His legs hang over the side of the railing and his eyes stare straight ahead. Between his fingers is burning death and he takes every drag slow and meticulously, willing it’s magic to work faster.
Bright lights shine from down below and he contemplates his options. Guiltless chance or a surefire suicide. Maybe it could look like an accident.
Smoke gushes from between parted lips and he’s grown to like the taste.
He wonders how many flowers have grown in his graveyard chest but thinks maybe he’s barren. It feels like he’s barren. It feels like all he is, is death waiting to happen. Eyelids shut tightly and he wonders why it has yet to happen.
One foot slips behind the other and a shoe dangles precariously above the rushing traffic. He thinks of this as picking petals off of roses; to, or to not.
Instead of letting chance make it’s mind up, he takes both shoes off and lays them beside him. Knowing they’re safely next to him gives him a false comfort and an unsettling ache.
His mind wanders into the crevices of his thoughts that he blocks off in the daylight, the caution tape torn off. There are dark bags beneath his eyes and he can barely remember the last time he slept. The ache never wanes and the tired never gets comforted by sleep.
Burned to the end, he flicks his cigarette to the ground and slowly, so slowly, he lets himself rise to the challenge of not actually jumping when he can. Instead he turns and grabs his shoes, stepping down from the metal railing and letting himself enter into a more sturdy ground.
Not tonight, he thinks.
I haven’t been myself lately, kind of like trying to copy who I am from a blurry image. Parts of me feel like smoke and now I’m just waiting for a strong enough breeze to sweep me away.
There are parts of my head that I want to shut off, and there are parts of my heart I want to keep quiet. I can’t tell where this screaming is coming from but these tears keep threatening to spill from my eyes. It’s like there’s a tripped wire somewhere in me that has let something shift, when it shouldn’t.
It doesn’t feel like a cold friend. And this doesn’t have a sick comforting familiarity.
Something aches inside of me, something feels missing. I can’t put my finger on it but I feel the gray under my skin. Warm water doesn’t wash it away and neither does his hands.
I don’t know where I got lost but somehow I have no idea where I am. I’m lost even to myself.
I want to wake up and pretend this is all a dream. But it’s not, and there’s no warm bed I’ve forgotten to wake up in.
Hands twist in the dirt while he sits in the schoolyard laughing with the few friends who have to wait, too. His smile so bright and his eyes so full – everyone loves him.
He hands in notes to the teacher, very prone to sickness. But he smiles and curls his shirt around him, fingertips peeking out of the sleeves. It’s a little loose, a little faded. He thinks it used to be his dads.
When the rest of his friends go home, he takes his time waking. For a while he pretends it’s okay and there will be hugs waiting for him. His heart hammers away in his chest and he thinks maybe he’s a mouse when he sneaks through the front door, creeping up the stairs.
He makes a little too much noise with the creak in the floorboard but he makes it to his room, curls up in the bed.
His desk the next day is empty – he came down with the flu.
A few days and he’s deemed healthy enough to return. Right as rain. His smile’s a little faded and he yanks his sleeves to his hands.
It’s okay, the bruise under his eye from playing catch with his dad. So were the lies that marked his arms, his chest.
He tells the best stories in class and gets praise from the teacher. She doesn’t know he’s been telling stories for a long time already. She doesn’t know the story he paints over with pretty lies.
Maybe he’ll be a writer one day. He waits for that like he waits for love to disappear on his arms.
Too bad he’s prone to sickness.
How do you remember what it’s like
To breathe without a darkness in your throat;
When it’s etched deep into your bones
And your fingers can’t scratch enough below the skin
To try and dig it out
She kisses him good night
And good morning
But she doesn’t tell him
How hard it is to lie next to him
How difficult it is to see him every day
And she keeps her secrets close
And tries not to worry him
Because he’s everything
And he loves her
But why, she asks herself,
Is he everywhere?