The Attempt That Was Made in OD OG

  • Feb. 13, 2024, 4:54 a.m.
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  • Public

i. ryoko

you weren’t even talking to me by the time i tried to kill myself that year. the first push happens around my birthday, when, for reasons unknown, your boyfriend, colin, dumps you unceremoniously. you come to my birthday party at beth & jen’s, pull your little marionette legs up into the armchair and put your arms around them. i can still see you sitting there…folded up wordlessly like a human envelope while the rest of us wear leis, coconuts, grass skirts & drink rum based fruity elixirs out of plastic cups adorned with hibiscuses. rap music pounds the walls like an alcoholic father. and, oh, how the rest of us party & laugh. after half an hour, you look at me and say, “maybe i’ll go drive my car into a tree.” i beg you to stay, to talk to me. but you drive off in your old white volvo. i should chase you, call the cops, something. instead, I stand in the parking lot watching you till you are far enough away that your taillights look like 2 back-lit holes poked through a black velvet curtain…or two white buttons sewn on a funereal gown…2 cat eyes reflecting white in the beam of a flashlight. then, i walk back to my party, take your spot in the chair and wait for you to return. when you don’t, i drunkenly amble home & wait for you till alcohol shutters my eyes…your bed remains empty that night.

a little less than a month later, you are coming out of your depression. i meet you on your way up, as i am going down. by this time, we are strangers passing on opposite escalators. i can’t sleep. eat. function. i drink from sun up. put cigarettes out on myself. on that day, i am trying to do my homework & can’t write a single sentence that i don’t erase 50 times first. as i rub my salty, hot eyes, you climb into bed to take a nap.

i snap.

i go in the bathroom, dismantle a razor and try to slit my pale wrists. i remember thinking that, to get it as deep as you want, it is so much harder than anyone tells you. by the point you want to kill yourself, it takes a lot of heart that you just don’t have. after tracing tributaries & seaways, i give up. i wrap my wrist in toilet paper and tuck it up in the sleeve of my sweater. bleeding, i stumble down to the kitchen and find the aspirin. i remember counting out 15 pills. swallow them like ants marching…1 by 1. it doesn’t seem like enough. i grab a bottle of sleeping pills and, with the shake of a baby rattle, down about 50 capsules. at this point, i frantically realize i haven’t left a note. i grab a legal pad and abridge my sprawling, desperate madness into one short note mentioning seymour glass and his careless, vapid widow….references you won’t get. my wrist rusts the page as i scribble with a dull tool of a pencil. i leave the bloody note on your desk, lay down & wait to die.

you wake up, hearing my fish-out-of-water gasp. you read my note that made no sense to you. you turn to me, raise your eyebrows, shrug and leave. the next time i see you is in the er. you show up much later than everyone else and, later, they will all crucify you for it. i am half dead and don’t remember much about our interaction other than dazedly watching you pull a yoohoo out of your backpack and thinking, “ah, so that’s what kept you so long.” as it makes sense, as if it explains anything…but i can’t complain, these are the terms & conditions i have created for all of us.

ii. beth

you come to have a cigarette with me but you know something is wrong before you even come upstairs. you call up to me, nerves stretched thin on tenterhooks. i can hear it in your voice. i try to make it to the stairs, but i fall. i try to drag myself, but can’t. afraid, i finally say, “i did something bad.” you take the stairs in 2s, screaming my name. you put your arms under my arms & try to drag me down the stairs, but i am dead weight. cursing, you call 911. you keep trying to give my address, but they can’t understand you over my hyperventilating. finally, you snap, “shut up, ROXY.” smirking at you, i say, “if i die, you’re going to regret that those are your last words to me.” for some reason, i figure if i die, it will be easier if your last memory of me is what an asshole i was. i don’t know why I think that is better. the regret i feel when i think of that moment still tastes like the bottom of an overflowing ashtray.

iii. colin

when you break up with ryoko, you break up with me too. you assume my ire with you even though we were the closest of friends. but you guess at my side, make assumptions about which team i will pick. shortly before my attempt, you send me a message on aim, calling me a crazy, drunk bitch and tell me i need serious mental help. you happen to be coming out of your apartment next door when the emt’s roll me on the gurney, out of mine. even though i am bloodied & half-dead, i’ll never forget the guilty look on your face as we lock eyes. in a way, it is the last conversation we ever have.

iv. shannon

i hate your unease in the er. my other friends try to ignore the tube up my nose, down my throat, pumping charcoal into my gut. the arms, my hate mail to this life. not you, you have this frozen, queasy, pageant queen smile on your face. to put you at ease, i offer you up the currency of jokes…ask you if you wanted to go out dancing after they finish flushing me out with charcoal. i joke that i think i look pretty hot. relieved, you laugh. i laugh, too. and then gag…and puke. a bog of volcanic ash spewing forth, staining my teeth like licorice. i try to cover my mouth with my hand, but black tar oozes through my fingers. i can’t make it stop. finally scared, i begin to cry. horrified, you run for the exit, calling for the nurse. at the sight of me, she sighs, unclips the tube from my gown and changes me as i shiver, try to cover myself by crossing my arms in front of my chest. you are grateful for the exit the moment provides. you never return from the waiting room.

v. jeff, the therapist

after i’m cleaned up and bandaged, the bulldog nurse comes in and hands me a chunky, wireless phone. all salt & battery acid, she tells me, “it’s your therapist.” i swallow hard around the tube in my throat. “hello?” there is a pause, a moment of buffering. i am relieved when i hear your sarcastic voice come through the tinny line, “so…rough night?” i crack up with laughter…i sound as crazy as they think i am, but i can’t think of a better way to bedlam.

vi. my parents

i still don’t know who called them. i didn’t want them there. in fact, when I hear them coming, i pretend to sleep. my mom comes in the room, her coat mushrooming out like a force field around her, my father is caught in the draft behind her. she murmurs my name and puts her hand on my forehead, as though my mental illness is viral. it is one of the only genuine shows of physical affection she has ever displayed towards me. though i have spent years trying to win it, i pretend to sleep when she finally calls me her own. finally, my dad says, “kim” and pulls her down into one of the hard plastic chairs next to him. i watch them watch me pretend to sleep. the nurse comes in to put more charcoal in the tube and warns them it will be unpleasant to watch and that they might want to step out. for once, my mother refuses to leave my side…even as i gag and whimper, rail against the dosage. in that moment, my mom is finally a sympathetic character: a woman who doesn’t understand why she is where she is and only wants her daughter to live.

vii. jenny b.

you and beth are tasked with bringing me clothes and underwear to take to the ward. you & beth suffer the indignity without complaint, yoked together by my insanity. when you go to pick up my clothes, you have to step over bloodstains on the carpeted stairs where the aspirin purged my sad, sad veins. soft-hearted, you know you can’t let my parents see that stain….so you and beth fill a bucket with soapy water and pretend you can fix things….not wanting to be, but also just a trifle pissed at me for putting you in this position…both of you there, on your hands and knees, dual lady macbeths …scrubbing, scrubbing. out, out, damn spot.

viii. bernhard, the professor

you call me in the icu. you ask me why i did my homework before i tried to kill myself. i joke, “i told you i would do it, even if it killed me.”you laugh and then sheepishly say, “i don’t know why i’m laughing.” because terrible is funny, because awful is a joke. you ask to visit me in the psych ward. i tell you i would like that. you show up several times for visiting hours and then move me into your house after that. later, your wife tells me you couldn’t sleep when you heard what i had done. i was your dead albatross. you knew that i wasn’t alright that day i came to your office earlier that week. you just hadn’t thought…. in that way, you were merely one of the many helpless ripples, spreading outward in the bottomless pool of my sick & widening selfishness.

viiii. brad

because i am held in the psych ward when the school year ends, loose ends are left untied…my life, a pile of endless, graying shoelaces. you are left to clean out my locker in the music building with my friend, trish. both of you are horrified upon opening the locker…turn of the key revealing my horrible secret, turning you into bluebeard’s bride. you both jump back as a stash of empty liquor bottles rain down on linoleum…all those missed signs tumbling out. when i see you in the fall, you tell me you helped trish with cleaning out my locker. you try to make a joke, but when you see i’m ashamed, you fumble. instead, you fall back on your typical, “oh, honey.” in the end, there was no punchline for you, no comeback for me.

Written in 2019, the 15 year anniversary of my suicide attempt


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