Look at these two idiots. Ilan and I are sitting on a couch watching an hour and a half YouTube video of comedians getting high on stage. The only real reason we’re watching it is because one of the comedians is Harris Wittels, who had committed suicide a few weeks earlier. Ilan and I are laughing, and talking about suicide. This is how we cope. We’ve both had our share of suicidal thoughts, but we talk about them as though they’re just strange things that once happened to us. I have a memory of seeing someone on TV say that suicide is never funny and thinking that they were wrong, because sometimes you just have to laugh at how dark and fucked up things are. I think that remembering the darker things can help remind yourself that you’re alive, and that it’s important to enjoy it.
I must be about twenty. I’m in my car. It’s cold, but I’m sweating. My manic self signed up for this fucking acting class on Monday nights in the city, but my anxious, depressed self is the one who has to go to them. Tonight I did a scene from the play “Closer” with one of the most talented students in the class. In the scene I was meant to be a sexy writer who seduces the woman photographing him for the sleeve of his book. (In the film, based on the play, Jude Law played my part). As the other student beautifully operated her prop camera and effortlessly delivered her lines, I felt nauseous and bloated and very un-Jude Law, forgetting my lines and struggling to make eye contact. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I sit in my car and replay the performance in my head over and over. I feel like I’m being dragged underwater. My hands are gripped tightly around the steering wheel. Fuck. I think about the drive back to my lonely apartment in St Lucia. Fuck! I don’t really want to be here anymore. My head replays more bad memories, and I think I’m going to spew.
I’m fifteen and my girlfriend’s dad answers the door. He does karate and he is wearing his karate outfit. He is grumbling though his incredible moustache and pointing at a closed door. My girlfriend is inside, curled up in bed with her cat. I sit next to her. The bed feels fragile, like a life raft, like it might tip. We’ve been dating for about a year and a half, which feels “serious”, I think. I’m “young, dumb, and full of cum”, so I don’t understand why she’s crying. I try to be cute and lean down to kiss her. She stops me and tells me her parents are getting a divorce. The boat tips and she tells me that she doesn’t want to see me anymore. Dubstep is blasting through the wall from her older brother’s room.
I’m sixteen and I’m watching B on the MSN video window. She is showing me her scars, a pink and white ladder running up her arm. She is smiling. I’m freaked out, but I feel excited. This feels intimate. We normally just talk about school and emo bands (or have cybersex), but lately our conversations have been getting darker. Later that night I try cutting my arm with a pocketknife. I’m too afraid to cut my wrist, so I cut the back of my forearm three times. It hurts like fuck. When I show her she calls me a pussy. She is smiling. “She is a real punk”, I think.
I’m seventeen and I’m high and I’m drunk – dumb, teenage, peer pressure kind of drunk. I’m at schoolies. I’m at a party in someone’s hotel room on the gold coast. This is the summer that Ke$ha’s song Tik Tok is a thing. C is handing me her phone, telling me that S wants to speak to me. I tell C that I don’t want to speak to S. She has a new boyfriend who should be dealing with her shit. I’m angry, but C insists I help her, telling me I’m the only one she’ll trust. I take the phone and the party doesn’t stop when I walk out into the hall. S has locked herself in a bathroom somewhere. Her voice is crackly and fragile. She sounds scared. We talk for a while. I try to be silly and make her laugh. It seems to work. I tell her she should call her mum to come and get her. She agrees. Through the phone I can hear her blowing her nose on some toilet paper.
I’m about twenty again and I’m sitting in my car, trying to stop my hands from shaking. I think about the times friends have told they wanted to kill themselves. How it didn’t seem fair. How I was angry and scared. I try to think about good things: my brother, my sister, my parents… it’s my mum’s birthday really soon, I think. I decide to call her. She tells me come home.
Today I feel good. I’ve been reading a lot and wearing these loose hippy pants my sister bought me from overseas. I’ve been thinking about adding this story about a friend of mine who almost jumped off the story bridge, but then I think about how they are doing pretty well now and how their tweets have been really funny lately. Stay positive. My mum sends me an article on Facebook called: “17 Perfect Furniture Ideas for Cats”. And then my cat meows at me at the same time as the baby in the house across the road is crying. Whenever I hear that baby crying I think, “holy shit there is a baby over there”. The baby and I have a lot in common, I think, because sometimes it’s four am and we’re both crying, but it’s only because we are alive.
Heather Joan Day is a writer from Brisbane. She was the winner of the 2014 SLQ Young Writers Award and has been published in The Lifted Brow, Scum, Stilts, and Plaything Magazine. @emo_flowers