Brian woke up one morning feeling sick to his stomach. He couldn't describe it, but he felt like something was terribly wrong. His first thought was Mary. Something's wrong with Mary.

Mary was a girl from school. She worried him. She was depressed and alone, like him. They had been in the same classes for the past four years, but they hardly ever talked. Still, they had a fragile sort of friendship. The few times they had spoken, it had been for a long time, and it had been about serious things.

The fact of the matter was, they clicked. Too bad Mary pushed everyone away. Brian understood perfectly. He related, even. He had been abused, she had been abused. They both had lousy parents and no other relatives. Neither had any close friends. Needless to say, they had a lot in common.

And Brian had fallen in love with her. She was his grip on reality. She kept him going.

But now something felt awfully wrong. He scrambled for his phone and dialed her number. He had it memorized. It rang and rang, but there was no answer. His heart beat faster and he panicked.

XxX

Mary woke up suddenly. It was silent in the house, so quiet that only the moaning of the creaky floorboards could be heard.

She felt her heart throbbing. Ka-DUNK…ka-DUNK……ka-ka-ka-DUNK. The irregular pattern was somehow comforting, even as it chilled her. Sounds like I'm dying. So weak and out of control… She stopped her thoughts there. Dying.

She thought about that word for a few minutes, feeling hollow inside.

The great escape- she needed one.

The next great adventure- it's about time something exciting happened to her.

So final.

And that's when she realized. It was the answer. The answer she'd been searching for.

But what about Brian? That was a painful thought. Brian. All of the books she'd ever read about unrequited love were dead on. All of them were dead wrong, too. Dead wrong. They focused on the angst, instead of on the gaping empty hole, on the slipping hold she had on her life.

Dead wrong.

So she got up. She went to her closet. She took out a scarf that had been a gift from her grandmother. Back when Grandmother was alive. Back when someone cared. She tied one end to her ceiling fan. She put a stool underneath the fan and stood on it. She tied the other end of the scarf around her neck, taught and tight.

Then she realized what she was doing, and snapped out of it, like snapping out of a trance. She fumbled to undo the tie around her neck, her fingers shaking. She sat on her bed and wept.

She picked up her phone off of the nightstand and dialed Brian's phone number. She pressed cancel. He doesn't care. He's just like the rest of them. But she knew he wasn't.

She started shaking again and realized she was being foolish. Death. The great escape. My answer.

She stood up, got back onto the stool, phone in hand, and looped the noose back around her neck. She kicked the stool away from her and hung there.

Pain. My answer. Pain. Death. Brian. Pain.

And her phone started ringing. She used the last of her energy raise the phone and look at the screen.

Brian. Too late.