Fight or Flight
Don’t worry about it, he told himself, everyone will understand, and he went on taping the boxes shut, several of them sitting on top of his bare mattress. He was pretty sure that was the last of it, but he knew undoubtedly there were things he would not get to.
Oh well, he thought, they can deal with those small things. I’m doing more than I have to as it is.
Woah there, he then thought, hang on a second. Don’t talk like you’re doing anyone a favor. You’re certainly not doing anyone a favor.
He stretched the tape and joined the flaps together, pressing down with his fingers and running his palm over the seal.
The boxes are fine, he thought as he looked at the last few. None of them had labels and he recognized this yet he still considered them organized rather well. He had all his clothes separated into different boxes, shirts and pants, summer and winter weather. His computer was no longer password protected and he made sure to leave the apartment keys on the kitchen counter.
There were a lot of good memories that made him sad now that he was about to leave, but he knew it was the best thing for himself and it would only make him stronger. He organized the photos of these good times and packed them all together, taking care to make sure they were flat and that the corners would not bend. He knew there were pictures of the girl in there, buried deep down at the bottom. He had done this on purpose after he decided he could not throw them out.
That’s all right, he thought, I can forgive without forgetting.
There was a time in his life when he thought he had some sort of direction, something he was working towards, but now he saw it was only a mirage, that his true calling did not have a name or a purpose anyone could seem to comprehend.
They will all understand if I explain it to them, he thought, and I better get on with it. I know it’s something that might be better if left to the last minute, but I can’t get caught up in things and run out of time.
He had not told anyone about his plan and he thought he’d call someone whenever he was ready. He did not know who he would choose or what the selection’s significance would be, but he would call one of them and ask them to come over.
He turned on the water in the shower and undressed and then went out into the kitchen to make himself a drink. He took the bottle of whiskey from the cabinet and pulled the top off, sticking his nose into the opening. Smelling the whiskey made him smile, and he poured it slowly into the lowball glass.
He brought the drink into the bathroom where the mirror had steamed up. He liked his showers hot and he cranked the heat up, making it as hot as he could stand. But as he sipped the whiskey he began to get hot in the face and he turned down the hot water, washed and dried and dressed himself, and refilled the drink and opened the fridge.
There was not much left – a bit of turkey and half a head of lettuce, amongst all the condiments. Not much of a meal, he thought, and he checked the cabinets again, making sure there wasn’t a box of pasta or a can of beans hidden out of sight. He saw there was nothing, and so he wrapped the slices of turkey in lettuce and dipped them in the mayonnaise.
All right, he thought, let me get to the computer.
He checked his e-mail and had nothing, and then he turned off the computer and opened his journal. There were pages and pages of his handwriting and he turned to where he had left off. Here’s your chance, he told himself, explain it to them.
He wrote and wrote and the pages kept turning. He knew it wasn’t his best work – he knew it was rambling and emotional and ultimately a purge – but he also knew it was an honest reflection of his current self. After he was satisfied that he had written enough he closed the journal and put it into one of the boxes.
Now what, he thought.
Oh, the cat.
He shook the plastic container and the cat came running. He picked up the cat and pet his head and the cat began to purr. He put down the cat and used his hand to scoop the food into the bowl.
“There you go, buddy, eat up,” and the cat went over and ate.
All right, he thought, last thing is the whiskey, and he poured more into the glass.
Yup, he thought, now sitting on the couch, looks like I’m pretty much done, and he sipped the whiskey. Just this bottle to finish. I’ll put a glass aside for the last minute, he thought. Then he asked himself, anything else?
He looked around the room and thought about the other rooms and then he thought, Ah, fuck it, and he opened his favorite book and began to read. He made himself a new drink whenever he needed one but he read otherwise, smiling at all his favorite parts and thinking back to what they used to mean to him.
When he first read the passages he thought he had found someone to idolize and it inspired him greatly. But soon he realized that such idolization would only lead him down someone else’s path rather than his own.
He saw the others following the same paths as those before them, and it wasn’t long before he was expected to choose one of the paths, too.
Not on my watch, he thought, and all your threats can bring me no fear.
That’s it, he thought, that’s what it is. I want to show them I’m not afraid anymore, let them know they failed in their attempts to control how I live. I choose what happens, not them.
This is mine, he thought.
He didn’t concern himself with whether the coming action was right or wrong – he mostly focused on the belief that it was his only option.
When the whiskey bottle was empty he set it all up, being careful to make sure the wires were secure. All right, he thought, it’s about that time, and he picked up the phone.
He was calm, his heart beat resting. I’m so happy, he thought, finally the noise will stop. The pressure will disappear. Not one more morning will I wake up and sigh at the things that await me, the path we are placed on.
Not one more day, he thought.
When the knock finally came at the door he took his seat and drank the whiskey that he had set aside. It burned in his chest and he breathed into it, remembering all the times he had been comforted by the feeling. He knew who it was, but still he asked, “Who is it?”
“It’s me,” his father said, worry in his voice, “Are you all right?”
He was happy to hear his father’s voice and felt comforted, relieved that the waiting was over. He was sorry for what his father would go through, but he felt confident that if he read the journal he would understand.
This is not the end, he thought, I am only now just beginning.
“Now that you’re here,” he told his father, “It’s open. Come on in,” and he slowly let his breath go out as he closed his eyes, the air rushing through his teeth and out his mouth.
His father turned the knob and pushed the door open and immediately heard the loud noise and felt it land on his face as he jumped back, startled.
He wiped his nose with his finger and looked down and saw the blood.