Blood. And slit wrists. That’s all I see. Like a flashback, only it hasn’t happened. A pool of blood. A lifeless body. Pale face. Dark hair. White hands and red wrists.
What do you do when someone comes to you telling you they plan to commit suicide?
She’s sitting on my couch; her shoulders hunched, her long hair shielding her face. The room is quiet save for the ticking of the clock and the pounding of my heart.
I sit across from her my gaze flicks around the room, at the cluttered table, at her, at the scattered toys I had been cleaning up when she knocked on the door, back to her, and to the new rug leaning against the wall still wrapped in plastic.
“How are you going to kill yourself?”
My voice is dispassionate. As if I couldn’t care. As if my heart isn’t thudding in my chest. As if my eyes aren’t continuously scanning the room, searching for an escape, afraid of what she might do.
She shrugs. I stare at her until she looks up and meets my eyes. Her eyes are determined.
Go, give her a hug.
I’m so awkward. I’m so bad at displaying emotion .I can’t.
Stop having a conversation with yourself and go give her a hug.
I get up and slowly sit next to her and then pull her into a hug, squeezing her tightly. Hoping I can somehow convey all the things that need to be conveyed.
My tone hasn’t changed much. I want to change it. I want to sound compassionate. But I’m numb. I don’t know how to inject my emotions into the words. My mind is racing. What do I say? How do I deal with this? I was never taught, never trained, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.
It’s not about you; it’s about her. Focus on her.
She tells me she’s planned it for next week. She’s speaking in a monotone. Cold. Calculated. I breathe a little easier knowing it’s in a few days’ time. I was afraid she was going to walk out of my house and do it. My heart is still pounding, painfully. My eyes flicker around the room again and land on the new rug. I am anxious to unwrap and unroll it, to see what it looks like. I want to tell her about it. I want to share it with her. I can’t though. She wants to take her life and I want to talk about the trivialities of my home.
Sarale, stop. Stop thinking about the rug. Can’t you focus on the real issue here?
I can’t focus on the real issue. My heart is still pounding and my mind is still racing. I’m trapped, I’m terrified. I’m watching her. Her fingers are twined in her lap, head down. She looks up for a moment and our gazes lock. I stare at her steadily. Again, hoping that my actions can express more than words can. She’s the first to look away. I feel triumphant. I’ve won this round. Immediately I feel stupid. This isn’t a game.
I say all the things that need to be said, all the things she doesn’t want to hear, all the things she can’t find the energy to care about.
I’m silent. She’s silent, silently twisting her fingers in her lap. The silence stretches.
I want her to cry. I want her to show some emotion, I want her to let it out. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to pound her head against the wall. I want her to stop sitting there like a statue, frozen on my couch.
My mind wanders. Sentences begin forming in my mind. I imagine myself at the computer, writing this into a blog post.
A blog post, really Sarale? All you can think about is how you are going to write about this?
Yes, it will be raw, real.
You need serious help.
Yes, because I am now having a conversation with myself.
I thought only people in books have italicized conversations with themselves. Apparently I’m living a story; it is surreal.
We talk a bit. Short, stilted sentences. Single words falling into nothingness. And then she asks for my help. How does one kill themselves?
My voice is rough, my tone colder than before.
“A bullet to the head is probably the easiest but I don’t know where you’d get a gun. Pills work too, though I’m not sure which ones. Slashing your wrists might work. You could find a knife in the kitchen. But someone might find you before… it takes a while to bleed out.”
“Stop.” She trembles.
I’m relentless. “Do you know where there’s a bridge?”
“I said stop!”
She buries her head, her shoulders heave. I’ve made her cry. I’m crushed, though, before I can feel triumphant again.
“I thought you care about me. Why are you helping me?”
Ouch. I thought I was helping. I didn’t know it was a trick question. I inhale; a deep shuddering sigh.
“I do care, so much. So much that I want you to rethink your decision. I know you’re in a lot of pain and you want the pain to stop. I’m not convinced that you really want to die.”
A sniffle. And then a broken, broken voice. “You’re right. I don’t want to die. I just want the pain to go away.”
I don’t feel triumphant now. Not at all. My heart may just explode it’s been hammering for so long. It hurts, physically. My heart aches. It hurts so much.
Silence. Again. Filling the space between us. She breaks it asking me to rate how much I care about her. One being the least ten being the most.
My answer is immediate, before she even has a chance to finish asking. “Ten, eleven, a hundred.”
She laughs. It’s a short breathless sound, more like choking.
“I’ll stay alive for you, because you mean a lot to me.”
My heart becomes heavier. No. I can’t. I can’t shoulder this responsibility. It’s too much. I can’t be the only reason she is alive. No. I can’t.
“For now,” I rush to say.
When she leaves I pick up the toys from the floor and roll out the rug. I need to do something normal. I need to feel normal. I need to worry about the décor in my living room. I need to worry about something inconsequential.
I frown at it. The color is too dark, darkening the whole room. I didn’t even pause to think that maybe it’s my mood that is too dark. It doesn’t look good lengthwise so I turn it around. It doesn’t look good that way either so I turn it back. I push it closer to the couch and then pull it back towards me.
Forget it. It’s no good. I’ll return it tomorrow.
Tomorrow. I have a tomorrow. I have another day to work things out. I helped her have a tomorrow. And for today that is enough.