Spoken Words

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
Gravity’s hands pushes against my body. Pinning me down on my bed. For the past two days, it’s been like this. The only time I’ve gotten up was to use the bathroom. Eating is on the bottom of my to-do list. The sight of food makes my stomach twist. Wrung out like a washcloth.
I stare up at the celling light. Dad’s gift for me. It’s a mosaic of flower petals elegantly arranged, illuminating my room in a soft buttery light. While in Spain, he saw it and thought of me. I always love looking up at the blooming lamp whenever I would wake up. But now, I experience the increasing pressure inside my chest. Was this how my dad felt in his final moments? Dying alone in his bed? Did he think of me? Tears slip down from the corner of my eyes, a few entering my ears. I wipe the tears away with the already damp bedsheet.
I feel like I’m dying. A slow death. Dying alone like he did.
I sink into a dreamless sleep. Gravity and despondency has me pinned down. What’s the point in all this? The thoughts that give way to scenes on how to end my life without making it seem intentional. They are a comfort. I can end everything. I can stop the grief and constant darkness that has consumed me. I wouldn’t have to suffer. I can just go out on my own terms.
The room dims as dusk falls. It coincides how my will to live is fading. Breathing takes effort. Moving any part of my body is torture. Living is a full time job I want to quit.
Again I wake up. There is only a crack of light from outside. Gravity pushes me down to bed, strapping my limbs with iron cuffs. Sleep isn’t coming. I pray for sleep. My face is pressed against my pillow, the tears soaking half of it. Crying is the gateway to sleep, which arrives.
The light in the room is brighter. It must be morning. I rub my crusted eyes. I slither out of bed and hobble to the bathroom. My reflection screams of sorrow and misery. A test out a smile. It wouldn’t fool anyone, only giving off the illusion of being demented. I open the medicine cabinet and I sigh.
An expired bottle of Xanax.
I hold the bottle in my hands. I roll the bottle between my palms, listening to the rattling of pills. Maybe it was the same rattling in my dad’s chest as he took his final breath.
I should write some sort of note explaining my decision to end my life. Saying the words I never had the courage to say to anyone. It’s going to hurt them much more after I’m found dead.
The tendrils of my suicidal intention convince me to open the bottle. I do so.
I pluck up a pill, rolling it between my finger and thumb. I swallow it with a few gulps of water. One down, eight more to go.
Three knocks on the door releases my grip of the bottle. The pills spill all over the blue tiled floor. They look like shipwreck survivors waiting for rescue. I hear more knocks on the door and curse aloud.
I angrily march towards the door and fling the door open. My eyes are blinded by the morning light and of Jude. He is clearly shocked in seeing me in my disheveled state. My shirt has food stains from when the soy sauce missed my mouth. My sweatpants have thinned from dozens of washes. My lack of hygiene can repel and gets the message across that I’d rather be left alone. The delightful tingling I would usually feel when he says my name has disappeared. “You don’t look so good.”
“I’m sick.” I answer automatically, forcing the words to come out. I pathetically cough twice to reinforce the lie. “If you had called, I’d gotten ready.”
“I’ve called you, like four times and I got worried. So I decided to drop by.”
“Not in a bike I hope.” A year ago, a driver struck Jude when he was riding his motorbike. It left him severely injured and having to undergo intense physical therapy. Our friends offered their support to him with frequent visits, but as months passed those visits lessened. Throughout Jude’s recovery, I visited him and offered my ear as he spoke about the worsening depression he felt. Jude never gave any indication of being depressed since he was always with a smile. He had also kept a façade.
Jude walks inside my apartment, looking around. His sparkling green eyes are x-rays, seeing through me. I am stripped of my own façade. He knows.
“Talk to me, Rae. Don’t tell me you’re just sick. Because there’s more to it.” Jude and I sit on the couch. I have to look away from him. My thoughts, my words float around like dust inside my mind. How can I put to words how I truly feel? Would Jude even understand?
I open my mouth to speak. No words come out. Jude’s encouraging gaze is coaxing the words to come out. “I wish I weren’t alive.”
Jude holds his gaze, reaching out for my hand. “I was going to take the whole bottle of Xanax before you showed up. I only took one.”
More words start to come out. My thoughts are no longer thoughts. I tell him about my useless attempts to please my mother and how I failed her as a daughter; the all-consuming darkness that has a firm grip on me; my personal failures and all the things I’ve been silent about.
I’m sobbing and crying, no longer speaking. Jude draws me in for a bone-crushing hug. My nose pressed against his shirt. I breathe in his sweet musk. The warmth of his hug translates the collective messages Jude is saying:
Everything is going to be okay. You’re not alone. You’ll always have me.
I’ve given sorrow words, as Shakespeare once wrote. The words that have always mattered.