I watch my brother lie in his bedroom with the turquoise curtains drawn and walls closing in as if extracting all the life from him. The bookshelves sway like sluggish waves in his blurry vision. The words on the randomly lain textbooks flutter on voidness and neglect. The clamorous debate over death heightens as the resonating isolation amplifies over all else. Life is too much for him to bear. Before I could come up with a hopeful word for my brother, he reaches out to his vibrating phone.
“Do you want to come out? I’m here waiting for you.” I watch him shudder as he responds. Blinking his swollen eyes, he says, “Come. It’s time to tell her.” Gathering up all his energy, he splashes water on his tear stained countenance and crawls out of his room of invisibility and hibernation.
The door swung shut behind us, dulling the sound of riotous, anxious thoughts. His eyes expand, and his face lights up when he notices her pink, foamy dress and black serious shoes. Heavy makeup concealed the circles beneath her eyes which darkened with each night she stayed up studying. As we settle down on the front porch, she crosses her legs and tilts her head towards him, face pale and beautiful. “Are you worried about the math test?”
“Why bother getting an A,” my brother muses, “when I won’t be here to get a report card?”
He sounded so certain about his intolerable existence that my stomach twists into a knot. Her muscles tense up as she shifts the tiniest bit away from him. “Are you…” she stammers, fingers trembling. “Is this about suicide?”
When he turns away, facing the brick wall on the other side of the lawn, the unbearable silence hangs among us. The temperature of the still, summer air increases by faint degrees. She nervously twirls a loose string on her dress and scrunches her eyebrows. Words come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; she stumbles on them as they gather behind her lower lip. “But you can’t. I am not giving up on you.”
She reaches out and gently holds his hand. For a brief moment, she can feel his brokenness, numbness, and pure mental exhaustion. Once again, he glances away at the brick wall as if his knotty pain beats against it. “The thing is,” he says defiantly, “it’s not your choice.”