The tears slid down the well-used tracks on her face, falling towards the floor to splash soundlessly on the carpet. At first, she had been filled with sadness, horror at what she had done. She had thought it was the right thing to do at the time, but now… Now she couldn't bear to live with herself. She stood silently, the drops flowing from her eyes purely from habit. She didn't really feel anything anymore, so used to the pain that it no longer hurt. Now she was just empty inside. Only a dry husk of a person. Going through the motions because she didn't know what else to do. Her soul seeming to have fled, so horrified that it couldn't stand to stay with her. Just like everyone else.
She stepped onto the chair, shaking slightly at the thought of what she was about to do. She took a deep breath, embracing all of the voices in her head. All of the voices that told her who she was, who she had to be. What she deserved. With trembling hands, she slid the loop over her head, passing it over her choppy brown hair. It brushed over her face as a soft hand caressing her cheek. The voices rose up again, a cacophony of accusations and blame, screaming at her to do it. To kick the chair away and suffer the fate she deserved. And they were right, she thought, her eyes dry.
She had no more tears. Only a bleak, cold, emptiness. Filled with the voices. They were yelling louder now. “Coward!” they called. “Murderer! You’re alone!” They hissed at her, every word like a knife stabbing her chest. She couldn’t breathe. “You deserve to die! How can you live with yourself? You can see him, can’t you? When you close your eyes?” The words grew louder, joined by coarse, dark laughter. “Just get it over with already. You know you're going to do it sooner or later, why wait?” More laughter. She flinched, knowing the voices were right. They had to be. After all, they were her. She looked around her room one last time. She would miss nothing. She stood on her tip-toes on the chair, feeling the stained wood on her bare feet. She drew in a breath. Her last one. Expressionless, her feet moved of their own accord, kicking the chair away. She hung, suspended only by the noose encircling her throat. Her body fought mindlessly, futilely, possessed by an innate urge of self-preservation.
Her vision began to darken at the corners, the shadows creeping inwards. As her vision blackened completely, a light began to shine. A deep crimson at first, it slowly gradated towards a violet purple, then blue. She felt no pain as she crashed into a limitless space, slamming into the rough surface of the floor. The light was still shining, illuminating everything with a cold, icy glow. Is this death? She wondered. It must be. It has to be. Suddenly the light blinked out, leaving her alone in the emptiness. For once, the voices were gone. Suddenly overwhelmed with emotion, she curled into a ball, terrified that she would be alone in the dark forever.
“You!” A boy’s voice whispered. “Why are you here? Get out!” She looked around, the voice had echoed from every direction, surrounding her; She couldn't tell where it had come from.
“Get out!” The voice screamed now.
“Wh-who are you?” she stuttered, fear clawing its way into her chest, squeezing her lungs. “Why can’t I see you?”
“You don’t deserve to see me.” The voice whispered.
“Please. Just tell me who you are.”
There was a pause, a stunned silence. “You mean… You really don't know who I am?” The sadness in the child’s voice was heartbreaking, making her heart pound, tears streaming down her face. Tears she no longer thought she was capable of shedding. “How about now?” She turned as the voice sounded behind her, whirling to find a child standing several feet away. Though it was still pitch black surrounding him, every aspect of the child was picked out in stark visibility. He was young, just a boy, but his drawn, haggard face made him look much older. His gaunt features were delicate, his hair a matted mess. She had never seen him before, yet she knew exactly who he was. She backed away, hugging herself. It… It couldn't be.
“I don't understand.” She whimpered.
“Yes, you do.” He replied softly. “You know exactly who I am. Just look at me.” She averted her gaze, unwilling to face him ”No!” He yelled. “Look at me! You did this! It’s all because of you! It’s all your fault.” His voice fell. Sadness and confusion darkened his voice. “I would’ve loved you. With all my heart. How could you do this to me?” His gaze dropped to the floor. “You were my… You were my… my…” His voice broke, tears beginning to roll down his face. He looked up at her with shining eyes. She could see the fractured heart inside of him, the broken kaleidoscope that had once been his soul; the soul that she had destroyed. She fell to her knees, sobbing, arms wrapped around herself, shaking her head.
“You don't understand!” she cried. “I had to. I wasn't ready for you. I was just a teenager. Still a kid. I had to!” But her eyes told the truth, testifying to her disbelief in her own statement.
The boy’s sadness disappeared, replaced by wild anger. “No, you didn't! It was your choice! You could have changed this!” Tears of anger burned in his eyes, fighting their way out the corner of his eyes. “You’re the reason I'm here. The reason I never got to live the life I should have!” Scenes flashed through her mind. The boy, older now, walking down a school hallway surrounded by friends. Laughing. Talking. Living. The image changed. He was older now, a grin splitting his face as tossed his cap in the air. He held his graduation certificate tightly, glancing down periodically as though uncertain it would still be there each time he looked. Silent tears rolled down her face. She couldn’t move, paralyzed as the clips played behind her eyes. They flipped by, one after the other, showing a life that had never been lived. His wedding day. His first child. She watched, numb, as roles that had never been filled were played by characters that had never existed.
After what seemed like an eternity, she stood. She no longer cried, her tears at last exhausted. The boy was gone, leaving her alone in the dark. The Stygian darkness weighed on her; a physical weight bearing down upon her back. “I do,” she whispered quietly, hoping that he could hear her words. “I do know who you are. And I…” she paused, searching for words that could possibly explain the way she felt. “I-I get that you hate me. I wish that you were with me still. That I had never let them take you away from me. The life you didn't get-” She shook her head, rephrasing. “No, that's not right. The life I took from you… It was beautiful.” Her words hung sadly in the air for a moment before they dispersed, the darkness echoing the sound rather than muting it. “I know you’ll never forgive me, and I don’t expect you too.” She looked up, sorrow and regret etched into every line on her face. Every feature showing the pain she felt tearing at her insides. “But…” She stopped, choking on the words. “I'm-I’m sorry.” As if triggered by her words, a brilliant light flashed, searing her eyes. Blinded, she staggered, falling to the ground. Except it was no longer there. She dropped through the floor, falling into the darkness once again.
She didn't flail; a story of acceptance was written across her face. As she descended, the air whipping past filled with the faint strains of her child's laughter. It was familiar yet foreign, a sound that filled her with joy and flooded her with regret; A sound she had always longed to hear but never could. She heard his voice whispering into her ear, “Don’t ever forget me.” He paused, warmth entering his voice “I love you mommy.”
Disbelief warred with happiness in her chest, a smile curled her lips as she finally landed at the bottom.
In a small, sparsely decorated room, a girl woke up. Her eyes fluttered open, confusion flooding her face as she wondered why she wasn’t dead. She coughed, her windpipe scratched and bruised, pulling at the rope surrounding her neck. The knot holding it to the beam had slipped during her struggles, dropping her to the floor. Throwing it across the room, she lay her head back on the carpet floor. “I’ll never forget you,” she whispered softly, gazing at nothing, only seeing his face. The voices were completely silent, leaving her in peace. She coughed once more, exhausted, and allowed sleep to carry her away.