I Might Be Lying
On Christmas day, I felt I had nothing left to live for and I called a counseling hotline...
I get this urge sometimes, and I think others get it too, to punch things that did not actually do any physical harm to me. The problem with that urge is that I end up actually doing the physical harm. For the fifth time during that cloudy November month on my sunny island country, the keys to my house fell out of my hand, clattering to the floor and I punched the lock in my anger. The curse I let out as I retracted my arm in pain would have turned heads if anyone was around.
Clang clang clang.
That’s the sound of clattering keys, if you’re not familiar with the horror film phenomenon of serial killers standing behind – usually blonde – people. There weren’t any maniacs waiting behind me with a machete when I got up. A right shame, really. That would have been so much less painful than what awaited me later.
Hands still shaking, I picked up my keys and took a deep breath. I held that breath, longer than I probably should have. It steadied my hands, and finally, I unlocked the door to my own home. I burst through, quickly locking the door behind me. I crossed the living room, ignoring the figure of my aunt in the kitchen, and made a beeline for my room.
The door closed silently behind me, and it was then that I noticed the darkness of my room. The clock at my bedside read 17:04. I grabbed the sword off the rack, a katana, ornamental, but steeled and sharp. Without hesitation, I unsheathed the blade and placed the tip at the edge of my belly, the pointed metal of the blade piercing through the canvas-thick cloth of my conscript uniform.
In. Left to right. I remember telling my mind that. Just in, left to right, and that would be it. No way I would survive my vital organs being sliced in half. The blade was sharp. Could go through skin like a hot knife through butter. I should know. I sharpened it myself. I found it strange that there were no precaution checks for people to own swords in my country, then I remember that America doesn’t have one for guns, and I was sort of okay with that. My hands were not shaking any longer but my eyes were crying waves.
Every muscle in my body was convulsing, even after I dropped the sword back onto my bed. The pain was excruciating, like the entire world was pumped full of pressurized gas, trying to squeeze you into a ball. I would have preferred the cutting myself open, but I somehow ended up a ball on the ground instead, crying those painful, wheezing, choking cries that paralyzes the entire body. By the time I found the strength to get back onto my bum to lean against the wall in a position only describable as ‘hobo sitting pose’, the clock read 18:32. It used to glow, but the battery died, and now only the faint outline of numbers could be seen when shadowed.
I can’t remember how, but I found my phone in my left hand, a card in my right.
“Counseling center, how may I help you?”
“It’s my first time calling a helpline. I uh... I need to talk.”
“Okay. Sure. Are you fine, Mister...”
“Ng. Aden Ng. And I’m fine. Or at least, I think I’m fine. I might be lying about being fine, but I don’t really know anymore.”
“So...can we talk?”
“Of course. What do you want to talk about?”
“I don’t know... how’s the weather there?”
“It’s drizzling a little.”
“Ah...” I looked out my window where the sun was on its last setting legs. My room was dark enough that I could not longer clearly see my legs in the shadows. I thought about turning on the lights, but that would require me to stand. “I’m tired.”
“Because I tried to kill myself. And please don’t call me ‘sir’. Makes me sound like a politician or something.”
“Are you okay? Do you want me to send an ambulance?”
“Do you have my address?”
“That’s good. I’d probably have to pay for the ambulance anyway. Don't have the money for that.”
“Are you okay now?”
“You keep asking that.”
“I just need to make sure you’re okay.”
“Why did you want to kill yourself?”
“They stuck me in a ward.” I looked to the clock. 19:03. The sun had set and the only light was from the street lamps outside. “Can you imagine that? They stuck me, a person with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, suicidal, and socially inept into a one room with twelve strangers. And they took away my books.”
“What do you mean?”
“The hospital took away my books, my phone, even my wallet. Apparently, treatment for suicidal tendencies is to stick you in a room with twelve awkward strangers for ten hours straight with nothing to read.”
“But you are fine now?”
“Do you want me to send help?”
“No. Thanks for the talk.”
“And merry Christmas.”
“Christmas is next month.”
“Just in case.”
I hung up, and was left alone with the darkness. I could not see my clock any longer. My feet were also buried in shadows. I wiggled my toes, wondering if shadows felt like sand. It felt more like me being stupid.
My phone rang and I picked up.
“Hello? Yeah... Sure, I can do dinner... 30 minutes... Right, see you.”
My phone clattered to the floor.
Clack, clack, clack.
I got up, stretched my facial muscles, and in the darkness, went through the familiar action of smiling. I might be lying about being fine, but I don’t really know anymore.