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Both of My Eyes...
Both of my eyes were clearly focused on the room spread before me, pulling in every detail.
There was a four poster bed in one corner, surmounted by a single pillow. Next to that was the lamp, tall and with its shade askew. There was also a bookcase, brimmed with an array of books upon topics that ranged from human anatomy to the last days of World War II. Other than that, the room was barren. Not even the warmly colored wallpaper, curling and tearing in places, could warm such a room.
"Find anything wrong with it?" I turned to see him standing in the doorway, a cigarette poking haphazardly from the corner of his mustached mouth. It wasn't even lit.
"No. No, it's fine." I replied, now noticing how whiny my tone had become. I cleared my throat, and tried again. "No, it's fine."
"I heard you the first time. Here's your bag." he said, a growl to his own voice. He dropped my luggage without so much as a question as to where I'd like it. Thud. It landed on its side, near the bed.
Mr. Fanelli grunted, exiting the room. It wasn't hard to tell that today was one of his better days. Not only was the cigarette unlit, but his hair was also drawn back in an attempt at a presentable appearance. It was nice that this was going to be my last impression of him. He'd never been nice to me... but...
I walked across the room, the floor boards creaking with every step I took. It sounded like something stirred beneath the floor, snoring with my traversing of the small bedroom.
I flicked on the light. At once the room became less frightening. Never had I thought of such an ambiance in such a way. It invigorated and lifted my spirits. For a moment.
My bag was there, silently sleeping next to my bed. Without much thought I lifted it by the straps, feeling the heaviness that didn't do much to hide the contents. Was there any way out of this? No. I placed it at the foot of the bed.
Pulling back my hair, to where it hung loosely against my back, I unzipped the luggage. A thought hit me, as I moved backwards away from the four poster. I turned to the other wall, the one with the window and the bookcase. My hand trailed the top shelf, until my fingertip was against the literature of my choice. The Holy Bible. With the same hand that I had used to find this choice of reading, I removed the book swiftly. It let out a satisfactory shif sound, as though longing for the company of familiar novels. Tossing it lightly, to the bed, it fell open. I wondered if throwing the Bible was a sin. It mattered not. I doubted that one more tiny notch on the wall of my life would matter overmuch.
Sighing dramatically, too dramatically, I sat down upon the bed. The springs beneath wailed in reply. They were begging me to stand, to allow them rest once more. I did not stand on their behalf.
"Oh.... and if you need to use the bathroom. I want you to flush it twice. The first one doesn't always--- Are you reading the Bible, Elizabeth?"
"What? Yes." I answered, seeing him standing in the door once more. I wondered if he suspected something. No. He wasn't that smart. Maybe he knew but didn't care enough to rise against me? No... he was simply not that smart.
"Well... flush twice. Okay?" he asked, eyes falling to his hands for a moment. The cigarette was gone. Maybe because he thought it made him look a little rough around the edges; which wasn't far from the mark. I wondered if maybe he could change my mind. I doubted it. It was too late.
I remembered back to when Mr. Fanelli was also known as my Dad. Had I ever called him that? I'm sure in my youth I'd referred to him warmly, as the father of the family. As the protector and care giver that our family had needed in such desperate times. But now he was Mr. Fanelli. I didn't call him that to his face, of course, but in my head it fit him. I sighed. "Sorry, I'm not cooking tonight. It's late. Just order some pizza." I offered, smiling awkwardly. It wasn't a reassuring smile, but a smile of intense pity that could only be recognized by the slight strain that it caused the rest of my face. Tightly, I held it until he had nodded and left the room.
I stood and creaked across the room, shutting the cheap wooden door softly behind him. A few chips of paint floated softly to the floor. A vivid noise of the door hinges brought me back to reality. I locked the door.
I was on the bed again. Both hands upon the bible, slowly turning the pages. I hadn't exactly found anything that I thought to be coherent, but I'd recognized a few chapters of Psalms from my childhood Sunday school lessons. They didn't fit the current situation, however. At last I found a suitable chapter, and verse, in the book of Ephesians. It was Ephesians 2:8, and it was somehow poetic. Although the entire bible was written with intense meaning, and with intense care, this one rang out in my mind as the one.
Ephesians 2:8; For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
I slowly opened the bag at my feet. Pushing thoughts of Mr. Fanelli out of my mind. The zipper stuck only once, as though prompting me to rethink. I ignored its plea. As though the zipper cared anything about me. As if it knew what I was doing. A tear slid down my face, dripping from the bottom of my cheek onto the green bag which read 'Earthshare' upon its front. Mom had picked it up at a thrift store. I was sure of it.
My right hand sifted through my clothing, until I found the bottle of water. The word Rutters was printed in bold upon the label. I smiled then, wondering why I'd chosen the off-brand. Maybe because it was the cheapest. That was stupid, of course, being that it wasn't for thirst, but merely for relief. Relief that was long overdue.
There was no nightstand in this room, so I could only lay it horizontal upon the bed. The cap was tight, undisturbed. There were no chances that it would leak out and onto the quilt. I hesitated for a moment, and then returned to the bag. My right hand slid easily through the neatly folded shirts and brushed against my stick of deoderant. Mom had packed the bag, and I found only a two days worth of clothing. Another tear slid into the bag, as I smiled maniacally. It was ironic, because I wouldn't even need that single outfit. The week that I had planned to stay with Mr. Fanelli would be shortened to a single hour. The smile disappeared, and I wiped away the tracks on which the tears had slid upon. My hand grasped something hollowed out, that rattled with the slightest contact; something that my mother had not packed. It was merely a small plastic tube. Orange in color, and capped in white. My fingers noticed the small ridges along the white cap, and how it seemed to hang loosely against my touch. I knew, of course, that it was sealed tight. I pulled it from the bag and brought it up to my eyes. My vision was blurry from tears, and I could only barely make out the words. My index finger traced the letters, shaking just in the least. The white label screamed out to me, in thin but capital letters.
"CYANIDE," I declared. The word itself was strong, and slid from my mouth in a gentle yet stoic whisper. The 'CYA' sounded greasy and foul, but the word recovered with the crisp coolness of 'NIDE'. Was I a freak; analyzing a single word that could only mean one thing; my demise? No. I was merely making this special. Making my last moments count, in my own macabre way.
Rattle. I dropped the orange container. It rattled again in mid-air, dying only once it rolled a millimeter down the folds of the old and tattered quilt. My eyes were blurry again, and I had to wipe my sleeve across them to bring back the crisp and clear view of the bag.
Now for the last item. The last thing I needed before I could execute my final plan; my way out. From the bag I drew my iPod. I slid the hold switch, and the backlight became apparent. There was the song. Predetermined and perfect for any situation, especially this one, it was my favorite. Fidelity, by Regina Spektor. I clicked the play button, and placed the ear-buds in my ears. The right in my right and the left in my left, as things should be. Labeled as they were, they fit perfectly. Any other way, they felt uncomfortable and loose. A right could never be with a left, and a left could never be with a right. It was right, and just.
The song began to play, familiar and low. Her voice was spectacular, and much more vibrant than I'd ever remembered. I quickly pressed the Menu button and back tracked to the Main Menu. I opened Settings and then chose the 'Repeat 1' option. This would be my song. No one would take it from me. No one could. Only I would know that this song belonged to me. And only for the time that was rapidly sliding through the hourglass, landing at the tip of the dune and tumbling fluidly down the sides.
I never loved nobody fully... Always one foot on the ground...
Fantastic, I thought, smiling and allowing another tear to fall down and onto my winter jacket. It disappeared into the tight stitches of my jacket, darkening the perimeter on which it landed. This reassured me, as had the light when I first introduced it to the dreary bedroom. And, as with the light, this also lasted for only a moment.
And by protecting my heart truly, I got lost in the sound...
I pulled the hold switch, forcing it into sleep mode. I could hear the music still, clear and beautiful, but a pressing of the buttons would not result in a delay of my song. My song, that was no one else's for the time being. After I was gone, they could have it. I wouldn't be able to protect it anymore.
I zipped up the bag and placed it on the floor beside me. It seemed to creak a bit, although I could only just hear it through Regina's soothing words, light and softly spoken.
My hand reached for the bottle of Rutters water. It was cool against my palm, which I had not noticed, until now, was slick with sweat. A tear escaped the corner of my eye, falling to a place of secrecy. I did not wipe it away as my other hand gripped the white cap tightly and twisted. Pfft. A small amount of built-up air escaped as I lifted the lid. I wedged the white cap under my hand, and against the side of the water bottle. I wouldn't be replacing the cap, but I held onto it anyway. Out of habit.
My free hand retrieved the small tube that still screamed CYANIDE. It rattled again, urging me to free the small white capsules inside. They'd be free soon, of course. To another place, where they'd have to help me out. They'd play a part in this final scene, of this final play. Or was this a musical?
I pressed the bottom of the orange container against my jean-clad thigh, for support. The child-safety cap was not much of an adversary, and gave way almost immediately. I lifted it away and the container spilled over.
Small white capsules rolled over my leg, and into the trench of the quilt, beside my leg. Dropping the white cap onto the bed, I grabbed them up, in a single movement of the hand. Looking at them, they seemed harmless. Happy, even. For what reasons I did not know, but in some way they smiled up at me. I tried to smile back. My breathing was getting shallow and my tears were beginning to flow more openly, contorting my face into some kind of wrinkled and cringing mess. I didn't want to scare away the capsules. They were my only friends now.
Suppose I never ever saw you, suppose you never ever called...
The song wasn't exactly reassuring, but it was calming. I composed myself as she changed tune, and the music continued in a soft chime. A stringed instrument was now pulling me into a more docile posture. I allowed myself to lay back against the single pillow, smelly and flat. It supported me enough.
Now was the moment. All the characters were in place. Rutters was at stage lower center right. CYANIDE was at lower center left. I was at center stage, delivering my last line. My voice was rattled and hoarse, as though I'd been talking for hours without a single moment of relaxation. Relaxation was later, now was the final scene...
" For... by grace are ye... saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of... God." I recited, barely audible above the music. I glanced upwards thereafter, to the ceiling. To God? Maybe... I thought I saw Him there, for a moment, shaking His head in shame. I knew that I'd not be going to see God, but His distant child, Satan. Tears continued to fall, now in rhythm to the song; slow and steady.
"I'm... sorry..." I reasoned, lifting my left hand until it was near my mouth. I would swallow these pills and throw myself into the unknown. Or... the familiar. I hadn't decided, and I wouldn't have time to. The edge of my left palm rested upon my bottom lip. The six capsules were blurry and barely visible beyond my nose. My hand shook terribly, as the pills adjusted themselves. They seemed quite anxious. I began to tilt my hand.
TOCK. TOCK. TOCK.
A thunderous noise erupted from across the room. It was equally distanced between knocks. Not exactly urgent, despite its volume. The door seemed to shake under such pressure, sending another paint chip to the floor.
Tears were now cascading down my face, racing to the bottom. I was full-out sobbing. I moved my hand away from my mouth for a moment, choking back the wretched sounds of self pity. "Go away! I'm... I'm trying... to read." It was a stupid lie. Not convincing in the least. This didn't matter, however, because any such reply would not constitute my opening the door. I replaced the hand at my mouth, watching it shake increasingly. I could very well have been going into convulsions without knowing it.
Suppose I kept "Elizabeth," on singing love songs, just to "Come on, phone call..." break my own fall... Just to "open up." break my fall...
I removed my hand one more time. Knowing that I'd remove it for only a single moment, to say only a single word. "Who?" Sobs, escaping at every other breath as I waited. This single syllable was a reflex, and I couldn't pull it back into silence after I'd spat it out.
The song continued to play, and it was broken by only a single word. One which I knew by each pronunciation of every letter. One which could halt the ingestion of these tiny white capsules.
"Jacob." came the awkward drone of the mustached Mr. Fanelli. It seemed incredibly out of place amidst the soothing sound of Regina Spektor's lovely voice. She seemed to drop her tone, allowing the full effect of the name to fill my mind in all the intensity that it could muster.
Without so much as a thought of resistance, I got up from the bed. Capsules scattered across the wooden floor, rattling again. Like white cockroaches they scurried into the darkest corners of the tiny bedroom, rattling curses of defeat. The Holy Bible fell upon the floor, shutting with a lazy sigh. Rutters was next, seeming to fall in slow motion onto the bed. A waterfall leaking slowly from his mouth. It was beautiful as it pulled apart into many smaller bubbles of liquid, before disappearing into the folds of the quilt.
I nearly tripped on my way to the door, Regina still trying to calm me in that intense moment. I crudely grabbed the small locking mechanism and freed the doorknob, which I then turned with a swift and powerful twist. The door opened, hinges screaming out in pain once more. Mr. Fanelli stood there, stepping back at once with the velocity of my appearance. He must have noticed mascara on my face, in large crooked lines, for he looked startled and drawn aback. Without a fake smile or a moment of explanation, I pulled the small cordless phone from his hands and brought it to my ear, forgetting about the ear-bud that already occupied that space. For a moment I heard nothing, and only suppressed sobbing. The phone was apparently on to me, and slipped in a few words just as the heaving of my breath began mingling with the melody.
"I'm sorry, and I love you." was all I heard, before the song picked up with another verse. His voice was surprisingly more soothing than the one that was more loudly noticeable within my eardrums. I stopped holding it back, and decided to offer him a word of my own.
"I'm sorry. I love you. Not her." he retorted, immediately. The song itself was continuously breaking apart his sentences, but I found meaning in them, and pieced them back together in my mind.
"You'll give me a moment." I said, more of a statement than a question. I pulled the phone away from my ear and held it in my left hand now. The other hand pulled the ear-buds from my ears, grasping the two small white cords where they met, and yanking them away. I could hear a single phrase, before Regina was lost from me.
Suppose you never ever called...
"Okay. Can I call you back tomorrow... it's late." I asked Jacob, allowing the phone to rest upon my ear once more. The headphones swung limp at my side. I heard him reply with a yes, and once again he reassured me that he was sorry, and that he loved me. I wiped the tears from my eyes, clicked the off-button at the top of the phone, and smiled sincerely at Mr. Fanelli.