I have never been a suicidal person. That's not what this is about. I
just wanted him to drown me and then drown himself. People accused me
of not being unhappy enough. But deep down I was just as unhappy as any
of them, unhappier. I wondered about the genuineness of their alleged
melancholy. I felt conned. They had significant others. They had dinner
plans, trivia nights, karaoke. They lived in big cities, had social
obligations. I never left my house except to drive my daughter to
school. Most of the time I couldn't even get him on the phone. I hadn't
seen him since I couldn't remember when.
He said, "You're not serious. You couldn't do that to ----."
Deep down I knew he was wrong — I was serious — but I didn't
want to say so. He thought I was a good person, an exemplary parent. I
didn't want him to know the truth, how selfish I really was. I thought
if he knew, he might drown someone else instead.
---- was thirteen, full of sarcasm and sexual tension. She thought of
me as her best friend, but I knew that feeling wouldn't last. I figured
it was better to leave too soon, before things soured, than too late,
after they already had. I felt the same way about him. In the past I'd
stayed until no one felt anything. I didn't want to make that
same mistake with either of them. I thought given a little time, I
could convince ---- of the advantages of drowning. I could convince her
of anything if I wanted to badly enough. She pretended for her friends'
benefit that she didn't respect me but I caught her quoting me to them
all the time, referencing films and books I'd recommended, spewing my
views on politics, religion, the environment… i.e. we didn't
give a shit about any of the above. I wasn't worried about her
following in my footsteps. There were too many boys she wanted to fuck.
She wasn't going to drown herself anytime soon.
(If I had a sledgehammer I'd smash the hell out of you right now.
Sorry, this is what I'm thinking at the moment: how fucking incredible
it would be to smash your beautiful, backhanded face in. Not as an act
of violence but as an act of contrition.)
I had worked out a spiel for ---- inside my head. I had worked out a
spiel for him as well. The spiels were similar. I could already see the
look of understanding in her eyes. He would take more convincing. He
thought I had more reasons for living than I actually did.
He was going back to ____. You probably knew what this was really
When we met he said he would have broken up with anyone for me.
Something had changed but I couldn't put my finger on what.
"Drown me before you go," I said. There was a glass of water on the
counter between us. Whether it was half full or half empty, I didn't
think mattered. I'd concluded there was enough water either
"You couldn't do that to ----," he said.
I didn't want to admit he was right, but I stood quietly by and watched
as he poured the water into the sink. I stared at his face and thought
about how much more beautiful it would be after I'd taken a
sledgehammer to it. I began concocting
a spiel for ---- inside my head. She was averse to the sight of blood
but I knew I could convince her otherwise. I knew I could make her see
the beauty in his realigned features if I wanted to badly enough. She
possessed a loyalty to me he should have but didn't. I thought maybe
she and I would make it after all.
Elizabeth Ellen has stories in recent issues of Quick Fiction, Action Yes and others. Her
chapbook, Mouthfeel, will be included in Fox Force Five, a chapbook collective from Paper Hero Press, alongside work by Andrea
Kneeland, Lydia Copeland, Brandi Wells, and Suzanne Burns.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200910drownu.htm
Detail of painting on main page courtesy
of Brendan Garbee. (Cell 1; acrylics on paper)
Read more EE stuff from the archive.
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