The Blood Inside My Pen

“That’s it,” he says to himself. “I’m done. I can’t take this anymore.”

He walked along in the rain, head down, hood up, seething. He despised it all; existence, his situation, and his damn sore luck.

“There’s no reason to keep going. Nothing is working. I can’t pay the bills, I can barely keep food in my belly, and there’s nothing I can do to change any of it.”

He walked up to the front door of his apartment and walked inside. He stood there in the dark for several moments, thinking about his predicament. Try as he might, he just couldn’t find a way to make things any better. He couldn’t get a better job because he wasn’t qualified. He couldn’t go back to school because he still needed to make money to survive; granted, he was hardly surviving as it was. He wasn’t truly living; he was merely existing. He was stuck, trapped, cornered.

He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror above the mantle when a sudden flash of lightning illuminated the room. What he saw disgusted him. Worthless. Just a breathing pile of refuse, walking around and wasting everyone’s time. Everyone he knew tried to hide their pity, but he couldn’t be fooled. He knew they felt sorry for him, and he hated them for it. He hated that they still helped him every time he came to them begging for food or money. It was demoralizing; he had been reduced to nothing more than a charity case to those he knew.

Perhaps reduced was the wrong word; in his mind, he had always been this pathetic. He had never possessed a single ounce of value or worth. He had been a bad bet from the beginning. The people who invested in him were wasting their time and their money; he would never amount to anything more than what he was today: pure, unadulterated filth.

He walked to the kitchen. A bottle of whiskey sat on the counter. and he thought back to all the time and money he had spent trying to drink away his thoughts. The alcohol never dulled the pain; if anything, it magnified it, bringing it more clearly into view. Eventually, he had crawled out of the bottle and pressed on. A huge mistake, in his opinion.

He wished he could have drank himself to death. It would have been a better outcome than waking up every morning and facing his pitiful life. Every day, he hoped he would get hit by a bus, or a mugger would stab him and let him bleed out on the sidewalk. Hell, he routinely stepped out into traffic and walked down dark alleys just so those things would happen. But, as fate would have it, he was destined to continue on with his agonizing little existence.

Well, maybe not anymore. He pulled a chef’s knife from the drawer and examined it. No, today was the day he mustered up the courage and simply…let it all go.

No one would miss him, except maybe his landlord, and that was just because she wanted the rent. No, it would probably be at least a week before anyone even came looking for him. His phone sat silent for months on end, and he felt guilty chasing down people for company. Lately, he just sat in his room and stared at the ceiling, too deeply mired in his depression to even get up to eat some days.

If he were gone, no one would need to look after him anymore. No one would have to worry whether he would come knocking, looking for some help or a handout. He would be a burden to them all one last time, and then they could all breathe easy.

He rolled up his sleeve, clenched his fist, and took a deep breath. He pressed the blade against his forearm…

“But wait…” said a still, small voice inside his brain. He paused and closed his eyes.

“What if tomorrow is better? You can’t throw it all away tonight if tomorrow has the potential to be better. You can’t give up now; what if you are almost there?”

“What is ‘there,’ exactly?” he asked out loud.

“Not here, of course. Not this place of dark anguish you seem to have settled into. Things are rough, there’s no denying that. Things are downright depressing right now. You’re dealing with physical, real world problems, and at the same time, fighting for your own sanity. That’s a lot to handle. Your life as well as your mental health are both at stake. But what if tomorrow, something changes? What if tomorrow, you find an avenue, a course of action, that was unavailable to you today?”

“And what if I don’t?”

The still voice grew stronger. “Then perhaps the next day.”

“What, you want me to just keep enduring this hell until something breaks?”

“Absolutely; there are only two possible outcomes. Either things get better, or you die. And from what I can tell, you’re pretty comfortable with both. So either way, you get what you want: relief.”

“There is a third option; things could stay just as bad, just as torturous, as they have been for the last six years.”

“Ehh…I highly doubt that. As long as you are trying to find a way, things will change, one way or the other. If relief is truly what you seek, then you should be happy with 100% odds of success.”

“Okay…so what should I do then? Just wait around for things to get better?”

“No, of course not. Keep moving, keep thinking, keep planning. Keep trying to make things work; find other options, spend your time wisely. Sing, write, read, draw; use that big brain of yours and do something constructive. Nothing ever gets built by workers who stand around all day; or have you learned nothing from watching roadwork projects?”

“I suppose; but what if I find myself here again tomorrow?”

“You very well might, and we’ll have this conversation again, just like we did last night, and the night before, and every night for the last three weeks.”

“What if one of these days I don’t have the strength to keep going? What if this becomes my only option?”

“Impossible. As long as you’re still kicking, you’re capable of fighting. You are alive for a reason.”

“Yeah? What would that be?”

“That’s entirely up to you. I know for damn sure you aren’t alive simply to bleed out on the kitchen floor. There is far too much vibrancy bound up inside you to waste it like that.”

“And what makes you say that?”

“You’re alive. As long as you’re alive, you have potential. Potential energy is explosive. It can lie dormant for years, but the moment the ball gets rolling, BOOM! It all comes together. I’m not saying that’s always the case, but if you throw your life away, you’ll never know if that could have been you. And that is truly a saddening thought; you never gave yourself the chance to prove that you’re worth more than this. You simply believed the lie.”

He stared at the knife a moment longer, watching the light glance off the blade. Finally, he reopened the drawer and placed it back inside. For now, he had talked himself off the ledge. For now. Perhaps tomorrow would be better. Perhaps.

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