[TRIGGER WARNING: A friend of mine requested I add a trigger warning. The subject here is suicide and I don’t want anyone reading something they can’t handle. You have been warned.]
The last time I smiled, like really, properly smiled, must have been years ago. Something genuine. Something I was enjoying witnessing or experiencing. Whatever that Something was though has faded long ago into the back of my mind, obscured by the deep, deep mists of simple unhappiness that float around my head.
Must it be any surprise, then, that my arms are a mess? I won’t go into it. I shouldn’t. It’s always my own stupid fault, always. The first few times it was more out of curiosity than anything, and one time it was for art. But the other times, I can’t count anymore, have been to satiate the desires of the voices in my head. Although they don’t always sound like they’re in my head.
It’s not anything to do with now though. I’ve known for a long time it was going to become too much. Life.
A simple life, not much unhappiness, but no happiness. I get left to my own devices all the time. A school drop-out, I never wanted to go to college (never thought I’d make it to this age to be honest), and the world doesn’t want me. I feel it when I look outside. So I stay upstairs and I paint. That’s all I do. Paint. Paint, paint, paint, until the fumes of the alcohol-based ink, the linseed oil and the hairspray make me dizzy and tiredness takes me. I don’t need to sleep, I don’t want to sleep. Give my head over to the little monsters who have relocated from the closet and under the bed to the darkness behind my eyes.
I don’t need sleep.
My life is easy, and I know it. My life is isolated. No stupid other people to roll my eyes at, no one’s smells to try and ignore, no one’s ridiculous labelling of me. I can be crazy at my own pace. Although I don’t want to be crazy. And if you do, you might want to check your head.
Though don’t. Pretend I never told you anything. Pretend I never spoke. I don’t want someone else to miss me.
There’s only one person I know of who would miss me, and that’s perhaps why I’ve held on so long this time. I wouldn’t call it an attempt last time, but it was certainly a good go. An accident, perhaps. But certainly to shut the voices up. Screaming like static in my ears and making my eyes see in colours that don’t exist, touching my neck with invisible fingers. So that was the first time. It took him five hundred years to talk me out of dropping the craft knife. My hand wouldn’t let it go. I wanted to, I wanted to listen to him, to loosen my grip, to follow his every command, to stand up and let myself fall into his arms because I knew he cared about me. I couldn’t, and the eons ticked by. Each milligram of blood lost creating a haze around my eyeballs and thickening my tongue so all I could do was grunt and try to focus on him.
I said I wouldn’t talk about it, and here’s why. What’s the point? You’ve heard the stories before. You’ve seen the hold on comments, heard the that’s terribles, creased your eyebrows in concern. Don’t feel for me. Please.
I don’t want to make this harder for myself.
It’s been four hours. Nothing I can do is distracting me. Just the memories of last time, doubts about myself. A simple text had him drive to me, half an hour. At three in the morning. Open the door with the spare key and rush to my room. I don’t know what he said to his partner. I didn’t think he’d respond. I’d written. I’d texted him.
And that’s all. Just help, just a simple word had him come to me. And I needed help. I wasn’t ready to go then. I might have been if the voices hadn’t shut up. But they were lapping at the blood and I could feel their tongues.
No, stop talking about it.
The memories, that’s one of the problems. If I didn’t imagine all this again, I never would have the thoughts in my head.
I haven’t seen anything, heard anything, felt anything for a good three days. Three whole days. I should be happier. I should be happier in my room knowing I am truly alone, not stuck in here with about six… six things… that no one else can see. Or if they can they don’t tell me. Because they want to drive me down.
No creative spur. Not a single spark of desire to take a paint-matted brush to a canvas. None. One more hour drags past.
I am truly alone.
Truly, truly alone.
If I screamed, no one would hear me.
If I cried, no one would hear me.
If I shouted for help no one would hear me.
So I roll over. To the window to look out. I have painted the mounds of hills and trees six times and I feel absolutely no desire to do it again. An idea I have sketched is merely graphite lines, no art. I don’t want to create that art. There’s no one to create it for.
Half an hour. I have been around the house. Bathroom, living room. My legs are clay. A red spot on the banister. I don’t want to remember what made that.
I lie down for another sixteen minutes. I watch every one of those nine hundred and sixty seconds go past. I am still here. Still truly alone. No monster to fear in the corner, festering and stinking and gurning at itself. No mouth materialising on the ceiling, stretching the plaster of the walls or trying to talk to me. No black morphing thing leaving behind it a trail of shadows to try and sketch in the vague hope I can let someone understand me. Who is there to understand? I see nothing. No one. When I close my eyes, I see darkness.
I wake up to darkness. Proper darkness. So exhausted and tired. I don’t remember my dream in its entirety, but I remember I was running. No lungs in my dream-body so I couldn’t get tired. No muscles to pull me down. Endless roads stretched before me, and I had my arms outstretched. I would feel the soft world beneath my feet and pound onwards. I moved over the earth, grew bigger with every yard. And this I remember clearly, out of all of it, out of the sighs of the silent wind, the miles and miles I travelled in seconds, the knowledge there was nothing to do but run, I remember this.
I was smiling. A wide open mouth, peaceful, eyes sparkling with happy thoughts, misty dream air on my tongue and laughter echoing for me. A whole world to run through forever. Not an sad grey world but a peaceful one. Nothing else to do but laugh and run. Over turf, over fields, over sea.
In two hours I am on the floor. My head still woozy from the aftermath of the ecstasy of the dream. But my body is unhappy. It is heavy, far too heavy, unnatural. No sounds come in from outside and for a second I fear. I fear for myself. Shock runs up my arms, stabbing at my fingers and making my stomach tight. My throat squeezes and I cry. Just once. Just a sad, whimpering cry. Don’t. Don’t.
Don’t make me stay here. I’m stupid. I’m unhappy. I remember childhood. Not fondly. I was happy then. But I am not now. That was lifetimes ago. I was different. My hair, different, my eyes, different. Especially my eyes. Cold green ones now. They were bright and inquisitive before. Now they are just green.
Block out my insane world, please. Please. Put a tyre around my head so all I can see is the darkness from the inside and people will know how stupid I am.
Staring at the ceiling again. Couldn’t it be darker. Couldn’t it be blacker.
I spread a canvas in front of me. I go through the same ritual as I do every time I am going to paint. Canvas, linseed oil on my right, oil paints scattered on my left, brushes, each with different shaped heads, some destroyed by furious painting, some delicately cleaned and looked after. Cardboard, tape, scissors, knife. Behind me. Water, acrylics. To my left. And a graphite pencil in front of me. What should I paint?
I know exactly what to paint. I’ll paint my life. I should pick up the graphite pencil.
The graphite pencil.
Why have I got this again? Didn’t I learn from last time? Didn’t I feel the pain when it wouldn’t let go of my wrist, when I couldn’t drop it, when I could look down and see it, blade bathed in my own blood? Why can’t I pick up the graphite pencil? Why can’t I move my hand forwards? Why does it stretch behind me. Right hand, going backwards, fingers feeling the cold touch of metal, the tape where I had to fix the blade holder after last time. I don’t want to.
I don’t want to.
It’s far too late. But my other hand delicately curls around my phone, swipes, unlocks, and my right hand is twisting the knife and I look at it.
Please. I know I should, I know. I am alone. I want to be in my dream again, I know I do, with the endless running, the never getting tired, the laughter.
Looking to my left hand. I have opened my text messages. The last ones I see from him. Something about my paintings. Something, I cannot read it.
I look at my right hand. Trembling. Anticipating, waiting. I want to go for my neck. My arms didn’t work last time. Go for the neck. Go for the neck. Feel the pain closer to the head so I can escape quicker.
My head. Memories of those stupid things I read everyday.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
He sends me them sometimes. Sometimes as a picture, sometime he just says them, sometimes sometimes sometimes. When he thinks I’ve been far too quiet, or if he thinks he can sense I’m sad.
I am not alone? Not usually. I know that. Big mouth whispering me to sleep on the wall with desires, with sickly threats.
But now I’m alone. Now I am. Nothing in my head, they’ve left me. The world is empty. No point in screaming when I do this.
Left. Text. Another. Another.
It’s 1:21 in the morning.
It’s been too long now. Too long since the last time. I drop my phone.
Right. Testing the weight. I turn the canvas over and lie down on it. Stare up at the ceiling. Feel the floor beneath me. If I can hold on. Just for a little longer.
I don’t care if I’m alone. I mustn’t go back to my dream. I will thank myself one day. When I’m better. When I’m cured. When I see the point of the sun again. And I will think I’m so glad I dropped it.
So I try to pick up the pencil again. Must keep my right hand on the floor. Must.
Sketch my life away. All away.
And I press it to my skin. My hand is mine. I am doing this. The soft skin of my left upper arm. The soft, warm, living flesh. I am doing this. And I don’t want to. But I do. More than anything and I push and I slice. And my face doesn’t change. No grimace. Nothing. Nothing.
I do it again. Open up my flesh. Work my way up to my neck because I’m a coward and perhaps I’ll die before I get there. Over my shoulder. Up we go. Arm, arm, arm. Arm, arm arm.
And it gives way each time, no resistance, no hesitation.
I pause and watch the cuts. They seem to swell, to redden, and then they leak. Seeping together and throbbing, stinging, but it doesn’t bother me. There. Onto the canvas.
Paint my life. It’s too much.
It’s hypnotic. I moved, holding my heavy self up over the canvas, a hip on the wood frame. Red and orange on my arm.
Neck. I think I’m ready.
I try to smile, I do. But instead, instead of a smile, instead of that, instead of how I wanted to look so I’d be smiling in my endless unwaking dream, I am shouting. I am shouting.
please help me
Into the floor I am shouting and my hand is gripping the knife tighter.
please please please
Soft, small, strong hands
The darkest eyes
The darkest eyes I have ever seen
No anger in his expression
Just a gladness
A gladness that he can see my eyes still moving.
And he puts a hand on my head. And pulls my head to his shoulder. Doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t need to.
He won’t let me go. His grip gets tighter and I hear wailing. A child’s cry. Not his though.
Mine. All mine. All of it. All the noise, the tears, the static. And it’s loud. But at least there’s something. A hand around my shoulders, over my back. Something I can cling to. It won’t get better. Not while he’s here, not if he’s gone. Nothing will get better.
But at least I have something to cling to.
And I cling. And I sob into his shoulder. And that must mean I dropped the knife. And I scream at the ceiling but he doesn’t try to stop me. Just holds me steady. Still.
It’s still too much.
I am painting my life with my blood now. Still coming out my shoulder, out my arm. Not on the canvas. Not on the cold white. Not there. Not with me curled up inside it. No.
I’m painting my life on him. On his clothes. On his skin. But he doesn’t care. He wants me to. He wants to hold me steady, he wants to run over to me at half 1 in the morning, he wants to save me.
It won’t get better.
But it won’t get worse.
I can make it another day.