I got the phone call on a Saturday in January. I was just sitting at home, minding my own business, and all of a sudden my cell phone rang and the name "Andrea Sharp" appeared on the caller ID.
Why would Wilson's mom be calling me?
Wilson Sharp was my best friend, and had been for the last eight years. We met when we were just seven years old. I had recently moved from Northern California, to a new school and a new life. Even at the age of seven, I was terrified that I wouldn't make any new friends. I mostly sat in a corner of the playground at recess and read a book. That was until a scrawny, brown-haired boy strolled over to me and asked "Why are you sitting all alone?"
From that moment on, we were inseparable.
Now, eight years later in our sophomore year of high school, his mother was calling me on a Saturday in January. Although I was very friendly with both of Wilson's parents and his three siblings, it was still strange to get a personal phone call from Andrea Sharp.
I answered the phone. "Hello?"
The first thing I heard was an exasperated sigh. "Taylor." She breathed.
I knew something wasn't right. "Is everything okay?"
"No." She replied immediately.
My heart seemed to freeze. Had there been some sort of accident? Did somebody die? Why was Andrea calling me instead of Wilson?
"What...what happened?" I stammered, immediately feeling shaky as my heart started to beat quickly and incessantly.
"I don't know how to tell you this," She said, "Because I know that Wilson is your very best friend."
Something's wrong with Wilson.
I said nothing.
Andrea sighed again and paused before continuing. This was obviously hard for her to spit out. "He tried to kill himself last night."
As long as I live, I will always remember those words exactly the way she said them. The tone of her voice, each tiny syllable, will forever be engraved in my memories.
However, upon hearing these words for the first time, I didn't fully understand them. I didn't respond for a moment or two.
"No..." I said loudly, perplexed, "That's impossible."
I don't know why I said that. Perhaps it was because Wilson has always been so happy and carefree. There was no reason for him to be upset at all. Or so I thought.
By now Wilson's mother was sobbing.
"I know this is a lot for you to register," She choked out through her sobs, "But as soon as your ready, it would be great if you could come and visit him. He's not doing well. He needs a friend."
I hung up the phone without saying anything more. In that moment, I didn't care that it was probably rude of me. I dropped the phone on the couch next to me and sat in silence for a few minutes.
The silence was both terrifying and oddly comforting at the same time. It was the kind of silence that makes your ears ring, the kind that you only hear when you know that you are very, very alone.
All I could do was think and breathe.
My best friend had just attempted suicide. Wilson. The boy I'd known for over half my life. The first thought that came to mind was: why? Wilson had always had a great life. He had a loving family, tons of great friends, a path for his future. Why in the world would he choose to end his life early?
What was he thinking?
I wasn't aware that I was shivering until my dad sat on the couch next to me and laid a hand on my shoulder.
"What's the matter?" He asked kindly.
"Daddy..." I whispered. I felt like a whiny little kid. My eyes were wet.
"Taylor, are you crying?" He asked.
I collapsed into my father's arms and cried. He was as warm and comforting as he had always been. I probably hadn't cried this hard in three years, but my dad would never consider me a coward or a cry-baby. He patted my back sympathetically.
"What happened, bud?" He asked.
I didn't bother to answer. My mind was already running through my next course of action. I had to get to Wilson's house, to see him and to be there for him. But I didn't have my driver's license yet.
"Dad...you have to drive me to Wilson's." I managed to say.
"Why? What happened?" He asked, more frantically this time. He pulled me out of our embrace and held me by the shoulders to examine my expression.
"I just got a phone call..." I broke down once more but managed to spit out, "He tried to kill himself."
My dad didn't believe it at first either. However, he immediately led me to the car and drove straight to the Sharp's house.
On the way there, I searched my mind for a reason that Wilson might've done this. I thought of a million guesses, but I couldn't come up with anything seemingly plausible.
Maybe he's really guilty about something. But what?
Maybe he's gotten into something bad, like drugs. No, he wouldn't do that.
Maybe he's had his heartbroken by someone. He would've told me about it.
Nothing seemed likely.
I felt antsy and nervous about seeing Wilson. Would he be a complete mess? Would he go crazy and try to kill himself again in my presence? Or would he be sad, yet calm? And more importantly, would this be an ongoing thing? I was terrified that perhaps Wilson might attempt it again soon. The thought made me even more anxious to get to his house.
Upon finally arriving, my dad parked the car instead of simply dropping me off. He followed me up to the front door, perhaps to talk with Wilson's parents, whom he was quite friendly with.
I walked in without knocking, something I was used to doing by now. After eight years of being Wilson's best friend, I was allowed to come and go as I pleased. His parents and siblings didn't mind at all. I was practically treated like family anyway.
However, the house had never felt so cold and unwelcoming. In the winter, it was usually warm, filled with the scent of freshly-baked cookies. But today, it seemed cold and dark. Maybe it was just my imagination, caused by the sick feeling of dread in my stomach.
Feeling shaky, I stepped from the entrance hall into the kitchen, my dad in tow. Wilson's mother was preparing food on the stove, while his father was seated at the kitchen counter drinking coffee and reading something.
"Ken." My dad stepped immediately up to Wilson's father, who stood up and offered his hand. My father shook it warmly, with a sympathetic face.
I stood in the doorway, terrified.
"Taylor." Andrea said. She walked directly over to me and folded me into a maternal hug. "I'm so relieved that you're here." She said.
"Is he okay?" I asked, my voice shaky, as she rubbed my back comfortingly.
"He'll be alright." Somehow I didn't believe her.
My dad and Ken conversed in low voices at the other side of the kitchen, but Andrea put her arm around my shoulders and led me out of the room and up the stairs. With each ascending step, I knew we were getting closer and closer to Wilson's room. I had memorized this house long ago, but Andrea seemed to think I needed her guidance to find his room.
For some reason, I was crying again by the time we made it to the second story.
"He's my best friend." I whispered.
"I know, Tay." She soothed.
We stopped before moving any closer to Wilson's bedroom door. Andrea stood in front of me, still rubbing my shoulder.
"Now, I must warn you of a few things." She said softly, "Will's not entirely himself right now, as I'm sure you've already guessed."
I nodded, looking at the floor.
"He hasn't really talked to us much since...since it happened." She sighed.
I just kept nodding, not knowing what else to do.
"Maybe he'll talk to you, though." She continued.
"I hope..." I whispered.
"Tay, I have to ask... did he say anything to you before...?" She asked, "I mean, did you know that he was upset at all?"
"No." I said honestly, finally looking up at her. She looked tired and worn. Her eyes looked much older since I last saw her, even though that was only a few days previously. I realized she had probably been crying a lot. My heart ached with this understanding.
"Okay." She nodded.
She led me down the hall to Wilson's room, even though I knew exactly where it was. Usually I would walk into his room unannounced, but she knocked.
"Will?" She called through the closed door, "Taylor's here. Can he come in?"
I heard a weak "yeah" from behind the door. His voice sounded so worn...
Andrea opened the door and let me inside. I smiled weakly at her, tears still stuck to my cheeks. Smiling back but not saying anything more, she closed the door and left me alone with Wilson.
I stood frozen for a moment until my eyes found him. He sat on his bed with his feet flat on the floor. His arms lay weakly in his lap, wrapped by white bandages.
So that's how he did it.
However, it wasn't just his wrists that were bandaged. His entire forearm, almost to his elbow, was covered with white gauze. I shivered as a picture flashed in my mind of Wilson slicing his arms with a knife...
Then I looked at his face. He didn't look at me, but at the wall opposite him. His eyes were sunken, their blue vastness even deeper than usual. But they weren't wet. He did not cry.
As his full image registered in my mind, I broke down. I let out a loud sob and covered my mouth with my hands. I immediately walked straight over to him, sat on the bed next to him, and wrapped my arms around him, all in one brisk move.
He didn't flinch at my touch like I expected. He let me hold onto him for dear life, clutching not just his body but his soul. I held him as close to me as possible, knowing that I almost lost him, knowing that my very best friend in the whole world almost left me for good. But he was still here, and I would never take that for granted again.
"I'm so glad you're still alive." I sobbed in his ear.
I didn't expect him to say anything, but after a moment or two he replied, "Me too."
This shocked me and relieved me at the same time. He was happy to be alive. That meant the world to me.
I knew it would make him feel worse, but I found myself saying, "I already lost my mom, I can't lose my best friend too."
I felt him collapse when he heard this. He let himself go limp and rested his head on my shoulder.
"What were you thinking?" I whispered.
It was meant to be rhetorical, and this time he didn't say anything.
I held him in my arms for at least five minutes. I cried, but he didn't even let out a single tear.
After a while he said in a shaky voice, "I'm sorry, Tay. I'm so sorry."
I let myself out of the embrace and looked at him. His face this close up was terrifying. He looked ten years older than the last time I saw him, which I constantly had to remind myself was only yesterday.
I looked back to yesterday and wondered how I didn't see any signs. At school that day, he had seemed completely normal. There wasn't a trace of sadness in his face almost all day. I had noticed something a few times, but nothing worthwhile enough to mention. How could I have missed the signs that he would attempt suicide later that very same day?
"No, Wilson." I said comfortingly, sniffling, "You don't have to be sorry for anything. Everything's gonna be okay."
I wiped away my tears.
"Are you okay?" I asked, my voice more high-pitched than usual.
He took a deep breath. I couldn't help but notice he hadn't looked at me once since I entered his room.
"I'm better." He replied.
"Good." I nodded, feeling better myself, "That's good."
Good enough for now.