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The Answer to... Well, Everything
The Answer to... Well, Everything

The Answer to... Well, Everything

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It sat there, ready, cold, uncaring, powerful. It held the key, the solution to the question he had been asking himself for years now. He dropped his face into his hands, exhaustion squeezing against the walls he had built around his mind like a dam threatening to burst. He couldn’t define a reason as to why those walls still stood, not anymore. He closed his eyes, already feeling the weight in his hand, how effortless it would be to lift it to his head, shattering those barriers with a single squeeze of his finger. To him, it no longer represented an object. It was the freedom to choose. The freedom to decide whether it was worth it to keep what he had never wanted. It seemed like a simple decision. On the surface at least. Yet it was much, much more complicated than that. For when those barriers crashed to the ground, fading into nothing, the flood it held back would crash through everyone he loved, trying its best to drown them; pulling them under to a place where they were forced to build those same walls he had built in an effort to simply stay sane. He chuckled dryly; remembering a fatal flaw in his logic: there was no one he loved. No one who loved him.

He sighed, standing, and rubbed his eyes, futilely attempting to scrub the lack of sleep from them. He stood for a few moments in a final deliberation before he turned from the table and the promise of release it held. He glanced at the clock. It was taking him longer and longer to find a reason to put his family first; he continued to have this debate with himself every morning. Today, he would be late. Sighing once more the man straightened his tie, taking extra care to ascertain that his collar was crisp and unwrinkled, and walked out the door. He locked it behind him, leaving the gun where it lay on the spotless glass of the coffee table, beckoning him back with every step he took, whispering tales of endless joy; relief from a world where pain was lurking around every corner.

The man took the bus. It was far too tempting to let the steering wheel go when he drove himself. Far too tempting to see where the car would take him when he let go control. He sat in the front, where he didn’t have to see the multitudes of people feeling the same and feel sorry for those who knew - just as he did - that there was an escape from misery, yet - like him - were too uncertain to take it. Idly he wondered whether today would be the day that the bus driver would fall asleep at the wheel, sending them careening into traffic. The man had seen it on the news, so he knew it was possible. Just not probable. Unfortunately. He whispered under his breath. The passenger across the aisle looked at him strangely, and he wondered if she’d heard him. He smiled at her weakly, a small, severe-looking woman clutching her purse as though the world conspired to steal it.

The sudden jolt as the driver jabbed the brake pedal startled him, jerking his attention away from the paranoid elderly. “117th and Milton!” the driver called out, his monotonous tone making it all too evident just how much he enjoyed his profession. The man stood quickly, mumbling a jumbled “Thankyouhavagooday.” before slipping through the doors as soon as they hissed apart. The bus stop was only a block from his work, yet it took him more than twice what it should have as he struggled to resist the urge to see how much damage a car moving at twenty-five miles-per-hour would do to someone his size. That should have been one of the math problems in school. He thought absentmindedly. Maybe he would have paid attention then. No, he mused. I still probably wouldn’t have.

He stepped through the revolving door of his building, just as he had every day for the past two years. He glanced at the security guard as he placed his keys and wallet in the tray, sliding it across the table to be searched as he moved through the metal detector. More specifically, he glanced at the gun sitting silently in the holster at his side. If he screamed bomb, would the guard shoot him? At least then his family wouldn’t be torn apart by a suicide. Vaguely he wondered if the “scream ‘bomb!’ get shot plan would be any better. Probably not. But still…
“Sir?” The guard himself, the indirect object in a rather odd daydream, spoke up. From the look on his face, it wasn’t the first time he had called him. Heat flashed on the man’s face as he stumbled forward to retrieve his possessions from the guard assigned to searching through them. He slowly walked away, wallet and phone in pocket, self-respect, and embarrassment dragging along behind him like a shadow.

The rest of the day passed as it always did, with him counting the minutes until he could go home and search for a reason not to pull the trigger. His work day consisted of eight hours of mind-numbingly boring work. He was just one of many Office and Technical Aids at a publishing company know as “Adventure Reads”. He rolled his eyes at the irony. Office and Technical Aid was a complicated name for a very simple service: they took shit. From everyone. Brought the junior and senior partners coffee, cleaned their offices throughout the day, made sure they had full staplers, new highlighter, sharpened pencils, and any other tools they could possibly need.

In eight hours there are four hundred eighty minutes, in four hundred eighty minutes there are twenty-eight thousand eight hundred seconds, and the man spent every single second thinking about his gun. As pathetic as it sounded, it was his only true friend; the only thing he knew he could always count on to offer help, an escape, happiness. He loved it, even as he hated how much it called to him. It always had a hand out, beckoning him further, to what, it never told. What he hated most was that he knew it was inevitable. One day, he would grasp that hand, and never let it go. One day… One day…

He rode the bus home that night. And the next. And the next. Each night warring with himself over whether that was to be the night. Each morning trying to convince himself that it was a good thing that he hadn’t embraced his fate quite yet. Until one day, he couldn’t. Regardless of how depressed one is, a suicide attempt is always triggered by something. Not necessarily a single event. For, logically, an action this severe and irreversible does not spring from nowhere. That is what the internet said anyways. Yet for the man, that is exactly how it happened. There was no sudden life-altering event. No sudden realization that life held no meaning, that had happened long ago. The moment his mother had left him alone with only the sound of his sobs keeping him company in a locked closet simply because her newest boyfriend wanted to shoot up without children around, he realized that people had priorities and he would never be one of them. The day his foster father had raped him while his foster mother left the room, denial so cemented into her psyche that she couldn’t bear to acknowledge it was happening lest her glass castle of sanity shatter to pieces around her, he had decided that he wanted to die. The first time he injected liquid happiness, his flesh burning even as euphoria swept over him, he decided that if this was the best the world had to offer he wanted none of it. The day he set a razor blade to his skin, desperate to feel something other than desperation and burning self-hatred, drawing bloody furrows along his wrists and reveling in the release it brought, that was the day he looked down and first wondered what would happen if he were to press the blade just a little deeper, to pull it along a little further.

The man didn’t go to work that day. Instead, he sat upon the highest point of his roof, looking out over the neighborhood. He sat there as the sun rose, as all of those people left in a search for money or love, or to work their job, or any other of a myriad of things people did in order to get through the day. He wondered what he would miss. He wondered if anything or anyone would miss him. He didn’t bother wondering if what came after life would make him happy; it had to be better than this. Because if it wasn’t, and this was as good as it got, he had nowhere else to turn. Death was the last resort, the one solution that would always be there, the one door that was always open. It held a promise of things better, more beautiful, brighter. So he had to believe that happiness was just a bullet away, otherwise… There was nowhere else to turn.

When at last the streets were clear, and the sun had burned away what was left of the morning fog, the man climbed down from his roof, carefully descending the ladder. He smiled wryly at his caution. I suppose it would be hard to shoot myself with broken arms. The thought of what he was about to do didn’t sober him. If anything, a feeling of elation carried him through the door, leading him by the hand to the living room, leading him by the hand to the glass of the coffee table. He leaned over, taking in his reflection, almost - but not quite - able to picture himself with lifeless eyes, a blissful smile creasing the pale lines of his face. His hand was steady as he picked the gun up, setting a small square of paper in the sudden vacuum of space that had been filled for so long. Filled by dreams and hopes and promises. Filled with the object of his obsession and the key to his freedom. He didn't bother checking the magazine or clicking the safety off; it was always loaded and the safety had never been engaged.

He lay down on the old yellowed shag carpet, his gaze mesmerized by the slow circling of the ceiling fan. He shifted his fingers, sweat slicking the rubber of the grip. The tip of the barrel was icy where it pressed to the bottom of his jaw, and he shivered not with fear but anticipation. After everything, after his years of internal struggles and moral dilemmas, he was at last here. At least succumbing to his destiny, not unwilling in the least. On the first inhale, he placed his finger on the trigger. At the second, his finger tightened as his eyes closed for the last time. At the third, he squeezed it, the gun bucking in his hand as it tore through his flesh, rending gaping wounds wherever the searing metal touched. Not a single person heard the shot, for there were none around. All had gone, searching desperately for a cure to their own madness, to their own pain, never even pausing to think that their neighbor - a man they had known for years - had found his.
It was three days before he was found. Three days before his body was moved off of that yellowed, bloodstained shag carpet. Three days before his note was found and read.

There’s not a lot that needs to be said. I killed myself, not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to. That probably doesn’t make any sense and that’s fine. See, I’m sick of life and everything that word encompasses. Tired of an endlessly futile search for a happiness that doesn’t exist for me. This was not a spur of the moment decision; I thought it through. My family isn’t worth shit to me, and neither is anyone else. I was always told that I should never have been born, that I was going nowhere, that I could never contribute anything, that no one would ever want me. I always believed it, and maybe that was my problem. In all honesty, I think I only made it this long because I was determined to prove them all wrong. But… I guess they were right. I guess I just got tired of living to spite everyone else, so I stopped. But when I did, I had nothing else to live for. Thus, the mess in front of you. See, suicide, to me, wasn’t a choice spurred by pain or emotion. I had a problem: I could never be happy. And suicide? It was the answer to… well, everything.
Goodbye, I suppose-

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2 Nov, 2018
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