub-conciously I was looking for something. I reached up and opened the medicine cabinet behind the mirror, revealing, above other things, our mouthwash, toothpaste, and Ike and Tay's shaving stuff. My eyes zoomed in on Tay's razor, which was sitting there so innocently. It was at that moment I knew what my first step had to be.

With a shaking hand I picked up the razor, not really sure how to go about my task. I flipped it on casually, as if it were something I did every morning. Watching myself carefully in the mirror, I moved the razor towards my head, and clipped off several pieces of hair. I felt better already.

It took a full ten minutes to shave my entire head, but once I was finally done, it felt satisfying. I felt somewhat like a rebel, for reasons I couldn't exactly pick up on. As I rubbed my pale head with my hands, I felt a strange sensation overcome me, and when I looked in the mirror once more I was truely surprised. For the first time in several months, I was smiling a true, genuine smile. Not because I was in front of the camera, or anyone else, but because I felt better.

I exited the bathroom, leaving my hair in the sink, and walked back to my bedroom, whistling the whole way. I walked in to find Ike and Tay sitting on my bed, holding a deep conversation. They looked up when they heard me, and their mouths fell open in shock.

"Zac! What did you do to your hair?" Taylor exclaimed. Isaac just continued staring, his eyes searching me for an answer to my behavior.

"I shaved my head, Tay, what does it look like?" I replied calmly. I seriously thought he was going to pound me.

"Why? Do you have any idea how pissed everyone's gonna be? And what about the fans? Our image?" He continued ranting, pacing quickly around the little floor space we had. I just watched him patiently, wondering if it was possible I was related to this creature here before me. Had he no consideration for me at all?

"Chill out, Taylor," I finally interuppted him. My voice held so much force that Taylor jumped, and stared at me with curious eyes. "Why, Zac?" he whispered. "Why did you do it?"

With a sigh I flopped onto Tay's bed, then propped myself up on an elbow. "A lot of reasons, but you probably wouldn't understand," I simply stated. Taylor's face turned red. "Understand?!" he shouted. "You're my brother! Of course I'd understand!" he exclaimed furiously.

I shifted my eyes over to Isaac, who was watching him with an unreadable expression. "Taylor," Ike said quietly. I was surprised Tay heard him over his own complaining. "Yes, Ike?" Tay asked. Isaac looked straight at me for a moment, and then said what I least expected him to.

"I think there's a lot we don't know about Zac," Isaac commented. I stared at them both, my heart pounding. "You're right, Isaac," I answered after a pause. "You lost the chance to know me ages ago." With that, I stalked out. I'm not sure why I reacted the way I did, but that one decision made me feel carefree again. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted off my heavy heart. My brothers had hurt me so much, I guess I just thought I needed to hurt them back somehow. And even though I know I succeeded, sometimes I wish I had done it some other way.

The band is on tour now, and I guess you could say things are still a little tense. I got a lot of heat for what I did to my hair, but I took everything in stride and convinced them all that it was what I wanted, and nothing could have changed that. I have a totally new attitude now, and it makes me feel weird at times. It's like I have some sort of strange power over everyone and everything, and they'll all do as I wish at my command.

Isaac and Taylor don't seem to be as close anymore, but I'm not sure of the story behind that. Sometimes I'll catch them staring at me wistfully, as if they know they lost their chance. It's at times like those I wish I could turn back time and take back what I said, but I know it's not possible.

The way things turned out is so difficult. I gained respect from everyone for doing what I did, but I lost the chance at having a close-knit relationship with two of the most important people I know I'll ever have. So I can't decide if things are good or bad anymore.

I guess they just are.