When I think back, it all seemed so inevitable. The steps leading me to that moment, seem perfectly crafted for one end. It’s almost as if they were made for me, since the beginning of time, set to carry me toward my end.

Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts and actions.

The voices were too much, too loud. They castrated my spirit. “Stupid,” they said. “Idiot! Unwanted!” My will buckled in the face of the continuous onslaught.

I tried to suppress them, but they came in waves, in seasons. Sometimes loud, sometimes quiet. Always there, listening from the darkness, waiting to strike. It gets old, tides beating you steadily. Even stone yields. How long then should flesh?

My final day led to my soul shriveled and done. On impulse I went in one of those fortune-telling, psychic shops. I’d always wondered what the experience would be like, even though I’d written them off as ridiculous and predatory. Inside was an older woman dressed simply and conservatively. She heard my pain and empathized. She told me the only way to be rid of the voices was to shed my own blood. All of it. She also gave me a small stone. I was to swallow the stone and bleed myself to the point of death.

“If you do that, you will be reborn,” she said. “When you come back to the world of the living, there will be no room for the voices that so often assault you.”

I stepped into the too warm bath, and eased down. The warmth would make the blood flow easier, faster. I had my instrument in hand, sharp edge glistening in the yellow, incandescent light. I hoped dimly for an answer to the pain, some moment of transcendent understanding when my life would suddenly make sense.

I wasn’t counting on the stone and suicide trick to bring me back to life. But it was nice to have the possibility. It justified my actions a little and took some of the weight off my shoulders. To be honest, I thought death would be a relief. That’s the danger of feeling as I did. It sucks the life and will away. Nothing mattered. If I had won the lottery, I wouldn’t cash in the ticket.

As I laid in the water, I thought of my parents, my brothers and other family. I thought of friends I had known through the years. They flashed through my mind like old movie posters in a theater. Today, I would let them down. The voices called me a coward. They said no one wants me anyway.

If the stone actually worked, well, either way it would be my last day with the voices assaulting my every thought and action. That made it worth it.

I set the edge to the soft skin on the inside of my wrist. I closed my eyes and took a small, resolved breath and blew out as I pulled quick and hard.

There was a brief pain, like a slap. Shocked by what I had done to it, my body held the blood in for a moment before letting go. Red bloomed from my wrist into the warm water.

After a few seconds, a panic started to grow in me. Had I made the wrong decision? Like buyer’s remorse, it didn’t matter. The paperwork had been signed.

With finality and acceptance, the panic subsided. The water grew opaque and I, transparent.

I kept my bleeding wrist in the water and reached with the other to grab the small stone from the edge of the tub. It was the size of a marble. It was roughly smooth, but finely porous at the same time. I wondered what power it could hold, to bring someone back from certain death. It didn’t seem likely, but it was worth a shot. Either way, the voices would be quiet. “You’ll never be free,” they replied.

Tiredness started to overwhelm me. I put the stone in my mouth. It felt rough and foreign as I rolled it around with my tongue. It clinked against my teeth and I suddenly feared I would chip a tooth. Smiling at the irony, I looked down at my wrist. I was surprised by the flow still coming out from it.

I kept watching and leaned my head down on the edge of the tub. So tired. And cold now, despite the warm water. Time seemed to slow as I contemplated what would be next. Would I come back? If not, what would death be like? Would I slip gently into the darkness? What would it be like to not hear the voices tearing me apart any more?

It was hard to stay awake. I dipped my hand, exhausted and pulled up a palm full of red to my mouth to help the rock go down. Metallic taste flooded my mind. My hand dropped to the water and I slumped further in.

It was so hard to keep going. Flashes of memories flitted around me. I saw my dog as a kid, my tenth birthday party, my first kiss. The moments flooded over one another. Ups and downs, full times and empty. Always, I was less vivid than I should have been. It was almost as if I could feel a darkness feeding from me in those memories. It was almost visible, a cloud of night surrounding me.

I felt depleted and empty. I could barely keep my eyes open. I gathered the little strength I had left and swallowed, numb to anything but the pressure of an object moving down my throat. I slipped into darkness and slumped under the water.

Red water spilled over the edge, displaced by the body slipping under its surface. Time ticked by. Clouds passed through the sky. The water cooled. Body grayed. The sun set and the moon rose. The water was still.

The sun came again and the day began. People drove to work. Building occupants moved past the apartment door, oblivious to the life lost inside. Cars commuted home. The sun set. The moon returned. The water was still.

The sun, the night and the moon all again. The water, still.

Another day passed. Still, the water rested.

The sun rose and light slowly bathed the building’s exterior. In the quiet of the dead, the cold water rippled to life. A hand slowly reached out and grabbed the edge of the tub.

Thanks for reading! I’m a husband and father, writing early and late with a day job. I write short fiction, a little non-fiction and a dash of poetry. If you like what you read, please give me a few claps and click follow to get more. I publish on Mondays and Fridays.

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