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A Familiar Taste Of Poison.
Ghastly knuckles clutching the wheel, white hot rage in the drivers seat, cold sweaty confusion rolling down the side of my face. Eyes wide and bloodshot, mouth dry and cracked, heart convulsing and throbbing in my chest like a timebomb before explosion.
The scenery doesn't change. I don't look for danger around corners.
I mean... It shouldn't, the car isn't moving.
I'm not going anywhere.
While my body is panicking and beginning to break down, my mind remains blank.
I know nothing, I feel nothing, I am nothing.
I see everything.
I see the sun setting across the water.
I see boats floating in from a day of fun in the sun.
I see birds mindlessly flying in flocks.
I hear everything.
I hear a couple laughing from a nearby condo.
I hear the waves crash against the rocky shore.
I hear my heart as it struggles to push blood through the rest of my body.
I taste everything.
I taste the blood on my lips.
I taste the stale air in the car.
I taste the vomit as it struggles to settle in my stomach.
I hear my phone buzzing violently on the dash.
I see the desperate text messages, urging me not to do anything drastic.
I taste the sickly resentment as it crawls up my spine.
"You're so young, you have so much to live for"
"You are good enough, you've got so much going for you!"
"You just need time, if somebody is willing to hurt you, then you don't need them in your life"
You are upset, and I feel responsible for giving you a pep talk.
That's the real message.
They don't understand.
They can't understand.
I'm not upset because of a break-up.
I'm not upset because somebody decided that I wasn't good enough.
I'm upset because in my heart of hearts I know it's true.
That I'm just not good enough.
I look down at my blocky torso, the gangly arms, the veiny, scarred hands with their long crooked fingers.
I spare a glance to the mirror, where I'm greeted by empty hazel eyes.
One is bigger than the other. Not substantially, but just big enough for me to notice.
My ears hug the sides of my face, too small for the rest of my head, but angled out, like an elf.
My phone buzzes again, nearly jumping out the window into the cold, unforgiving pavement.
I don't bother reading.
Nothing they could say would make a difference.
I had made up my mind.
I wondered why they thought they could change my mind?
Apart from being notoriously stubborn, I was too smart for all that garbage.
I mean, obviously not smart enough.
Other people were much smarter than me.
With all of the opportunities and superior education, they understood the world in a way that someone like me never could.
They understood a world that they had access to.
I glanced at my wallet, thin and depleted, a lot like myself.
Of course, that could be because it was only home to about twenty bucks in cash in my debit card.
The debit card, despite being covered in a graphic of several thousand dollars, probably represented less than two hundred.
Money that I had earned.
No resentment came up, no cries of "It's unfair that I wasn't raised with money"
Life isn't fair, and frankly, I didn't care.
I wish I did.
I wish I felt angry.
I wish I could dig deep and harness pure, unbridled rage and let it motivate me to pick myself up one more time.
But I couldn't.
I'd done that just one too any times before.
Not attractive, not talented, not buff, not wealthy, not intelligent, what was I but just another dead animal rotting on the beach anyway?
It was no wonder that everyone I had ever loved had left. It was no wonder that people had no problem forgetting I was ever a part of their life.
I turn on the stereo and an old song plays.
One I've heard a million times but never understood until now.
I crank the volume up all of the way and I open my door.
"Now I think I understand
How this world can overcome a man
Like a friend we saw it through
In the end I gave my life for you"
I leap out of the drivers seat and do a sweep of the area.
The sun has set and all of the people have gone home.
It dawns on me just how alone I really am.
I stalk around to the back of my car and take a bottle of old bourbon from the trunk. I plop down on the hood and begin to drink.
The sweet burn rips down my throat and gives me a brief moment of warmth.
I drink and drink and drink but I stay sober.
I can't escape the feeling of emptiness.
The bottle empties and I hear it shatter next to my foot.
A familiar numbness washes over my body.
I limp down the pier, determined to reach the icy water and embrace the darkness, when suddenly I realize I'm not alone.
Sitting at the edge of a pier is a young man. He couldn't have been older than twenty, but he had an air of haunting wisdom that intrigued me.
I sat next to him and we sat in silence for a few moments.
Something about the guy felt so familiar but I just couldn't figure it out.
"I never meant to hurt anyone" he said, putting his dreadlocks up in a rubber band. "Least of all you" he continued, turning to me.
I looked into the eyes of my best friend and shook my head.
"I've had too much to drink" i said.
He laughed that same raspy laugh that used to get us in trouble all those years ago in a far away place.
There was an awkward silence that hung in the air for what seemed like hours before I spoke up again.
"i think I understand now" He looked at me. "I think I understood why you did what you did. Sometimes you get so tired of getting kicked around and disrespected by everyone. All you do is run to people and try to love them but you're so fucking difficult to understand that they don't know how to help you so they run away. They can't fix you so they just drop you and head for the hills. The first few times you pick yourself up and try your best. It's you against the world and the world isn't ready for what's coming next... But the world always wins. The world always strikes back and it strikes hard..."
"Maybe." he paused. "Maybe it sucks getting beat over and over again. Maybe it sucks being misunderstood, but I don't think that's the problem. Everyone's different, everyone's a little weird. True, some people are really easy to understand.But would you really want to be like them? How boring can you be if someone can figure you out in a matter of minutes?"
"I don't really care about being misunderstood. I just hate the screaming in the silence. I just hate the vast, limitless emptiness that crushes down on you every time you're alone"
"I know that feeling. I know dem feelz!" he joked, doing his infamous jamaican accent. "But is this really worth it? Hurting everybody you care about? Leaving everyone alone and confused?
I jumped up and looked away. "Like you did?" I asked. I was greeted with silence. "Like you left me? Like you left your sister? Like you left all of us who needed you?"
I sharply looked back but he was gone.
So was the beach. So was the water.
I was standing alone on a pier, and as I glanced over the edge, I was greeted with an infinite darkness.
"stay" I hear from behind me.
I'm greeted by hundreds of floating faces.
I see my little brother, blonde and bright eyed, confused and upset.
I see my parents, hurt and angry, desperate and disappointed.
I pick out the occasional friend in the crowd, crying, screaming, laughing.
There's the girl with the flowing red hair, a crooked smile, and brilliant green eyes.
There's the girl the curly brown hair, an uncomfortable grimace, and impossibly dark brown eyes.
And there's the blonde girl with hazel eyes begging me not to do it.
"I don't want you to be alone" I hear whisper through the screams.
"Not everybody gets a happily ever after" I yelled into the mob. "Not everything gets better, not everybody gets to be happy some day."
I took a step back and they fade into smoke.
"I don't want to be happy. I don't deserve to be happy"
I take another step back and as I begin to fall back, I hear the faint car stereo blaring that classic song.
"I hope it's worth it
What's left behind me, yeah
I know you'll find your own way
When I'm not with you
So tell everybody
The ones who walk beside me, yeah
I know you'll find your own way
When I'm not with you tonight"
© 2014 Ryan Smith