Matt sat in his room, depressed. Another bad day. Another day where people picked on him and teased him because of his glasses, his funny hair, and slight lisp from his retainer. Another day where people ignored him if he was lucky, and noticed him if he wasn't. Another day of abuse by fellow students, teachers, bus drivers, and local college students. Another day where he just wanted to end it.
Which is exactly what he was about to do.
Sitting in his hand was a cyanide tablet, rat poison at its best. All he had to do was take the tablet, and it would all be over. He would die, and there would be nobody to hurt him anymore. Nothing at all.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
Matt whirled around. Standing in front of his locked door was a man. He wasn't terribly tall, neither fat or skinny, and about average in every other way. He wore a white button-up short-sleeve shirt, brown slacks with matching shoes, and a silver wristwatch. He too had glasses, though they seemed to look natural on him.
"How did you get in here?" Matt said, hiding the tablet in his pocket.
"Doesn't matter." he said. "That's not why I'm here."
"What, are you a thief?" Matt asked. He didn't really care, but he wanted to know who was intruding on his attempt to end all pain.
"Thief?" The man said, chuckling. "No, most defiantly not. More of an anti-thief, really."
"That doesn't make any sense." Matt said. "You break into my house, go through my locked door, and you're not a thief? What are you then?"
"Someone who wants to stop you from taking something that ought not be taken." the man replied. "But where are my manners? My name is Johnathan. And you are Matt, right?"
"That's right." Matt said warily. "How do you know that?"
"Part of my job." Johnathan replied casually. "But that's not the point. I need to explain a few things. Things that, I hope, may change your mind."
"Doubt it." Matt said, but offered Johnathan the desk chair and then sat on the bed.
"I know that you intend to take your own life." Johnathan said. "And unfortunately, I understand why more that you would think."
"Doubt that too." Matt said. "You've never been teased and abused like I have."
"I can guess." Johnathan replied. "You are constantly teased about your glasses and retainer. You are called names such as goober, drip-wad, and bozo. Nobody likes you for anything more than a way to entertain the others around them by degrading you. Believe me, I've been there."
"Not to my extent." Matt said. "Not enough to make you want to die. If you had, you wouldn't be here now."
Johnathan smiled sadly, but continued on. "The point is, I understand. I've been down this road, and now I'm going to tell you something I learned about life."
"Oh please, not another one of these 'you can do anything' lectures. I've heard so many of them that if I had a nickel for each one I'd be a millionaire."
Johnathan laughed at that. "I know, and that's why I'm not going to say it. I got the same treatment too, and I've never been able to stand those since. But what I am going to tell you might sound familiar. Might creep you out, might inspire you, might throw you over a bridge, I don't know. But I hope that at the least it will help you out."
"Alright. Since you've broken in and yet not taken or hurt anything, I'll hear you out. And since I'm dying later today I don't really care what happens."
"That's all I ask." Johnathan said. "The first thing is this: Death is not a good answer to your predicament. It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Believe me, there are many other ways to deal with the problems at hand that don't involve a dose of rat poison."
"I don't see what they could be." Matt said bitterly. "Everything I've tried doesn't work. I changed my glasses, and people still made fun of me. I got contacts, and people made fun of me. I tried hair-gel, and people made fun of me. I've tried everything, but people still made fun of me. I just can't take it any more."
"Again, I know. Heaven knows I know. But that is why I'm going to give you this advice. Instead of looking towards the popular people, the 'attractive' people, try someone with your own interest. For example, you like to play classical guitar?"
Matt was stunned. "How...how did you know that?"
Johnathan shrugged. "I know more than I let on, and my sources are, shall we say, extensive. But no matter. Do you know Katie, the one in your home room? She plays piano, and loves doing duets with guitars. Try talking to her, she might want to do a duet with you just for fun. Might even get into the talent show in a couple of months."
"Yeah right." Matt said, though the prospect was intriguing.
"No, I'm being honest and dead serious, no pun intended." Johnathan replied. "She's been looking for someone to play with, any I'm sure she'd like to have you once she discovers you can play and play well. And then there's Luke, who plays chess. I know you like chess, that I could see every Friday when you're at the park, playing by yourself. No intel required for that. But the point is, instead of trying to get others to accept you, find the ones that already will. They may not be the highest up on the High School Totem Pole, but they will be your friends."
"What's the rest of the advice?" Matt said, trying to change the subject. He did not want to listen to this jerk try to talk him out of finishing his life. Even though Luke seemed nice and Katie was cute...
"The second thing is this: the future is made up of two part. The first is what happens to you. You can't control that. Nothing you do can control that. That's where the second part comes in. The second part is what you do about it, what you do with the time you have. "
"Thank you, Gandolf." Matt muttered.
"I'm still not joking." Johnathan said, serious despite a slight twitch at the corner of his mouth. "And I do have an example to go with this. I had a friend. His name was Jake. He was a happy kid, always smiling and trying to help out whoever was around him. People liked Jake, and Jake liked people. He was happy."
"Sounds like a good life." Matt said. "I don't see what it has to do with me."
Johnathan again smiled sadly. "His life was quite different from how he acted. His life was a living hell. Until he was fifteen he was in the same boat we were. Teased, abused, hurt, attacked in every way one could think. Then he decided that being depressed wasn't helping any. He found good things to do, things that helped him feel better about the world around him. But then the real test came.
"At the age of seventeen, Jake was diagnosed with severe bone cancer. There was nothing the doctors could do, it was already too late to save him. They tried of course, but it was useless. Jake was going to die, no matter what they did.
"Most people would become depressed, maybe even suicidal, since what would it matter if one lived a month or a day, he was going to die anyway. But that's not what Jake did. If anything, he got even happier. He spread his cheer through the hospital by visiting other patients who were struggling through the same thing as he was. He made decorations and presents for some of the other cancer patients as well. Everyone there loved him, and despite the pain and suffering he stayed happy through out it."
"What happened to Jake?" Matt asked, curious.
"He died a little while ago." Johnathan said, a mix of sorrow and peace in his voice. "He was ready, and it was a relief for him and those around him when he did. He would never believe it, but at his funeral it was standing room only. So many people had been touched by him, and some had been saved by his kindness. So many loved him, which brings me to the third point."
"And that is?"
"That people love you."
Matt scoffed at this. "No they don't. Nobody loves me. I have no friends, my dad abandoned me when I was two, and mom is too busy to love me. There's nobody out there who loves."
"And in that, you are incorrect." Johnathan said. "Your mother does love you. You may not realize it yet, but someday you will. As for your father, only he can answer for what he did and why he did it. As for friends, you may be surprised. And even if you don't have any now, the future has not yet been written. Think not just about now. Think about what is to be. There will be people who love you, so long as you let them."
"So what, I'm just supposed to sit here and take it?" Matt said, voice rising a little.
"Wrong again. There are two ways to 'let' something happen. The first is by doing nothing. This lets only a certain few things happen. The other is to do something. It is the latter one I am talking about. If you want something, you need to work for it. If you want people to like you, and if you are going to let them, you have to step out of the shadows and into the light. You have to do something first, then let the consequences follow."
"Doesn't sound so great." Matt said.
"It's not always. Believe me, I learned many times what not to say. But I also learned a lot about what to say. It's not instant or easy, but it's worth it. So what do you say? Are you going to flush that tablet down the toilet?"
Matt pulled out the cyanide tablet and looked at it. It sat there in his hand, his for the taking. All his problems could be over in a single moment. But then, all of a sudden, it wasn't what he wanted to do.
"Yes." Matt said, slightly reluctantly. "I'll do that. I'll try what you said."
Johnathan smiled widely and said "You won't regret it. It may be rough, in fact you can count on it. But I can promise you this. It will be worth it."
"I hope you're right." Matt said. He unlocked his door, went across the hall to the bathroom and flushed the tablet down the drain. When he got back to his room, Johnathan was still there.
"What?" Matt said, slightly uncomfortable. "Something wrong?"
"No." Johnathan said softly. "Nothing is wrong. Not now at least. But you should probably get down stairs. Your mother pulled up while you were flushing."
Matt looked at his clock. It read only 4:30, a whole forty-five minutes early for his mom. He grabbed his sneakers and slid them on, then started for the door. He stopped when he heard Johnathan say "Good luck."
"Thanks." Matt said. "By the way, where are you from?" he turned around, but Johnathan wasn't there. Confused, he went down stairs. His mom was watching the T.V., an old news broadcast from a week ago.
"Oh hi honey." she said turning from a report about a burglary. "Work got off early, and I thought I'd catch a couple of newscasts before dinner. By the way, a girl named Katie was at the store today and asked if I knew anyone who played classical guitar. I mentioned you did and she wanted to know if you would go see her and maybe play a duet."
"Sounds good, I'll have to go try." Matt said, surprised but pleased. Johnathan must be a psychic or something. Then the T.V. caught his attention.
"A local teenager died today after an attempt on his own life. Seventeen-year-old Johnathan Meyer died in St. Mary's Hospital after cutting his wrist. Despite doctor's attempts to save him, Johnathan was too badly injured to be saved. He did have some last words, uttered when friends and family rushed to the hospital. He said 'If only I knew then what I know now, and if only I could tell someone who needs it. If only I could tell them how much they are loved.' Our hearts reach out for Johnathan's family in this hard time, and wish to repeat the words Johnathan uttered. To those who are struggling, remember, you are loved." Beside the news caster was a picture of Johnathan Meyer. And Johnathan Meyer had just been in his bedroom.
Matt smiled. He wasn't a psychic at all. Just an angel in the nick of time.