A special purchase.
He looked at his worn leather wallet just like a homeowner before moving out. A sort of gratitude, and an epiphany: life (valuable) in the material world (fragile) is transient. In the same way, a wallet, relatively fragile, would only hold banknotes (valuable) for a moment in time. The opening till snapped him out of thought, and he left the hardware store with heavy hands.
Eric had a talent for thinking from different perspectives, the positive, the negative, and everything in between. He was conscious of the fact that he was not harmless, and could build just as easily as he could destroy. That’s why his act was so uncharacteristic of him, viewed as unexpected and even irrational. He chose the one thing that cannot be reversed, his suffering brought him to that place so many other people dread.
He drove like he always did, displaying a natural dexterity for handling heavy machinery. The epidemic of texting and driving skipped a millennial in this case. He had to get to Amy’s house in time to drop her off at the mall for a movie date. Amy was his friend, a real friend, the type you’d only get once in ten lifetimes. Their bond was real and noticeable to many, with some even suggesting they stop wasting time and get married.
He picked her up, on time as usual, and off they went. The ride was quiet, the pair had nothing to say, and the silence was respected by them both. The mall was abuzz with young faces in their factions, hanging out as if they don’t see each other every day. “Hanging out” meant sitting with friends staring at bright screens, texting people far away. The norm applied to everyone.
“Don’t forget. 8 o’clock,” said Amy as she alighted from the car. Eric winked at her, waiting until she got inside before leaving.
Amy joined her girlfriends for what was going to be a boring romantic comedy which she wouldn’t have watched by choice. The almost two hours of torment came to an end, then one of the girls suggested they get dinner. Peer pressure is subtle but powerful nonetheless, and Amy gave in to it. She updated Eric on the new plan and told him to come an hour later than originally planned. He agreed and fell asleep on his couch a few moments later.
21:08 – Amy: “I’m all done. Come and whisk me away.”
21:20 – Amy: “Dude. That was me saying come and pick me up.”
At 21:22 Amy stood up and walked around so as not to make it obvious that she was alone waiting for someone. Calling was pointless, Eric’s phone was always on silent. He woke up at 21:32 and tried to call her. No answer. He tried again, this time it went straight to voicemail. “Where did she go?” he asked himself.
He raced to the mall expecting to find her upset, but even that would have been the best he could ever have hoped for.
After an hour of searching, he called the police. He did so because there had been a surge of missing person cases in the area. There was no need to wait for 48 hours. The police arrived and began the search. As they went on, Eric overheard that they were hunting a serial killer and that he most likely abducted Amy. When he heard the last word, his feet went numb. His heart was the only thing he could hear; his churning stomach the only thing he could feel.
“If only I’d been awake this wouldn’t be happening.”, “Why didn’t I put my phone on loud?” and other thoughts ran through his head as he fell to the floor. He felt hollow, like butterflies but without the fuzz. He deemed himself responsible by default. There began his descent into pure agony. Eric couldn’t help but feel guilty. It was unlike his previous experiences with it; it had a face attached to it this time. A face he adored.
He wanted it to end, and so he looked into his shopping bag from the hardware store.
Eric, like many others, made a special purchase; one that occurs once only. Maybe he shouldn’t have. He drove home and got into the garage, weeping through every breath. He passed a string through the garage door mechanism and in front of the nail gun trigger to the other mechanism. He stood at the opposite wall and waited with the remote control in his hand. The last thing he did was push a button, the gears did the rest.
His parents came home to a horrendous scene of a bloody, nailed, guilt-filled boy. Indeed the purchase was special, it was his last.
His father’s phone rang as they stared in horror and disbelief. It was eerie and loud, the carousel sounds were like a lullaby for their departed baby.
Amy was found alive a week later, weak from the torture. She asked for Eric in the hospital and was answered with cold faces.
Every night on the 18th of April, the carousel sounds ring in the ears of the guilty. The Wraith of the Carousel and its legend are a bedtime story to keep children on the straight and narrow. But never for too long.
they thought, they were wrong
A thought which cannot leave
A feeling which is too strong to shake away
Stronger than any hangover
Harder than any break-up
They thought you were okay
They thought you were stable
They thought you were ‘just off’
They were wrong
It is a voice in the head
which keeps shouting at you
“Why Tom! Why Tom! Why Tom!”
And you just want it to stop
Maybe another day
Maybe another minute
Maybe another place
Maybe they would still be here
“It ain’t your fault”, they say
“It’s all your fault”, brain says
In the end, It ended
They thought it wouldn’t, they were wrong
The Lander one have been working on this for a while now. We decided to put together some pieces tackling certain mental health themes and this is the first collaboration on this fine issue. Do visit out the talented young fellow on his blogsite: https://spacewalker314.wordpress.com/ and be sure to expect more collaborations in the not so distant future.