I sobbed for most of the first day.
I knew it was a whole day because I saw the sun falling in the sky, and I remembered the sunrise that had gone before. The sun fell, a molten burning ball bleeding at the edges, burning itself out and me too. Bad metaphors—I saw them every place I looked, everywhere my eyes fell. Still, the day ended, and the sobs subsided, and then I stared at the wall.
Walls change throughout the day. At night there's not much to see, unless a car is driving by and the lights strobe from right to left, or sometimes left to right, always up or down or a bewildering mixture of both. Blue light white light dark light shadow. My eyes, fixed on the wall, the rest of me in some kind of religious thrall. Staring at the wall.
My back is not to it, but I'm about to slam into it at one hundred ks an hour, I'm about to die and crumple to pieces and turn to dust before my very own eyes.
Except when I'm sure I must be dead at last, I realise that I'm still sitting, my body gone numb from lack of movement, the pins and needles entirely forgotten by now—staring at the wall.
As dawn nears and the light outside changes, things happen indoors too—you notice patterns of stripped tree branches melting in, waving their limbs to get your attention; slowly they change, warping, like monsters inching incrementally closer and—
You hold your breath and you wonder when it's going to end but it doesn't end and you go on and you don't die and it's not fair.
Sometimes you have to just stop and take a breath. Catch your breath, while you have the chance, because if you don't it all gets too much and your lungs empty and the endless wracking sobs really take it out of a girl.
That first day was in some ways the best. I'd look back during subsequent days and wish for that one again. It was a day in which I could entirely lose myself. Nobody had any expectations, no one expected me to pick my carcass up and keep on moving, hell nobody expected me to even twitch a finger or an eyelid. I had slaves to do my bidding—wash the dishes, bring in the mail, answer the door and the phone, ward off the media vultures. But the slaves got bored pretty quickly. My favourite slave took more than a week to get bored. He stayed with me until he couldn't stay more. As he walked out my front door, my heart tore itself from my chest and followed after him, pathetic and forlorn and begging on deaf ears.
Energy—it leeches out of you in different ways. It can be loud or quiet as it goes. It can be flamboyantly attention-seeking or slinking passive aggressive co-dependent.
So many ways in which to lose your energy; your will to exist.
There are shards of glass inside and man do they ever kill, it's like you're being run through a blender and what comes out the other side is not too fucking pretty. Barely human. It'd be okay if I wasn't human. I'd forget sooner, what with a tiny pea-shaped brain. What I wouldn't fucking give to have a pea-sized brain. But eventually there is a certain chronic numbness that steals over you—I like it when that happens. And then just as its given you relief, it flashes away again and you're left with the red raw uglies.
That's when you turn to Scotch.
Or hell, anything you can get your hands on.
Of course, once you turn to the bottle you've got a new problem—mornings that are uglier than damn sin. They were bad enough before, but now? Words can't describe 'em. But at least you've got something new to fixate on—I'd rather be sick and with my head in a toilet bowl than staring at a wall feeling my insides dissolve.
I'd rather that, and a lot worse, than this.
God, anything but this.
Sometimes I think it's weird that I sobbed first, asked questions later.
Sometimes I think, Why the FUCK didn't the numbness come first? Everybody else got the numbness first—at least, those who really cared. Why the hell am I so different?
But it's pointless to ask such stupid questions. Better to get on with killing myself, slowly, one determined swig at a time.
Still, the questions did come eventually. "How did it happen? I mean, I know there was an accident…but aren't there meant to be, like…safety regulations or some shit? I mean…cars don't just fuckin' collapse, man. I want to know what happened."
And I got told: "Listen…it's in the past—you should really let it go. Everyone else has. Nobody wants it dragged back up again. Know what I mean? I mean…why didn't you ask this stuff at the time? Know what I mean?"
And I said, "Now…come on. Just 'cause everyone else has moved on, doesn't mean I have to. Fuck that shit."
And I got told: "Suze…I'm sorry, but…I really think we need to take a break. See other people for a while."
There was an apology tacked on the end there somewhere, but by then I was too busy shouting obscenities at the top of my pointy lungs and trying to claw his fuckin' face off—couldn't hear anything he said anymore.
But back to me and my slow, slow suicide.
I haven't succeeded yet, but I'm getting there.
See, I go out to the clubs, and even though I'm too old and nobody gives me a second look after that horrified first, I keep going 'cause there's something about what I see in their faces. Proves me right about everything. It's when they catch a glimpse of my face and shudder, like they've just seen the face of Death itself. I don't get it, personally—I dress up specially for all those people, those strangers I'd give my soul to. I'd give my soul to any last one o' those fuckers. Even the fuckin' ugly-ass ones.
Don't know why I'd give it up to anyone; just seems appropriate.
But they don't appreciate me, they don't appreciate what I've got to offer.
Seriously—a woman with nothing to lose will do anything.
But they don't want anything. Not from me.
Maybe they sense that I'm a poisoned black hole of grief that will suck them into a universe-bending lightning-forked oblivion?
Mmm. Yeah. Could be that I guess.
Still, I go to the clubs and I order a drink and I toss it down and I order another and I laugh at the absurdity of it all—me ending up here, this way, like this.
'Cause I had it all, and then I lost.
Big fucking time, compadres.
Here's a secret for ya, though—when I drink, I don't feel good. I don't feel numb or distanced or any of that. When I drink, nothing is okay.
But at least I feel less.
Then one day I get asked the question, and everything changes. At least for a moment. "Lady, what happen to you?"
I turn toward the voice, struggling to open my eyes; then struggling to keep them open. Are they…what, glued shut?
"You okay lady?"
Surely that has gotta be the dumbest question in the history of dumb questions. It's the dumbest one I've ever heard anyway. Because I'm starting to remember last night. And the memory tells me that in the not-doing-okay stakes, I'm doing pretty damn well.
A curious face is peering down at me, gold-brown eyes narrowed in thought, thick black lashes fluttering. The face's owner is clutching a purse close to her chest, and a shopping bag dangles from her other wrist. Shiny black sunglasses are pushing her shining brown hair back from her face; they're perched on her head like a comb clipped into place. She has beautiful olive skin, the kind that ran in that family.
She reminds me of Millie.
And the others.
At the same time as I'm thinking all this, I'm also starting to recognise where I am right now. I'm starting to recall just how I got vomit all the way down my front side.
It isn't mine.
Oh God, I knew it was getting bad, but this?
Millie would be so proud. Poor, dead Millie.
"Hey lady—you shoul' probally git up from there, you know? The shop gonna open real soon eh?"
Yeah, that's right. There was an after-hours party. People drank a lot. They did other shit. I think I tried some. I lift an arm, no I try to lift an arm but damn thing just won't lift. I'm tired.
Tired in my body. Tired in my soul.
And I'm lying in a kiddie pool full of alcohol and water and coffee and vomit.
Oh yeah. I remember last night, or at least parts of it.
And I remember that it's not supposed to be like this.
"Okay," the Millie lady says, "well if you wanna jus' sit dere, I mean I can't do nuttin' you know? But I jus' think I try to help you out a bit… But, you know, you don' need no help so…I do what I can, that's it…"
I struggle to my feet, brushing dried vomit off my front, wincing at the pounding crashing screaming in my head. I close my eyes, swallow against some unidentifiable putrid taste—a flicker of memory, but I don't want to remember that, no I don't want to know where that taste came from; my fucking God I need a drink—and loose a sob before I can stop myself. "Oh Heeeell," I moan from between clenched teeth, lifting my hands to my face—arms are working now, guess they sensed my desperation—scrubbing at my face, wondering how I must look to the Millie lady. Probably about as good as I feel.
"You wan' me to call a ambulance, lady?"
"No," I mutter from behind my hands, shuddering there on my spindly alcohol-emaciated legs.
"What you say lady, I can't hear you—"
"I said NO why don't you fuck OFF just fucking LEAVE ME ALONE!" And then I start screaming without words, shredding my throat raw, wondering how it all came to this, how did I become such a total useless irredeemable mess, how did my life come to this?
"Okay, ay Dios mio!" the woman cries, backing off down the footpath, holding both hands up, eyes wide, horror and disgust in her face and in her entire bearing actually. Loathing.
Because look at me. Just bloody well look at me!
How did it come to this?
But then I forget to wonder, because all I really need is a shower.
And a drink.