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Drama Fiction Friendship

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

"Are you there?"

Nothing.

"Nick, if you'd like to discontinue our chat today, please let me know you're safe and we can end the session and follow up later."

Nothing for a few more seconds, and then an ellipsis icon appeared in the thread. I exhaled with relief. At least he was still there.

"Jon is here. Gotta go. Thx for the chat."

The chat window closed. Nick didn't opt to take the survey and in a way, I was glad. Nobody completes the surveys--well, almost nobody--and the few who do have nothing good to say. It wasn't favorable for callers and chatters to not opt into the survey, but it was always worse to have survey responses. Doug was my manager, and he enjoyed reviewing the survey responses. I was certain that the only thing Doug did behind his closed door was eat himself to death and read survey responses. He was always desperate for some way to make it look like he was earning his paycheck.

I looked up a the clock on the wall. My shift ended in seven minutes from now. I couldn't wait to be free from my cubicle prison and the fluorescent ceiling lamp that burned directly above me. I wanted out. Nick had wanted out too.

"Hi Nick. I am Jesse. Thank you for reaching out for help today. First, are you safe?"

"Ya"

"Thank you for confirming that you're safe. I want to listen and I want to help. Can you describe how you feel right now?"

"Like shit."

"Thank you for sharing openly. I'm sorry that you feel awful. Your feelings make sense. It is okay to feel the way you do. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is reach out and ask for help, so I'm happy you did that. Your chat intake form shows you were feeling suicidal. Are you still feeling like you could harm yourself?"

"Thought about it. Thought about driving my car into the lake. Or into traffic. Just want out."

"Are you in your car right now?"

"Ya"

"Is the car on?"

"No, turned it off."

"Okay great. Are you able to leave your car right now?"

"No. They're still inside my house together. I'm in the driveway."

"Who is inside the house? Are you safe around them?"

"I found her with the neighbor AGAIN. Got off work and found her fucking the neighbor. In my fucking house. That I bought. That I work for."

"I'm sorry, Nick. That must have been really hard, and I understand why you are hurting. Can you go anywhere else on foot? Do you have any friends who can pick you up?"

"I have one guy"

"Great. What is their name?"

"Jon."

"Do you feel like you will be safe with Jon?"

"Ya. Texting him now."

"Good, I'm glad to hear it. How long have you and Jon been friends?"

"High school. Been close ever since."

I checked the intake form again. At age 37, Nick found himself wanting to end his life. Here was a guy at his worst, and he had more friends than I did.

"OK, Jon is on the way"

"That is great. Thank you for reaching out to your friend. Looks like you've been friends for almost half of your life. I'm glad you have someone you can trust and feel safe with right now. How do you feel knowing that Jon is on the way?"

"Scared. Dunno what to tell him."

"I understand that you're scared. What would you say you're scared of?"

"That he will think less of me. Can't deal with this anymore. I'm just not ok by myself tonite."

"I'm hearing that you're scared he might think less of you if he knows how you really feel. I'm also hearing that what he thinks means a lot to you. Is that right?"

"Definitely"

"Your feelings are valid. Would you say that Jon handles tough situations well?"

"Oh ya, he's a rock"

"I'm glad to hear that! It's great to have support when a person feels the way you feel. Would you say that it's possible that Jon will accept the way you feel and will want to support you?"

"For sure."

"That's great, Nick. It sounds like you have someone who cares about you today. Would you agree?"

"Ya, at least Jon does"

"That's a good thing. I'm sorry that you feel that others might not care, but I am glad you have Jon with you today."

His buddy would be there soon. The scene started to unfold in my mind. I imagined Jon's car pulling behind Nick's car in the driveway. Nick would grab his lunch bag and whatever else he might need for the day he'd spend away from his own house. He'd make eye contact with Jon, walk to the passenger side of his friend's car, get in, close the door, set his things down, and start sobbing. He'd put his face in his hands and try to hide it for a few seconds, but he'd let his guard down. Jon would put his hand on his friend's shoulder.

"Sorry man. That's fucked up. Sorry," he'd say, as he consoled his friend.

A friend to cry with. In seven minutes I would get out, but there would be no Jon. Nobody to call either.

I grabbed my lunch bag, stood up, and slid my chair under the desk. I walked to the end of the row, and noticed that Doug's door was open. I looked at the floor and quickly walked passed the doorway. He didn't notice. I pressed the exterior door handlebar in, and made my escape into the hot, humid Alabama evening.

I opened the car door, pulled my phone out my pocket, placed it on the dash mount, and got in. When the door closed, I was alone in the silence. I reached for my phone, and turned it over. No notifications. No new texts, phone calls, or emails. No notifications on social media. Nothing. Nobody.

Nick was the lucky one today.

July 24, 2023 23:41

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