united we stand, divided I fall
“Don’t leave me alone.”
Glass smashes against a wall; it glitters in evening sunlight with deadly grace.
“Please don’t leave me alone.”
The rip of paper, the crash of metal, my raw voice begging for someone to please, please, please stop me fills the room.
“Stay with me. I need you.”
I collapse on my bed, disheveling it for the first time since December 6th; I am absolutely gutted. I feel too much and nothing at the same time. A throbbing headache pulses through my whole body; all I want is to shut off.
But I have to have an answer.
“I get it, Matty.” Colt, ignoring the wrecked room, sticks his hands deep in his pockets and drills a hole in the floor with his serious and scared eyes. “But...how bad is it this time?”
The unspoken question that he really asks hangs tediously in the air. I brush my fringe out of my vision and bite the side of my cheek before answering. “I...I don’t want to die.”
He sighs in relief.
I swallow. “But I also don’t want to keep living, Colt.” I watch his lanky frame physically deflate. How long has he been waiting for this to happen? Did he lie awake at night--like me?--and wonder when my brother’s mortal coil would ensnare me as well?
The oily voice of self-hate and guilt weasels in between my thoughts, poisoning my mind with innocuous whispers. You shouldn’t have told him, it hisses. You deserve to suffer this alone.
Besides, what’s the point of living without him.
I almost believe it.
He crouches on the floor before me, kicking aside shattered fragments of picture frames. “So why don’t you take your medication again?”
“I hate the medication.”
“So do I. I still take them, though.” I grit my teeth. The mocking in his voice is just your imagination, Matt. He’s just trying to help you. Colt sleeps because of the pills. He smiles because of the drugs. He can eat and drink and talk like a normal person because of the medication.
Or maybe he doesn’t hurt as badly as you. He’s not as broken. His pain isn’t real. The drugs don’t take anything away; they just cover it so you can move on.
“I can’t take my medications,” I explain slowly, gripping the sheets beneath me tightly. The room starts closing in on me. It’s all I can do to keep from bolting--but if I run, I’ll be by myself again. “They make me slippery. Like I could stop holding on.”
His forehead bends with a tiny ‘w’ shaped wrinkle; his bushy eyebrows draw together. “Isn’t that what you want? I don’t understand?”
Of course he doesn’t. I want to run away, not drown. “They make my brain fuzzy.” I like it too much when they kick in; it feels like free-falling into a bottomless void…any feelings I have left go dull and gray and formless. I don’t feel anything.
Even the guilt.
Especially the guilt.
And that’s the one thing I need to keep holding on to.
The guilt is my anchor.
The sound of Colt cracking his knuckles rings out like a gunshot in the heavy silence hanging between us; his face twists with an unreadable emotion. He doesn’t deserve this. I should never have told him--never put him through all my problems and hurts. I’m just dragging him deeper into my personal despair. No one deserves that--except me.
This time, the voice is my own.
“Do you need to go to the hospital?” He finally asks. “Do you think you’re going to do something reckless?”
“I don’t know,” I say honestly. If I look at the anger simmering in the corners of this devastated room, I know I’m not safe out here on my own. But going to the hospital is one step closer to being like my brother.
Dying, but alive.