Catharsis

PLEASE don't read this if you're not feeling particularly strong at the moment.

She did it on a warm day. After the decision had been made, the “when” seemed arbitrary. As it turned out, she waited nine days. Not for any particular reason – she didn’t use the time for anything really, just went about her regular life. There was a little bit of research to be done – bus routes to be found out, but that didn’t take much time.

Up at five after a fitful sleep. Far earlier than necessary, but she gets sick of lying in bed.
Breakfast – cereal – and coffee.
Check email. Always that hope. So often, that crushing disappointment.
30 minutes on a packed peak-hour tram.
Work. Instant miso and crackers for lunch.
60 minutes on a bus, to avoid the painfully packed afternoon trams.
Check email. Always that hope. So often, that crushing disappointment.
Lie on the couch. Stare at the wall.
Wander aimlessly through the internet, following links without even bothering to read.
Sit on the floor. Stare at the wall.
Try to write. Stare at her hands on the keyboard.
Cup of tea.
Shower.
Bed.
Fitful sleep.
Smoke between 30 and 40 cigarettes while doing the above.

The decision was made on a Monday. Despite it being the middle of summer, that day was cold and windy, as were several of the following days. She used to love the wind but its howling during those days was almost painful. It reduced her concentration span even further; invaded her mind and her senses. It seemed so violent. She wanted to yell at it to stop, shut up, go away. This city was like that. During summer, the temperature could drop by 20 degrees in a day. It could stay that way for a while then shoot up again just as suddenly. Lately she’d been quite confused, not knowing whether she was hot or cold.

Having made the decision, she felt no sadness. There was no sense of loss or even of fear. She didn’t think about what she was feeling; nor whether she was feeling anything at all. She just got through her days. Until that Wednesday.

The first three steps of the day were the same as always. She got out of bed at 5, ate breakfast and had a cup of coffee. At this point she veered from the routine by phoning work. She knew if she phoned early enough she’d get the message bank and wouldn’t have to actually speak to anyone. After making the call, she made herself another cup of coffee and sat down at the computer to write.

There were five letters to be written, all of which contained variations on a theme: I know you love me. I know I can pick up the phone right now and call you. I know I could have run to you at any point in the last six months. I chose not to. She wanted to make that clear, she wanted there to be no mistake. She knew they’d blame themselves anyway, but she had to at least give them something to cling to.

The fifth and final letter was a little different. It was an email, to which the others were attached. He was on the other side of an ocean and she knew he wouldn’t be up for a few hours, and probably wouldn’t check his email until sometime after that. I’m going to reformat my computer as soon as I hit ‘send’. I need you to deliver these. I am asking because I know you’ll do it. You are the only person I could ask. Just as I would have done for you. Wait 48 hours, then call this number. They will tell you. Then send the emails. I love you. She didn’t hit ‘send’ just yet, but left the message on her screen with the files attached.

She gave them all the same explanation: It’s time. I’m tired and it’s time to stop. That’s all. I just need to rest now.

There was a brief moment of something: self-pity, she thought. It snuck in there as she was writing, these letters to be dispersed across the world: there were no letters to be read here, in the city where she’d lived for the last eighteen months, where she’d spent more of her adult life than any other place. There was no one here, after a year and a half, whose number she had. Nobody she could call out to. Nobody to ask for help. Nobody to hear I’m drowning.

After that, she packed a bag.

The little bottle. Most important.
A box cutter.
The thin but warm blanket that she’d bought while travelling, and taken everywhere since then.
A small bottle of water.
Her music.
A pair of swim shorts and a singlet.
Her ID, in a waterproof sleeve attached to a wristband.
Two packets of cigarettes.

She would wear warm clothes, knowing that the coastal breezes could be quite chilly and also knowing that might have a while to wait. No phone, no wallet, no keys. She had tried this once before and knew where she’d gone wrong. She’d emailed three of the letters directly, left her computer on and taken her phone with her. The calls came from Malaysia and China. All of that love had moved something in her and she’d been unable to go through with it.  

Taking some garbage bags from the drawer in the kitchen, she went in to her bedroom. She bagged up all her clothes, and used a black permanent marker to write “For Donation – Clothes” on the bag. She did the same with her books (which went into a box). Everything else – all of her paperwork, letters, little bits and pieces and half-full bottles of stuff – she put in another bag to take down to the bin. She ******** the bed and put the sheets in the washing machine.

By the time she had finished, it was almost time to go. She had a shower, dressed in her favourite clothes, then sat down and re-read the letters. Made sure there were no grammatical errors, which, for some reason, seemed an important thing to do. When she was satisfied, she hit the “send” button. She immediately took the battery out of her phone; deleted every single message in her mail account and logged out of it.  

Finally, she told her computer to reformat itself.

The trip would take her about two hours, in total. By the position of the sun, she guessed there were about three hours of daylight left. She realised that she hadn’t looked at a clock all day, but still didn’t feel the need to. The public transport was fairly regular. She picked up her bag, locked the door behind her and took the two garbage bags down to the bin room. She’d always hated the bin room; not because of the smell (which was significant) but because of the darkness. The door was heavy and if the bins near it were full, she had to let it swing shut as she moved towards the back of the room. She always felt afraid when that happened; today, however, it didn’t bother her.

The trip was uneventful. She put her music in – the playlist titled “background” which had about ten hours’ worth of music in it. Stared out the window. Got off in the city. Got on the train. Stared out the window.

She felt impatient.

When she got off the train, at the last station, it was only a short walk to the beach. She guessed that nobody would be using it at night – for most purposes, there were more convenient locations. This beach was met by high cliffs and could only be accessed by descending the two hundred odd stairs which led down. At high tide, there was only a metre or so of wet sand before the waves lapped at your ankles.  

She made her way carefully down the stairs. When she got to the bottom it was just on sunset. She walked about a hundred metres along the beach, knowing that it was a further hundred until the next lot of stairs. She didn’t see anyone at that time and was glad of it. She found a rock and sat down, wrapping the blanket around her shoulders to protect her from the cool breeze. Now all she had to do was wait until it was dark – another hour or so.

She listened to music and watched the sun set over the ocean. None of it moved her. There were no tears in this final moment, nor any sense of sadness. All of that had come before and been exhausted. Once, she had felt grief, she had been moved by beauty, she had wept and laughed. But then something else had entered her, some darkness which grew until she felt it filling her up; she felt its weight in her fingertips and toes. Or perhaps it hadn’t entered her, perhaps it had always been there and merely grown. When she first realised its presence she had tried, so very hard, to fight it. She’d sought counselling, she’d sought love, she’d sought beauty. But the darkness continued to grow unimpeded until she realised there was nothing she could do.

At least, there was only one thing she could do. She could choose not to live like this.

The arc of darkness in the sky was shrinking around the point where the sun had last been visible. Her heart sped up a little as she took the box cutter out of the bag. It had been two years since she’d done this; two years of resisting the temptation. She desperately wanted to do it now. She wanted to let the blood out.

She wondered for an instant if the blood would attract sharks. She decided she didn’t like the idea, but it didn’t really trouble her. It would still be quick enough.

Next, she got changed into her swimming gear. The blood ran down her arms and legs, soaking her clothes and staining her blanket. It was odd that she never seemed to feel light-headed as a result of blood loss. She knew many people who fainted during blood tests; she’d lost far more than that on several occasions and felt nothing. Still, she didn’t want to risk it so she acted quickly. After she’d changed, she took out her earphones and attached her ID to her wrist.

Swallowing the bottle of pills was just another step. Last time, it had been the point at which her nerve failed her. Looking at all those tablets she had realised, I can’t do it. Since then the darkness had grown and she simply unscrewed the lid, poured them into her mouth, then drank half the bottle of water.

She didn’t know how much time she had left now. The light had disappeared completely and she walked out towards the barely visible horizon. She chose a star, low on the horizon and bright, to chase. The water was cold when it started lapping at her ankles, but she’d been expecting this. She walked out as deep as she could stand, the salt stinging savagely at her recent wounds. It was a warming sensation and she was glad of it. She kept going, feeling the water above her breasts, to her neck. Then she launched herself forward and swum.

She’d always been a strong swimmer and the current was working with her, swiftly carrying her far out to sea. After a while she stopped, treading water, and looked behind her. The lights were far off in the distance and she knew she’d never get back. Her arms and legs were already feeling heavy, aching from the wounds and lethargic from the drugs. She turned back to her star and continued, slower now.

Another five minutes and she could barely move. She rolled over on her back, submerging her ears, and looked at the sky. She felt warm, and it was nice to be floating. 

adjyo adjyo
31-35, F
2 Responses Mar 8, 2009

I don't know. I don't know how she got there and I don't know where she went. I hope she found peace in the silence.<br />
<br />
Why does it scare you?

Oh Sweetheart, I'm sorry your feeling such despair. There was a time I fantasied committing suicide, just for the relief it momentarily gave me. My love and bright energy is with you.