by Audrey Rose
The daydream begins like this: You open the door and walk into an expensive home in an exclusive suburb. The house is immaculate. You can smell the Pine-Sol on the freshly waxed wooden floors. Underneath that smell is another darker smell, sickly sweet. The scent of death. But it isn’t the smell that hits you first. It’s the music. Loud, repetitive. It is a song you know, but can’t quite place. It is the music that made the neighbors alert the authorities. Later, it might have been the smell. Then you see it. A flash of red above the living room coffee table. You walk closer to get a really good look, as if for some reason, you can’t figure out exactly what it is. But you know. You already know. She is hanging there from the balcony in a long flowing red cocktail dress, high heels and full makeup. She looks like she was headed to a gala or a fancy dinner party. She also looks dead. She is dead.
You might think in this daydream I am the person walking in. You might think this is the beginning of an interesting mystery. Some “who done it” with a unique twist, and I am the heroine who solves the puzzle of the woman in red. You would be wrong. I am the dead woman in this daydream. I daydream about death. I plan it meticulously. I research it. I debate methods. I fixate on who would find me and how. It plays in my head like a movie clip. It has to have the right soundtrack. It has to have the right costume design. And clearly, it has to have the right players.
I am not a bullied teenager. I am not dark or goth or full of angst. I blend. I look like a soccer mom. I look like your next-door neighbor, like your daughter. I am conventionally attractive. I am educated. I have a good job. I have a beautiful house. I have a full social life. My social network page is full of pictures of nice vacations, happy parties, notes from friends. Pictures of me in wine country, on the beach, holding up a glass of champagne. I laugh often and loudly. I am friendly and funny. You would never guess. You would never know. You might not really believe that I spend most of my time thinking about dying.
I have held it together for years. But, when it begins to unravel, it happens surprisingly quickly. It is hard to be careful when you hope to be dead soon anyway. It is hard to care about things like when to stop drinking, or preserving relationships, or work deadlines. What does any of that matter when you will be gone soon? Probably for the best to burn some bridges now. Place some distance between yourself and others. Maybe it will be easier for them to handle if they have a small peek behind the curtain and realize you are really a complete and total disaster. Gives them a reason to latch on to. Reasons are helpful. Let them think it’s alcohol addiction, or drug abuse. Alcohol isn’t the problem. It is a means; the same way a gun or a rope is a means, and it certainly helps burn those bridges.
Sometimes the daydream begins like this: You walk into the bathroom. The tub is full of red water. She is lying there, half submerged. Her head lifelessly to the side. Her hair in her face. It has been a few days; she has begun to decay. Her flesh white and slimy.
No. That way would never do.
I can lose hours, days, on planning, but It’s not just the daydreams. She is also there, holding on by sheer force of will with three remaining fingernails. She is the one who makes me think of reaching out, telling someone. She is sly. I am not entirely certain the idea of a perfect death didn’t originate from her. A way to procrastinate. So many details to get right, so many things to do. She is the one who makes me drop dark hints in comments. If she had her way, I would end up behind a locked door in a clinic quoting bible verses and affirmations. That would never do.
The roadblock is my cowardice, which she feeds. But each time I sever another tie, burn another bridge, behave in an outrageous and unforgivable manner – preferably in public – I get one step closer to “pulling the trigger,” so to speak. You would be surprised at how quickly and easily the ties of daily life can be undone. And even she will lose faith in me at some point. Today, I am a whisper away. Today, it is hard to wait until everything is prepared. Today, a perfect death seems unnecessary. Today is just begging to be the day.
But, she’s right. It isn’t the right way, or the right time. Not. Just. Yet.
Sometimes the daydream begins like this: I take the gun out of the case. I feel the weight in my hand. I slowly take out bullets from the box and load them one by one. I wonder as I load them “which one will be the bullet?” I try to guess, but there is no way to know. I practice bringing the gun to my head. Building up the courage to do it. Picturing my remains and who would find them. On the count of three. One, Two . . .
No. That way would never do.
Editor’s Note: If you or anyone else is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For further reading, please visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Alliance on the Mentally Ill.
Art by Steve Johnson. Follow him on instagram @artbystevej or at Patreon.