Darkness

The darkness was comforting, like a loving friend wrapping a blanket of stars around your shoulders.

It was 2 o’clock in the morning and the air was crisp with cold, but not uncomfortable. Underneath the music in my headphones, I could feel my feet pounding the pavement  I was walking with intent, but without clear direction or purpose, across parks and through maze-like housing estates.

Occasionally, I would stop to sit on a bench, smoking four or five cigarettes, before gathering my thoughts and continuing my nebulous journey. The faux-fur hood on my navy coat was pulled over my head, covering most of my face. I felt protected and hidden from the occasional passerby – if I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me.
After an hour of striding through the outskirts of the quiet city, I came to stop at the foot of a busy bridge. The orange glow from the the street lights masked the starry sky and I felt my comfort blanket quickly snatched from my shoulders.

I removed my headphones to be greeted by a torrid of traffic noise. I had walked as far as the city allowed. This was the end of my journey and the air felt colder now.

Dandelions

I gazed vacantly at the exam paper laid out in front of me. The words blended into a swirling pool of black and white that cascaded from the small wooden desk onto the dusty, tiled floor below. The only thing that was permeating my viscous mind was the incessant noise. I imagine it would have seemed silent to anyone else, but I could hear everything – papers rustling, chairs creaking, invigilators pacing, sniffing, coughing, breathing, sighing, tapping, scratching.

I was all too much. I jumped to my feet, causing an almighty screeching noise as the chair pushed backwards. My breathing quickening as I felt the eyes of three hundred students glare up at me. I swiftly turned and marched away from the desk towards the exit, discarding my untouched exam paper. I could hear ‘eyes forward!’ echoed behind me as I grabbed my bag and pushed past a nervous invigilator, who quickly jumped out of my way.

As I opened the doors to the outside world, the cool air hit me like a hurricane against battered cliffs. I gasped and looked up at the grey sky with tear-filled eyes. The words ‘you are useless, you are worthless, you are pathetic’ echoed in my mind like a record stuck on repeat. Three years of my university education, slipping away with each exam I failed to complete.

I proceeded to walk home, disconsolate and alone. The litter and discarded leaflets swept around my feet, emulating my scattered and fragile thoughts. The tears fell heavier as I took a detour through the playing fields, picking dandelion heads on the edge of the path. I squeezed the seedlings in my hand, extinguishing any form of life they once carried.

I came to rest on the bridge overlooking the river. I peered over at the beautiful torrid below and combed through the established catalogue of questions that resided in my mind – will I ever be happy? Would anyone notice if I disappeared? Should I just jump?

I took a deep breath and dropped the crushed dandelion into the river. I watched it disappear amid the silver torrent, wishing my worries would do the same.

Let it Be

Four days had passed and I still hadn’t left the flat.

I hadn’t washed or eaten and the only contact I’d had with the outside world was a 30 second phone call with my mum. I just lay under my duvet for hours at a time. No music, no TV, no fags, just my whirring thoughts and the polka dot sheets. Occasionally, I would get up to use the toilet and sip some water, but even that felt like a mountain to climb.

I was restless, something was crawling underneath my skin. I clawed at my neck and chest, leaving crimson scratches and bloody fingernails. I fell from the bed onto the bedroom floor, crying out for mercy, but no one was listening.

I couldn’t take it anymore, it was unbearable. I lay on my bed, pleading, crying out for some relief from the agonising pain that plagued my mind. I felt like a dying animal trapped in a snare, praying for the hunter’s dogs to come and end my misery.

I jumped up, with tears falling down my face I frantically started to tidy my flat. I organised my clothes into bags and washed up dirty plates in the kitchen. I got a bin bag and began disposing of old diary entries and angry letters I had written over the years.

When everything was in order and I had removed anything personal. I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. I looked at myself in the mirror and felt nothing but contempt for the reflection staring back at me.

“You are disgusting”

I turned and walked back to my bedroom. I picked up a pair of scissors and began cutting the leather strap from a handbag. I then attached the strap to a scarf and made a noose. I took out my notepad and wrote a brief ‘I’m sorry’ note and left it on the bed.

I carried a chair into the hall and made sure the flat door was locked. I put my favourite Beatles track on, placed my phone on the cabinet beside me and turned off the lights. With my back to the front door, I stepped onto the chair and tied the makeshift noose to the door mechanism near the ceiling. I then placed the leather strap around my neck and closed my eyes.

I was shaking and my heart was racing but I knew it would all be over soon. I took a deep breath and kicked the chair from underneath me. I felt my body drop and the leather strap snap tight around my throat but the scarf didn’t hold and I came crashing to the ground within seconds.

I lay on the floor gasping for breath. I was winded and it felt like I had been punched in the throat. I must have been on the floor for 10 minutes before I got up and limped into the kitchen. I think it was the shock, but my mind stayed completely blank as I made myself a cup of tea.

I sat on the sofa and just stared at the wall in front of me. I could hear ‘Let it Be’ eerily playing in the hallway and I felt a tear roll down my cheek.

I went to the window and looked down at the people on the street below. I could see mothers dragging reluctant children along the pavement, an old lady struggling with heavy bags and a couple of teenagers waiting for a bus. I watched cars speeding past, illuminating my flat with their yellow headlights. Nothing stopped.

Life goes on.

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