Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Up the River, Down the River by Steve Ormosi

I won't bullshit you, this is a story about suicide.  If that makes you uncomfortable, you probably should not read it.  It's not a happy story, the only consolation is the fact that these people aren't real.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of real people who do kill themselves, and I've always been kind of morbidly fascinated with the reasoning and justification.  I don't think I could deal with such a final decision.  Anyway, if you're up for it, here's the story:

David’s shoes frantically scraped the air as he swung noiselessly.  Soon, his legs rested and, not long after, his mother entered the room and found him hanging by a thread.  She cried and cried.  Normally David would console her, like he had when his father killed himself in the same way, but now she had no one.  In an instant, David had taken away the only thing his mother still treasured, and secretly she hated him for that, even though her love and grief for her boy overwhelmed her.

She began planning her own demise the day after the funeral.  To the world, she exclaimed that she no longer believed in God, because, she thought, her real feelings were worse.  She felt that God hated her.  And the feeling was mutual.

Inside of her home she sat and wrote a note to those who might care.  She detailed the reasons for her death and the death of her hopes and dreams.  It was a marvelous piece of writing, she thought to herself.  If it was anything but a suicide note, she might have submitted it to be published.  But that was just another dream down the drain.  The note was signed at the end:

From Beyond the Grave,


There was a tear drop on the page, though what those who read it would never know, what they could not know, was that it was a tear of relief and not despair.  Now that her plan was cemented, she felt more in control than she had in years.

Susan took out a bottle of wine and poured herself a glass.  There was no reason, she felt, to go out sober.  So she sipped the best red she had and made a list of all the people who had wronged her.  When she started the list, she’d wanted to forgive these people.  But as she went, she realized that she still hated all of them.  The last two were her husband and her son, David.

“For leaving me alone.” She said when she finished writing, as though they’d asked her why.

As she tied the noose slowly, Susan reminded herself that there was nothing to be afraid of.  And nothing was better than this.  She put the rope down on the table and picked up the glass of wine, not much left now, it sloshed around the bottom of the glass and left bloody smears along the sides that ran slowly away until they were only memories.

Susan swallowed the last of the wine.  At least I’m the last of us, she thought as she took a stepstool from her closet.  No one else to let down.  No one else’s life to ruin.  She would be a simple afterthought, a bad day for her friends.  Not crushing depression, not debilitating sadness.

She hummed as she walked into the dining room, an old lullaby from when David was a baby.  She’d been happy then.  She thought of how he used to smile to hear her hum.  It made her smile.  She picked up the rope from the table and set the stepstool down just below the ceiling fan.

Susan let one solitary tear drop drip from her face onto the soft green carpet below.  She wiped the trail from her cheek and tasted it.  The salt reminded her of the times she’d once spent at the beach with David when he was a boy, the wind caressing her face, the soft warmth of the sun in late spring.  They’d fished for sand crabs as the waves lapped at their feet.  He’d always gotten so cold from going in the ocean and his lips would turn purple.  The same color they were when she’d found him.

She climbed the stepstool and tied the rope around the fan.  For a brief moment she thought about her husband.  He had been the one to start this nonsense.  He had been the one who made David follow him.  She guessed she should have known all along that he would be the death of her.  Those macabre wedding vows echoed in her head.  Till death do us part, nothing.  The only thing she was looking forward to was seeing him writhing in pain with her until the end of time.

Susan slipped the noose around her neck and took a few quick breaths.  Then she kicked the stool out from under her feet.  It wasn’t like they say.  Her life did not flash before her eyes, it was just pain and panic as she thrashed.  She still wanted to die, but not like this.  Her feet scaped the air as she gurgled noiselessly.  Her vision began to slowly fade in a cartoonish iris wipe.  She pulled frantically at the rope around her throat, but to no avail.  It only tightened its grip.

And then the fan fell. 

It was a heavy fan. 

The paramedics entered the house the next day after a call from Susan’s friend who had come to visit and been unpleasantly surprised.  They said the blunt trauma from the falling fan had finished what Susan had started with the rope.

Everyone said that it was very sad.  They all cried to read her suicide note.  Exceptionally written, everyone agreed.  But no one’s life was ruined and no one was inconsolably devastated.  Everyone went back to life as normal and Susan became the exclamation point at the end of a strange footnote in town history.

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