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Young and Beautiful

The cursor on the blank spread of a Word document seems to taunt me as it clicks backwards, forwards, off and on. I heard that back in the day, the same kind of mocking dance would have been played with a typewriter whose ink drips, waiting for words. The lack of scratching would have tormented those writers the same way the harsh clicks torment me. It’s 2 A.M. right now, and these are the ramblings of a madman who doesn't know he's mad. I long to sleep, to lose myself in that sweet oblivion that I desire so greatly. The same sleep, yes, that I gave up in high school to do my homework and get drunk – not necessarily in the order – but now, how I love it. But how it hates me!

When I write, I listen to music for inspiration. The tone of the song often influences what I write. The sad songs cause me to write heart-wrenching tales about the death of my friends, how I held him in my arms when he died, and how the car sped away at the speed of light – how my little sister never even saw my face – the sound of someone’s last breath. They never tell you what it really sounds like, in all those movies. Hollywood makes it so theatrical, as they die in your arms, how romantic it all is – but there is nothing romantic about watching your entire life change in a single breath. There is nothing sweet or poignant about watching someone die, about watching that final moment of acceptance when their eyes change ever so slightly and you know that they know it is all over now. That snap. You watch it and you know. Their smile that never comes back, how they turn to drugs and alcohol to try and get that spark back, but once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

The happy songs make me want to write something good about humanity, a story about how a little boy saves a little girl from the brink with a flower and a kiss. Except there is nothing good about humanity. The little boy tried but he failed and she fell anyways, like Lucifer from the sky. But how he had loved her, how she had been his moon and sun and stars and he had been a pebble on one of the shores she graced. How he had been nothing but she had been everything and how, after that call, he punched his fist through a window and cried for that which he knew he had lost and would never regain.

Love songs make me sick. They inspire me to burn and tell the stories of the husband who pretended to love his wife while he was really fucking another girl behind her back for all the years of their marriage. How the wife had suspected since the beginning, but how she lied to herself. And then how he watched the snap and knew that he had killed her. That it was by his hand she was dead. How his lover tried to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault but he knew the truth. A bottle of Ambien washed down with a fifth of vodka – that’s the way his story ended. And the lover? She never quite got over the man who loved her, but not enough to leave her.

Angry songs make me vindicated. Someone else feels the way I do. They make me write ditties about emotion, my attempts to capture the human psyche in words, the way we all break at some point, my failings as I try to capture the truest truth about all of us. There are over a million words in the English language and hundreds of thousands more in all the other languages but there are no words to describe the last kiss of a husband on the face of his dead wife, no phrases to capture the agony of saying goodbye to a child who was too young to die and too young to live, no amount of syllables that will tell you what it feels like to watch your best friend die and know that you are powerless to stop the churning of the Earth.

I watched her leave him, the first time. She knew, even then, that he was unfaithful. He would come home late at night smelling like another woman’s perfume and he would feel too warm against her. She could taste the infidelity in the air. Call it woman’s intuition, but she knew. She walked out on him with nothing but the clothes on her back. Did she mean to get him back? It would have been so petty, so playground, but so human to go out and fuck some stranger at a trashy bar. It would have filled the void in her. She would have been vindicated.

But there was nothing human about her. She was an angel, a goddess, divine. So she returned with a bottle of wine and a hankering for death. I watched as she opened up the suicide forum and wrote a note about how she felt useless and unloved and like she wasn’t and never would be good enough. How much she loved him, and how she would never understand how to make him love her in the same way he loved the other woman. I watched as she took that knife and drew a red line across one of her thighs. I tasted the salt of her tears. I knew her joy as she laughed. She could control this one part of herself. He may never love her, but she could find a way to love herself. I was there when she drained the wine and watched her chuckle as she made her choice. It was over for her the second she walked out that door.

I watched her stop breathing, the first time. The second time, once they’d resurrected her, I turned away. How could I watch the woman I loved do this to herself? I had tried to save her with a flower and a kiss, but there was nothing there.

I watched him, too. He came in with his shirt hastily tucked in, a gleaming smile on his face that dropped off like melted butter as he followed the trail of blood to the bathtub. I watched when he screamed a long howl of agony and misery and pure horror because even then – even without the note – he knew what he had done.

It was a month later when the doc prescribed him Ambien. “I can’t sleep at night,” he said. “Her face, it haunts me.”

A bottle of pills and a fifth of cheap vodka from that little liquor store on 12th Avenue. I watched him stop breathing and I smiled.

His was the only death I ever smiled at. I saw many, in my days. I wasn’t meant too, but my soul would never end. It was eternal. The little boy I was – who got hit by a black speeding Mercedes at the meager age of 12 and half – who then followed the stories of those who had touched me. The dead wife who was the little girl I had loved. The dead baby was the sister I never had.

I watched my parents conceive another a child and I was in the delivery room when she was born. I touched the tuft of blonde hair at the top of her head, but something was wrong. She wasn’t breathing. That was how her story ended - it never really began.

I’m trying to get out the emotions of how each one made me feel, but the sad truth is that I can’t. There is no truth to be found in these nuggets. I can only put down what happens and what happened, add and subtract, until I get to the final truth. I don’t believe I ever will.

But for now, take out the lover. She’s not important. There’s a man and he marries a girl who I loved once upon a childhood. And this man doesn’t love the woman the way she should be loved, so she slits her wrists and gets to her final truth. And he comes home and sees her dead and downs a bottle of sleeping pills and vodka and arrives at his final truth.

Take out the parents. Take out the relationship to me. There is a little girl who is born too early and she is perfect in every sense of the word except she cannot breathe. She never learns what a final truth is. She gets hers for free.

Take out the black speeding Mercedes and the damaged little boy. Leave in nothing but a kid walking home from school with an algebra textbook and a smile and watch as his life changes forever.

Take out the best friend, take out the dreams that fail, take out the apologies. Take out everything. Then put in a dreamer with grand aspirations who works 9-5 at Wal-Mart. Put in a little boy who cowers at night underneath his bed because sometimes his father’s friend comes in and he doesn’t understand it yet. Put in a sister who cries in the darkness of sleep because she can’t save herself. Put in a doctor with a penchant for getting too involved and watch as he spills a tear over the death of the little girl who sailed like a hawk and fell like a god. Put in a story that begins to make sense of all the emotions a human experiences. The happiness and the rage, sorrow and misery, divinity, excitement, anxiety, joy, exhilaration, remorse, regret, guilt, and the taste of a cold kiss and a flower. Put in the youth and beauty of childhood and how children will never understand.

And finally, put yourself in, young and beautiful.

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