Living Dead Girl

The Disappearance of Julie Peters – Part 13

(This is Part 13 of a series that I began several months ago. If you’re new here, you may want to start from Part 1)

September, 2019

Eagleville, Missouri

Sweat burns in my eyes like sulfuric acid as I draw my right arm back for the final blow.  I can feel the lactic acid burning in my shoulders and upper back, accumulating slowly  under the sweltering Missouri sun. 

Drops of  fresh blood cake the jagged edges of the stone as I hold it’s awkward weight aloft in the air. 

I summon what remains of my dwindling energy, grit my teeth, and swing the rock down one last time, hammering it home with an almost animalistic brutality. 

The force of the blow ricochets up my forearm and settles deep within my bones.   A muffled THUD rings out across the grass and over the nearby pond, before dwindling off into silence.  

I rise slowly, and stumble backward as the rock falls from my fingers.  I wince as it grazes the raw, open skin of my right palm. 

Take a minute to admire my handiwork as my labored breathing begins to slow. 

Not bad, considering I’ve never done this before.  Not bad at all. 

I make my way over to the water and dip my hands beneath it’s murky surface, watching as the dirt from my skin mingles with the silt and the soggy weeds. 

Finally, I turn back towards the source of my grisly efforts, and breathe in the stunning panoramic view. 

Trees line the perimeter, offering an eerily quiet and utterly palpable isolation.  A bright blue cloudless sky hovers above.  Springy grass carpets the Earth.  Tiny bugs weave through the undergrowth, humming cheerfully to themselves.  

And framed perfectly between the foliage and aloft the greenery  – a small tent, big enough for one. 

Bright-orange, plastic stakes secure it to the ground, hammered home by a large rock, now cast aside… having served it’s purpose.  It’s surface is stained a soft, bloody red.

A gentle breeze floats across the campsite and brushes my sweaty skin, pulling me out of my reverie with a subtle shiver. 

It’s late afternoon, and the sun is inching it’s way towards the horizon.  Soon, it will be dark. 

What to do, with these remaining hours of daylight?  What options do I really have, in this tiny RV park near the Iowa border, surrounded by rolling farmland as far as the eye can see?

 The fatigue from my earlier efforts has already begun to dissipate.  I can feel the anxious energy building slowly again, crawling up my belly towards my chest.  Nothing seems to quell it’s hunger, this ravenous beast inside me. 

What had once been a limitless well of euphoric energy has begun to transform into something… unrecognizable. 

I suppose all those nights spent gazing up at the ceiling of a shoddy hotel room, plotting and planning instead of sleeping, has begun to take it’s toll on me. 

Eating one hurried meal a day and sipping water only occasionally hasn’t helped either.  Factor in the countless hours of disheveled driving, and it’s a wonder I’m still standing upright.  

But while my body is near it’s breaking point, the tiny neurons inside my brain continue to fire ceaselessly. 

Always churning, always contemplating.  Deliberating.  Dwelling.  Ruminating. 

And the only way to quiet it is with motion. 

Physical exertion.  Constant movement. 

Constant progress.

Go. Go. Go. GO. GO.  

Another wave of energy washes over me, and I hurry over to the rental car, parked haphazardly on the grass beside my new tent.  I pop the trunk to reveal a jumbled heap of clothes, camp food, and highway maps.  Reach into the pile and retrieve a pair of freshly-purchased hiking boots. 

Lace them up. 

And feel my legs carry me away.

Several Hours Later…

Bits of gravel scatter down the dusty road, my dirt-covered boot-tips knocking them loose.  I stop to moisten my parched throat with a long drink from a crinkled plastic water bottle. 

As I raise my chin to the sky, my eyelids scrape across my bloodshot eyes like sandpaper. 

As they pull strenuously downwards, a curtain of black shrouds my vision, and little dots of light sprinkle into existence in front of me.  They coalesce into figures – silhouettes that dance and waver to silent, unearthly music. 

I open my eyes and they disappear. 

But with each and every blink, they return. 

I shake my head pointedly from side to side, attempting to remove their wispy bodies from my visual field like the erasable lines of an etch-a-sketch.

I force myself to continue walking, kicking up more dust and distracting myself from the light-people by forcing an interest in the surrounding farmland.

A brown cow rests serenely behind a nearby fence, chewing in his enviable and blissful ignorance of the woeful tragedies of my human condition. 

What I wouldn’t give to be that cow. 

To bask in that mid-afternoon sun, admiring that cornfield…

…unaware of the all the little political and societal nuances that allow for that genetically-modified corn to be planted, reaped, taxed, branded and advertised as the quintessential component of the American diet…

… elevated in price and processed by underpaid workers into cereal, after being drowned in carcinogenic additives and refined sugar…

… and plastered with the colorful cartoon label that’s been psychologically proven to ensure that children will beg their mothers to purchase it. 

 Because our society has become nothing more than a consumption machine – a chronically underfed one. 

Because the basic components of human need as defined by Maslow, have been exploited, repackaged, and sold back to us for profit. 

Because we’re spending our hard-earned dollars on the publicly tangible evidence of our accumulated material wealth…

… all as a means to appear successful to our peers – without stopping to question the origins of this perceived idea of success. 

Because our definition of success is, at it’s very roots,  bred into us as children in the form of standardized public education and pressured social conformity by which we feel we have no choice but to abide. 

Because even now, in the 21st century, in the era of globalization and widespread publicly-available knowledge, it’s even harder to tell the difference between truth and fiction than it was 20 years ago and that despite social media we feel more disconnected from each other than we ever have before…

… and because our replacement for that lack of connection is a DIGITALLY-SIMULATED VERSION OF CONNECTION comprised of airwaves and fiber-optic cables… 

…and we’ve all become slaves to these imaginary digital misrepresentations of ourselves and spend our entire lives locked inside the confines of these prisons of our own making…

…and adding to that we have the political unrest and generational divide which are all perpetuated by the media in news-stories that are spoon-fed directly from the mouths of the shady politicians that are bought and paid for by the greedy corporations that keep all of us in a form of…


… and half of the American public believes that the solution to that is to introduce a form of governmental socialism and to demonize capitalism which is actually fucking ridiculous because capitalism is the most productive form of self-governance when it IS NOT CORRUPT BUT THAT’S OUR PROBLEM IS CORPORATE CORRUPTION AND WE’RE TOO BUSY bickering amongst ourselves to actually do anything about it AND THE CORPORATIONS LOVE THAT BECAUSE THEY ARE THE ONES THAT PAY FOR THE PROMOTIONS THAT START THE BICKERING AND—-


That little spot in my left temple is throbbing again. 

Breathe, I need to breathe. 

I plop down on the picnic table and stare at my little tent.  How long have I been back here, at my campsite? 

My mind is whirling again.  Spiraling out of control. 

Rest… I need some rest.

But it’s difficult to rest when your mind is buzzing, whirring, vibrating. 

When you can see all of the problems of the world so clearly.

When you know the answers to those problems. 

I know that I know the answers…

…don’t I? 

See, that’s the thing.  I’ve had so many epiphanies over the past week. 

I’ve had so many ideas. 

And sometimes, when I go to plan out those ideas, more ideas pop up before I finish the plan for the first ideas…

… and so what I’ve done is I’ve taken certain parts of some ideas and other parts of other ideas and I’ve sewn those parts together…

… and then I took still other ideas and I glued them over top of the first ideas and now what I have is a giant, amorphous blob of idea-parts – a Frankenstein idea.  

The problem with all this, though, is that the idea is so big that when I look at it, I can no longer see the whole thing, and it’s a bit fuzzy on the edges and so my plans have begun to represent that. 

For instance, part of my idea required that I drive South and the other part required that I go North, and so I tried to do both and wound up driving in a bit of a circle, which is how I wound up in this strange little farm-town. 

Also, I had planned to walk for a long distance but I had also been determined to bike that same distance and so I’d bought hiking gear but also tried to buy an expensive bicycle before I’d run out of money.

And even now… my body seems to be telling me to slow down, while my mind is telling me to speed up. 

It’s all so very confusing and I’m starting to get a bit scared and also sort of lonely. 

I’ve been awake so long that none of this feels real anymore and I’m beginning to suspect that I may have already died and that I’m walking around in my already dead body. 

A living dead girl.  That’s what I am.  

The ghost of a person, who wasn’t ever really a person at all. Just a big, jumbled mess of confused ideas that never came to fruition. Just a scared little zombie out in the middle of nowhere, all alone.

I find myself walking towards the pond at the very end of my little campsite. 

I step out onto the dock. Stoop down. And begin to cry.

To Be Continued…


To my Oldest Sister, Who wrote to me when I was Missing:

Being back in Detroit, I’ve been looking for a way to pass the time while my medicine kicks in.  And so the other day, I went through some old photographs in mom’s Hope Chest.  

As I was chuckling to myself at the old familiar glossies, I came across one that made me stop dead in my tracks.  I placed the rest of the towering pile down, off to the side so that I could study it – give it my full attention.

At first, I didn’t recognize the tiny, round face framed so softly with the dirty-blonde locks of shiny curls.  But then I looked closer, and recognized the expression, and the piercing blue eyes that seemed to jump off the picture with their intensity.  It was you – as a baby.

And suddenly, I realized.  I’ve never taken the time to actually look at any of your baby pictures before.  I’d had no idea what you looked like before I was born.  Had never even given it a second thought.

Why is that?  Why had I never cared enough to even thumb through your baby book, not even once?

And as is the case with most introspective questions, I already knew the answer before I asked.  It’s simple, really.  I can’t picture you as a baby, because in my eyes, you never were one.  You aren’t allowed to be.  You’re my older sister.

I’ve never known you as anything else.  Since the day I was born, you’ve always been this constant, calming presence in my life.  Something that was just, always there.  No different than the sky or the sun or the stars.

When we were little, I wanted to be you so desperately.  Because you always knew all the answers.  Because you were a perpetual fountain of knowledge and earthly wisdom.  Because you were never afraid, or sad, or all the things I seemed to be growing up.  You were perfect.  

I’m the one with the pizza. ALWAYS.

You’d think that this reverence would have faded with age, but it never really did. 

When you went off to college, you left me all your Human Anatomy notes from Ms. Erfert’s class in the 9th grade.  I pored over them, breathing in every word like they were the original stone tablets chiseled with the 10 commandments. 

The following year, I signed up Ms. Erfert’s class, and breezed through it like it was third grade math.  

When I was in my junior year of high school, you came home to visit for a few days.  You were living in Boston at the time, working at a large hospital as a respiratory therapist. 

I still remember the night that you were saying your goodbyes, like it was yesterday.  Because you came into my bedroom last, and as we hugged I said, “I wish I could come with you.”  To which you responded with, “What’s stopping you from doing that?”  

I had stared incredulously at you  and sputtered out something to the tune of, “Be… Be-cause… I don’t know.  I can’t just go off to Boston for a week.”

“Why not?  Give me one good reason.  You’re on break at school.  You’ll be back in time to go to class.  You have no reason not to go,” you’d insisted.

 Eventually, I ran out of excuses and found myself in the passenger seat of your trailblazer at 9 PM on a weeknight, crossing the border into Canada with a few pairs of clothes and some toiletries. 

It was the most exhilarating feeling in the world.  And not only did it shatter all my false beliefs about spontaneous travel, it also inspired a strange new desire to get out of Michigan and SEE THE WORLD in all it’s glory.  It set the tone for the rest of my life.

You became a traveling respiratory therapist a few years later, and flew me out to San Francisco while you were on assignment there. 

Then you took me to Costa Rica. 

And finally, right after I graduated X-Ray school, you brought me to Alaska to live with you while I tried to lock down my first job out of college.  

Do you remember when we were on the plane to South Dakota, moving there together from Anchorage?  That girl behind us, she started having an asthma attack.  She was panicking, and  the flight attendants had NO IDEA what to do. 

At one point, it got so bad that she was hyperventilating behind us, and you’d looked over at me, sighed, and handed me your infant son.  

“Hold this,” you’d said.  

Then you’d turned and explained to the petrified girl who you were and just how you were going to help her. 

You’d held both her hands and forced her to breathe along with you, all while simultaneously ordering the flight attendants to radio overhead for an Albuterol inhaler from one of the other passengers. 

I’d watched in awe while you magically calmed that girl down, got her breathing nice and slow again. 

By the time the ER doctor from a few rows up came back for a look, he’d simply said, “well, it looks like you have this under control…”  and gone back to his seat.

It was one of the many moments in my life, where I’d wanted to stand up and point to you emphatically and scream to the crowd of onlookers, “That’s MY sister!!”

 Every major step and decision in my life, you’ve been there… holding my hand through it, like you did with that girl on the plane.  Coaxing me to ignore the little nagging voice in my head, and to do the things I am terrified to do. 

A lot of those things, I only had the courage to try, because I knew that if I fucked them up, you’d be there to fix it.  Because you always have been. 

And up until now I’ve taken all that for granted.

You see, I realize now that I’ve never allowed you the opportunity to NOT be perfect.  I’ve never expected anything less than that from you.  So when I was missing a few weeks back, and I saw that you’d posted my suicide note and all the details of my mental health struggles online, I’d been very very angry. 

I’d resented you for that for a little while afterwards, because in my eyes, it was handled imperfectly.  

But what IS the perfect way to handle that situation?  I mean, what precedence out there exists for, “My sister has gone fucking crazy and I desperately need to find her?”  

And so I’m sitting here several weeks later, looking at your baby pictures, and for the first time…

…I mean really, truly, the first time…

…I’m allowing you the right – TO BE HUMAN. 

And I’m realizing that throughout our entire lives, I’ve never ever given you that.  Never allowed you that.

Never allowed you to be vulnerable. 

Never allowed you to be anything other than perfect. 

And I’m so fucking sorry, Christel.

I really am.

I’m sorry that I held you to an impossible standard.  I’m sorry that I’ve expected you to fix everything that’s gone wrong in my life.  I’m sorry that I’ve let you down. 

And I promise to do better.  To try to my hardest to BE better.

All I’ve ever wanted, is to be you.  But I’m not.  And never will be.  And that’s okay. 

You are still, to this day, my absolute idol and the constant source of solidity in my drastically wavering life. 

And all I want, right now? 

Is for you to know that.

Love Always

Your Baby Sister,


Out of the Woods

Part 6 – The Disappearance of Julie Peters

Growing up, my favorite set of books was, undoubtedly, The Chronicles of Narnia. My big sister gave me the box set for Christmas one year, and I devoured the entire thing in nearly a week, pausing only for the occasional rare activity such as eating or sleeping. 

Most people begin their journey through Narnia with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, clueless to the fact that there exists a prequel to this story, in which the entire world of Narnia is born. It is there, in that first book, that C.S. Lewis describes the (in my humble opinion) most intriguing place I’ve ever read about.

“The Wood Between the Worlds”, he calls it.

There, in the mysteriously quiet, magical wood, there exists a series of shallow pools – each one leading to a different world. It’s a pit-stop, of sorts. An in-between place. A doorway leading to other doorways.

And although it’s obviously imaginary, a part of me has always believed that it exists, in some otherworldly place. A place that we’re only granted access to a finite amount of times in our lives.

I know this deep in my heart. And – believe me or not – I’ve seen it for myself.

During my time there, it wasn’t a forest.

It doesn’t always have to be, you see.

Because it’s not really a PLACE in the physical sense of the word. It’s an energy. And it doesn’t matter what it looks like because it presents itself all kinds of different ways, for reasons beyond my ability to contemplate.

But once you’ve been there, you’ll get it. You’ll understand what I’m saying. You’ll recognize it for what it is.

A gateway. A meeting place. A beginning. An ending.

A place, of captivating beauty… and of absolute peace.

My story, goes like this:

It was November of 2018, and I was fast asleep for the first time in several nights, inside my tiny apartment nextdoor to the hospital in Kotzebue, Alaska. I wasn’t on call that night, which means my quality of sleep was phenomenal, as any person who takes call can attest to.

Hours prior, I’d cried myself to sleep. A result of work-related stress (mostly self-imposed) and a slew of other lifestyle factors that I won’t get into until a later post. 

I was honestly at the end of my rope, and had carried that sentiment along into the dreamworld, like a bloated, overstuffed, suitcase. 

I don’t recall what I’d been dreaming about, but I vividly remember that the dream I’d been having was abruptly, and forcefully swiped aside, like a millennial swiping left on a lackluster Tinder profile.  

Suddenly I was standing in a dimly-lit, cozy, sitting room, devoid of people but loaded, wall-to-wall with all sorts of comfy seating accommodations to choose from. 

There were large, puffy armchairs with circular, velvet buttons, lone pillows strewn expertly across the carpeted floor, and a myriad of plush couches in varying sizes and colors.  

A fireplace was crackling near the center of the room, and a small coffee table sat in front of it, bathed in the soft light of the ambient flames.  I made my way over to it, admiring the stately decor of the room, which was minimal, but gave off both an air of importance, and at the same time,  one of significant welcome. 

The walls were paneled with a deep cherry-colored wood in some places, and painted a beautiful royal blue in others. 

This room, looks like it belongs in the White House, I thought to myself as I eyed the magnificent detail of the sconces jutting out from the walls, holding their half-melted white candles as the wax dripped slowly down their opulent shafts.

I’d just chosen a soft, cream-colored, loveseat and sat carefully upon it’s rectangular cushions when I heard a door squeak open on the opposite side of the room. 

Although I’d failed to notice the door when I’d first arrived, as it blended perfectly with the wood paneling of the wall surrounding it, I wasn’t surprised at all to see the outline of a person as she made her way through it. 

I’d somehow known ever since I’d arrived that I was waiting for someone.  But I still wasn’t sure who it was I was waiting for.  A woman, with short gray hair, had her back to me, as she turned to quietly ensure that the door was sealed behind her. 

There was something familiar about her silhouette, but the light was so dim that I couldn’t make out her features.  She quietly, purposefully, crossed the room, and headed for the couch directly opposite mine. 

As she reached the area of the fireplace, the light struck her face, and I let out a tiny gasp.  My grandmother.

As she softly descended on her chosen cushion, she smiled at me warmly.  I was happy to see her, but also extremely confused.  I hate to admit this, but my grandmother and I had never been that close.  I’d visited a few times as a child, but had a million other cousins to compete with for her attention, and we’d lived thousands of miles away from my grandparents for nearly my entire life. 

One of few pictures I still have from visits with my grandmother as a child.

I adored her despite all this, but had trouble understanding why she would go through all the trouble to arrange this meeting, when we’d barely spoken to each other while she was still alive. 

Certainly she had more important things to attend to, a busy schedule to keep up with in the afterlife?

I sat uncomfortably and pondered all this. She smiled at me knowingly.  Can she hear my thoughts?  I wondered.  A jovial glint in her eye gave me the answer.  She was amused by my reaction, I could tell.

After what seemed like ages, I finally couldn’t take it anymore and came right out and asked, ‘Ummm… what am I doing here?’

She didn’t speak.  She simply held her hands out in such a way that I got the hint.  

I was to do the talking.  Not her.

And so I opened my mouth, and began to explain. 

I told her about my last few weeks at work.  How difficult they’d been.  How the pressure was choking the life out of me.  How I felt as though I was a failure.  That I was letting everyone down.  That I couldn’t take much more of it, and that I was so very tired of everything.

If time existed in this place, I’d have said that I talked for hours.  But there’s no way of knowing how long it lasted at all, because time is an Earthly measurement.  And wherever I was,  I knew one thing for sure – it was not the world I was accustomed to.  It didn’t feel Earthly at all.

Despite my incessant rambling, my grandmother listened attentively.  She hung on every word, nodding her head understandingly. 

She never spoke.  She didn’t have to.  And as corny as this sounds, all I felt from her as I sat pouring my heart out in that comforting firelight, was absolute, pure, unequivocal love. 

It was pouring out of her.  From her. Within her.  Around her. 

She was absolutely drenched in it.  and she somehow had the power to transfer some of it to me.

As I wrapped up my final thoughts on the subjects I’d just covered, she stood up and walked around the mahogany coffee table that separated us.  Her warm, loving arms circled me in the most complete and total hug I’ve ever received. 

With her arms still around me, I felt her warm breath on my neck, as she whispered quietly, finally speaking for the first and only time.

It’s going to be okay.

And then, leaving me with that sentiment… she crossed the room, and exited through the secret side door, and I knew without being told – I was not allowed to follow. 

Once again, I was alone in the room.  But with remnants of her hug still clinging to my clothes. 

As I turned back towards my side of the room, I glanced upward and my jaw dropped in awe. Above the mantelpiece, was an enormous, hand-painted oil portrait of my grandfather, who is still alive. I admired it for a moment. The detail was incredible.

 Then I walked out a door of my very own. 

And woke up, remembering everything.

September 8, 2019

Minneapolis, MN

Tiny stars are dancing on the periphery of my vision.  The blood is pooling in my face and I can feel the tiny capillaries in my eyes beginning to burst, like over-filled water balloons.  

My hands are beginning to clench involuntarily, the rope around my neck pinching off their necessary blood supply.  I can feel my brain demanding oxygen.  The world is starting to go black.

I picture the room from my dream 8 months ago, that dignified sitting room. 

The room between the worlds. 

And I know, undoubtedly, that if I want to, I can go there now.  That the side-door will be open. Unlocked, for the first time. 

That I can cross beyond it if I so choose.  

But if I make that choice, there’s no going back. 

There’s no peeking.  I know that without being told. 

I can enter the doorway, but it will shut behind me.  And my family will be stuck on the other side of it. 

I picture my mother. Screaming and banging her ineffectual fists on the solid doorway.

Picture myself, jiggling the knob, trying to open it.  Hearing her cries, wanting to hug her, to comfort her. 

And not being able to. 

Trapped in another place. While she attempts to follow me to the in-between. And gets lost there. Hopelessly lost.

And with that searing image burned into my oxygen-deprived brain, that powerful, gut-wrenching image, a jolt rushes through me, and my wobbly knees forcefully straighten once again.

I turn reluctantly from the open door, unlocked, with the light pouring out of it, and walk the other way, back through my own.

As I do, I let out a sob.  I don’t want this.  I don’t want to go back to the pain and the hurt. 

But I’d rather feel my own pain a hundred times over, than watch helplessly from afar while my mother shoulders hers.  I can’t be the source of her pain.  I won’t.  

I reach up, thanking God that I used a slipknot, which can be loosened if the height is right. 

And as I struggle to pull it upwards and feel the knot go slack, I hear the distant screech of a door as it swivels on it’s hinges. 

The resounding click as the lock pops back into place.

I fall to the floor in a sobbing heap, and feel my grandmother’s breath lightly pass over my neck.  

It’s going to be okay.

To be continued…

Lake of Fire

Part 5 – The Disappearance of Julie Peters

** !!! Trigger Warning !!!  ***

This post contains the narration and description of suicidal thoughts and acts, which could definitely be triggering for some people. 

If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, or have suicidal thoughts yourself, you may want to abstain from reading. 

On the other hand, I’m sharing this very vulnerable story with you because I feel it needs to be discussed and especially because it may help others understand what exactly goes on in the mind of a severely depressed person. 

Too often, I hear people wondering why and while I don’t speak for every suicidal person, I do believe the thoughts and feelings conveyed here are much more common than society would have us believe. 

So whoever you are, please know that you’re not alone.  And that if I managed to survive this horrific episode… there’s hope for you too.  

I love you, friend.  Keep fighting. For both of us.


Detroit, MI

Dew still clings to the grass below me as I crouch down over the damp lawn of the empty playground.  Although it’s midday, the sky is overcast and the breeze is chilly. 

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports, sky, shoes and outdoor

I reach up with two fingers, placing them delicately on the skin of my neck.  Feel the thundering of my pulse underneath. Count the repetitions.  Wait patiently for the pace to slow.

I perform my final set of burpees before collapsing on the wet grass in exhaustion, flopping my head sideways to peer at the glistening dewdrops all around me. 

A hint of movement catches my eye.  A tiny lone ant, struggling to scale the soaring precipice of an impossibly tall blade of grass.  It’s bitty legs are scrabbling maniacally up the smooth, wet surface, and a squint of the eye reveals that it’s got a crumb of food in tow.  The effort seems magnanimous.  I smile softly in admiration.  

Such perseverance.  Such a strong, abominable will to survive. 

To keep living, no matter what.  Whatever it takes.

But is it really something to be admired at all, this survival instinct?  Is it a trait of strong character, or is it simply coded into the DNA of every living thing on this Earth? 

Why do even the smallest, most insignificant beings have a compelling need to keep existing? 

Why do even ANTS seem to hold their own lives so sacred?  

Where do these feelings come from?

And why do I, as a human, seem to feel the exact OPPOSITE? Did God cross the wrong wires when I was created?

After all, it was less than three weeks ago that I desperately sought to snuff out that stubborn pulse, still hammering away beneath my skin. 

Only three weeks ago, that I’d narrowly escaped the overwhelming compulsion to die. 

An instinct – to self-destruct. An instinct I’d felt then, just as surely as this ant feels the need to live now.

September 8, 2019

Minneapolis, MN

A dark hotel room


It  costs exactly $40.36 to die.

There are cheaper ways, of course.  Obviously.  But time is of the essence, and bargain-hunting isn’t really something you worry about when you’re not planning on being here tomorrow.  

And I don’t.  

So I splurged and purchased a fancy ‘over-the-door’ chin-up bar from Wal-mart, along with a hunting knife, and the most important material of all: a thick, nylon rope.  

I’ve learned from prior experience that the rope material makes a big difference.  Cheap, scratchy rope irritates the skin as it tightens, making for a rather uncomfortable affair. 

Rope that is small in diameter is also undesirable, for similar reasons. 

It must also be strong, obviously.  But not so strong that you can’t pierce it with a knife to adjust the height.  

And so I’m very particular about my rope. 

I’ve chosen this one carefully.

I nod in approval as I secure my new rope around the freshly-assembled chin-up bar.  This will do just fine.

Amazing really, that I managed to choose an appropriate rope-type, in my current condition.

On the outside, I look fine.  Normal.  Okay.

I’m not.

Inside, I’m burning alive.  

For the past 24 hours, I’ve been absolutely engulfed by invisible flames. 

Ever since I’d missed my shift at work.  Since the panic attack.  Since my life fell apart, for the umpteenth time.

I haven’t slept.  I haven’t eaten. 

I haven’t done anything but cry and shake.  For 24 hours.

It’s happened before, but this time it’s worse.  Inescapable.  Indescribable. 

So much pain.  So much hurt.

It’s not just mental, either.  I can feel it in my body.  My skin is crawling.  I feel both hot and cold at the same time.  Like I’ve come down with a fever.  

Goosebumps cover my body, along with a paradoxical sheen of glossy sweat.  My head is throbbing and I can’t tell if it’s from the lack of sleep or the constant crying. 

The nape of my neck is caked with dried blood.  I tend to scratch myself there compulsively when I’m anxious.  I don’t know why.  But I know it stings.  

I read somewhere once that a black hole is so heavy and dense that the entire mass of the Earth is smashed down into a space as small as a golf ball. 

Can you imagine?  A golf ball that weighs as much as Earth?

I can. 

Because I’ve felt it.  In my chest.

Whenever I’m in this state, my chest feels so compressed that I’d swear the weight of the Earth is resting inside it. 

And just like a black hole, it gobbles up every source of light in it’s vicinity.  Every twinkle of hope, every tiny spark of happiness. Nothing escapes it’s infamous Event Horizon.  

It. Is. Hell.

I fight and crawl away from it, but after a time it drags me right back. It becomes too much. 

I’m being crushed from within.  My mind has ignited with imaginary flames, and I’m writhing in agony, alone in a dark hotel room. 

I’ve fought it for so long.  Years and years of torture.  And now I’m so very tired.  I need respite.  I need to douse these flames, somehow, and the only way is through the loop in this rope. 

A simple slipknot.  Any boy-scout could tie it.  

I scribble a quick note to the only people who have ever managed to put out my sporadic fires.  I tell them I’m sorry.  I want them to know how much I love them.  But the flames are licking at my feet and just can’t take it anymore.

I step up to the gallows and place my head in the coil.  Sink down to my knees, and feel the tight squeeze of death’s embrace.  Close my eyes.  

Gag, and sputter.  Choke. Cough.

Soon now. So soon.

Praying that God will forgive me.  

And all the while, the fire roars around me.

To be continued…