About My Tragedy

[This is pure fiction; nothing about it is real.]

Let me first say I do not know where I am. In a physical sense, I am not “here” nor “there,” but neither am I a “spirit” of some sort. In fact, I suppose I do not exist in any form, other than in my imagination, though how I have an imagination is beyond me. That having been said, I feel compelled to share my story. But let me caution you, my story is not one that will leave the reader inspired or fulfilled. Far from it.

They whispered about my suicide for years, wondering “what made him do it?” I have to admit, my suicide note didn’t offer a particularly good explanation. But how do you explain such overpowering depths of despondency? How do you translate a damaged emotion so monstrous it blocks out even the light of the sun? How do you explain despair so utterly consuming that you see no way to end it other than to take that final, irreversible step?

At any rate, my explanation was less than stellar, but by the time I reached that point, I didn’t think they could have understood, anyway. I mean, they didn’t ask me how I felt, how I really felt, all those years that preceded it. They didn’t engage me, explore me, attempt to root out the demons they must have known were lurking inside. Maybe embarrassment took hold, or maybe they felt I would not respond well to an inquisition or even a good-hearted effort to drag me out of the soup of depression. And perhaps I wouldn’t have responded well. But at least I would have known they cared enough to take a risk to help me. But they didn’t. I mean, I’m sure they cared, but they didn’t take the risk.

I should explain who they are. They are…were…my friends, Darren Pripman, Cheryl Otto, Lance Boardman, and Calvin Staples. They were, outside of work, the only people with whom I had any sort of social relationship. All of us were, in one way or another, outcasts. At least that’s we considered ourselves. It was a matter of perverse pride that we didn’t fit in with mainstream thinking.

Ultimately, I hung myself. I tied a noose around my neck, tied the other end of the rope to a sturdy railing on the highway overpass, and jumped off. It hurt like hell for a few moments, until I lost consciousness. I guess I died about the same time I became unconscious. I’m not sure about that. At some point, though, and it must have been just seconds thereafter, I remember being aware of the fact that I experiencing myself hanging from that bridge at four-thirty in the morning, though I wasn’t experiencing myself the way you’d expect. It was sort of other-worldy, like I was looking down on myself. It wasn’t quite that, though; let me think on it and maybe I can explain later.

Even at that hour, there was a fair amount of traffic. Several cars stopped a couple of hundred feet before they reached my body, dangling from the overpass. The people in the cars rushed toward me, but there was nothing they could do. I was already dead, for one thing, and my body was probably twenty feet above the ground, so they couldn’t reach me, anyway.

Since my suicide, I’ve been watching the people around me, listening to them. You know how you’ve wished you could hear  how people grieve about you after you’ve died? No, in fact you don’t wish that; trust me, you don’t. What I’ve heard since I died convinced me I should have committed suicide years ago; it would have made a lot of lives easier.

What I’m about to reveal to you cannot go any further, all right? I mean, seriously, you can’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you. Are you willing to promise me that? If you won’t, I’ll just let things stand as they are, no problem. But if you’ll give me your solemn promise, I’ll tell you things that will curdle your soul. And some things that will bring tears to your eyes.




About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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