I gently moved my fingers on her face. She looked so innocent, sleeping peacefully in my arms. All the mysteries she held in the deep dark corners of her mind seemed to be at peace as she lay motionless. I kissed her forehead, held her tightly as my eyes shut. I’ve never been this comfortable with anyone. I have dated before but this woman seemed different, almost supernatural. The very fact that she managed to sweep me off my feet and capture my senses to the point of devotion was remarkable. It had been 2 years since we began seeing each other and 6 months since we moved in. Maybe it was too early and maybe we hadn’t tamed all our demons, but I kept telling myself that better days were ahead of us.
I woke up to the piercing rays of the sun, my vision was still hazy. I rubbed my eyes and looked to my side but she wasn’t there. I got up with a heavy head and began looking for her. She wasn’t in the toilet and neither was she in the living room. Panicking, I rushed towards the kitchen. I looked around and found her sitting on the floor stuck to a corner. Her wrists still had bandages from the last time she tried to kill herself. Her head was resting on folded arms as she cried bitterly. I sat beside her and held her. She lifted her head and pushed me away.
“Don’t touch me! I don’t deserve this!” her cries got louder.
“Don’t deserve what, sweetheart? What happened?”
“Dalton dumped me! Craig dumped me! My parents abandoned me! Am I that ugly? What did I do wrong?”
Dalton and Craig were her boyfriends before me. Her parents died when she was 9. The couple that adopted her abandoned her at the age of 19 because they thought she was crazy.
“You’re not ugly and you haven’t done anything wrong. I’m right here with you. They don’t matter. I’m right here!” I said as I tried holding her again.
“I’m crazy! I’m a mess! What if you leave me too! I’m so scared… I’m so scared” I held her close. I could hear her muffled voice saying, “I’m scared”, over and over again as I kept holding her.
“I’m not going anywhere honey. I’m not going to leave you, alright?” I looked into her brown eyes and kissed her. She stopped crying.
This was our everyday routine. Sometimes I’d wake up finding her asleep. There were times she’d be in different corners of the house crying. Sometimes she blankly stared at the walls mumbling something vague. Despite these tendencies, when we were normal, we were great together. She supported me and loved me like no one had before. She was kind and thoughtful. Although, there were times when I’d come home and she would just yell at me and demean me but she calmed down soon after. I was willing to carry that burden. Waiting for her to realize that I wasn’t going anywhere, waiting for her to get over her past and make peace with the demons that haunted her. I knew deep down that something was wrong but she never told me everything. One day, I decided we needed help. So I asked her to come with me to a psychiatrist.
“Do you think I am crazy!” she said furiously.
“I’m not saying that you’re crazy. There is something bothering you, I know it. Maybe a psychiatrist can help.” I was calm.
“A psychiatrist! Those so called parents of mine tried taking me to one too! They thought I was crazy! Dalton and Craig thought I was crazy! And now even you fucking think I am crazy!” she began yelling. I wondered what the neighbors might think. I still kept my calm.
“I am not saying you are crazy. Please try to understand. Maybe a psychiatrist can help get to the root of your problems. I just want us to be normal, you know.”
“Oh! So this isn’t good enough for you? I am not good enough the way I am? Why don’t you just leave me like everyone else did!”
“I am not going to leave you. Just listen to me. I want us to be happy again. If this helps why not try it?”
“Are you saying that you aren’t happy with me? Because that’s what you’re implying, you asshole! I fucking hate you! You know what? I’ll just leave!” She rushed to the kitchen.
I walked behind her. She picked up a knife and put it to her bandaged wrists. She had done this before. I caught hold of her.
“Let me go!” She yelled. “Everyone blamed me for the time mom and dad died. Everyone thinks I’m crazy! I just want to die!” she began crying, “I just want to die!”
I kept holding her till she let go of the knife. We both sank to the floor.
“I don’t think you’re crazy. If you don’t want to see a psychiatrist, we won’t but promise me you won’t try to kill yourself, okay?”
“I’m so sorry! All this is so fucked up! I’m sorry” she said and kissed me.
“You know I love you, right?”
“Yes…” she said with a smile.
I never brought up the psychiatrist again. I simply tried my best to keep her happy but no matter how hard I tried, there were days when she would just break down. It was getting difficult but if I didn’t stand by her now, who would? I wanted to get her back on her feet and pursue her passion for art. She used to paint beautifully. She always captured the essence of the world around her on a canvas. Watching her paint was an honor. I took pride in what she did and I knew once this was over, she could excel even further. When the thought of her painting crossed my mind, I had an idea.
I enrolled her for special classes in painting where she would learn different styles from professionals. She was a free spirit and had learned to paint on her own. With professional guidance, I knew she’d attain new heights. It would also serve as a distraction. It worked like a charm. She became more confident. I often picked her up after work, and greeted her with roses and chocolates. I kept reminding her how much I loved her, how much she meant to me. I made sure she never felt unwanted. Things seemed so much better. The gloomy atmosphere at home ceased. I woke up to a more cheerful her. I felt accomplished. I somehow knew things would get better.
I woke up one day, feeling suffocated. Something felt odd. She was next to me. Her eyes wide open with an expression as blank as a stone.
“Good morning, sweetheart. Are you fine?”
She didn’t respond. She continued staring at the ceiling. I touched her. She turned her head and looked at me with a dead expression.
“Is something wrong?”
“I’m just feeling a little sick, I won’t be going for classes today.”
“Alright! Would you like some breakfast?”
“I’ll have some later.”
She wasn’t responsive. She continued to lay in bed while I went to work. I was a little scared the entire day and called frequently to check on her. She was fine. I rushed home from work and she was still there. This continued for 3 days. She had a mild fever so I didn’t push her. She was painting something on the canvas so I assumed she was okay. I continued as I normally would.
A meeting had me trapped at work for an hour more than my daily schedule. I managed to rush back home. I ran up the stairs hoping she was fine. I had an uneasy feeling the entire day. I opened the door and my bag fell from my hand as I stood there with an open mouth. The living room was lit with candles that had a pleasant aroma. Four paintings of us together stood at the center of the room. There was a bottle of wine in an ice bucket which rested on our modern credenza. It was beautiful. Tears rolled down my cheeks. After all these years, no one had done this for me. I stood there admiring all of it, soaking it in emotionally. I never felt this loved in my life. A path of rose petals led to the bedroom. I knew what was waiting for me in there.
I had a face full of joy as I followed the rose petals into the bedroom. I can’t believe she did all of this. I yelled, “I love you!” as I opened the door. I choked as a strong wind blew all the candles out. Through that faint darkness, I was able to see her body hanging from the ceiling fan. I stood in shock hoping this was a dream, an illusion. I turned on the lights but reality slapped me in the face. It wasn’t a dream. It was a nightmare. I got her cold body down, crying, wondering what went wrong. What made her do this? There was a little note that stuck out of her blouse. I picked it up and began reading.
“If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late. Before I say anything, I just want you to know that I love you and none of this is your fault. No one has held me like you have. No one could kiss me like you did. No one stood by me like you did. Everyone turned their back on me thinking I was insane but you didn’t. You were always there to comfort me. You dealt with everything I threw at you like no one before which is why it was so much harder to do this.
Things got difficult after mom and dad died. I was at the backseat crying when dad turned to look at me and lost control. I knew it was my fault and I should have died with them but I didn’t. Everyone just reminded me of it. When I was adopted, they expected me to be normal but I wasn’t. I was damaged so they treated me like that. Eventually they got rid of me. The same way Dalton did when he cheated on me. Craig beat me up. I still loved them both but they walked away making things even more difficult. I had given myself up to them thinking they’d fix me but they only broke me further. Then you came along and everything changed. You loved me like no one did before. For that I am grateful. All I ever wanted was to be accepted for who I was but soon I realized that it wasn’t a possibility. No one would accept me. No one could love me completely for who I am because who I am or what I am is a mess.
You endured so much and I knew you would never leave me. Even though you failed to see it, you’d stick by me till the end. At the same time, I couldn’t deprive you of a better life you deserved. You’re an awesome guy and you deserve so much better but I kept pulling you down. I couldn’t give you a better life which is why I had to take this step. I hope you understand and don’t blame yourself for any of this. Darling, I love you! With all my heart, I love you forever!
PS: I never thanked you for all that you’ve done for me. So I left you a present outside. Those paintings will remind you of us. Your favorite wine is in the bucket. I had bought these candles just for you. We’ll be together one day but not here and not like this.”
Thick drops of tears fell on the paper I held. My trembling hand was on her lifeless face. If only I had seen it. If only I wasn’t stupid enough to assume I had fixed her, this would not have happened. My ignorance and lack of understanding led to all of this. My mind was blank. My feet moved by themselves. I was barely conscious. All I knew was that I had to be with her. I grabbed a knife, closed my eyes, and saw her standing before me.
“I’m coming, darling” I whispered.
She spread her arms wide open and I followed her into the darkness.