“Please don’t take your life tonight : I’m trying to make dinner”

Submitted into Contest #127 in response to: Begin your story with a character having a gut feeling they cannot explain.... view prompt

10 comments

Drama Sad Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of suicide or self harm.

Bonnie Jones’ husband Don had threatened to commit suicide many times before. She had uprooted her life and the

lives of her three children for him and he still refused to follow his Drs instructions. Don skipped counseling appts and was non compliant with taking his anti depressant medications. He’d have “great moments” that dragged into days and weeks of uneventful “normalcy” but something would always happen and Don would be “on the

edge,” Not taking his meds and living on ups and downs that his wife Bonnie knew he was close

to another suicide attempt, or the

threat of one.

She’d

been through so many of these with

Don that she had lost much of her empathy and just wanted to get

on with

the business of daily life with three teenagers and a stressful job-without having to wonder and worry whether or not her husband of

19 years was going to take his life “for real” this time. I know, it sounds cold and uncaring. She really does love him, truly but has become so “gun shy” or desensitized regarding her husbands mental health. Oh Bonnie wasn’t the first ten or so times Don threatened suicide. He would have some dark days and actually sunk so low in a depressive state once that it took weeks for him to feel and act better. And yes, his meds helped and countless visits to his therapist and numerous house calls from close friends and family helped too ! It was emotionally draining as Bonnie had one toddler and an infant and six months later discovered she was pregnant again !!! But God willing, they made it through - until Don’s next “break down” the next Fall. And every year after but the past two years, he’s had more than one episode a year and refuses to take his anti depression medication regularly OR follow up with his therapist as scheduled!

it’s been challenging for Bonnie to run her household and make sure Don is following his mental health regime too.

This past year too, Don has also begun announcing to Bonnie that he will be ending his life at “such and such “a time , and how and where.

The first few times, Bonnie was sick with dread and pleaded with Don to talk to his Dr, go into hospital - something ! Anything but the worst outcome !

However he didn’t and also didn’t take his life either.

Then, after the sixth or seventh time Don had announced his plans to end his life, Bonnie became angry and yelled to him to “please don’t kill yourself tonight Don! I’m making dinner and kids are having friends over “

Silence was Bonnie’s response from her husband and he again “cried wolf.”

Of course she was relieved but also completely perplexed as to what to do next and more than emotionally exhausted by his behavior.

Life continued status quo for Bonnie and Don and their kids: Eric, Jane and Jim , for the next

two years.

Then on the year their oldest Eric graduated from high school, Bonnie and Don celebrated 19 years of marriage.

Jane was a sophomore in high school and Jimmy the youngest, a Freshman.

All were great students! Active in sports and activities with their friends. They worried about their dad, especially Jane, but also, had SO much going on to keep them busy and happy in their lives.

Perhaps they didn’t realize the extent of their dad’s suicidal depression? They shouldn’t have had to being the young carefree teens they were.

But sadly, it affected them and would scar them forever one summer day.

Bonnie awoke with a strong sense of dread, one she hadn’t felt in a long time. She reached over to feel for her husband but felt the cold emptiness of the sheets on his side of the bed, which told her he’d been up for hours.

It was 8am when she tiptoed into the kitchen and heard the clock ticking quietly, yet it sounded as loud as a horn. Her daughter was at a friends house and the boys left at 730 for the beach and onto swim practice later that morning. It would be just she and Don home for “private time” before work. But she was off Today and he would be up having breakfast, reading the paper normally.

But Don was nowhere inside their house. “Perhaps he left for work early?” Bonnie

didnt

think he actually did, but checked the

garage in case. Dons pickup was there. And it wasn’t like him to walk this early in the morning.

Bonnie pushed aside her thoughts and got

dressed in about 8 seconds, made a quick cup of coffee and headed for the

backyard. First stop, her “She she’d” to do some gardening and try and shake this sense of fear and foreboding she felt deep within. However, as she opened her shed, her feeling of dread escalated when she immediately saw a white envelope propped up on her work hutch with “BONNIE” scrawled in bold red letters. Her hands trembled as she took too long opening the note from her husband, explaining that he was “so sorry” to take his life behind her beloved shed; but that he didn’t want the kids to find him and that he’d been planning this for weeks. Almost as if she’d be proud of him for making good on his years long threat of suicide!

There were trees surrounding the shed, shielding it from neighbors’ views. Perhaps why Don chose that location. And the fact that he knew the kids didn’t really go back there much. Bonne was out there most days in the summer, Don did know this.

Bonnie’s first reaction upon reading his note was disbelief and anger, “here he goes again! Damn!” She thought to herself.

”he’s been SO good lately, so much happier!”

it didn’t make sense.

Then after her heart slowed down and she couldn’t hear it Pounding in her ears, she took deep breaths and slowly walked behind her shed. Her She Shed she was so happy to have built for her 40th birthday 5 years ago.

Painted yellow like the house and now she would have to tear it down . “Tear it down, my darling,” she whispered as she stroked Dons cold face. A huge sense of relief mixed with sadness and regret swept over her.

”you’re free now my love.”

Bonnie held her husbands cold hand in hers, it was stiff and she closed his eyes with her other hand.

She Sat with him for a very long time before kissing his lips one last time, wiping her tears away and walking slowly into her house.

December 31, 2021 22:37

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10 comments

Melony Beard
22:12 Jan 12, 2022

Great story telling. Hooked me from the start and not overcrowded with descriptive words and prose. So many stories are so "prettied" up, it makes it difficult to follow the story line. Good job

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Erin Olig
15:13 Jan 12, 2022

I hoped for that twist at the end, that he wasn't there behind the shed. But that, unfortunately, is often not the way the story ends. You captured poignantly the apathy Bonnie needed to live with a mentally ill spouse. Thank you for sharing.

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Kristin Gartner
20:23 Jan 10, 2022

Love this title. Really caught my attention. And I thought that was an impactful and realistic ending as well. Sadness and relief is definitely a mixture that presents in these situations.

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17:07 Jan 08, 2022

Hi Kelly -- you definitely know how to grab a reader's attention. Oof. That title! That opening line! So great. This needs a bit of proofreading to pick up grammar and punctuation errors, but feel free to ignore me as I'm an English teacher. haha The heart and emotion and energy is all here. I think a little more "show, not tell" would work. You tell us she loses empathy for Don, but maybe we can overhear a phone call to a friend or her mother? I have found the reader likes to discover things for themselves :) Make them do some of the work ...

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00:45 Jan 09, 2022

Thank you Deidra, I appreciate your feedback.

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Kate Winchester
15:19 Jan 08, 2022

I think you do a great job of portraying the struggles of living with someone who has mental health issues. For Bonnie to stay with Don despite the challenges, is really a testament to her character, and you articulate it well. One thing I noticed is you use a lot of exclamation points, and I think they lose their effect. I think one or two is fine, but that's just my opinion. As sad as it is, I think the end is my favorite part. Bonnie's reaction is real, raw, and relatable. Kudos!

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15:37 Jan 08, 2022

Thank you Kate and I appreciate your critique - I’ve been told by a very well respected friend of mine before to “lose the exclamations” I need to work on that. I don’t mean to sound “flippant” about suicide; It’s how I lost my own father. Perhaps in some days he is “Don” in my story ? Thavk you , Kelly

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Kate Winchester
18:08 Jan 08, 2022

Hi Kelly, Don’t worry, I don’t think you sounded flippant. I’m very sorry to hear about your dad. I definitely think our experiences shape how we write our stories, and that writers put a piece of their lives into the characters.

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00:48 Jan 09, 2022

I remember reading a quote by Jimmy Buffett year ago: “write what you know about” as he was writing his first “Tales of Margaritaville” book. I wish I knew more about sailing and less about dysfunctional families but I know many who’ve had it much worse than I ever did.

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Kate Winchester
03:10 Jan 09, 2022

I think Jimmy hit the nail on the head lol. For your sake, I wish you didn’t have to deal with a dysfunctional family too. It sounds like your stronger for it and that your using writing as a good outlet. 😊

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