Trigger warning - thoughts on suicide.
I would appreciate feedback, positive or negative, please! :)
In between two sets of houses on a secluded cul-de-sac, a lamppost stood. It was shielded from the rain by a decrepit tree, blistered from unseasonal heat and an excess of aphids, but otherwise still stood solidly as a tree should. Under both the orange-glowing lamppost and the tree stood a woman, sheltering ineffectually from the slow, steady rain that had started at the beginning of the evening. It was dark except for the streetlight, and quiet in the neighbourhood. Crickets chirruped softly on the river bank, and somewhere in the moist darkness a fish plopped. The woman underneath the lamppost was called Clare, and she was listening intently to the sounds of the river, and the crickets, and also to the distant sounds of the town, doing everything she could to distract herself from thinking about her own death. There were cars passing on the road; boy-racers with their pumped-up vehicles speeding up and down the high street. Saturday revellers were shouting and laughing as they left the pub. To a random citizen those sounds would be background noise. To Clare, every single one of those sounds made her think about different ways she could die. For instance, she could throw herself in front of a speeding car, to let her body crash and tumble to the tarmac. Or she could throw herself into the river with the fishes, and breathe in chilly water until her lungs failed. Perhaps she could even hang herself from the tree she stood underneath. She sighed. Fuck.
Clare hadn’t always been so fatalistic, but this particular Saturday evening had been one long string of disasters on top of a year of depression. The disasters were only mild ones, but each one stung. The icing on the cake was that she had somehow lost her house keys. Now she was stuck outside her house in the rain, cold and miserable, wanting to end it all. She wondered, as she often wondered, why she didn’t just do it. It was just a short walk to the river, after all, and hadn’t she heard on the radio that morning that drowning was a pleasant way to die? Hadn’t that refugee said so, the one they’d rescued from the collapsed lifeboat? “I knew I wasn’t going to make it, and I was glad I wasn’t dying from a gunshot wound, or a bomb. My only sorrow was that I didn’t save my wife and children, back home.” That was what he’d said. Clare hung her head, and stared at the ground, without seeing the ants that were scurrying away from her, away from the rainwater steadily encroaching on their home in the sandy earth. Her mind wandered, thinking back on the refugee’s story. She had been at the hairdresser’s that morning when the story had come on the radio. After the piece had finished and the host had moved onto the latest hits, her hairdresser had scoffed scornfully, and Clare had felt compelled to ask what she meant by that.
“Bloody refugees, preaching sob stories. I say send ‘em back. Or let them drown - they asked for it!”
Clare’s stomach had dropped, but she’d remained silent. The others in the salon had laughed a little, and mocked the refugee’s story briefly before changing the subject, but Clare said nothing at all until her hair had been cut and she could get out of there. Her heart had been pounding, but she’d said nothing.
A little while after that, she’d gone to the cafe. Clare was a carer, but today was her day off, and she often spent it in the cafe trying to summon the bravery to speak to the pretty barista who served there. Today had been no exception. She’d sat down, coffee in one hand and book in the other, so she could surreptitiously peer over the edges of the novel at the woman she’d been admiring from afar. Like any other day, she drank her coffee too fast, and left without saying a word to the barista. When she left the cafe, her cheeks had been seared with a burning blush of self-pity, which she hid with her hair.
Clare had forgotten about an appointment that afternoon, so she’d kicked herself and apologised profusely to the friend she’d let down for the third time in a row. The friend didn’t even bother to pick up the phone, so she’d left a pathetic voicemail. Fuck. After that, she’d walked aimlessly around the small town she lived in. As the sun was setting, she’d wandered back home, only to find she’d lost or forgotten her keys. At that time, it had started raining.
Now she was stood in the rain, feeling so utterly miserable that she wanted to kill herself. Her life was laughable. When she was younger, she had been brave, and outspoken. She would have told those ladies at the salon a piece of her mind. In adulthood, the armour of childhood had crumbled, and left behind nothing but self-pity and despair. Despair at the world, and for her own inaction. Fuck. She couldn’t even bring herself to walk to the river and throw herself in. She couldn’t throw herself under a car. What the fuck could she do?
A sound pricked her interest. There were footsteps down the paved driveway. She looked up, embarrassed at herself, the state she was in, the rain saturating her clothes. It was her friend, Marie.
“Hey, stranger!” Marie had always been a cheerful one.
“What’s going on?” Clare hesitated. Normally, she’d brush off the question. It was a flippant question anyway. Marie didn’t want to hear her desperate inner thoughts - did she?
“I--” Marie got closer, and appraised the drenched woman in front of her. Something was clearly the matter. “How come you’re outside, Clare?”
Clare looked at her friend, and then looked closer. She had known her since she was little. They’d spent their youth arguing with everyone about everything, but they’d never spoken ill of each other, and Clare cared very deeply for her friend. Marie was about the only person she had left in the world. A thousand different thoughts swirled in her head. Should she lie, and say she was okay, or should she finally tell someone how she was feeling? Would Marie even care about her as much as she cared about Marie? Fuck.
She thought about her death. She thought about the feeling of being smashed beneath a car, of being found cold and lifeless by someone down the river. She thought about the horrors of struggling at the end of a rope. She thought about how Marie would feel, if she saw her like that. Resolve tightened in her stomach. She opened her mouth to speak with purpose for the first time in months.
“Marie, I’m not okay.” But somehow, in saying it out loud, she was.