Other People’s Words Are a Shield

This is a work of fiction.

I was in the bath when Sydney came home. I didn’t hear the door unlock; my ears were underwater. I was almost dozing.

“Sarah?!” Syd sounded frantic. “Where are you?

I shifted in the bath. “Here.” I smiled languorously as my beloved appeared in the doorway, taking in the scene.

“Oh my God, is that–”

Rolling my eyes, I interrupted. “It’s pink from a bath bomb,  not blood. See?” I held up my left wrist to show the skin, whole. “I just wanted to relax a little.”

“Alex was worried. I got a message…” Syd trailed off unhappily.

“Don’t worry, if I decide to kill myself, I promise I will not kill me until I reach the top!” I joked. Syd’s fist came down on the counter.

“Dammit, Sarah! This isn’t funny!”

I stopped grinning. “You’re right it’s not. But…I know it’s hard to have faith in me. God knows I don’t have much. But have a little more than that. I’m strong, like an amazon.”

“Alex is a moron. I just had a bad day. Aren’t the sometimes-suicidal allowed bad days?” Syd’s face twisted in a grimace. I raised my voice so Alex, waiting in the hallway, could hear. “And doesn’t know me well enough yet to know when I’m in trouble. Alex, come in here, I want to say this to your face.” I could hear the hesitation in the reply.

“But…you’re…you’re naked in there. Are you sure…?”

“Don’t look if it bothers you, I don’t care. Come here, please.” Syd moved aside to grant Alex passage to the small bathroom. I sat up to look directly at my friend, little pink waves swamping a washcloth. “Alex. If I need help, you will know because I won’t ask for it. I won’t reach out at all. We won’t talk. It will be too much work. If I need help, it’ll be when I stop showing up to work, to hockey practice, to the occasional game night. If I need help,” my voice was trembling at the very idea, but I knew I had to get this out, “I will be struggling with the decision of whether or not it’s worth the effort to get out of bed to pee, or pour myself a bowl of cereal. You won’t have heard from me in weeks. That’s how you’ll know. Not because I engage in a minor bitchfest and then my phone, which I TOLD YOU was dying, turns off.”

Alex stopped staring at the wall above my head like there were tits hanging there and actually met my eyes. There was a slight lip quiver, but then it firmed before the crowded room was minus one person. A moment later, I heard the front door snick closed. I pulled the plug out of the drain and grabbed a towel off the rack.

“There’s chicken defrosting in the fridge, or we could just do grilled cheese. What do you want to eat?” I asked,  conciliatory. Syd sighed.

“Grilled cheese sounds good.”

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Filed under creativity, fiction, life, mental health, suicide

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