Into Death's Arms
I suspect that I’m starting to lose my mind.
I lost her. My entire reason for breathing and waking and opening my eyes vanished like a fragile vapor in a gust of wind. And it happened just as fast. If someone had told me that in a matter of a week, my heart would be wrenched from my chest and thrown to the earth to be left there to splutter helplessly, I might have laughed them off. I might have brushed them off with a cynical grin.
Except that now I feel as though I am watching my heart as I speak. And I can see it spluttering weakly towards an unexpected end.
It’s not so much the heartbreak that crumbles a soul to dust. The memories are what haunt us into insanity. Because I can still remember her green eyes, radiating with innocence and subtle embarrassment, as though she were uncertain why I held her gaze for so long. I remember her waves of auburn hair cascading down her small shoulders and back, the fiercest red I’d ever known. I remember her smile, a sight that put the best of sunsets to shame. I remember her voice and how it touched my ears in melodies of bliss.
But I also remember how she said goodbye.
There are some things worse than death. I’ve believed that for as long as I can remember. Death is an easy escape, a last resort for those with nothing to lose. Never would I have imagined that the very temptation of it would cross my mind in my darkest hour. But it did. Death tempted me towards its embracing arms in the moment that I lost her. Many people look down on that sort of thing, don’t they?
It’s because they can’t slip inside your body.
If they could, their confident smiles would shatter like glass. They would begin to feel a heart on fire. A pain that fluctuated and grew with every teardrop that glided down their face. I might watch, though. I might stare at them curiously and watch as the droplets descended towards the ground, towards where my heart lay, and splash into nothing.
Now it seems as though I’d give anything to make this go away.
My fingers gripped the edge of the sink as moonlight filled the bathroom and cast itself on the walls. My hair fell around my face as I stared down into the dark drain, watching my own blood swirl down in spirals. I coughed. More blood came out and I smiled, exhaling. It wouldn’t be long now.
Sometimes there are things worse than death. And when faced with those things, you look for a way out. Anything and everything is better than what you’re going through at that moment. So at this moment, I was simply waiting for the end to my life and an end to the pain.
I looked up into the mirror. The lack of light in the bathroom cast a shadow across my face. All I could see was the bottom half, illuminated by moonlight. My cracked lips were curved into a smile and stained with blood. On my chin were glistening splotches of red. I coughed again and tilted my head forward, feeling my stomach begin to sear with pain. I moaned.
The pills had taken longer than I expected to work. I’d slumped on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor for over an hour, watching the night sky outside and the stars that sparkled. They sparkled like her eyes had, and it made me weep. It made me clutch my chest in terrible agony, crying until it felt as though my head would split in half from the effort.
I was never strong enough for this.
At only twenty years old, I was never strong enough to go through something so emotionally destructive. My heart was fragile enough as it was, and my self-esteem even more so. Where some people may have been able to overlook being abandoned by the one they loved, I crushed beneath the pressure. I was pathetic.
I said these words out loud, the words reverberating in the empty, small space.
“You’re pathetic,” I spat, still smiling at myself. My black hair fell in tangles around my forehead, damp with sweat. “Pathetic.”
I was smiling, yet crying. The tears slid down my cheek and mixed with the blood on my chin. The effect was interesting. Colors collided. Pink smeared down instead.
My stomach twisted and then I knew I was close. I leaned forward and vomited a thin stream of blood, feeling my throat throb. I coughed and sputtered, turning the faucet on with shaky hands to clear out the mess I’d made. My breathing was becoming erratic, and my mind thought of her.
What would she have said if she could see me now? Would she have even cared?
I spat into the sink, trembling. I didn’t know anymore. I just didn’t know. I’ll admit I was wrong about everything. My perception of life was more twisted than any other person alive. I had always had a love for life. A love for seeing the beauty and the unnoticed in the world. At only twenty years old, my mind raced with thoughts that should have been saved for my later years. The child inside me was still there, though. They balanced one another out, both sides. It made for a wonderful concoction.
My insides burned. So where was the child now? Where was my youthful self at this moment? I looked behind me, at the shower. I imagined a smaller version of me, cowering in the bathtub and hugging his knees to his chest, weeping. Yes, that was where he was. Because he knew that I had let him down.
I cried again, hanging my head low towards the sink and my whole body quivering.
Kill me. Just do it now.
I roared in a fit of my own depression and smashed my fist into the mirror. My reflection fell apart. The glass sprinkled down onto the floor and the sink, and blood flowed freely from my knuckles.
The pain swelled, and I collapsed, my clumsy hands attempting to catch themselves on the sink and smearing the surface with dark red. I felt the cold tiles of the floor and fought to breathe. The room spun. Sounds were intensified. My breathing echoed eerily.
There are some things worse than death. I know that now. It can turn even the best of us into shadows of ourselves, the way I was now.
Lying on the floor, my lungs contracted. I looked around, searching for my heart. It had been here, hadn’t it? Spluttering pathetically as it tried to breathe. Like me.
Air became scarce. My eyes squeezed shut and I clutched my stomach with a bloody hand, curling into the fetal position. It was never supposed to end like this. I’d been destined for something greater, hadn’t I? I had been destined for beaches tinged golden with the sunrise. I had been destined for a wedding with the woman I loved more deeply than anyone. I had been destined for a life filled with struggle and growth; perhaps a life spent making memories. Birds in a blue sky, nights walking along the sidewalk in the rain, days driving through the snow in winter.
What have I done?
It’s not true when they say your life flashes before your eyes. It’s the opposite. You see not your past, but your future. You see what could have been. And it is so much worse than what I’d imagined.
The fire spread through my stomach and my insides, causing me pain beyond description. I trembled on the floor, my eyes spilling tears.
“I l-love you,” I stammered in a shaky whisper, as her face filled my vision. Her dark red hair flowed in the wind behind her, and the deep green of her gaze paralyzed me. I didn’t have much longer.
I was surprised when my lips spoke the word in my head, as if my own body knew how long I had left.
I stared up at the window, my blurred vision attempting to see the stars one last time. I saw dots of light flickering far away and my trembling lips smiled.
And then something happened I had never, ever seen coming.
My own emotions swelled to a point where I couldn’t even see a thing. My eyes filled with darkness so complete, so enveloping, that I thought I truly had died.
But the pain inside me proved me wrong.
I writhed on the floor, clutching my head. Fire was spreading through my limbs, searing me, burning me. My head felt as though it were going to crack. My mind raced in desperation.
This isn’t from the pills. This can’t be.
My body continued to twist in agony, my back arched. The darkness moved in, fluttering down like a blanket of shadows. In the room I heard sounds. Sounds of objects cascading out of the cabinets and hitting the walls.
What’s happening to me?
The pain intensified to a level beyond my imagination. What intensified even more, if possible, were my emotions. I felt rage, sadness, ecstasy, blending into a whirlwind of indescribable feelings. My heart pounded, my lungs gasped.
And then I screamed.