That nothing makes them happy anymore.
What do you do when they say it and cry?
Then ask if there’s something they can break.
Where do you find the words to save those eyes from drowning?
Where do you find the thoughts to save yourself from drowning?
I’m on my way to pick her up. She’s out walking so I’m meeting her at King’s service station. My cigarette lights up may face brighter than usual tonight.
I’m speeding because I could tell from the false energy in her telephone voice that something was really wrong this time. I want to slow down but my mind keeps racing.
My long ash falls and breaks apart on the steering wheel. Two large pieces fall by my foot, while the smaller flakes stay suspended a second longer before falling in my lap. I’ve decided they can stay there for now.
The radio is off. It’s one of the many useless things in my life right now. What a time to be pragmatic.
I pull in to the empty service station parking lot and see her in my headlights, smoking a Benson & Hedges Menthol. She gets in and smiles a real smile for me. I love her.
We pull out on the empty street and I start telling her about dinner with my family, but she’s just inhaling and exhaling. Her cigarette ash is getting long. Maybe I shouldn’t be talking right now. I continue smoking. The radio is still off.
We get to my house and go to my room in the basement. The bed isn’t made, the desk isn’t clean, my books aren’t on my shelves, but she doesn’t mention it. She takes off her red sweater and hangs it on my door. We sit on my bed facing each other. I’m still waiting for her to say something. Her face is the only thing speaking to me. Everything it says scares me.
She bunches up the top blanket under her head and fixes her eyes on my ceiling. I rest my head down on my two hands and fix my eyes on hers. We lay and stare. I want to see her more than anything but I can’t. I want to make it all go away but I can’t. She just keeps staring and so do I.
She sits up and looks at me with eyes still red from crying. I sit up too with anticipation. I move to take her hand, but she pulls away and says, “Do something.” I just stare at her knee. After a breath, the words that have been on repeat in my head start tumbling out of me. “I’ll tell you what I want to do. I want to be strong for you. I want to make you feel better. I want to be there for you. I want to love you. But you won’t let me.” She starts crying and buries her face back in the blanket. I rest my head back down on my two hands because I don’t know what else to do.
She’s relentlessly wiping her tears so I get up to get her some tissue. When I hand it to her she opens her mouth to speak but nothing comes out. She tries again and says,
“What’s the point?”
“What do you mean?” I know what she means.
She’s still crying.
“Nothing makes me happy anymore.” But I thought I made you happy. “I want to kill myself but I can’t decide the easiest way to do it.” I’m terrified.
“Well killing yourself any way is the easy way out isn’t it?” What am I saying? I don’t even know. “I don’t think you’re that selfish. You couldn’t do that to the people you love.” She looks at me like that was a challenge.
“Is there something I can break?”
I don’t reply.
“I’m sick of this shit!” She throws the tissue with all her anger, but the frail material doesn’t make its way off the bed.
“Well then change it.” Why do I even speak at all?
“I just want to be happy with who I am like everyone else.”
The stains on her shirt are starting to join at the neck. My replies can never come fast enough.
“No one’s entirely happy with who they are. People are always striving to be better. You’re no different than anyone else.” Why does it come out like this? I want to comfort you and hold you and tell you everything will be alright.
She’s crying harder that I’ve ever seen hey cry. It’s not a wail of mourning or loss, but a desperate reaching for air and resolve. She lets me hold her as her body gasps in waves. I tell her everything will be alright, but she insists I can’t know what will come. As much faith as I want to have, I can’t argue with flawless logic. I try anyway. “I just know.”
“But you don’t even know me.”
“I know I don’t, but that’s your choice.” I want to.
She gets up. “I should go.” She puts on her red sweater and pulls a cigarette from her purse. I know she doesn’t want a ride but I offer anyway. I wish I said something to keep her from leaving. I’ve never felt helplessness like this. I want to fix everything. But it’s too late now. There’s so much more I want to say. I hope I get the chance.