**Disclaimer and trigger warning. This is a completely fictional short story. It deals with tragedy and adult themes. If at any point you feel that the content makes you uncomfortable, please stop reading. My intent is not to cause any harm to anyone. I wrote this to help bring light to how men are meant to feel in society when they show emotion. Though it has gotten better I think, over time, some people still feel that a man showing emotion or talking about his feelings is a sign of weakness and this greatly saddens me. Suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States alone according to many sources, including the CDC+, and it is not something I take lightly. Thank you.**
“Do I have an aesthetically pleasing face?”‘ She’s studying the color of her eyes in the mirror.
“What are you talking about? Of course, you do.”
“They say if you split your face right down the middle and it’s symmetrical you’re considered more attractive to the general population. Models are symmetrical ya’ know? My eyes are crooked. I’m sure of it.”
“Who is they? You’re just high,” he says, pot smoke curling around his head. Self-medicating again, trying to make the thoughts in his head stop. Her eyes are dilated black from it, but she just likes to get high once in a while. “I’m just saying, I wish I was symmetrical is all.” She’s pulling her skin this way and that, inspecting herself, wearing nothing but lace panties, a silver anklet, and tiny hoops up the sides of her ears. Standing on her tiptoes, feet black from walking with no shoes on.
She finally stretches herself across the chair like a cat in the sun, her breasts, and stomach glistening with sweat. “It’s so hot I can’t stand it. We should go to the beach. I feel so restless!”
“You’re always restless,” he says, knowing that’s not the answer she wants to hear, but he’s just not in the mood to be around all those people. The smell of sunscreen makes him sick. That cloudless blue sky like the eyes of God pressing down on him. Judging him. No, not today. He can’t deal with that. “How about Chinese?” She flips over on the chair, resting her chin on her hands, elbows in the cushion. Her head tilted like a puppy. He squints at her suspiciously. “I know what you’re doing Lana, using those eyes on me like that. Alright. Fine.” He caves and she squeals, jumping off the couch to get dressed.
The world is crushing her. The pressure is too much, she’s going to pop. She can’t hear anything they’re saying. Her ears aren’t recognizing sounds. Their eyes are black and they’re moving too fast. She’s looking through them. The sirens are too loud and bright. None of this is really happening, she must be having a nightmare. She folds herself in half, protecting her belly. “Tell us when he was last here Lana, did he leave any notes? Was he acting weird at all?” There are so many questions, too many. How can she begin to answer them?
I love you, he whispers into her hair. She turns to kiss him and he reaches for her. They twist in the sheets and kiss until morning starts pushing its fingers through the slats in the blinds.
It’s another bad day. He doesn’t know how much longer he can do this. He’s so tired of fighting. Crying like a little bitch. Men don’t act like this. He feels useless. The constant medication changes, the ups and downs. He’s just so exhausted. What is there left to live for? He can’t see through the fog anymore. Lana doesn’t deserve this shit, he knows it. He heard it doesn’t hurt if you do it in the bathtub. Then he can’t believe he’s thinking like this. He forces himself out of bed, Lana is asleep, holding her belly, bigger by the day. He kisses her and dresses for work. Pops a Xanax before heading out, looking back at her silhouette one more time, and grabs the revolver just in case.
It’s raining on the day of the funeral. She can’t believe he’s gone. The image of him won’t leave her mind, his face, his smile. She has cried so much that she can’t cry anymore. It’s actually physically impossible at this point. He’s gone. She keeps repeating this, trying to make it seem real. How can his life be gone when there is a life still moving inside her that is half his? How dare he leave her, leave them, behind? Apparently, she can still cry, after all.
“…looking back at her silhouette one more time, and grabs the revolver just in case.”
It’s a routine appointment. Blood pressure. How are you’s. Charts. The scratching of the pen across the paper grates on his nerves. The doctor’s voice hurts his ears. He hasn’t told him about the suicidal thoughts. He’s too humiliated and scared. What difference does it make? He smiles and nods. Another prescription, another bottle. The clock is ticking so loud it hurts his head. He wants to lie down. Press his face to Lana’s belly. He wants to cry. But real men don’t cry.
She is dreaming in waves of red. Blood like a waterfall, they are drowning in it, she reaches for his hand but she can’t get to him. He’s too far away. She screams, wakes up covered in sweat. The phone is ringing, breaking the blackened silence. “Hello, Mrs. Lana…Lana Thorn?” “Yes?” “It’s about David…”
They found David in an abandoned warehouse at a construction site they were going to start work on soon. Revolver lying next to his hand. He had been missing for two days. There was no note. Lana didn’t need one. He had struggled all his life, he always smiled through it. She never knew it was this bad. He didn’t talk about it that much. She cried so much that her head felt like a balloon ready to pop. Her eyes, red and swollen. “You have to identify the body.” “What?” The man on the phone repeated the sentence and she started crying again. She wished she’d have known, that he would have told her he was so sad and lost. She could’ve done something. Didn’t he think about the ones he’d leave behind? The grief was overwhelming every particle of her being. If only he’d have talked about it. If only, if only. A thousand if onlys couldn’t bring him back now.
“Lana, I love you more than anything but I can’t do this anymore.” He crumbles the note in his fist. He doesn’t know how to do this. It’s humid and he’s sitting with his back against a partial concrete wall, half falling down. The city is pulsing with activity but he’s blissfully alone. He can hear cars in the distance. He finally breaks down. He’s been trying to write this note for an hour but nothing seems like enough. How can he explain what’s in his heart? How can he tell her it’s not her fault, that he’s just fucked up in his head. That he loves her but he can’t live trapped in sadness anymore. How can he say goodbye? He doesn’t think about all the ones he’s leaving behind, only her.
She’s pushing and her body feels like it’s being ripped in half. She screams but it comes out as a gasp. The pain feels like it’s tearing her apart. The baby isn’t supposed to be coming yet. This can’t be happening, she needs David, she can’t do this alone. She grips the sheets, her knuckles white and her breathing ragged. The pain comes in waves and she is so tired. She wants to give up. Just let the pain take her. She wants to be with David. The nurse is telling her to push, she can smell the metallic blood, the lights are too bright, and everything is going fuzzy. She’s not sure she can hold on much longer and then she hears it, that high pitched wail. “It’s a boy!”, the doctor says, placing him on her chest, and when she looks down at him, he looks just like David, she starts to weep then falls into the blackness of sleep.
It’s a fall day, blustery. Leaves are dusting the grave and she reaches down to brush some off. A lone tear falls into the dirt. She holds David Jr’s hand and sits cross-legged in the grass, pulling him into her lap. He’s two now, she still misses David at every moment, especially alone at night in their empty bed. Sometimes when she wakes up and trots over the hardwood floors to pee she swears he’s still lying there, waiting to wrap his arms around her. She tells little David stories about him. The first time they fished and she caught a bass that was only two inches long, how she was afraid to bait the hook. How his daddy unhooked it and threw it back into the clear river for her. Blue like his eyes. How they used to dance in the living room, “fly me to the moon…” and he would twirl her around and around like a ballerina. How they attempted to make crepes one time at two in the morning and burned them to bits setting off all the fire alarms and ate leftover pizza instead of sitting on the kitchen counters in their underwear.
She raises her face to the warm autumn sun and smiles. He didn’t actually leave her behind, not really, he lives in everything. The sun, the trees, the sky, her home-but especially, this little boy.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline