It is senior year and I am
standing on the side of the road
and I can hear a truck coming.
I’ve spent my whole life telling people
what they want to hear but
nobody’s told me this one.
There is no answer
This is the year I decide
I don’t want to live anymore.
But next year, I love you.
Next year, we are lying on frozen astroturf at midnight
you are holding my hand as we watch the stars.
Next year, you tell me that
I deserve to be happy.
Nobody’s ever told me that
least of all myself.
Next year, you ask why I cannot write happy endings,
and I tell you that it is because they do not exist.
Next year, they love me.
It comes in quiet nods and the patience to listen and
for the first time, I learn to speak.
My first words are “I think I need help”.
I tell them life is pointless and instead of scoffing
they say “We understand
but if it is,
at least we’re living pointlessly
First steps, toddling,
and it is years before I can run,
but it is a start.
Next year, I love the world,
its puzzles, its brilliance, its stories,
the smell of the library in fall,
the damp-paint scent of a basement lecture hall,
spring graveyards at sunset.
Love has no outlet at the end except monuments
and little charms on headstones,
because how else do you show the world that they
were important and
alive and were loved
Love will not save you but it
can make you immortal.
Next year, I am not better.
That takes longer.
I am holding a bachelor of arts by the time
I realize it is not typical to quietly want to die.
I am so exhausted from keeping myself alive that
I lie in bed for a year
and a day.
I occasionally do the dishes to give my existence meaning
but since I have to eat there are
always more dishes
because eating begets dishes.
Perhaps that’s a metaphor.
Living begets meaning
or perhaps it’s just a chore.
I can never decide.
It is senior year and I am on the side
of the road, and
four tons of steel are about to rush past
at fifty miles per hour.
It is four years until I love myself
but just one step until I never have to.
I watch the headlights and wonder if the driver is
eyeing me apprehensively,
foot hovering over the brake,
or if he does not care.
It is senior year and I write “reality is a story the mind writes itself,
and maybe I’m stuck in these chemical presets –
irritation, rage, despair, guilt, and vague contentment-
and I can’t go outside them.
I don’t want to live anymore.”
I think there will be no love in my headstone.
I am wrong.
The smell of diesel. A snarling engine. A rush of air.
I cross the street.
This year, I survive.
I am beginning to learn
how to write happy endings.