I watched him leaning against my old radiator. His knees were drawn up to his chest, and his head was bent low. His medium length black hair was splashed across his legs. I saw him breathing heavily, in and out, like a child just about to learn to swim. I wanted to reach out and touch him, but thought better. At times like these it was just easier to let him be, at least, until it blew over. But just watching him there made my heart ache in ways I would never understand until much later in my life.
"Lee." He whispered my name so softly I barely heard him. I hesitated before answering. I wasn't sure what to say. I settled for a gentle,
"Huh?" He didn't reply but just looked up at me with this blank stare. It was so cold, so emotionless, it was almost inhuman. An indescribable sensation seemed to radiate throughout my body, I was suddenly reminded of a quote from a poem I'd read in 10th grade English, "The weak noise of her eyes easily flies my impatience to an edge." And that's just how I felt. I could no longer tolerate the biting, frigid silence; the tacit pieces of our non-existent relationship. Then he spoke,
"I can't do this, I can't handle it." I stiffened. A part of me knew what he meant, how he felt, but the bigger part of me could not accept it, would not accept this forfeit, this cowardice. But I didn't say a word. And we sat there in silence, not a utterance said, not a sideways glance, that is, until,
He stood up, walked over to where I was sitting on the floor and kneeled in front of me. He looked me in eye and smiled. It was the first genuine smile that I ever saw cross his lips. He leaned in towards me, I froze. He tenderly pressed his lips against mine. Then turned and walked away. I always wondered if I would have said something at that moment, would things have been different. I guess I'll never now.
He killed himself the next day. Slit his wrists. His mother called crying asking me if I knew why. He didn't leave a note. Till this day I wonder if I did know. His mom told me that just before he died, he drew a lone heart on the floor next to him, in his own blood.
- - -
lean into the radiator quietly. Lifting my knees to my chest and
bending my head. I sigh and lean back. I hear a slight crackly that
makes me turn. A lined piece of paper seemed to have fallen from
between the rust ridden bars. I reach for it; it's folded in to a
neat triangle. I unfold it carefully as if it could break. I see a
neat gothic scrawl across the page. I recognized the writing and the
words instantly. "When she smiles
a hard long smile it sometimes makes gaily go clean through me tickling aches, and the weak noise of her eyes easily files my impatience to an edge." I noticed two things simultaneously. One, the words 'weak noise' were scratched through as if to rid them from the poem. And two, there was a big, red, heart, wrapping itself around the poem in its entirety. I smiled.