Every day, we pull ourselves a little deeper.
A little deeper in love.
A little deeper in s*** we caused.
A little deeper into sadness.
Maybe we don’t pull ourselves, maybe we don’t have that level of control, because some of us just fall - we fall, and fall, and fall as deep as we can without so much as a rut in the walls to catch onto.
I fall deeper in love some days, deeper into my problems most days, and deeper into this horrible feeling that grabs my heart and won’t stop squeezing every single day. The stories I write for myself all up and down my arms all sing the same words, over and over again, and the stares from people around me all had the same judgemental questions: “What does she think is so wrong with her life that makes her do stupid things like that?”
I don’t know, that’s the first thing. I don’t know if I’ll wake up with a smile or a tear, I don’t know if I’ll make it to the end of the day, I don’t know if I can bear to put up with pretending to be happy around others. That’s maddening, to not know. How could you live in a world where you know nothing, are nothing? Answers are what I want, I want days. I want a timer, a schedule.
Someone else might look, when I spend my afternoons with him, and ask, “Why does she do that if she’s got someone hooked around her arm like that?”
Bradley understands. I don’t know if he really does love me, but that’s just another thing everyone asks themselves all the time. He cares, or at least is a great actor, but that doesn’t mean he’ll stop me. He walks with his hand in mine, fingers laced through and running along my knuckles, or sometimes he keeps his hand wrapped around my wrist and caressing the disfigured skin with his thumb.
So many people ask so many questions, not out loud, but to themselves - because they’re uncomfortable. I make people uncomfortable, or at least I do with the sight of my sunken, lifeless eyes, hated body, and the sound of my tired, unhappy voice. I know I’m not a sight, I know that regular people don’t know what to say or do around me, all because they’re happy. No happy person knows how to act when someone isn’t as happy as them, they all take it the wrong way. Are you sad because of me, they wonder? Do you just not like me? Or are you always such a b****? Why do you always look so pissed and grouchy around me? I’ve heard them all. That’s alright, you can think that if it makes you more comfortable.
“It’s okay, Marian,” he whispered to me, putting down the pen as he took my hand. His thumb gently passed over my knuckles again, and he let a kiss fall on the back of my wrist. Slowly, silently, I release my breath at the sight of his face, a breath I had been holding for who knows how long. He knows it’s okay, I know he knows. My eyes turned downcast as he returned to writing out my final words just as quickly as I spoke.
Any day, I can hold my breath. Every day, I could hold my breath. All day, though, I can’t hold my breath. Sometimes I can take a long deep breath in, then hold it still until I see spots. I don’t really get a kick out of seeing the spots, but it’s nice to see how long I go without needing a breath. I can stay silent, no outward sounds from any part of my body, and I feel at peace. If there’s no flow of breath in and out, then it’s almost like I’m dead.
That’s when I can hear my heart beating, and that’s when I remember I’m still alive.
It’s pounding, it’s ringing, it’s filling my ears, my head, and making my body tremble in rhythm.
I just want it to stop.
The breath is a pain when I let it out - part of me wanted it to escape, I didn’t like the feeling of having it all bunched up inside. But the other part wanted to hold it in and hold it in until I didn’t feel anything anymore, until I wasn’t awake. That isn’t so much to ask.
“You don’t have to go through with it, you know,” he calmly said, his lips brushing against my cheek and pushing my hair aside with his breath. So close, so warm, his face was so nearby. Would I ever feel that sort of warmth again? I shook my head against his and dropped my forehead onto his shoulder.
“I-I do,” I whispered in reply. Bradley took both my hands and kissed them, then turned them over and kissed both my forearms, twice kissing the left. My skin prickled at the sensation and tears flooded my eyes, but it was nice. The feeling was nice. These moments together were, well… nice. They were a bit of reality I wanted to feel, the little bit that got through how numb I felt to everything.
“Will you come right after me?” I asked, rolling my sleeves back down to wipe my burning tears - you’ve got no place to be there, little drops of water, you’re only caused by an overstimulation of senses in my brain. You don’t mean anything, you just mean that my brain is producing chemicals. You don’t mean anything. And neither do I.
“Of course, I’ll be right there after you,” he lied. I could see it in his eyes, he lied. But the empty words felt nice. They were hollow of meaning, but I felt the same way most of my life, so what did it matter? How many times had he said something like that only to find a way to snake back out of it? Maybe Bradley was just as empty as I was, just a hollow casing that had stopped caring about others, much less himself. But he wouldn’t follow.
It was a timer I wanted, a time, a schedule, something of my choosing. So that’s exactly what I got from him. I just didn’t know it would go so fast. A timer down to my death was something the Reaper, as he explained, could see for miles. Did it know it would end this way? Or was this throwing off divine plans?
“We can start now, Marian,” Bradley softly muttered, putting down the pen once more and folding the black book on his lap. I didn’t know how it would work, I just knew it would free me. Reaching out and carefully cradling the book, the resting place of my final words on which I had previously decided, I traced along the silver words that adorned the cover and felt a tear drop onto it. As my eyes lifted up and my gaze fell on my loving Bradley one more time, it was the background that caught my attention - a hulking, dark mass with devilish eyes and a glowing grin all vibrant against its body.
“The… Reaper?” I asked, my voice trembling and my hands releasing the binding of the book. It chuckled.
“Time’s up for you, Marian,” it rasped.
Sometimes you fall, sometimes you fall deep, sometimes you fall even deeper than that, but no one could fall deeper than rock bottom. Growing up, I never wondered where or what would be my rock bottom. How quickly things in life go from never even wondering to searching for that state. Now I know: rock bottom is bleeding out on the floor of someone who never loved you enough to try to stop you.