Free Breakfast: Part 8

This is the eight and last part of Free Breakfast. You can read part one here, part two here, part three here,  part four here, part five here, part six here, and part seven here. Keep up with Nathan on his Facebook page!

Part Eight 

A shallow wave crept over the rocks. It shrugged itself over and curled back, repeating and repeating and repeating. I remember once holding the water with both my hands, letting it fall through the cracks between the fingers. In the same space another hand would fit I let it fall back through its cycle, its rhythmic order.  The water’s only way of controlling itself was to turn in this endless loop, the rise and fall of its own body. I hovered above the mass, looking down. It had been four months and I was still here. I had figured I would visit, but I hadn’t planned on it being this long. Although I no longer abided by time, I still felt as if there was something linear in my non-existence. I was slightly more restricted than I was when I was alive. My confinement was almost somehow comforting, however; I found certain relief in how slight my being was. In reality I was not really dead at all, instead in the middle of things I tried to escape from. But I was not alive either.

I was above my family’s summer cabin. They were not there, and it was not summer. A heavy rain had began to fall, piercing the waves. I hovered in consistency; I did not waver or move, I stayed completely still. I had been like this for what felt like a while, and yet I knew things. My knowledge had grown greater the longer I stayed dead. I knew about the boy and his friend. I’m not sure what was connection is, however. I had a strong inclination towards them, following the boy home was just the lesser extent of it. As far as the suicide note, I wrote and prepared that for my friend Brooke, and left it underneath the bed. I made sure to hide in a different room, out of reach from anyone else, but I hadn’t considered how vague my clue was: 3/2/06. The third room on the second floor at the hotel we had spent the night on my last birthday. Brooke was an interesting friend, the sort of person whom I felt I needed to impress. Our relationship was a bit complicated. Sometimes when I felt neglected I would think of killing myself and the sympathy that it would bring upon her and the other girls. I had left her the note as a sort of last biting remark; however, even with a voicemail telling her to go to Sunny Days, she hadn’t found it. Interestingly enough, the three kids hadn’t either at first. When Kevin had missed picking up the note it must have gotten into Carly’s purse instead, eventually finding its way to the floor where it was found.

In hindsight, it was a stupid and childish thing to do. I hadn’t thought of the pain and suffering that would come from creating something like that. I had considered that the cleaning staff might find it, but I had no clue two of my classmates would.  I was almost embarrassed for the two boys to read the final note. When I thought of my time on earth, I was truly ashamed. The grief I had caused other people outweighed what I was put through. I cannot believe how many lives I ruined. In the note I had written a detailed account of the misery of the world – a melodramatic attempt at defining the hopelessness I felt. I think I related existence to a long walk in the desert or swimming deep in the ocean and not being able to resurface. It was a cliché piece of work to say the least, although its tragic themes would probably evoke tears from someone unfamiliar with such things. I was a master puppeteer of depression, I acted like a sick person purposely spreading their disease.

Of course, I was sick, and I have lost that sickness now. Since dying I have become much more mature. I never would have had this insight when I was alive.  And there’s a small part of me in my adult non-existence that sympathizes with who I was. I had no appreciation, or value for life, obviously. I considered it trivial. It was really that – a little joke told between good friends. There was no urgency or immediateness. I remember once when I was younger waterskiing with my family, right outside the cabin I hovered above. I fell into the lake and bit my tongue. As I sunk deeper into the water a thought came into my head, that I should just keep falling; keep swimming and never come back.

This is, of course, is relatively normal. I, however, thought I was unique in my exploration; that I was the only person tuning into some sixth sense. I was compelled by the darkness, and it was more depressing thoughts like this that led me to do what I did. We always attempt to find something other than ourselves to blame, and for me, my antagonist became my mind. I was waging a war with my own brain. I had two voices inside my head, one giving me wisdom, one tearing me apart.  This was the exterior force pushing back at me and yet it was a friend comforted. It told me half-truths, things that with a bit more examination I could have seen as false. If I had spoken to anyone about this, asked for help, I could have strengthened that other voice, but instead I revelled in my own depression. I had found a friend, and I enjoyed its company.

Regret is an interesting thing. Everyone thinks of it as only negative. For me, I hurt a lot of people with my decision. I think it’s appropriate to regret something like that, and I do. While it might have strengthened morale or relationship, I would not do it again given the chance. And that’s also why I would want no one to read that note I left or spend time worrying about me. My mistake deserves to be left alone.

I could feel myself moving upwards. The rain stopped almost instantly, and I watched as the waves began to calm. I saw parts of the future, little glimpses in the light. My parents finally sleeping soundly in their bed. My graduating class taking the stage in June, some of them remembering me, some of them blind but happy. I saw the boy straightening his tie before a big meeting. Kissing a girl for the first time as his wife. Driving home with his new son. I was content in watching this, these details gave me a sense of peace. I looked at the scenery below. The cabin and its shore began to fade. I sank my eyes into their sockets. I was free.

The drive was a little over two hours to the other elementary school. Kevin had brought CDs and snacks but that didn’t make it any less boring. He was driving, after insisting that I wasn’t in the right space to handle a vehicle. He still let me pitch for gas though. Kevin isn’t exactly the best driver, although he loves doing it, which is the worst combination possible. The entire ride consisted of him going way above the speed limit and taking turns too tight, all while howling into the wind like some sort of animal. I held onto the side of the door and stared straight ahead. Kevin was actually right about me not being fit to drive. I was running on maybe an hour of sleep and one cup of coffee. I didn’t want to come along at all but he eventually talked me into it, saying something about “finishing the legacy” and how it would be an “emotional release”, whatever that means. I wasn’t paying attention; I had gotten into the car without saying a word. I had done the same leaving Carly’s after she had broken up with me on the stairs. I’ve seen enough TV and movies to know that anyone who stays around blubbering after they’ve been dumped is a loser. I decided to do that outside on the porch instead.

As soon as I told Kevin about me and Carly breaking up he acted really sad, but I could tell there was an underlying layer of happiness. I think it was pretty obvious he didn’t like our relationship, and maybe for good reason. I hadn’t spent much time with him in the last few months. Still, he at least could have been happy for me. It was there in driving out of the city I realized I probably needed Kevin more than ever. And the fact that he pushed me to get up out of bed and join him just validated that point. The clouds had formed overnight and by the time we set out that morning, it had started to rain, the wet pavement and overcast sun giving an illusion of a spring day.
“It’s a very nice day.”
I couldn’t find any relief or comfort in the beauty of the weather. However, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even that bummed. That’s not to say I was happy, but I still functioned fine. It was almost as if I had to remind myself to be more sad than I was. Whenever I would think about something else, I’d tell myself to stay on track and keep thinking of her. I felt as if I should have been depressed, regardless of what I actually felt.
“You bet.”
There was something weird about seeing other people on the highway. For me, this day felt like one of the biggest in my life, and just to my right in the other lane a family was going on a vacation, ready to have the time of their lives. I watched as a brother and sister fought over something in the back seat while their mom tried to calm them both down. The dad kept driving straight ahead. Once they would have reached the hotel and unpacked the bags and put to kids to sleep they would both let out a long sigh. They’d crawl into bed and fall asleep with the TV on. Over the course of the week they would go to the beach or go ride roller coasters or be at a boring family reunion. And the girl might lose one of her shoes or the boy might get sick for a few days, but overall, things would go according to plan. There would be pictures taken and put into scrapbooks. Maybe the kids would have to explain to a family friend or a teacher what they had done over the break, but most of all, the kids would experience that vacation in a kind of blissful haze, with no sense of worry or stress. Their parents handled that for them, and in those drives and hotels there was absolution.

As we approached the school it was almost ten. There didn’t seem to be anyone around at all as we pulled in. The school sat on a large, sloping hill, with the playground on top. We were parked at the bottom, but even from where we were I could see the tire swings. We climbed in silence, and as we did I imagined Melissa sledding down the hill in the winter or running down it in the spring.
“I have a feeling this is the last clue.” Kevin said.
“Yeah, what makes you say that?”
“Just a feeling.”
It started to rain really hard, a real summer rain. There was a strong humidity to it. Kevin ran a bit ahead and started looking around the tire swings, and within a few seconds he pulled out a piece of paper from inside the tube. We sat on opposing tire swings as I watched him read it. It seemed to take forever. She must have written a lot down. There was a brief moment of silence when our eyes met. I couldn’t tell if it was just the rain, but I could have sworn Kevin was crying.
“Do you want to read it?”
I thought about it for a second. I took the note from his hands and placed it inside the swing.

As we were back on the highway I noticed a Holiday Inn. We both hadn’t eaten much for breakfast. After parking by the conference room, Kevin took out his kepi from the back seat and I managed to find a tie in the trunk. As I stepped out of the car, I noticed the rain had stopped. The sun came out from the clouds as soon as the sliding doors opened. We had made it just in time for the new trays of food to be put out. As we took our place in the back of the line, I noticed a basket of muffins on the counter. I go crazy for a muffin.



Artwork by Jeff Ellom Check out his flickr.

Creative Commons Licence Free Breakfast by Nathan Hare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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