When I came home, there was blood on the sheets.
Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit shit. Not again. No, not again.
But the bed was empty. Emily wasn’t there. I ran back out of the bedroom and saw that the sliding glass door to the balcony hung open – the curtains around it were slowly swaying in the wind. I hurried out into the blinding light of day.
Emily sat on the concrete of the balcony floor, her back leaned against the grey brick of the wall. Her legs were pulled up against her in the fetal position and her face was pressed into her knees, buried beneath her disheveled black locks. She was crying.
“Honey….” I said, softly, and crouched down.
She looked up at me. Her pale skin was reddened and her cheeks were coated with streaks of hot tears running her black mascara. There was sadness in her eyes, and shame.
“I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry,” she started to say, but her words quickly rose and turned into crying again.
I slid down against the wall next to her and put my arm around her. She buried her face in my shoulder, and wept. Over and over again she kept repeating: I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, baby, I’m sorry…
I tried to comfort her, knowing that it would do little. It would be a long night.
I gazed out from our balcony on the 23rd floor, into the rows of cold uncaring skyscrapers of downtown. As Emily wept, I felt her slowly rubbing her hand against her forearm, over and over. I looked down at her long fingers as they smeared her blood back and forth, the same blood that was on the bedsheets, the same that covered her fingers, and had flowed from the shallow cuts she made.
She’d said before it would be the last time.
“Come on honey,” I said the next day. “Let’s go get a hot chocolate.”
In all the chaos and emotion that was living with Emily, I tried very hard to find the few things – those precious few, bright things – that stood out for her, that I could do to try to lift her spirits. There weren’t many. There wasn’t much that could bring her from her low, dark place closer to what could be considered to feeling normal, or even just sad. The white hot chocolate at the cafe down the street was one of those few things. Sometimes. “Come on babe, it’ll be fun.”
I heard her stir in the other room, and throw the duvet from the bed. Then the sound of her slowly pulling on clothes.
“Yeah, fun….” Her distant words were hollow, slow and empty.
Em came out of the bedroom. She had thrown on her black tank top and jeans, the only clothes she’d worn these past few weeks. She stared down at the floor outside the doorway. “Baby, I just don’t feel like it. What’s the point?”
The last couple months had been especially bad. I’d never seen her like this before in all the years that we’d been through. And she hadn’t cut herself before, not since she was in high school.
“Come on, it’ll be fun,” I said again. Sometimes it required a lot of effort. A lot of gentle but persistent encouragement to get her going. But it was worth it. Those times I could lift her spirits just a little, it was worth it.
“Alright,” she said, listless.
The barista at the cafe was cheerfully oblivious to the cloud of despair around the love of my life. All smiles and happy words and can I help you? and the contrast between her cheeriness and Em’s gloom couldn’t have been starker.
We sat at one of the little red circular tables. Emily set her hot chocolate down in front her and stared into its steaming depths. She was silent. I sipped my coffee and felt like screaming. I felt like flipping the table and spilling our hot drinks all over the floor of the cafe. I felt like getting up from the chair and taking her in my arms and shaking her back and forth and shouting I love you and you’re beautiful and smart and funny. I know you are. I know you can be, because I’ve seen you be. You know me better than anyone ever will and I love you more than anything in the universe and that’s all that really matters. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just snap out of this? I love you! I love you and I just want you to be happy but I don’t KNOW WHAT TO DO!
Emily sipped her white hot chocolate silently. She didn’t look up.
That was a week ago, when she cut herself again. After that, things only worsened. She just lay in bed in the apartment all day, most days she didn’t even bother getting up or getting dressed. I tried to talk to her but she was just so withdrawn.
When I came home from work this evening the sliding door to the balcony was open again. Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. I stepped outside but Em wasn’t out there. I went into the bedroom but she wasn’t there either – the bed was bare, the duvet thrown in a heap on the floor, and her clothes weren’t in a pile on the floor next to it like they normally were. As I went back out into the kitchen, I began to think that perhaps she was feeling better and had just gone out and left the door open – she had always been very forgetful.
It was then I found her note on the counter, and as I read it, I began to cry.
My Dearest Michael,
I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for all of this. For all the tears, all the pain, all the drama, all the blood. I love you so very much and I know that you never deserved any of it. It’s all my fault. I fucked everything up. All I ever wanted was for you to be happy, but I know now that I’ll never be able to make you happy if can never be happy myself.
Life is just so hard. It’s so hard to get up in the morning and face another day when deep down I know that everything is pointless. It’s so hard to pull myself from bed and go outside when I’m always so tired. It’s impossible for me to keep going on when I feel so dead and empty inside and I can never do anything right.
I’m so glad we spent this time together. Even though I know this life is just a meaningless dream, I’m glad I shared this dream with someone like you. I know that you were always just trying to help. But there are some things in life that can never be fixed, and I’m one of them. I am, and always have been, broken.
I’m ready to wake up. I’m tired of this rotting feeling inside and this empty hole in my chest that only grows larger with each passing day. I’m ready to wake up from this dark dream.
I’ll be dead soon. Maybe one day you’ll learn the truth of it all and follow me. But until then I just want you to know this is not your fault. It’s no one’s fault but my own.
I’ve always been a fuck-up. I’m sorry.
Beside the sliding door to the balcony, the curtains fluttered softly in the cool summer breeze, and danced in gentle beams of warm sunlight.
I knew where Emily was.