The room was abysmal at best. Torn paper carpeted the rotting floor. A dingy table leaned in the center of the room, next to a couch old enough to have probably been used to furnish caves by the Neanderthals.

A man sat on the couch. His clothes were torn and frayed, splattered with grease and tears. He had the face of someone who could have been at one time a handsome man, but his scraggy face paid no testament to his former attractiveness. He wasn’t an old man by any account, hardly thirty years of age but he looked much older. The scarce hairs on his head were streaked with gray. His steely eyes stared vacantly, traumatic memories swirling in their pensive depths.

From afar, he looked like any common drug-addict. The kind of person kids whisper about and adults scoff at. But his eyes exuded grief.

He used to be an intelligent person, acing all his exams and being the epitome of sensibleness at one time. But with this gift, like with all gifts, came a curse. He was too arrogant and selfish to love. He thought it was beneath him to delve into such basic trivialities, which were nothing more than flaws in our psyche.

And like all gifts, it had an expiration date.

After a constant stream of successes, his downfall began. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

And he fell hard.

He lost his job and his fancy house and his shiny car. And at that moment, when he was lost and helpless, he realized he didn’t have anyone to turn to.

Fast forward one month later, later the same night, he lay draped over this musty couch, his hands lolling around. In front of him, was an empty bottle of whiskey.  Another bottle was on the end table, and he grappled with it, fumbling as it slid out of his drunken grip.

He wanted not to feel as his world crashed around him; as everything he held dear to himself loomed on the brink of being lost forever. He swung the bottle towards him and took a long gulp, the alcohol burning his throat. The burn was good. It distracted him.

He fell back into the couch, silent tears sliding down his cheek. His face was scrunched into a mask of stupor fuelled sorrow.

His hands shaking, he navigated to the pocket of his trousers and extracted a bunched up tissue paper. Slowly unwrapping it, a couple of pills fell into his lap. With trembling hands, he took two of them and put them in his mouth. He then swallowed them down with an abundant sip of whiskey.

Slowly, as they dissolved in his body, he felt his movements becoming sluggish and slow. He felt distant, a rising crescendo of emptiness.

Then all he felt was numbness: a morbid absence of feeling. It should have terrified him, but it did not. He felt himself craving the numbness. It took away the pain and fear. It took away the feeling of helplessness and loneliness. It took away the feeling that he had nothing to turn to.

Slipping into the relief, he allowed himself to drift away into the abyss.

As he drifted away, he felt one last pang of regret. Regret that he had no one to hold him and no shoulder to cry on. No one to tell him that it would be okay. No one to be his anchor.

In his final moments of consciousness, he realized what he had been missing his whole life. The bottle slipped out of his hand and crashed to the floor. He realized something, and a single cry of regret escaped his lips:

There is more solace in the embrace of a best friend or the kiss of a lover or the hug of a parent than any bottle or pill in the world.

He felt the ache of absence inside of him, and he curled up and waited for the reprieve.

This story is in an odd way dedicated to all those people who have been by my side when I needed them to be. Whom I can rely on and depend upon their unconditional and unwavering support and love. Especially my mother and a few of my close friends.

Dear reader, if you read all of that, please read this and try to keep those whom you love close to you. Love them shamelessly. Enjoy unconditionally. Sacrifice your pride for them if you need to, but never lose them. Because nothing hurts more than losing someone.

Except maybe a chainsaw.



Curtain Call

She looked at the tiny vial in her hands. The vial brimmed with a transparent liquid that caught the moonlight and sparkled deviously. She absentmindedly twirled the vial between her long slender fingers, savoring the feeling of power it accompanied. Her lips were quivering slightly and she felt slightly hot, despite the flapping wetness of the night air.

She gazed out of her window, out to the oak swaying in the windy night. Her windows struggled to smash shut, barely restrained by the rusty stopper. Swirling black clouds blotted out the moon, casting a twisted silver lining of steely light against a mass of black.

She felt the tears begin to rise as she felt the pressure pounding down on her. All through her life, she had been told what to do. She had been expected to study, and ace all her examinations and be the ideal daughter. Her father had made it no secret that he had wanted a son, and never in her life had she remembered a word or act of kindness from her father.

The only thing that she really liked to do was to act. It was her passion, and she felt it liberated her in a  way little else could. When she was on stage, acting, she didn’t have to be herself. She could delve into the personas of noble ladies and foreign diplomats and queens and strong independent women. When she was up there, she could be free. Whenever it seemed like everything was going downhill, she could turn to the theater.

Until her father had decreed that she had grown too old for acting.

And now, she sat in her room, alone. She sobbed heartily, her body wracking with dry spasms of despair. Her entire life, she had been helpless. She had been little more than a tool for her parents to fill their wishes through her entity. She was just a vessel. She could see her life ahead of her, and it was bleak. She didn’t want to lead such an existence at all.

Today was the day, she had decided, that she would take control for once. For the first time, she would do what she wanted and not care. No one had cared for what she had wanted, why should she?

When she had wanted to enroll in summer camp, her father had refused on the grounds that it was pointless.

She had never gone to a field trip. She wasn’t allowed to make any friends. She was allowed to just…exist.

She had had enough. She was going to rebel. One final act of defiance. One final act to break free.

With a steely resolve and shaking hands, she opened the vial and downed it in one gulp.

It was tasteless. 

For a second, as the rush began to subside, the enormity of her decision hit her. What this would mean.

And she came to the realization that she had nothing to live for. No one to live for. Nothing to grasp onto and clutch onto it for support. She envied everyone who had an anchor: a best friend, a parent, a sibling, a wife, a child, a puppy.

She slowly got up from her bed as she began to feel the contents of the vial coursing through her body. At first it began like a slow heat, slowly ascending till it felt like a blazing inferno trapped inside her veins, scorching her from the inside.

The clouds parted and a single moonbeam burst forth through the inky night and pirouetted into the room, illuminating her. She was surrounded by a diaphanous aureole of light, like a final spotlight. 

Her vision began to blur, her breathing growing shallow and painful. Her head hurt with an excruciating throbbing. As she tried to scream, she discovered her vocal chords would not obey.

A strong gust of wind blew, and the rusty stopper gave into the relentless force of the wind. The windows banged shut, the glass resonating with the force of the impact. As the branches of the oak danced in the wind, they bombarded her window.

The howling of the wind, the branches against the glass, it all sounded like the tumultuous roar
of a happy audience. This wasn’t the cacophony of conflict, this was the symphony of appreciation.

A slight smile curled up against the side of her lips, despite the pain. She began to picture, slightly, the thronging mass of people cheering for her in the theater.

Silhouetted against the moonbeam, she felt her legs buckling under the weight that her body had become. Groaning in pain, she sank to the floor as the pain began to crescendo.

Her back arched with mirthless agony of a body trying to persevere, she looked to be bowing for one last time. Her final curtain call. 

Then, as a single tear rolled down her cheek onto the curve of her smiling cheek, she fell to the ground. The pain began to fade, as did the spotlight. And before she knew it, she faded off into the darkness.

One final act of liberation.

One final bow.

Curtains close.