Suicide no. 10: The Birthday Game
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
“Living is putting off dying today.”
He’d written those words six years ago, on the envelope for this collection letter he’d gotten—when he finally started playing the Birthday Game.
And he’d survived it thus far.
He’d always wait. For the candles to go out, for his mother to talk about Marie: the one that died in the car crash. She was only twenty-one. She had “so much ahead of her.” Who really knows, though?
Who’s to say that anybody has much of anything ahead of them?
You’ve got the guy that goes off one day, and shoots someone in the face. “Cold-blooded murder.” If you’re even stupid enough to think that way—that any passion-heated moment leads to a crime committed in anywhere near “cold” blood. People tend to have dark thoughts, and those paths sometimes lead to murder. It was a condition of life, killing other people.
At least, that’s how he felt.
And, so, you’ve got this guy. And that’s his life: prison. Like he was “made” for it. Is that how we’ve come to view things? Like somebody could just be destined to end up like that? That’s just what “God” intended: for someone to have a heated moment, kill someone, and rot away in Cell Block C?
Whoever invented “God” must be an asshole: someone almost as big of an asshole as God.
And that’s how he felt about religion.
What did he think about birthdays? He thought that his mother should have committed suicide a long time ago: before she’d become so ashen, and neurotic, and cold that the only good memory that she could reminisce was of her dead daughter, when she had two healthy boys—one of whom became an orthopedic surgeon, the other, a general manager at a retail outlet.
And him, who at least brought home something in the form of a disability check. And whatever odd jobs he could scrape up.
But that’s what the Birthday Game was about: waiting. Showing up. Commenting on other people’s status’s, mostly while they were away. And pretending like you weren’t going to risk what most people would call “everything” by participating every single “God-given” year.
That’s what she’d do, his mother: start that praying bullshit before they were even allowed to cut the fucking cake.
Cookie dough. That’s what “God” intended. Cookie dough cake, because that was Marie’s favorite. And he’d be eating cookie dough birthday cake on his forty-fifth birthday—that is, if he lived long enough–”God willing.” As if this supernatural asshole, who hasn’t performed any miracles in two-thousand years could have anything to do with it.
“Let’s just see,” he said to himself. “Let’s just see what God intends today.” And that was how he serenaded himself into letting himself load only one chamber, when everyone was gone.
He was going to play the birthday game: Russian Roulette.
“Let’s just see.”
And he’d never make it to see forty-five.
Inspired by The Daily Post:
- Focus Shouldn’t Just Be on Teens During Suicide Prevention Week (safewise.com)
- Michael Manley’s bequest: reconsider the stigma of suicide | Tauriq Moosa (theguardian.com)
- A Tangent, But an Important One. (notfrombenevolence.wordpress.com)