When the familiar three honks of Charlie’s car shook them out of their daze, they tossed it with such force that it slid, spun, and hit a wall, before finally skidding to a stop just beside the armchair. What feels like hours later, they sit on the cold floor, not having the energy to shift a mere two inches to be on the comfort and warmth of their carpet. They stare at the weapon, the sunlight glinting off of its edge. And it stares back.
How did it all go so awry? It’s been such a normal day.
They even had plans to meet with Charlie today. Charlie had made a huge effort to get in contact after not hearing from them in days, so it was only fair to spend some time with such a supportive friend especially when that friend was so stubborn about it.
They could vividly recount everything about that day but nothing that led up to the moment. That morning, they had gone about their morning errands as usual. Sure, they had woken up at dawn but they had also fallen asleep early in the evening yesterday, so it made sense. It had been like that the past few days anyway and maybe they were finally becoming a morning person. A morning person that got way too much sleep, maybe. The weather had been so beautiful, too - just chilly enough for a warm hoodie. After getting home, they set their keys down on the table - the only piece of furniture in the home that hadn’t been collecting dust. The past few days, they had been using that table for most activities. Just one item on the table, a small rectangular basket, was left unused in those days. It held the often used household medication. Some were over-the-counter and some were prescriptions integral to their daily life, but all had a layer of dust covering their white caps. They had barricaded the basket with empty hard seltzer cans out of boredom. It felt easier to do that than to gather all the cans in a garbage bag and throw them out.
They remember the scent of their coffee, the hot steam from their shower, the overwhelming pressure on their chest all morning. Then, nothing. A gaping hole in their memory. It cuts straight to the moment when Charlie’s car honks and the realization of what they were about to do sets in.
Sure, some days all they could think about was how much easier it would be if they didn’t exist and didn’t have to deal with all of the responsibilities of daily life or the sadness and frustration. And yes, recently, it had felt like the world was drowned in a sludge that slowed down their movements and made everything darker. Some days they wanted to be put out of their misery but the act, the plan, the motivation was never on the table. They had been so sure of that and yet here they were. They sit there on the cold floor, staring at the weapon. It was so small, yet in the moment, it felt like a wall blocking the path to the door.
Maybe nothing was set in stone. Maybe another day, they would find themselves in this position again. Only next time, Charlie might not be there.
As they grapple with the new thoughts, their chest tightens. Is it shame? Shame that it happened? Frustration that it didn’t work? Fear of another incident? Fear of speaking about this out loud?
The fear of dealing with these thoughts again and feeling that loneliness again was far greater than the dread of speaking about it. The anxiousness was not small, however. The somersaults of their stomach, the prickles in their chest, the tightening of their throat were all too present.
Slowly, they reach across the floor and grab their cell phone. A few short messages from Charlie asked if they were ready yet. It had been maybe 15 minutes since Charlie had arrived. They dig out a webpage from months ago that was buried in their bookmarks. It was for a clinic they had looked into once out of boredom. It had good services and took their insurance. With a deep, shaky breath, they click on the address of the clinic and wait for Google Maps to load. It wasn’t far by car but it felt unreachable in the moment. They look towards the weapon, positioned between them and the exit. They look back at their phone and open Charlie’s messages. “Change of plans?” they reply with a link to the clinic’s address.
It takes a few moments of breathing in and out before they can get to their feet. One hand clenched tightly around their phone and, looking straight ahead, they walk towards the exit. Stepping over the weapon to be dealt with later, they open the door and escape to Charlie’s car, allowing its warmth to embrace them.