Into Death's Arms (Part III)
There are some things worse than death.
Yet there is nothing better than life.
These are the two most important things I had learned since I was found lying on my bathroom floor two days ago, a mere shell on the verge of becoming a corpse. I learned that emotions truly can drive a person into a pool of utter madness and subdue them. It can subdue them to a point where any way out seems like a reasonable one. For me, taking my own life was the solution. For my friend, saving my life was hers.
It is funny the way the world works.
Rhythmic beeping sounded in my ears and the ceiling slowly came into focus. I could see the long rectangle of a fluorescent light and heard movement near my side. I inhaled. Phlegm caught in my throat and I coughed, making a sort of gurgling sound. It hurt.
“Oh thank God, you’re awake.”
Shuffling sounds. Then someone was holding my hand. I turned my head to the side slowly and saw Serena Kessler, my best friend of eight years, staring at me with a worried expression. Her blonde hair fell in tangles around her face and her baby blue eyes were wide and bloodshot. I swallowed.
“How are you feeling?” she asked quietly, concerned. Like an anxious mother. I cleared my throat and moved my cracked lips in what I believed to be proper speech.
“I’m fine,” I croaked. My voice sounded so different. My entire body ached. I felt…dead.
Serena nodded, her lips quivering. Tears were gathering in her eyes and a few droplets fell from her long lashes. I watched them glide down her face and guilt burned inside me like fire. Several moments of silence passed before she spoke.
“Why?” she asked, her mouth twisting the way it always did when she cried. More tears cascaded down her flushed cheeks. “Why did you do this to yourself, Justin?”
Her voice cracked and wavered in pitch. She squeezed my hand tighter as she said the words. My mind raced for a good excuse, but fatigue made it difficult. I didn’t have the energy to lie. I had just enough to tell…the truth.
“She’s…gone,” I said weakly. Breathing was becoming difficult. Serena stared at me in disbelief, her mouth falling open.
“You…you did this because of her?” she asked, appalled. “Because of Nia?” I heard the shock in her voice and all I could manage to do was nod.
Serena shook her head and looked down at the floor, her hair falling in front of her like a curtain and concealing her face from view. Her body shook slightly though, and I knew that she was crying. I could hear her muffled sobs.
“I’m sorry,” I said again, though they felt like empty words. How could I apologize for something like this? How could I word it in a way that would even make it any better?
I’m sorry you had to find me dying on my bathroom floor, lying in my own blood.
I wanted to reach out and touch her, comfort her. But my body was too weak. I continued to lie in the white bed, breathing shallowly and attempting to clear my raw throat in a weak sort of way.
I replayed the image in my head, of the mirror breaking and scattering my reflection in every direction. I remembered my own blood, splattered on the sink and walls, glistening in the moonlight. I remembered everything. And it made me sick.
“I’m sorry,” I said again, forcing more conviction into my already feeble voice. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Serena didn’t lift her head. The rhythmic beeping was the only sound that filled the hospital room. The only proof that somewhere inside my chest, my heart continued to beat without fail.
“The doctors don’t know what’s going to happen,” Serena sobbed from behind her sheet of hair, sniffing. “They say your body is acting weird. It’s rejecting everything they give you. They d-don’t know why, but you flat line for no r-reason and they have to…”
She couldn’t finish her sentence. She was truly crying now, weeping loudly into her hands.
“Why did you do this?” she moaned, dragging out her words as she cried. “For her? For Nia? You could have died! Do you have any idea what I went through? Did you even think about me? Did you even think for one second that I would m-miss you if you died?”
She continued to sob and the fire spread through my insides, burning every inch with guilt. No, I had not thought of her. I had only thought of my own selfish misery and the idea of living with it. Living with it forever.
I knew apologies wouldn’t matter at this point. How could they? In the midst of everything, it seemed my words were the only thing capable of making things better. Yet, my silence confirmed it all. There was nothing I could say that would make everything okay again.
Soft pattering could be heard to my right and I turned my head to see dozens of raindrops sliding down a thin, rectangular window. The world outside was dark and grey. Like me. Swallowing the lump building in my already sore throat, I shifted my gaze back towards Serena. With a great sniffle, she stood up and quickly grabbed her purse.
“I’ll be back,” she said hoarsely. “I just need to wash up. And you need more rest.”
She walked quickly from the room, causing her perfume to waft towards me. Her scent was something that I had forgotten. It smelled bittersweet.
I looked back up at the ceiling, feeling waves of guilt and disappointment. I almost wished the pills had done their job in the first place. Just so I wouldn’t be left with the remorse. The remorse and the memory of what I had almost done to myself.
Pain gathered in my stomach and I winced.
The doctors don’t know what’s happening. They say your body is acting weird.
The feeling intensified. My jaw clenched.
Reality appeared to be fluttering down now, making the surrounding world seem so much more solid. So much more sharp. The white walls were clean and smooth, the lights bright and piercing. Beside me, the beeps continued, making my ears buzz.
What had I done?
There are times that you truly feel as if you’re in a dream. So in those moments, actions are unimportant, as are the consequences. It’s only until after that it all sinks in and the room spins and there’s no going back. It’s only then that a soul realizes it’s too late.
I still had one person who cared for me. And that person was probably in the bathroom at the moment, wiping away makeup-stained tears with a paper towel. I swallowed again, counting the ceiling panels. Pain came for me once more, driving away my guilty conscience. I moaned.
It felt as if tiny pins were piercing the inside of my head now. A slight vibration was pulsing in my hands, as though my heartbeat had been intensified. It was another moment until I realized it had. My heart was beating frantically and sweat gathered on my forehead in droplets. Where was Serena?
I wanted to yell for help, but I could only force out a small groan. My fingers were halfway towards the call button on the side of my bed, but as quickly as it had come, the pain vanished. Fatigue took its place.
My eyelids slipped closed and calmed me into an unexpected and deep sleep.