“One should always be drunk. That’s the one thing that matters. In order not to feel the horrible burden of Time, which breaks your shoulders and crushes you to the ground, one should be drunk without ceasing. But on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as suits you. But get drunk….”—Baudelaire (via aumaine)
i write out a letter. these are the things i should have said. i go back in time. these are the things i should have done. i cross it all out and rip it all up in the park. hold on to the pieces in the wind, give up. the half-ass sun sinks behind the city skyline.
on our last night you collapsed in tears as i finished. “i love you.” frozen, fucktard, all i did was hold you, silent. i still hold you, silent, in a tender blue spot in my chest that clamors up my throat and leaks out of my eyes when i let it. and in these permittances and somewhere behind my ribs i suspend belief that we’re past our time
Charlie breaks the news, and I can’t say I’m surprised. We’d all seen it coming, and it was only a matter of when. Every time before this we held our breaths and prayed, for her sake, that she’d succeed. But something always got in the way.
Last time it was her ex-roommate, who was inexplicably “in the neighborhood” after moving seventy blocks uptown, and suddenly remembered an old book in the apartment. Sabrina always said she shouldn’t have let her walk away with the extra set of keys. Catie filled the cramped building with her signature theater major scream when she nudged open the bathroom door and saw the hazy red pool in the bathtub. Sabrina was real upset about that one, probably more than any of her failed attempts before it.
She adored the idea of it being theatrical, a visual treat, wanted her suicide to be such a perfect moment frozen in time as to warrant immortality in a painting. Her favorite photo was that of the Most Beautiful Suicide, the broken body of the still elegant Evelyn McHale splayed over the dented hood of the car her biggest inspiration. That, and, though it was cliché, Sylvia Plath. Sabrina couldn’t justify the head in oven thing, though. Too messy, too much of a signature for someone else. Besides, it wouldn’t show off her best features, wouldn’t present the right image.
Sabrina was pale, with a dead glazed glow that haunted her like a shy halo. She dyed her near white blond hair a near wine red, and painted her lips the same color, always with the pad of her right index finger and never the tip of the lipstick. She was fond of collecting funeral clothes, her favorite procession a Victorian mourning ruffled collar, in a near transparent black gauze that she wore over exposed tank tops in the winter as if it was any normal scarf. There was a penny sized stain with uneven edges and a faint copper tint on one of the topmost layers that she happily pointed out to anyone who paid heed to her morbid accessory, proposing extravagant and elaborate hypothesis of its origin and meaning. Charlie had suggested that she try a stain remover on it once, and Sabrina had nearly killed him with her shocked exclamations. He never mentioned it again.
A few months ago she tried her hand at taxidermy and to no one’s surprise, was simply no good at it. Sure, she could rip out the still wet, warm slushy organs of birds and squirrels without a flinch, but when it came to the intricate careful arrangement and polishing of outer skin and fragile bones, she simply lacked the patience.
She liked making grand plans for the idea of them and then rushed the actual act, always. Once she insisted that Charlie and I accompany her in a burglary Godard would have appreciated. She wore smart black gloves and a black pencil dress that molded to every bone of her thin frame. Charlie wore a crisp white shirt and black pants and polished shoes, and she assigned me a shirt with a peter pan collar to play the innocent lolita to offset her role as the vixen.
We were going to break into the Park Avenue loft of her stepfather, who’d given her the security code and, she assumed, soon forgot that he did. We hoped that his new mistress would not be home—she hoped otherwise. When Charlie dared to ask why, she punctuated her tiny waist with the edges of her gloved fists. He shut up. We didn’t’ know what we were going to do when we got there, didn’t know what she planned to pull off.
But Sabrina was always so awfully persuasive. We got inside the apartment and found it empty, though the sunlight that slapped us from every giant window made us terrified. She didn’t hesitate in her walk to his bedroom, where she pulled out his drawer of condoms and lube and expensive anal beads and cock rings and vibrators with glossy pearled ends and tossed everything in her oversized tote. We’re done, she said, and slammed the door. We never heard the rest of the story, if her stepfather found out it was her, if he could have, would have even confronted it.
Anyway. Charlie tells me the news and after we sit there for a few minutes and say things like I’m glad she finally did it and he shows me the Polaroid he took when he found her—just like she requested—looking more beautiful than ever with her red hair perfectly framing her face, her rolled up eyes and black slip and dangling feet, he starts crying but doesn’t make any sound. I watch him but I don’t feel like crying, just this sort of relief. I’m happy for her, I am.
I could have never had her when she lived. Charlie couldn’t either, though he got close, with their nights spent in cold parks and rooftops and dressing rooms and bedroom floors while she gave him her cold, pale body. But she had wanted me to have the photo.
That’s all that matters, I tell myself, as my hand holding the print, the last and most of her trembles, and it looks like her soft hair and lashes tremble with it.
(unpolished, of course. Inspired by Alma, for a creative writing class.)