I nodded and thanked Jasmine for getting me here and that the doctors said I should be fine. I told her that I would be out the hospital inside a week and that I’d let her know. I also asked her not to come to visit, that I’d be fine and that we would catch up again and keep in touch. Jasmine smiled and hugged me fiercely. She smelled like lavender.
Just like Stella and that staff member.
A week later, in the night, I pulled the tubes off my arms and chest and got my clothes then snuck out of the hospital. I didn’t call Jasmine.
My body worked just fine.
Two months later, I was in my apartment reading all the poetry I’d written over the years. Jasmine called every so often to check if I was alright and I told her I was, that she didn’t need to put her life on hold for me. She said she didn’t mind looking after me and I thanked her for her concern. Our conversations became shorter and shorter as I stayed the same and she changed with each passing day, meeting new people and spending time with family and friends. I was happy for her and I took being alone graciously.
I was used to it.
I was just going over The Deadman’s Gift when I started feeling weak and a sharp pain arose in my left lung and I couldn’t breathe. I fell from my chair but had the foresight not to fall on my head like last time and arouse suspicion. I made wheezing sounds, but the pain cut them off harshly. My body convulsed and fought for breath but to no avail. I began beating my chest like a gorilla, pounding and pounding and pounding until my lungs and airways opened and I was able to take in a large breath of air. My body filled and my chest expanded like a balloon and deflated when I exhaled.
I lay there for two hours thinking about nothing.
The third month was when I’d had enough. Jasmine seldom called me and that was fine, the last conversation we had she was telling me about her boyfriend, Jason, and how they were getting along well together. I told her I was happy for her and that I wished her the best. She asked how I was, and I told her everything was well on my end. She asked why I didn’t come to the house and visit anymore, and I told her I’d been traveling—a huge lie.
I was in my bed one night, sleeping soundly when both of my lungs closed on me and I couldn’t breathe. At first, I thought it was just the dream and when I woke up, I realized it was real and started beating my chest, punching and punching and punching which became pounding and pounding and pounding until they opened, and that large gust of air entered them again.
My vision was hazy and blurred, the sound of my heartbeat thumped between my ears, a low, raspy, wheezing came from my throat with each breath. This was followed with thoughts of being locked in the closet, Stella dying in the car crash, and Stan being shot and robbed and left to die on his way home from dropping me off.
Cancer had taken my mind off the depression for a while—for two months, in fact. It was then that I had the thought, the thought that would end it all for me. The pain, the depression, the grief and sorrow, and the dying.
It was then I decided.
I stand at the edge of the Empire State Building, the rain still pouring on my black hoodie and khaki cargo pants. The clouds in the sky remain a deep purplish black and flashes and cracks of thunder and lightning illuminate the dark skies. I look down upon the city for the last time and watch the cars and lights dance in the night.
My fingers are nearly frostbitten and have been numb for some time now, my legs are still warm and ready to go when I am—the will to live and force of self-preservation having long left me. I feel calmer and more relaxed than I’ve ever been in my life, my lungs are working as if they were healthy and the sound of my heartbeat is nothing but a hollow, functional thump.
My mind empties itself of all thoughts as if it wants to leave it all behind, but there’s nothing to leave behind. Not for me, anyway. I’m just an orphan who happened to write poetry that killed everyone I came to care about and would eventually kill me, in the end. I inch closer to the edge until my heels are all that’s left to keep me in the world of the living. I close my eyes and relax my body, releasing the last vestiges of tension that hold me to this world.
The Deadman’s Gift
By: Rudy Sarabelli
My parents died and I was born,
I grew up in a world that is ripped
and torn; left without guidance I was
not forewarned that what I was inhabiting
was a world burning in the heat of the Devil’s
Locked in a closet of eternal darkness,
My heart becomes steel but doesn’t harden.
Worthlessness tears it apart and leaves me
for dead, horror making its home in my
soul, leaving room for dread.
The faith of a writer restored my hope,
brought stability to the rocking boat.
Just when I began to envision the forming
of a better path, the life of the writer ends
in a sudden crash.
Years of drifting in the merciless void,
inheriting diseases that would see me be
destroyed; I met a man that had a plan
and lifted me from purgatory with empathetic
and civilized hands. He provided me with work,
tools to survive. And the thanks he gets for
helping one in need? His life snatched from
him in petty crime.
Grief, pain, and sorrow were all I knew
until she came into my life, her gentle touch
subdued it and we made love into that good
night. My life haunted me while yours gave
you the world, I a depressed and disease-
ridden creature, you the beautiful princess
and daddy’s little girl.
My life started with a Deadman’s kiss,
I lost everything and my heart went adrift;
I leave this world knowing I will not be missed,
nothing remains except The Deadman’s Gift
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