p.7 the Red Letters

“Do you remember Daniel?”

“Of course I do. What about him?”

“He killed himself-” her voice broke a bit.

I didn’t say a word. I didn’t know what I could say. I was so surprised. The pain in my neck grew and suddenly stabbed fiercely, shooting up and down my spine with a sudden, violent jolt.

“When did this happen?” I finally asked.

“It was a couple weeks ago… we didn’t tell you because we knew you couldn’t afford to be more upset than you already were- or are.”

I paused and thought about it for a moment. Of course I remembered him, I never forgot anyone, no matter how long it had been. I could easily still even see him in my mind’s eye as a child- the hyperactive, mischievous kid, round- rimmed glasses at only 8 years old; and his sole mission in life was of course to annoy his older brother Andy as much as possible. We weren’t close in particular, but he was never far when my brother and I would be hanging out with Andy. Daniel had grown up to be a very attractive, dark and brooding type, and had long taken to a “goth phase.” But no one was ever worried; no one ever suspected. Which is often the case I suppose. He had a girlfriend and was active in a metal band and by all appearances was getting along in life just how most everyone does. That’s what always made the types of instances so sobering and hard to really process the sudden reality of “gone forever,” each time we’re faced with it.

“If it’s OK to ask, how did he do it?” Though I think I already knew.

“They found him hanging from the ceiling fan in his bedroom.” I could tell she could barely bring herself to say the words.

I was floored. The timing was so close, that I couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t the very same day.

“That could have been you,” her voice faded.                                                                             She actually would never know how true that was.

Everyone thought I was here because of “hesitation marks”; when in reality I just didn’t mean to cut so deep.  I let it look that way, but the truth was that I knew most people wouldn’t understand it in the first place. I could easily slice every inch of skin, pour alcohol on the wounds, or other forms of harm- for endorphins, pain relief, an illusory semblance of power or control over my body and will, because physical pain is rarely worse than emotional- but I couldn’t deal with plenty of other things. but like anything in life, eventually it’s not enough anymore; You know you’ll just have to do it all over again for nothing.

I was in the shed late that night, illuminated by a dim overhead light, tying a knot in the blue rope I held in my hands. I stood and thought about it for a while longer, remembering the hundred times I’d been told to call someone, “reach out for help”, suicide hotline; but those things never made much sense to me- I mean if you really wanted to die, you wouldn’t want anyone trying to stop you, right? Besides, I didn’t want attention, I didn’t want support; I wanted these particular struggles to finally be “fixed”. I knew the lesson of Groundhog Day, but there was nothing left to try. I simply didn’t have what it would take to get going again in life.

I walked out beneath the canopy of dulled city stars, jumped up onto the brick wall and sat down on the cornerstone; my gargoyle spot overlooking the city. I set the rope down beside me to light a cigarette. I couldn’t help but think how fucking pathetic I felt; seeing all the lights down below me- potential signs of life and countless people caught up- living, feeling- all the things I could never feign as well as everyone else did. Yet just as I no longer could understand the feelings of others- the supposedly innate human will to go forward in the face of all adversity- I didn’t believe anyone would truly understand my lack thereof. Or just how tired I was.

I dug my phone out of my pants pocket and texted Shawn;

“Hey say a prayer for me”

“Sure buddy, what’s up?”

“Nothing, same old. You know how it is.”



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