The Suicide Circle
A sick howl tears through the darkness breaking the hyper-stasis. It's the first sound I'd heard in eons of floating in this black abyss. I've grown so accustomed to the yellow streaks of light that I can barely remember any other colour. The howl reaches a shrill crescendo. It sounds as though one hundred dogs baying at the moon are having a leg amputated without anesthesia. Just when I thought things were settling down for me, that maybe I wasn't destined to be in that nightmare city anymore but in some quiet, floating purgatory. I could've managed that; I think.
Bright flashes of blue flame jettison up in front of the bus into a scarlet sky. It was the end of the tunnel. The bus hits the tunnel mouth and the flames act as a membrane slowing it down and dragging on the outer shell making it a metal creme brûlée. The suspension creaks and groans and the bumper bounces hard off the sluicing, roiling asphalt as the bus levels out at the bottom of its descent sending me bouncing and flipping off of every seat back and hand rail, splattering against the invisible barrier just behind the driver...
Darkness again. Only this time it's cool and calm. Not the same quiet calm of the tunnel. A restful calm. I must have swallowed water and succumbed to the dark glassy lake. Finally it is over. All will be forgotten if not forgiven; I'm dying now, I'll be at peace at last...
"He never responds to my texts right away. It's so frustrating." I catch myself complaining out loud and quickly glance around the bus in a could of self-consciousness. The only other people are an older couple far enough enough forward that there is no way they heard me. Thank god! They turn and see me staring at them, I quickly glance out the window at some kids playing on a schoolyard playground. A few cars push past the bus. I always wonder what they are listening to, what it must be like to have control over your own destiny, where you go, when you leave, how fast you get there. Sitting at a bus stop, waiting gets old fast. Especially when buses are late or intermitent. There has been a few times that a scheduled bus just doesn't arrive and then you're waiting another half hour for one to come. Such a waste.
"I know, I'll text him again." This time I whisper, fully aware that more people entered the bus at the last stop. I pull my phone out of my pocket and it lights up.
Hey r u at the party already? ill b there shrtly just on the bus -
Hit send, and squeeze the phone on my lap like it is my connection to him and the tighter I squeeze the quicker he'll text back. When the text doesn't come I grow more frustrated. All the things that I could have said or done to cause him to ghost me play through my head like a film reel. I have an hour on this bus before it reaches my stop and that is far too long a time to be sitting and waiting for a message. Especially from someone you love who isn't responding. There is literally nothing to focus your attention. I watch a few more cars go past, jealous of the drivers. When I can't bear it anymore, I lift my phone again, thumb working in fast twitching bursts to shut apps and open the messaging app.
Y u ghostin me? -
Send. The whole bus ride drifts by lazily, super slow motion. It is incredibly difficult not to send him a million texts. What would be the point? I'll see him in twenty minutes at the party. He's probably there and talking to someone, loud music, doesn't hear his phone. He might be getting ready still. Busy, I'll bet he's busy. He'll check his phone, or I'll see him there and we'll have a great night. I wonder if he's talkin to someone. I wonder who it could be. I hope it isn't anyone cute. What if he's talkin to Carlos? He better effin not be talkin to Carlos. That home wrecker'll die! I'm not a jealous person, but I know how some people are and I don't think I could handle the thought of someone else's paws all over him. What if they're drunk and they kiss; ugh. Nope. No way, disgusting. I'll kill'em both.
Send. I really wanted him to answer me before I got to the party so I don't have to go through the door with a fake smile on my face. Talk to people I don't wanna talk to before I get to talk to him. I definitely don't wanna walk in on him grindin up all over some other guy. The bus stops and the doors open. A minute later the driver gets up and goes outside. He's just standing around for what feels like forever. Under my breath whisper for him to hurry up and ask what the hell he's doing. I know, I'm a real hero. But holy hell this taking a long time. There is only two more stops. I think about getting off the bus and walking the rest of the way and then driver climbs back on and we're off. No one is at the next stop either and he doesn't stop the bus. Thank god for small favours. Then we arrive at my stop I get off using the back door and walk a few meters to the house where the party is. Looks like it's fake smile, and doing greats from here on out.
I knock on the door but I can hear the music blaring, so I just turn the handle and go in. There is no way anyone will hear a knock with all the noise inside. Entrance way is full of footless shoes. There are small groups of people scattered through out the living room and kitchen. Some people I barely know wave or nod, while others I know a little better come running over with their buzz on for a hug and a hello and then drift back to their little cliques. I find the home owner a close friend of his, the reason we were invited. We give our small pleasantries and pecks on the cheek and then I ask,
"Is he here?"
"Huh? What's that?" He responds, shouting over the other voices and the music.
"Is he here yet? Has he made it?" I shout even louder trying desperately to be heard by anyone now.
"No. Haven't heard from him all day. For a couple days actually. I was expecting him earlier, he promised to bring dip and to help set up. Said we have a couple private drinks just the two of us before everyone else got here. Actually, I am a little surprised to see you here, after everything... You know." He gives me a stern look, one full of judgement. A sinking feeling wobbles my legs a little and my eyes sting, forming a little water at the corners.
"Yeah. I guess..." I trail off. Upset that he's talked about me; about our relationship, with this guy. Who is this guy anyway. I don't know him very well and now he knows a lot about me. Knows about my mistakes, my flaws. That really hurts. That is side spearing on a cross level of betrayal pain. He stands there staring at me. I can't figure out anything more to say. I don't know what to do and then sadness adrenaline kicks in and I am speed walking out the door, like the world's saddest drama queen.
By the time I reach the corner of the street, I'm bawling. How could he have done this to me. How could he have embarrassed me like this. Angry, I get out my phone and angrily power point the letters into a text,
How dr u. Just who the hell do u thnk u r.
R u scared of me now?
Y wnt u answr em?
Send. I rip off a whole string of angry texts and finally tell him I'm coming over. He never responded to a single one of them infuriating me all the more. I request an Uber and only have to wait a couple of minutes for it to arrive. The driver tries to make small talk but I am not in the mood. It's a ten minute drive to his house and I fume the entire time. Normally when I am in the back seat of a car I love to look at houses as I pass and imagine that one day I might own one. I think about what that would look like. The interior design, the library, the bedroom, but most importantly the jacuzzi tub in the ensuite. Not this time. I am absolutely livid.
The car pulls up to his house, and I press the button to give the driver a tip for taking a hint and not trying to force the small talk on me. I say thank you and close the door. I stomp up to the house and bang on the door. No answer. I bang again louder. Still nothing. I decide to go around the side of the house to the back entrance. I peer through the window in the door. All the lights are on and there is a small pile of dishes in the sink. I knock again and there is still no answer so I try the handle. It turns and the door swings inward. I go in, worry creeping in and icing over the heat of my rage. He never leaves the door unlocked, even when he is home. The neighbourhood isn't terrible and it isn't the best. There had been a string of cars broken into the week before. He was always so careful. I went through the main floor of the house and found nothing but little messes throughout. It wasn't like someone had broken in, it was more like someone was living in the place and just not tidying up after themselves, which also was not like him. Door unlocked, no one had heard from him, stopped cleaning up. These are little signs of depression. I knew he was sad after what happened but I didn't know it was this bad.
I went downstairs to the basement and the laundry and there was nothing down there. Not even loose clothing lying around, contradicting the evidence on the main floor. I turned around and went back up the stairs calling out his name. I found the staircase leading up to the second floor and stopped there. I was really worried now, an oil tanker was making waves inside and there was a greasy oil spill suffocating me from the inside out. I suffered from panic attacks, my heart began palpitating faster and faster. My chest hurt, sending spikes of pain down my arm so that I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Everything about his house felt wrong. I forced myself to climb a couple steps. Then a couple more. Another step up and the smell hit me. Rotting meat and shit. It was so strong I gagged on my own saliva. I tried to pull my shirt up over my nose and I still had to plug my nose over my shirt and it still almost nothing to allay the smell. I was really worried. Something had died up there. That was the only explanation. A possum or a family of rats were dead in the walls or something. That is all I could think of. Maybe he'd left while he was waiting for the animal control and the fumigators to come and clean up whatever died.
I made it to the top of the stairs where brownish streaks stained the walls and carpet. they looked like they started in the bathroom and then ran down the hall toward the bedroom. There was brownish red stains everywhere up here. The bathroom was in utter disarray, but it was empty. Long pikes of dread pierced clean through my stomach. I walked over to the bedroom and pushed the door open. I peered in and screamed...