“To be honest, I always planned on killing you, but then things came up and I procrastinated and it just never got done.”
I felt the tears roll down my cheeks as I said those words, at the same time as I tried turn my expression into a shit-ass grin, ones we’d shared so many times before.
Luke lay in the hospital bed, old weathered face staring back at me, calm and tranquil.
“Bullshit,” he said, a spark of humour lighting deep in his eyes, “You never were a procrastinator. You’d have assignments finished the first week you’d get them.”
My vision went blurry, mind throwing me back to a place of supposed long forgotten memory and happier times.
“Mate — ” I tried, before the words caught in my dry throat.
Luke held up a frail hand, battered an bruised from his misadventure. He’d been out walking the dog and had become lost. Night had quickly rolled in, blanketing everything around him in black. It wasn’t long before he slipped on some loose stones and took a fall.
A jogger found him the next morning, and immediately called an ambulance. I’d recieved the call as his emergency contact; I’d been there since he’d arrived.
I’d only left once — to do one more favour for my friend.
“My mind’s made up, Ben. Maggie’s been gone for years. I’ve got no children, my memory is shot, and only getting worse. Soon I won’t even know who you are. I just want…” gesturing his hand as he searched for the word, “…out.”
I shook my head, tears pouring down my face.
“C’mon mate,” he whispered, “It’s time.”
I pulled out the bottle of sleeping pills and handed them to him.
As he grasped the bottle, he used what energy he had to pull me into a rough hug. I felt his warm body against mine and was struck with how brave he was.
Clapping me roughly on the back, he held me out at arms length with incredible serenity.
“I’ll see you on the other side, mate.”
Popping open the bottle, his conviction threatened to leave him, but he pushed through it, downing the sleeping pills. Grabbing his water from the table next to him, careful not to knock the suicide note next to it, he took a gulp and pushed them further, down into his stomach.
Lying back in bed, he held up a final hand in goodbye.
“Go, mate. Get out of here,” he said, the tears now rolling down his face.
I nodded, and turned to exit. But as I reached the door, I felt compelled to turn.
Luke’s eyes dragged to a close, eyelids now anchored down. He looked serene; completely at peace.
It was in that moment that I knew that I’d made the right decision.
“See you, mate,” I whispered.