Cave of My Heart

Oh, god.

Everything was beeping. I looked up to the left through bleary, bloodshot eyes and saw the heart monitor I was hooked up to. Neon blue and green lines were spiking wildly. A young nurse scampered into the room and starting pressing buttons, then lifted my arm. Blood spiraled down onto her sleeve. She blanched. I bent my index at her as a form of greeting.

"So, what happened here?" She moved around me with clockwork efficiency--grabbed the needle that swung from the IV bag and stemmed the medication that came pouring out.

"I pulled my arm up too fast," I said. It felt as though there were a wasp studded deep into the crook of my arm. A small line of yellow, oily liquid trickled from the hole along with the waterfall of blood. The nurse pulled some gauze from a side compartment, wadded it up and held it to my arm. The machine continued to beep.

"Didn't they tell you to be careful?" I looked away as she threaded the needle back into my vein. The room had taken on a hazy quality, as though someone had coated the room in olive oil. Everything felt slippery. My stomach twitched..

"Jesus Christ!" The nurse was covered in black vomit.

"I, I, I'm sorry," I choked. It spilled onto my hospital gown and all over my blankets.

"Couldn't you have at least warned me?" She leaned out the sliding glass doors of the ICU. "I need another set of sheets in here!" The room refused to stop spinning. Bile climbed back up my throat.
Oh, god.


It's unfair to place a suicide attempt on one person. In reality, I don't blame Alex as much as others wanted me to. People have said that he used me--used my youth and inexperience with boys as a way to manipulate me. Consciously, he didn't. He was just as lost as I was when I met him, and to this day, he doesn't know what he wants.


Does anyone?


I met him at a friend's party. After a high school career of being "the other one"--the girl that was always a little too quiet, a little too late, the girl that wasn't bubbly enough or skinny enough for boys to see potential in--I was caught off guard by a boy who cut off my friend midsentence to introduce himself.

"Hi, I'm Alex Bristol." He grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously. I immediately sent up my first line of defense: sarcasm. After I introduced myself, I made fun of his shoes. He said I was cute. Disarmed, I couldn't think of anything to respond with.

He wasn't that attractive. Alex had a fairly compact body, though he hadn't yet developed the gut I would become accustomed to later. His face, square and affable at the time, would lose its angles and soften to an oval marked by heavy black glasses. Under his peaked nose sat a crooked smile with slightly gapped teeth; above it, a wispy mass of blonde hair that, at age 19, had already begun to disappear from the top of his head.


But when you love someone, you look past those things.


The moment ended only minutes later when my ride home started making her way out the door--I still wonder what would have happened if Ping had decided to leave only 15 minutes earlier that night. What my life would have evolved into if Alex Bristol had never made himself a part of it.

I fell hopelessly and madly in love. Embarrassed as I am to admit it, my feelings sprung not from his qualities--his laugh, his mannerisms--but from a desire to be loved. No, even less than that: it was a simple desire to be wanted, if only for a few moments a day. I wanted someone to need me like they needed air. If only for a few seconds out of millions. And Alex did.

Alex loved--still loves, I'd assume--like wildfire, consuming things recklessly and without much thought of the future. At the beginning, I was never enough; each time we parted, he was never satisfied. That winter was one where I had trouble breathing of my own accord, as though I'd become someone's oxygen tank for a month. But he burned out. Suddenly, I was not something to be consumed. I became something that should be left to decompose in a miserable state. But the love I had cultivated so gently, so slowly in comparison with Alex, was not something that could be readily plucked and tossed without some pain.

He left. He stayed. I broke things off or begged them back together. We cycled between mutual happiness or one sided dissatisfaction. Some nights were composed of sex listening to Neutral Milk Hotel, of old fashioned video games and Lost. Other nights were bitter arguments over the afterlife, our future: where things mattered, we couldn't agree and no one was willing to compromise. I could never give him what he wanted when he wanted it.

Things were not always difficult, though. Like I said, when Alex loved, it was never a half hearted stab at romance with pathetic flowers or dinner at the mall. He left poetry on my ceiling, bought extravagant presents and let me cry to him on the phone in the dim hours of the morning, even when his classes weren't due to begin until noon. For those reasons and a myriad more, I don't regret losing my virginity to him.

The sensations of that day still linger in my mind: the taste of the river we swam in afterward, the sounds of traffic passing by, blissfully unaware of what was happening inside his tiny apartment, the way he touched me for the rest of the day--almost as though he were afraid of letting go momentarily, that I would be lost to the sun and city if he turned his back for only a second.

But that was the spring. The summer changed us. With minimal distractions, we had only ourselves, our fights and misgivings, to focus upon. He didn't have school to retreat to for a week when things turned sour at home. The strain became too much. We broke apart and dealt with the blow separately. I chose an older man and illicit substances; he chose several ex-girlfriends who were only too happy to corroborate the story of my insanity, clinginess and general incompatibleness with Alex. We both sought different people, but where he donned an armor of callous indifference, I stripped myself to the bone and showed my pain openly.

After what proved to be the final break, we met twice. Slept together twice. Each time we agreed that it was only for the physical satisfaction of it and nothing more. The closeness, the desire to be loved that I craved so, so badly, appeared only between the sheets. But it wasn't enough. Those meetings proved to be less than the methadone I needed to beat the heroin-like addiction that Alex Bristol was.

Eventually, clinging to dim memories and sex wasn't enough to combat an angry family, clinical depression and almost constant liquor. The days where I couldn't conjure a memory or kill it with alcohol began happening too frequently: I was either numb or depressed. There seemed to be no in between. My overdose took place in the front seat of my car, watching the sun sink over the horizon. With bottles of Tylenol and water, I prepared to slip quietly from the world and disappear into the sticky July night. But fear took hold of me. The moment of acceptance passed. I called 911.



The hospital visit lasted three days in the Intensive Care Unit. Yes, the dose was large enough to have killed me if I had waited longer. The time I spent there is blurred, though I remember several events, the IV-ripping that happened on my first night being one of them. I recall hours of crying. Lots of vomiting--black from activated charcoal. By the time I was discharged, I was a literal shell of someone I used to be. The mirrors I glanced at revealed a very scared, very sad stranger who seemed to have forgotten how to smile.

Alex Bristol didn't put me there, though. I did. And Alex didn't spur me in to growing. The day came where blossoming was finally a viable option, instead of remaining dormant as I'd long done with Alex. As a phoenix rises from the ashes, so I rose from the dearth Alex left his wake--within the small cave of my heart.





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Amanda B. said...
Jun. 12, 2010 at 8:46 pm
that was a very good story, i enjoyed reading it very much. 
 
kkd1003 said...
Jan. 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm
I thought this was a really cool story! I enjoyed how you made the character's personal thoughts and feelings so open and realistic.
 
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