The Attempted Suicide of Lucas St. James
By Maggie, May 2010.
Just before we went back after Christmas break was when I decided to do it. I had had a really bad time and decided that I was just done. I called Aubin before just because I felt like if I didn't, he would be angry or something.
"H-hi, is Aubin there?" I asked nervously when a woman picked up at Aubin's house.
"Oui. Une moment," said the woman, most likely his mother. After a minute or so of waiting, my friend came on.
"Hello, who is this?"
"Hi Aubin," I said, relieved to hear his voice. Aubin always calmed me. He was always a soothing presence, despite his generally harsh nature. "How's your Christmas break been?"
He made a noise of frustration. "Terrible. Was yours okay?" Aubin paused, and asked quieter, like my whole family was on the phone too, "Are you okay? Did your family pull any shit?"
His concern made my heart swell. I breathed in deep and smiled. His slight accent is a lovely thing to listen to. If I could, I would listen to it for the rest of my life. But that night, I didn't think that would really be that long.
"Francis didn't beat me up, no," I told Aubin, referring to my brother. "Our whole family was over, so he wouldn't dare."
I could almost hear his disapproving face. "I didn't ask about Francis, Lucas, I asked if your family bothered you. Everyone."
I thought about how I should answer him. If I told him everything, he would worry, which I didn't want. I didn't want him to have to worry about me anymore. "They weren't so bad. They talked about Hell a lot," I said and paused for a second, wondering if my next question would be too obvious. "Aubin, you're atheist. What do you think happens to you when you die?"
"Your body stops functioning. Then people make your body pretty. Then some people put it in the ground. Some more people cry over it. Then in a couple of years your body decays. That's it."
I gnawed on my lip. It stung where Francis split it a week prior. "So you don't think there's a Hell or a Heaven or anything?"
"Fuck no. I haven't seen one, have you?"
I laughed humourlessly, and thought that I might. "No, I guess not. Well, I've gotta go. Thanks for talking to me, Aubin." I tried to convey that I meant in general.
"Hey, no problem. I'll see you at school on Monday, okay? Have a good new year's, Lucas."
"You too," I mumbled, but he'd already hung up.
I took a deep breath and looked around. I was in my bedroom. The walls were plastered with posters of my favourite bands from when I was eleven. There were clothes all over the floor from where I "unpacked" my suitcase when I came home from school. My bed was a mess because I tossed and turned all night long. I didn't want to leave this kind of mess. I knew that my family would already be upset by losing a son in such an undignified manner. I didn't want them to have to clean up all my stuff too.
So I set to cleaning my room. My work was slow and methodical when I started. I got distracted a lot. First I made my bed. Then I picked up all my dirty clothes and put them in a hamper. I dragged it to the laundry room in the basement and dumped it in the washer. I hoped that when I was gone my clothes might go to Good Will or something. I knew Francis would never wear or be expected to wear my clothes.
On my way back to my room, Francis saw me. He grabbed my shoulder and threw me against the wall. I winced and looked up at him. He chuckled to himself, at me, and just kept walking. I waited there in the hall for a moment before continuing on my way. I got back to my room and resumed cleaning. I made my bed and adjusted the curtains. It was completely dark out, it being 9pm at the end of December. It was mild out though, and there was no snow on the ground.
I decided to organise my desk next. I emptied out all the drawers onto the floor. I found lots of paper, some doodles I'd done and thought were good enough to keep. Now when I looked at them I just thought they were silly. I debated whether I should throw them out or not but I settled for stacking them up and putting them in their own drawer. Then I found a bunch of photos from when I was a child.
The photos on the top of the pile were most recent. They weren't recent though. The first one was dated 2002. It was my ninth birthday party. My whole fourth grade class had come over and we were playing with water balloons in our backyard. Back then I still went to public school. I was friends with everyone. When you're nine, you're only judged on if you have a Razor scooter and light-up sneakers. The next few photos were class photos. There was one of my with a haircut that was truly horrendous. Then near the bottom of the stack were photos of me and Francis.
When we were kids, Francis and I were really close. Only eleven months apart, it was easy for us to get along. There were photos of us playing a Pokémon videogame together, sitting on swings at a park, playing in the waves of a beach. There was one from when we were probably only three or four and it was Christmas morning, if the presents were anything to go by. We were hugging and Francis was smacking a kiss on my cheek. I sighed and shoved those in the drawer with the doodles. The rest of the contents of the desk were boring, mostly old school stuff and some miscellaneous pens and pencils.
My room at that point was mostly clean. There was a small bag of clothes my old friend Kelsey had given me in sixth grade stashed in the corner of my closet that I had been keeping for sentimental value. I hadn't grown a ton since sixth grade, but it was more than the denim skirts and tank-tops should really be expected to allow. I pulled a Sharpie from my desk and wrote "Good Will" on the bag. I dropped the bag onto my bed.
After everything else was done, I left my room to get the vacuum from the hall closet. I heard my parents laughing at something on TV together in the living room. It made me sad because I couldn't remember a single time in the past few years where I was so easy-going with my family. The last time I had laughed at all was with Aubin, before winter break. I knew that my family wouldn't miss me. Instead of hurting, the knowledge made me feel sort of numb. That was the way it should have been, I thought. They didn't need to miss me. The only person who would miss me was Aubin, maybe. But he would eventually move on. Aubin was always much stronger than myself. I tried not to feel too guilty. That would make what I was going to do too hard.
I vacuumed my room quickly and efficiently. I was feeling impatient now. I moved the vacuum across my thick carpet angrily. I thought about how I was doing what Francis made fun of me for—"playing the girl". And I wondered just when he started hating me. I was probably ten or so, and he was already tougher than me. He played baseball and I played with the girls in the sandbox. Francis made fun of me, then. And he told Mom and Dad. I never even had to "come out" because I guess being me was enough. I liked girls' things too much.
I thought about a boy I'd met in eighth grade. He was gay too. His parents were accepting, and he didn't understand how my family could be so...them. He encouraged me to try to stand up to them. I was still young and naïve and I did. That was when Francis started hitting me. I hated the other boy, I hated Francis, I hated my parents for not stopping it all—but most of all, I hated myself for being who I was. I thought, Maybe if I was like Francis then my family would be fine. It wasn't their fault I was like I was.
I couldn't think of anything except for my how my family and the rest of the world would just be a better off place without me. My mind went in loops. Why should anyone miss me? I was just a 5'5" scrawny little gay kid with a penchant for girls' cloths and overlong hair. I looked around my room one last time, hating it, too, and I left it. I shut the door, and it felt so final. I thought, 'That was the last time I'll shut my door'. It felt good, in a way, like I was spiting the world. Like I was saying, 'You can't keep me here'.
I shuffled my way down the hall into the kitchen. I needed a knife. I flitted between the silverware drawer and the knife rack. I had never cut before—I didn't know what I was looking for. The only thing I knew was I didn't want a serrated blade, because it would snag and hurt a lot. I finally settled on a silver-handled thing in the back of the drawer. It was really sharp because it was probably only used a few times. It glinted dangerously in the light coming from over the sink.
I slipped the knife into my jeans pocket. I remembered that I should probably write a note or something. I went to my dad's office because I didn't want to go back into my bedroom. I felt like if I went back I might lose my resolve. So I snuck in my dad's office at the end of the hall. It was pitch-black in there because it was nearly 11:30. I made my way across the small room and flicked on the light atop the desk. I found a piece of paper and an envelope. With one of my dad's fancy pens, I addressed the envelope to Aubin Lambert. I sat down to write the letter, but I couldn't think of anything to say. I eventually came up with a short note. It read:
I can't tell you how much your friendship meant to me. Having someone
to talk and laugh with is really important. I don't want you to feel guilty about
this, because nothing you could have said would make me feel better. This was
a long time coming. Just forget about me. You have a great life ahead of you.
-Lucas St. James
PS: This is a really nice pen, right? I love it.
I shoved the letter in the envelope and sealed it. I hoped that nobody would open it and would just send it to Aubin. It was really important to me that he understood. I put my dad's pen back in its holder and turned out the light. I took the letter and exited the office. I made my way to the bathroom. When I got in, I flicked on every light. I put the envelope on the counter and pulled my shirt over my head. It messed up my hair, and out of habit I grabbed a comb and fixed it.
I looked into the mirror. A boy looked back at me that I hardly recognized. There were dark rings under his grey-green eyes and his normally perfectly-groomed brown hair needed to be washed. He had a fading bruise on his stomach, just under his ribs. I prodded the discoloured flesh and it didn't hurt. It was just ugly. I wrinkled my nose and glared at the reflection. I hated that boy. I looked away from the mirror and set about taking off my jeans.
The knife fell out of my pocket as I slid the pants down my skinny hips and it fell to the floor where it clattered on the tile. It seemed so loud to me and my heart thudded. I didn't want anyone to ask me what I was doing. 'Please, please, please,' I thought, 'don't come in here'. I was trying to pray to a god that I didn't really believe in anymore.
Nobody came running in. It wasn't likely to happen anyway, but now I was so close and I was paranoid. I picked up the knife and placed it on top of the envelope. I finished stripping and turned on the water for the bath. I pulled the stopper lever up so it wouldn't drain and the tub began to fill. I folded my clothes and placed them on the lid of the toilet neatly. It was surreal because I was on autopilot. I always did these things before a bath for as long as I could remember. The difference was that this was going to be the last time I'd ever perform the routine.
There wasn't a lot of water in the tub when I grabbed my knife and stepped in. I laid back, relaxing as the warm water began to rise. The water had almost completely risen when I gripped the blade with my left hand and slid it along my right wrist. I had to hold back a scream; it HURT—the slice burned like nothing I'd ever felt. The cut wasn't deep enough that it cut through the tendons, but there was so much blood. It took all my nerve to slit the other wrist. I wanted this, but my body's natural reactions made it hard. The cut on my left wrist ended up being closer to my hand, and a little deeper. It bled more.
The look of the blood—my blood—swirling in the water fascinated me. It occurred to me that I should have turned off the water, but it didn't really matter anymore. Nothing really mattered. I was fading into unconsciousness, I knew, but even as my vision went dark I felt like I was hyperaware of my surroundings. I felt my heartbeat. The blood from my wrists went in time with my pulse and it was so morbid but really cool. Someone in the living room turned off the TV and someone was walking down the hallway.
My last thought before I passed out was just, 'Finally'. I felt peace. I slipped farther into the water.
Nancy St. James was trudging down the hall, ready to go to bed, when she heard the water running in the bathroom. It was midnight and only her older son Lucas would ever take a bath. Nancy glowered and slowed to a stop in front of the bathroom door. Weekend be damned, her sons should be in bed by midnight, not taking baths. She rapped on the bathroom door three sharp times with her knuckles. Nobody responded. That was odd, for Lucas—he was generally the more obedient child. Nancy waited a moment for a response and when it didn't come, she opened the door. And screamed.
Lucas, her son, her first born, lie in the tub obviously unconscious—dead?—and the water was red and she screamed and couldn't stop screaming. Nancy's husband came running in and their younger son Francis followed suit. Francis stopped dead in the doorway, eyes wide, and Nancy fell to her knees. Peter, her husband, remained just as calm as if he'd seen it all before. In a few short strides he turned off the water (which was about to lap over the sides), and grabbed his son's wrists in a vicelike grip in an attempt to staunch the bleeding.
"Call 911," he barked over his shoulder.
Francis shook himself and sped to fetch the closest phone.
"Nancy, go with Francis," Peter ordered softly. His wife had tears tracing down her face and she nodded silently. She left the bathroom.
Only a couple of minutes after Francis made the call, an ambulance arrived. Paramedics rushed in and took over for Peter. He stood in the corner and watched as his son was attended to. He felt detached, like he was watching the scene unfold on a TV show. The paramedics worked quickly and it wasn't long before Lucas was in the ambulance, and Peter and Nancy followed. Francis was left behind; there wasn't enough room or time for everyone.
Peter and Nancy clasped hands tightly in the waiting room and would he be okay? Will our baby be okay? Peter tried reassuring his wife, Yes of course. He placed a kiss on her blonde hair. He'll be just fine.
A doctor asked them to sign some forms at some point during the night. Later on he came back out. His face was grim and Nancy panicked. She gripped Peter's hand so hard her knuckles turned white; his ground against one another but he allowed the pain. The doctor explained that Lucas had nearly succeeded, they were very lucky they found him when they did...he explained a lot of things that Nancy didn't hear. He was alive. Alive alive alive. It was a litany in her mind, all she could think. She collapsed against her husband, all her energy gone. He stroked her hair and she closed her eyes.
Alive alive alive.
At home, Francis paced. From his room to the kitchen, the kitchen to the living room, the living room to his room. Over and over again. He had to go to the bathroom but he couldn't bring himself to go in there yet. All the lights were on in the house; he'd turned them on when everyone left him in the house. Alone.
Lucas was somewhere fighting for his life, and it was all Francis could think about. He laughed bitterly and revised the thought: other people were fighting for his life. Francis' hands shook and he sat on the couch heavily. Lucas could actually die. Francis' eyes flicked to the hallway. He half expected Lucas to poke his head around the doorframe. Like maybe this was some sick joke to get back at him for all the shit he did. But no. Even if that was the sort of thing Lucas would do or was even capable of, Francis knew it couldn't happen. He saw it with his own eyes. His older brother dying. Because he tried to kill himself.
For the first time in years, Francis felt guilty. What if this was his fault? So he threw Lucas around a bit. He teased him. His parents teased him too, though. Francis thought it had to be okay if his parents did it too. Calling him fag and roughing him up a little couldn't make him want to die, could it? He'd always thought it was harmless fun. But now he wasn't sure.
By 1:30 in the morning Francis was resigned to the fact that he couldn't sleep, not with the image that stayed in his mind, and there was nothing on TV to help. For lack of anything better to do—and his bladder still felt like it was going to explode—Francis went into the bathroom.
The tub was still full. No-one had drained it. Lucas' clothes were on top of the toilet still and Francis shoved them aside hurriedly so that he could open the lid and vomit. The bathroom smelled. He didn't know if it actually smelled or if it was just in his mind, but Francis thought it was worse than anything he'd ever smelled in his life. He held his breath and flicked the lever on the drain carefully, avoiding the mucky bathwater. He went to the bathroom (finally) while the tub drained and rinsed the tub with the showerhead when it was done. He tried to forget about what he was cleaning as best he could. Francis used a good portion of the bottle of bleach on the tub, and he didn't even touch the knife that lay on the floor.
It seemed so harmless, now. Out of place, but harmless. Francis tried to imagine Lucas slitting his wrists with it. The image came far too readily and Francis retched again.
After he rinsed his mouth Francis noticed an envelope sitting beside the sink. It didn't have a stamp, but it was addressed to Lucas' (only?) friend Aubin, in Lucas' handwriting. Francis' hands itched to tear it open, to see what it said. To see if it said anything important. Did it mention himself? Francis turned the envelope over and looked at the back. He could open it. He could. But he felt like he'd already done enough. If it was his fault, he didn't really want to know, he told himself.
If Lucas died, Francis didn't want to know it was his fault. They were still brothers, after all.
One of the worst feelings you could possibly imagine is when you wake up in the hospital when you thought that you'd never have to wake up again. I remember a crushing disappointment, a depression so dark that I didn't want to—couldn't—talk to anyone for the first two days. Mom and Dad were there in the hospital all the time the first few days, and it was weird to have them around so much. They usually didn't want to be around me much before the incident. As Aubin always says, "They're afraid of catching 'The Gay'". Dad took a few days off work which is huge for him, and mom took however long it was that would be necessary. I couldn't be home alone all day, obviously.
I was released from the hospital after about a week. I would have been fine after only a few days but they wanted me under a 72-hour psych observation. I put up with it because I was so guilty. My mom was so worried about me, and I felt so incredibly guilty about it that I'd have done anything she wanted. Whatever the doctors found from my evaluation meant that I could go home (with a bucket-load of pills). I had to go to counselling at least two times a week.
At home, I was made to stay in the living room where my mom could keep an eye on me. These were Mom's orders, not a doctor's. And I wondered, every minute of every day, why she cared so much. Why she was so maternal now, when I didn't want it? Dad was just as distant as he ever was with me, but Mom told me that he was the one who probably saved my life. I tried to process this information, tried to fit it into his character in my brain, and no matter how I looked at it, it didn't make sense. But at least he wasn't being overtly cruel to me.
Counselling sucked. I didn't want to talk about my issues with anyone. They were hardly issues; just me being insecure and weird and was it so wrong that I was tired of being beat up or that I just didn't like who I was? If I wanted to talk, that was what Aubin was for. He was a perfect listener. My counsellor, Rhianna Perry, was a tall skinny woman with very large teeth that she had the most annoying habit of sucking on. It drove me crazy. Thankfully I "progressed" and only had to go to one appointment a week. That was good because I'd gotten to the point of hatred where you start imagining horrific accidents befalling the one you despise.
I also had to get a tutor since I was missing so much school. I didn't want to do it—didn't want a tutor, didn't want school—but I did it anyway. My tutor was a teacher from my school who I'd never met before named Mr. Harkle. He was nice and patient, and probably the only reason I bothered with schoolwork at all. He didn't ask anything about my life. He just taught me. And for that I was extremely grateful.
A month after the incident I went back to school. It was the beginning of February. My uniform was crisp and clean and my mom dropped me off with a worried glance. Our relationship had changed drastically. I wasn't sure if I liked it.
My first day back at Kieran MacBeth was planned so that it would be calm. It was Monday, so all the other boys were in class. I went to my dorm room and sat down on my bed. It was familiar and I felt like I'd never left. I dropped my beg on the ground and stretched out. I'd been really tired ever since the incident. It was probably the depression meds they had me on. But whatever the reason was, I fell asleep.
I didn't wake up when my roommate, Mark, came in. But he woke me up when Aubin came by. He seemed to sense something, wanted to give us some privacy, so he left the room as Aubin came in.
I remember being afraid that Aubin would be angry at me. His face was completely blank and oh, I'd missed his face. I'd missed the way he stood straight up awith his hands in his pockets, like he wanted to the world to call him disrespectful. I sat up as he appraised me and all it did was give me time to fret.
But the moment of awkwardness ended when he closed the distance between us. He rushed over and pulled me off the bed and held me in an embrace so tight I thought I'd suffocate. Aubin was much taller, but he still started crying on my shoulder. I was shocked and at first all I could do was stand there and let it happen. I gathered my wits and hugged him back, trying to comfort him. It was a couple of minutes before he let go. He sat on my bed and took deep breaths until he calmed down enough to talk.
We sat side-by-side, not looking at each other. Aubin said something quietly in French that I didn't understand. Then, still not looking at me, said, "Don't ever fucking do anything like that ever again."
I looked down at my hands. Looked at my fading scars. They were almost totally healed up now. Thin and white. "I'm so sorry..." I mumbled. And I truly was. I'd never seen Aubin so upset before.
Next to me, Aubin took another deep breath. "You really fucking scared me, Luke."
I just nodded. I didn't have anything to say.
"Did you know it was your brother who told me?" Aubin asked, sudden and curious. There was a hint of accusation in his tone.
My head shot up and I looked at him. I shook my head. I didn't know that. Didn't know why I even should. The last time I'd seen Francis at all was the night of the incident when he pushed me.
Aubin pulled something out of his pocket. It was an envelope. He held it up to me to show me it was still sealed. "He said he found this in the bathroom the night you, you..." he trailed off. It was the first time I ever heard him sound even slightly unsure of himself. It unnerved me.
My heart thudded unnaturally loud in my ears. "Yes. I wrote it."
Aubin handed it to me. "I didn't read it. I didn't want to. If you want to tell me something, tell me. Yourself."
I blinked at him and looked at the envelope in my hands. I tried to imagine Francis giving it to him, tried to imagine Aubin holding it in his hands deciding if he should open it, knowing what I'd done. I couldn't. Aubin was always strong. I looked up at him. His eyes were still red and it looked horrible with his pale skin, with his blue eyes. I looked back down at the envelope and with a single jerky movement I tore it in half.
I took a deep breath. "It said umm...how much I was um...glad you're my friend. And um, how I didn't want you to blame yourself...or anything like that." I paused, uncomfortably, and Aubin was looking at me like he expected me to continue. I shrugged. He frowned.
"Lucas..." he began with that wonderful slight French accent. "You're sure nothing else?"
I didn't understand what he was looking for. I didn't know the answer he wanted. He chewed his lip and I stared, thinking how great it must be to be Aubin's lip at the moment. And then I didn't have to wonder, because he was on me—Aubin was kissing me, and I didn't know how or why but god, it was amazing. And I knew I was still fucked in the head, but Aubin didn't care, didn't hate me, and this felt right.
I felt alright.
This is my first experience writing something like this and I have no personal experience with cutting or suicide or anything so I probably got stuff horribly wrong. Sorry about that. Hope you enjoyed it!