The air was brisk that night, a breeze so strong you would have thought the month had shifted from early October to mid-December. With each step Edith took, her airbound foot came down heavier than the last. It was as though she was walking in hardening cement, yet she kept walking, hardly even noticing her physical struggles through the psychological tsunami captivating all of her attention. Tears streamed her face, her cheeks were pale, and her eyes were half shut with swelling bags underneath. Each breath she took felt deeper as each inhale sunk further into her chest, and each sluggish exhale escaped in a cloud of smoke past her cracked, grey lips.
Everything seemed more grey that night. It was as though each colour was a slightly tinted version of, well, grey. The crickets chirped, and the frogs croaked, the night was coming to an end as it was quickly approaching midnight, not that Edith cared.
Her parents would awake the next morning and follow their regularly scheduled bitch fest over who forgot to close the garage and who was too lazy to take out the trash from the night prior. They would scream her name before leaving, just so that they could say in good conscience that they were only late for work because they were busy getting their kid up and ready for school. It’s a hard job being a parent, the complaint was a recurring theme to their daily routine, like drinking water, or breathing.
Edith continued past each wilting tree, past each browning leaf that was carried away with the breeze. She crushed each ant below her feet. With each step, she could feel another few twigs snap and split. She held no fear, no regret, no worry. She was calm, probably had something to do with the bottle of her stepmother’s pills she had downed not two hours before. She didn’t read the label, but it didn’t really matter, her stepmom had been abusing opioids for years so it was probably something that would be useful to her intentions.
She had been planning this for weeks. Slowly weeding people out of her life, isolating herself. She had been skipping classes and just walking through these very woods. It was a very taxing decision, one that she didn’t really need to think that long and hard about. She just wanted to see if people would eventually clue in on her absence and I don’t know, maybe, care.
While her friends were organizing notes by colour in academic calculus, Edith was in the forest, walking, sitting, writing. With each gentle swoop of the ballpoint pen she had possessed since middle school, she wrote out each and every thought that she wanted to leave behind in this cruel joke of a world. She placed all of her anger and resentment onto one sheet of standard lined paper. The years of pent up aggression, and the years of torture that she had been silently tolerating, all captured in thirty-four lines.
Now, she walked. Although heavy, her legs carried her to the train track that she had been going to every day at around lunchtime instead of school. She wasn’t missed, and it wasn’t like her parents cared when they got the automated voice message informing them that Edith Green was marked absent from all of her classes today without explanation. They just figured that she was being a rebellious teenager and smoking weed or something. They probably didn’t really piece together that Edith was mapping out her final days while they were at work.
The train schedule ran at 12:30 am, and according to her phone, Edith was just thirteen minutes away from figuring out what happens after death. She sat on a boulder just outside of the forest that she had traveled through, the track was just outside of the clearing, it intersected the terribly paved county road seven, and was far enough away from civilization to carry witnesses.
Her eyes glossed over as she waited in silence, numb. She was simply numb. She was high as a kite and felt no remorse. There was nothing that could stop her from what she was about to do, nothing. The note that had been balled up in her pocket for days crinkled as she shifted her weight to one side. Her bony hand shook as she raised it slowly to the pocket of her worn down black hoodie. She unfolded the single piece of paper and placed it gently on the ground beside her. The dewy grass created watermarks on the note, causing the messy cursive to be even less legible than before. Edith sniffled as she placed a plum-sized rock in the middle of the page to keep it from floating away without a trace.
What a whimsical situation to occur, as the girl took her final breath, her words cast away through the sea of clouds taking freedom with her soul to accompany. It was a poetic sentiment but it was not at all what Edith wanted. She wanted to be heard, she wanted everyone in her life to know what they did to her, how they made her feel. She needed to know that when the yellow crime scene tape went up, her final statements would be read, that they would be heard and without interruption. The thought of them writing off her death as just another spotlight stunt from yet another attention whore of a teenager with a bad breakup was patronizing to her. She needed to tell her story but she couldn’t say it out loud, so it only seemed fitting to have them read every painful word that they had made her endure time and time again.
With her gaze fixated on a pine tree across the street, Edith began to hear the sound of old tires on a rusted track. She broke her focus to check the leather watch wrapped tightly around her limp wrist.
“Right on time” she muttered to herself. Edith took one last look at the world before standing up. The moon shone full that night, very lyrical it would be to die under the pale light of a full moon with hundreds of stars lighting the sky. Soon enough she would join them.
Edith took a deep breath and felt the weight lift from her shoulders as she stepped forward to the train track. She stood facing the front of the train, this was control. She felt as though she was finally taking a front seat to her life. She had kicked everyone out of her car, and now she was driving and it felt amazing.
As the train grew nearer and nearer Edith experienced a range of emotions, she was in shock, for sure, the clashing joy and fear hit her like, well a train. She felt everything at once and for the first time in a long time, she felt alive.
The beaming headlights blinded her as she stood paralyzed.
Just a few more seconds, just a little bit longer. Just stay on the track you goddamn pussy stop chickening out all the time. Yes. Yes. Just a few more…
Silence and ringing in her ear, Edith felt a force so strong and suddenly without warning, she was on the ground. The only thing was, the force came from her left. The force was human.
On the ground they rolled, with every fiber of her being Edith tried to get away. A man, a grown man dressed in all black. His hand cupped her mouth, and all of his body weight lay on top of her. Screaming and squirming with all her might, Edith fought to escape the clutches of this masked stranger.
“Don’t move” his voice was deep and raspy, he was loud even with the deafening train not two feet away. She managed to remove her face from his grip, but he grasped her wrist tight and held her pressed against the ground.
“I said don’t move” he shouted. The pain was unbearable and the drugs were kicking in. everything was a blur. The world was in doubles and every sound that was heard had been amplified by 50. She could feel herself starting to blackout. The dizziness and intolerable nausea had her doubled over in pain.
No no no this cannot be happening, I just have to stay awake.
Dying at the hands of someone else was the last thing she wanted today. How the hell did this even happen it’s like 12:30 in the fucking morning. Her thoughts raced as she continued to fight for her escape. As she grew weaker she could feel her eyes starting to shut. The panic she was in had triggered a complete and utter shutdown. All she could do was resist until she grew entirely limp at which point, she would lose all control over her life and or death.
“Just sleep, it’s okay to fall. You sure did take a lot of pills sweetheart, just follow your instincts and sleep. Just sleep.”
“How do you..you….how did you”
“See you can’t even get out a single word, it’s okay to close your eyes. You’re going to have to at some point. Why don’t you just save us both some time and close your eyes? Relax.”
They made perfect eye contact for at least thirty seconds straight and there was no recognition. Who was this man? How did he know about the pills? Where did he come from? Nothing was making sense.
Each blink Edith drew held a longer pause before opening, and it was becoming more and more impossible to stay alert.
Her voice trailed off into nothing as the man began to release his grip. She felt the loosening hand but it was too late. She was already paralyzed in an unconscious state and her mind was beginning to catch up as she lost all sense of reality, drifting deeper and deeper into the inevitable void of absolute nonexistence.