Coming of Age Contemporary Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

Kindred minds tend to slow down time, and make the hours pass like days… but what if I want the day to end? What if his recurrent parroting of my own pessimistic views was entrenching my consciousness in darkness… would I ever see the light again? Could I ever recognize a love that wasn’t his? Or would we be trapped together… in a deep black mine the depths of which would become inescapable….

One day, years from now, when we’d say our vows, would the words be empty? And would there be anyone there to hear them, or would we have turned our backs on the rest of the world… just the two of us, our words lashing from our mouths like icepicks, slowly lobotomizing one another….

Before long the school year would be coming to an end, and we’d both graduate… but then what?... would I put my degree to use? Travel the world collecting memories through my camera lens?... Would I see the beauty in nature anymore? Could I possibly expect to capture the light in a subject’s eyes when my own were becoming so dull, and gray….

The more I think about the future, the more it feels like some abstract, fairytale of a thing… just another hypothetical…. I know I should call home, talk to my mom, ask her for help, hell, even beg for it… but I won’t…. All my worry, guilt, shame… I’ll carry it to the grave… the last thing I want is to become a welcomed nuisance….

I’ve tried writing poetry again, to spark something, anything from the last shreds of light flickering around in my ghosttown of a brain… but they all came out the same….

Beautiful death, free me, from this rotting cage of bone. Beautiful death, save me, then leave me all alone. Beautiful death, hold me, and tell me it’s alright. Beautiful death, love me, and make me yours tonight….

It’s kind of funny, nothing makes you feel more alive than thinking of ways to off yourself…. Endless possibilities…. And we’d all like to feel invincible, like we were some kind of great beast roaming the world like a king… but the truth is we’re all little more than balloons in terms of fragility… with the right prick, or poke we’d rupture… painting the sidewalk under my dorm room window….

But truthfully, I don’t think it would be high enough…. I’d have to walk down the street to the nearest hotel, maybe rent a bed, max my credit cards out on room service, and Skinemax… wait till about 10 or 11 when I knew there wouldn’t be any children around to traumatize…. I could walk out on the balcony, and chain-smoke one last pack of cigarettes before my big finale….

But as always the uncertainty of it all left me wanting a more surefire solution…. My second favorite way of doing it would be something like provoking a wild animal, a bear, or maybe a mountain lion. I’d take a nice sunny stroll through some hiking trail looking for something dangerous to piss off…. It would be excruciatingly painful, but at least nobody would know it was a suicide…. For all my mother knew it was a random act of God, just another unfortunate mauling. But then the blood of an innocent creature would be on my hands, I’m sure they’d track, and kill the animal, maybe not even the right one, so it was really a non-starter….

Ultimately though, I think the only logical method would be an overdose… take ten too many sleeping pills, and drift off, peacefully preserved…. The absence of deformity, or blood, or pain, just felt right. When I do go I want to be cremated, and made into potting soil, but this way my mother could still have an open casket in the meantime.

Even now I feel guilty thinking about it though… I’ve lived a privileged life, away from the trials, and tribulations that many others suffer through on a daily basis… So why was the desire there? Creeping around the corridors of all my insecurities, and fears, and sins, telling me just do it already. They’re all strong enough to endure, why couldn’t I? Maybe they’re just cowards….” My pessimism answers from the vast nothingness.

I’m wrong of course, at least I think I am. To bare a cross for the rest of one’s life, for no reason other than cowardice would be a tragic curse to live with…. God I’m an idiot… sitting here pitying people I don’t even know for NOT killing themselves… that’s not a red flag at all, I mean honestly what does he even see in me? Himself? Are we just two lonely, torn up people feeding into one another’s hurt?

Is there some sort of invisible blade in my hand that I inch deeper towards his heart every day? Does he do the same to me? Fuck… what the fuck am I supposed to do?.... We’ve been together for so long, and I know I wouldn’t have made it past freshman year if it wasn’t for him… but for God’s sake something has to give….

I know he feels the same way, so why bother discussing it? There’s no way in hell we could possibly soothe one another…. We just had to let the storm pass, and hope neither of us capsizes…. But I’m up to my neck in ice water already, and I don’t see a door floating around anywhere….

What we’re in is a shitload of trouble…. The chances of it going well are slim to none, but best case scenario we can stay friends, and see each other once in a while…. Worst case scenario is some Shakespearean bullshit, and I could never forgive myself if I took part in such melodramatic self-absorption….

I just have to end it… tell him how I feel, and hope that he returns the favor. An amicable separation was the least of what we both deserved….

I can already imagine what the conversation will be like. I'm sure that exchange would be filled with feelings of self-pity, and acceptance….

We'd hug, and part ways, going the rest of our lives just waiting for the moment we thought about the other for the very last time… it would be like I never even existed….

It could be better though, healthier… we could become better versions of ourselves… or it could just be lonely, and sad…. I could be sitting in an uncomfortable chair at some bar wishing I hadn't deleted his number months ago… just holding out hope that he'd call….

I'd just be the sad girl in the corner all by herself, playing sad songs on the jukebox, bumming out even the sloppiest of drunks… mouthing along to Adele while the bartender poured my fifth or sixth shot, just praying that she'd take pity and over-serve me….

You know how we all have that "little voice" in the back of our heads? Sometimes I feel like mine is lying to me… manipulating me into making mistakes, like it lives off of my anguish… like I'm stranded, walking down the side of the road with a gas can and it gives me the wrong directions just for a laugh….

It's like when I have my nightmares… people I love telling me they hate me, or a murderer chasing me through some maze taunting me as they inch closer with each stride… their inflection, their tone always varies, but I know it's that voice, that little fucking voice that's doing the talking….

And at the end of the day, I guess that little voice is still my own… sabotaging, and lingering on only the bitterest emotions… like a stray dog biting at the hands of a stranger who would give it a home, feed it, love it….

The pit in my chest grows wider as I watch him walking into the restaurant. He stops at the vacant podium where the hostess had been scratching her pen to paper just moments before. He rubs his neck nervously, and looks around trying to find where I was sitting, but I pretend I don't notice him… I've been waiting long enough to down a couple glasses of wine, he can wait a couple more minutes.

After another half a glass, the hostess returns to her station giggly, and glass-eyed. Their conversation is inaudible, but she motions to me. He smiles, nods, and makes a beeline to the table. I finish off the rest of my wine before he sits down.

"Sorry I'm late… how was class?" He asks. "Uneventful." I respond, pouring myself a fresh drink. "I missed you." He tries to grab my hand, but notices the slight recoiling of my fingers.

"You alright?" He asks, the confusion starting to scrunch up around his eyes. "Fine." I tell him as I gulp down another throat-full of bitter house-red…. "You don't seem fine…." He tells me in that stupid Elmo impersonation of his…. You're fine! "I'm fine…." "Okay… well… I guess Elmo stands corrected…."

I can't help but to laugh, and the look on his face tells me that he realizes he broke through…. And I feel it in my cheeks, and my withering laugh lines… a hint of that spark I'd been missing.

"You already order?" He asks. "Not food, no, you're so picky I'm surprised you even picked this place." "Do they not have chicken tenders on the menu? Their website said they served chicken tenders." "Well yeah, on the kids menu, the rest of it I can hardly pronounce." "Well I'm getting chicken tenders then." "You can't." "Why?" Because they're on the KIDS menu." "I just don't see the problem, this is a restaurant… I have money, they have chicken… who cares how old I am?" "I do!" I shout accidentally, startling the family seated next to us

He turns red, wishing he could just hide under the table I'm sure… looking at me like I was some stranger yelling at him in traffic.

His eyes flicker to the drink in my hand, and back up to my passive glare. Part of me expects him to get up and leave, but he just shakes his head, and smiles.

He takes the wine bottle in a trembling hand and pours himself a glass, gulping it down almost immediately. I can tell he's angry, and honestly, rightfully so, I did just embarrass him in front of half the restaurant for no good reason….

"Can I see that?" He asks, motioning to the menu, guess I forgot to ask our server for a second one…. "Yeah, sorry." I slide in over to him, our hands touch for a second, and he pretends not to notice.

"You know what you're getting?" He asks me, his eyes still scanning the menu. "Probably the eggplant parm." I tell him. Though I'd probably end up taking most of it home in a box, I'm sure that my anxiety will hinder my ability to eat.

"Anything look good to you? Besides the chicky tendies…." I give him a little smile so he knows I'm not trying to be mean. He laughs, and looks up at me, giving a fake little scowl like a bad Elvis imitation. "Ha. Ha… I'm thinking of getting the spaghetti, hopefully light on the sauce though." "Well of course, screw the sauce, it's not like it's the best part of the meal or anything." I tease again. "Okay, now I call bullshit! We both know the parmesan is easily the best part!"

He had me there, if this was one of those places that grated the cheese in front of you I'd probably lose my shit. "Okay, okay, you got me!" We laugh together, and for a minute the dread I'd been feeling all day kind of just floats to the back of my mind.

"How do you always do that?" I ask him. "Do what?" "Cheer me up…." I say, allowing some intimacy to come out. "That's my job, Nell…." He says, and just stares at me with his squinty green eyes. He must have forgotten his glasses today.

"Speaking of which… I have something I need to talk to you about." Here it comes, I knew it wasn't just bugging me, he brought me here to break up…. My heart drops, but why, this is what I want right? Then why doesn't it feel right?...

"What is it?" I ask, unable to hide the worry in my voice. "Well, you know I turned in my thesis paper to Professor Singer a month ago…." "Right, the one about the wild horses." I respond, wishing I could be more specific, but honestly after getting through another school year my memories were a little tough to navigate.

"Well last week she let me know how much she liked it, I mean she REALLY liked it…." "That's good right?" I ask, wondering what his horse paper could possibly do with our relationship, maybe I'm just being too self-centered…. "Yeah, but she also told me that she was sending it to some of her colleagues… I didn't want to tell anyone until after they had a chance to read it, I didn't want to jinx it…." He says, reaching out, grabbing my hands tightly, and I squeeze him back.

"So I'm guessing they read it?" "They did." "So did they like it?" Still not sure what could be so wrong…. "A couple of them loved it… they offered me a job…." He says, making good news sound like the opposite. "Holy shit, babe that's awesome! That's awesome right?" "It is… but…." He trails off, forehead creasing, starting to sweat.

"But what?..." "Their headquarters is in Spain, Nell…." Oh fuck… here it comes, we could never make long distance work… we haven't gone more than a couple of days without seeing each other since me met. "So I guess… you wanna break up then…." God, kill me now…. "What?! No, Nell!" He exclaims, recoiling at my assumption.

"Then why are you upset?" I ask him. "I'm not upset, I'm nervous…." "Nervous? About what? That's great news!" I try to reassure him, and myself at the same time. "Because I want you to go with me, and I'm afraid you'll say no!..." He blurts out. "But please hear me out! They set me up with a real-estate agent who found a great apartment! A lot of restaurants nearby, really cool stuff to photogra…." He stops abruptly when he sees me bolt up from the table, ready to kiss him… I'm sure the family next to us is very uncomfortable with my violent, then romantic outbursts… but I don't care, I feel it again, that spark of light.

People are so weird… our entire day, our outlook, our demeanor…can change within a single conversation… and entire futures can change with a handful of words, like: "Hell yeah I'll come with you…."

November 07, 2023 01:55

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