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The Noose Hung High

Out of the Sandbox

By Rebecca Harrel

The following story is a reflection on an internal struggle that many people suffer with on a daily basis. As a society, we normally do not give enough attention and light to subjects and issues that we should until it is too late. With many celebrities and famous people passing away and coming out and admitting that they struggle with depression and mental health issues, I think it is subject that is quietly dominating a great portion of our world. I recently lost my father, who passed away at the age of 54. We are still currently unsure if it was suicide or accidental, but he was bi-polar and suffered from depression as well, and the thought of mortality has been in my head ever since. This story is to bring to light that appearances are appearances, and many of us don’t know what one another is struggling with or feeling when alone and internally. We all deserve to be heard, and like the man in this story; we all always have the choice to continue on and see through another day.

The Noose Hung High

The noose hung high. It was wrapped around the ceiling fan, stagnant and hanging directly down in a straight, lifeless line. It was by all means a perfect execution; every fold and layer in perfect form. The chair drooped below, a child’s size seat cracking in blue paint, the innocence left quiet in the loose splinters. His hands crippled with the age of work and suffering, but in a quiet way, the pores all opened themselves so the world could always penetrate him, even past the callouses that he had collected over time. The knot was tied, sitting close to the bones of his neck. Laying straight down, falling like the fear of the city through the wind and his heaving heart into his stomach, the rope hung in a belittling manner. Like a soft beheading, the looseness and emptiness grappled at his skin like jagged claws and choked him. He stepped one foot off of the chair, breathing heavily, balancing perfectly as if a trapeze artist. His foot, softly quaking beneath him, stepped back onto the crooked oak. He sighed, and with both hands, released himself from the containment of the rope, and the moment of weightlessness.

The glazed wood of the table shook as if a whisper trickled across its surface. The glass was steaming from cold, with ice dripping to the bottom. A shot of whisky fell like grains of sand through an hour-glass, drip by drip until it was peaking over the brim. It was gone, left empty and devoured like the loneliness of a child. A clear liquid fell into it like a landslide with no poise, just erupting as if in a rush. It smelled of gin, and bubbled lightly. It hesitated to fall down his throat, but it slowly slipped past his tongue in a choking manner. It tasted like the howling winds of the winter, when all the cinder had burnt and the candles fell lifeless, hearing nothing but the growl of the perpetuating cold, but soon transformed. It exploded in a sick heat, like the ashes of a cigarette burning through the back of a shirt and trickling down until it dissipated. And it did.

Two razorblades sat within a two inch span of one another. They were glistening, as if the promise of a new hope; a new happiness like a child with a shiny bike; or a guarantee of a trip to paradise. The jaggedness was beautiful in its own way. The metal cool – almost reflected back into him as he eyed it like a meal ready to be consumed. It reflected back, and while his hands did not shake as they lifted in a crane-like manner to open the pools of his body, the image of a muddied lake passed in his mind, sick and green from debris and lack of life. What once looked so beautiful to him now was rusted. The blades looked like crumbs of trash that beggars would not feed on. Though so beautiful, he put them down, and the paradise they promised, just as they were.

His hands gently shook from the frigid temperature in the room, and he placed them one after the other on the metallic 40’s styled levers. A steady turn to the left, the spout burst with a heavy trickle of water, steaming hot, then cold. It slowed to a full pool, just deep enough for his nose to be covered as if under a body of snow, trapped. The hand which lay unwaveringly by his side peeked into the liquid. He felt every vial of blood in his body churn into a soft boil. He undressed to his bones, and he stared at the alabaster tub. He looked down and the water now looked like a spring. Her ageless face reflecting in soft ripples as the water slowed down to a perfect still. He laid his head where hers was, as he saw the fingers which lowered her into the water softly, promising her a life of clarity and pureness, his mind began to wander. She puffed her small cheeks and rippled her face up, creating cracks so small on a canvas of youthful marble. Her eyes looked up into the sunlight with no emotion, just curiosity. His face did the same, but as he held his breath, her face was lifted like a balloon into the sky, and he could only see the reflection of his wrinkled eyes to the white ceiling, empty. His hands crept up like a flower sprouting from a bed and bravely grasped the sides of the tub, lifting him up. He sighed and removed himself from the water like a cat which fell into the sink.

He dried off and made his way back to the mahogany table, its bare skin cold and welcoming. Three orange bottles rattled their bones on their walk to the table, distant at his side. Their bodies opened and innards emptied onto the wood. His fingers divided them up, the oranges all together, the whites all together, the blues all together. Slowly he made a group of all three bodies combined. It was a total of 25 pills; oblong, rounded, and capsuled. His fingers carefully grasped one of each, lacing the ridges of his nails to scrape against their skin. He opened his mouth and dropped them on the table. He carefully and slowly walked to the end of the room, wafting back with a strong odor, and a glass filled with brown liquid and ice. He picked up the hollow bodies and opened his mouth again, making a tunnel. He slid an orange pill down his throat with a deep gulp, leaving a battered drop of brandy on his lip. The cold permeated through his pores; it was all he felt after that sip. He closed his eyes, sighed, and gently slid every single pill on to the ground, watching their bodies slump down onto the wood in a sad manner. He got up from his chair, stepping on and breaking them into a powder, sifting through the room like sand in a desert, so easily forgotten.

He walked across the room, leaving a faint white mark following his left sole. His fingers clutched the knob for the machine, and soon it slowly kicked off. The light buzzing that sounded like a telephone wire on a rainy day fell silent, as if fried. Suddenly the walls were enraptured with a cold loneliness. The quiet humming gone, and the heat that followed it dissipated as well. The windows cracked open to a fullness like a portal, sweeping air to and from each of the walls and bouncing off in a gentle stagnancy in the center of the room. His bones quaked under his skin, as if he was a rock slowly being chiseled away at. The city wind gusted through the open windows and through all the cracks of the walls, every opening possible. He closed his eyes and could see the clouds in his mind, a place where he felt no pain. His body began shaking on the wooden panels, and he dropped to his knees, becoming one with the mahogany. He curled up like a baby just taken from the womb and put in the cradle of a mother’s arms, and he breathed deeply. He breathed in and felt his lungs chortle down the air in a hot fervor. He felt like he was a child again, being pulled out of the pool on that hot summer evening with water filling his lungs. He saw the faces of his mother, the lines of his sister’s worry on her fragile face, the sirens, and the flashing lights. His stomach dropped and what once felt like a startling comfort in a morgue of frigid air, his body, soon began to feel uncomfortably wrong. Her facial lines dissipated into the marks of the oak floor, chalked in white powder every few feet, and he knew he had to as well.

He got up, his skin bare to a few inches of clothing below his waist and a thin fabric covering his chest, slightly dampened. He stepped up, after struggling to come to his feet which were heavy in reluctance and numbness. He stomped, but quietly so, to the framed door which seemed a thousand miles away just second ago as he lay like a trampled rose on the floor. His fingers clasped to the door knob, hollow like ice, and he clawed against the gold, scratching its false presentation off in flakes and then creaked open the door to the hallway, empty and bleating with its hunger to hold another body just for a moment. With one last passing glance back into his home, filled with chalk outlines of passing emotions, dances with loved ones, covered in bits of white powder, trails of water, and the coated glass imprint on the table, he swung his back away and he left.

He did not know where he was going, but it was no longer there.

Header photo by Patrick Keller (flickr creative commons).

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