Suicide no. 41: Still Life
–by Derek Alan Wilkinson
Crack smile. Face left. Camera one…two. Center stage. Begin dialogue with “sympathetic-yet-distant” Mother. Wait for her emotional turmoil to clear at your decision to move out. False empathy. Insert queue with cell phone set to vibrate on (false) alarm, chiming 7:46pm. Pretend that it’s your friend, Paige, and she wants to go to insert random event. Leave to put on makeup, insert hasty dialogue with Mother if she follows you. Exit stage front door to the Greene’s suburbian nightmare.
And that’s all Claire would do to eliminate these problems, day in and fade out. It wasn’t that she didn’t care, or wouldn’t, but that she knew better how to fake it than to know, to feel life inside of her. It’s how she made, and kept, friends. It’s how she stayed popular. It’s how she stayed “alive,” though most would conclude her perspective on the matter as overly pretentious: as if this manner of existence could be anything close to “alive” at all.
Claire’s whole world was a stage, and even her own family she saw as merely a hard-to-hold-captive audience with such lackluster lack of applause that it ridiculed the art of acting. She knew these dark things, and her only conscious response, deep down, was something akin to “fake it ’till you make it.” And she did, and she would—most of the time. Once in awhile, that flawless smile would crack like eggshells, and pieces of her young yet tattered soul would spill out. That messy yolk could only inspire a response from those she cared about most that turned out to be more dreadful than the yolk spilling itself: they would say things like “she’s just a stupid, teenage girl,” or “God, I wish she’d just grow up!”
Despite the fact that she’d just turned eighteen, everyone felt she still had an infinite journey toward adulthood left.
The audience would get their wish. They all would. In fact, she would grow up, and move out and in with boyfriend, Cody. And Cody would get job, and they would pay bills, and he would love her, and never leave her, and they’d have a family one day…and she’d dream on and on.
And then the inevitable would happen. She’d tell Cody that she finally told her mother things that he’d dreaded her being serious about. He’d get scared, the way eighteen-year-old boys do. Cody wouldn’t love her—Cody would run.
But this wasn’t part of the play—the drama. The rectifying moment: the one in which Claire got to prove everyone wrong. Cody’s response wasn’t a part of Claire’s vision, and Claire knew that well enough to dispose of him as a consequence for his actions—hoping against all odds that Cody would also do something that eighteen-year-old boys do more often than their aged, seasoned counterparts: that he would come unglued, and that he would thus change his mind.
Yet, weeks went on, and she never heard a word from him again on the matter.
So, that wasn’t much of an ending in Claire’s mind—which was when she decided to change the script to include a whole bottle of Mother’s prescription: empty, and serving as a paperweight to a barely-legible suicide note. For Claire, this would be the scene that ended all other scenes with that proverbial calling:
Inspired by The Daily Post’s daily writing prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/09/prompt-cant-we-be-friends/