Short Fiction


I. I like the winter better – long clothes. And beenies, scarves, gloves. I become invisible in the best way. Not such that I can’t be seen, but such that I don’t stand out. Yes, I am real. I am bothering to live today. And in the July sun, you would see I am not like you. But today, in that perfect space of mid December, when it is really and truly winter but all the depths are yet beyond, though the sun preys on my aspect, the cold is my ally. Who in their right mind would not wear long sleeves in this weather?

II. I never really meant to kill myself. Not in the sense that I was “desparate to end the pain,” or “just couldn’t take it anymore,” or “no longer wanted to live,” or “didn’t see point.” Every single time I drew from my blood arms, it was one of my better days. Which is to say that I have always been process rather than goal-oriented in this pursuit. I will grant, though, that one must, at minimum, possess a certain ambivalence about life to engage in my obsession. I.e., although I object strongly to being labeled suicidal, I recognize that someone more concerned with prolonging his life would have a different reaction to the thoughts in which I luxuriated.

Now, certainly this obsession is a pathology, but I object to it’s characterization as a manifestation of some broader diagnosis. When clinicians attempt to make this linkage, I am offended on behalf of my muse. It is as if my urge is not enough on it’s own. As if it doesn’t have the fortitude to stand alone in the pantheon of abnormality. I swear to God I’m not depressed or suicidal or panicking without reason or possessed of generalized sense of doom. But it is a lot like asking an alocoholic why he drinks. “Because I’m an alcoholic” he will say. I could never help, for as long as I can remember, the wandering, the strolling, the jogging, the racing, ramping, flying of my mind to this place. Oh, the ecstasy…

III. But I am medicated now. And it’s strange, because, as I say, it isn’t that I don’t ideate on the topic the way I always have. What has changed, though, is that I can finally make that link between indefinitely and dying. The cause and effect finally have a relationship in my mind.

So I have days like today. Most days are like this. I go to class, I run, I sit alone and study, I write in a coffee shop. It’s unremarkable. Honestly, it feels a little fake. You know, I know I’m biding my time. Waiting for what, though? Things that were so clear to me not that long ago I can only see under a veil now. Something’s coming. I’m fooling them. No one more than myself.

IV. There are some early latitudinal scars across my wrists. What a naïve young pup I was! But I learned by doing. When one cuts across a human vein, the upper edges will collapse in on themselves. So, to start with, you’ve not created a large opening, but only a cut, and then the pressure from either side will cause a clotting of even that pathetic effort. You cannot combat this by exploiting the natural geography of the body because anywhere a vein is bent it will flatten and that’s not conducive to good flow either. Imagine breaking a stick towards yourself instead of away from. Point being, wrist slitting is for amateurs.

Those who well and truly intend success will very quickly move towards the longitudinal slice. The slice suffers from the same topographical complications as the slit, but one can generally compensate for these by covering so much more real estate. And then there is the cut Rex – the notch. This is what separates the determined from the mechanistic. Because, you see, there is nothing beautiful about the notch. It does not allow for buyer’s remorse.

V. I met Jane just a month ago. She doesn’t know anything about me. I wonder what she’ll say when she sees my scars. When will that be? I’ll pick her up for a date in a polo shirt? Ha!
“Hey. It’s gorgeous out, right?”
“Yeah, I love it when it’s like this.”
“Are you going to contribute something to my development as a person today?”
“I am going to launch you on the road to stardom.”

VI. And yes, I still think about it! Of course, I still think about it. Like in that Kurt Russel movie, Soldier, where the peasant refugee asks Kurt what he’s thinking about and he goes still. Stops slicing carrots and looks away into the distance through a window. “Fear. discipline,” He says, never turning towards as he answers. “Now?” She asks.

VII. Once I used a zipper pull to try it. Exsanguination. And that is a beatiful word, isn’t it? Oh, it’s exquisite. It plays no small part in my affliction. My fascination. It’s a bit like referring to snorting coke as “the insufflation of an alkaline pharmaceutic.” But it’s not euphemistic. It’s medical; scientific. As a craftsman, I believe I deserve the privilege of jargon.