If you had the chance, how would you have stopped Todd Jennings from committing suicide?
God, why am I shaking?
Umm, I guess I would talk to him or something? Ha-ha, sorry, that's like the lamest answer you could possibly hear, right? What does talking do, really? It's just a few stupid words. Todd killed himself because he set his mind to it, not because of some sleazy words. I mean, how could a few words make a difference, anyway?
The prank wasn't all my idea, okay? So you can stop staring at me like I'm the brilliant mastermind behind this whole scheme. First of all, it wasn't supposed to go as far as it did. Second…well, no one was supposed to know it was us who were behind it.
It was just a stupid Halloween prank, jeez; y'all need to calm down a little bit. Haven't we all done something like this at least once in our lives?
Besides, I had motives. I had reasons.
The things you do for love, right?
Oh, I could think of like a million ways I coulda stopped Todd. If I'd known earlier he was gonna do that, I would've definitely talked to him about it. I would've told him how precious life is and that whatever reasons he's doing it for, it wasn't worth it. That his life was worth living, that people come out of this. That it's just high-school, man. It's just 4 years of your freakin' life. You got like 80 more years to make up for how messed up those 4 years were.
But would it have made a difference?
I don't know.
Maybe a part of me wants to say "no", that nothing we could've done could've stopped him. But then again, the part of me that's saying that is the part that feels like that's the only way to make yourself feel better about this whole shit.
God, this is so messed up.
I saw Luke laughing his ass off about it during lunch the day before, and I knew what all of them were planning. I knew it by the way they exchanged high-fives and laughs and sniggers. But a part of me kept hoping that Todd knew, too. That somehow he was smart enough—genius enough—to read through their minds and know that they were planning on setting him up.
The dead body. The night-time. The awful resemblance.
It was perfect. Too perfect, perhaps.
But could it really be reason enough to push a man off the edge and induce him to kill himself?
Yes, I probably would have.
Oh, I'm sorry. You meant how I would've stopped it.
Well, for one, I would've told him what everyone else was planning to do that night. The second I found out about it, it was one hour too late.
Man, they're good. Riley, Luke, Josh…all of them.
How they managed to get someone like that, on such short notice.
I'm too scared to think of Todd's reaction, when he saw the body. When he saw all of it. And worse, when he found out it was just a prank. God, I'm scared.
I'm scared of what's gonna happen to all of us now. I'm scared to think of how I'm gonna survive now.
Todd is gone, and he is never coming back. Todd is gone, and he is never coming back.
My therapist told me to repeat that sentence at least three times in a row every day. She thinks it'll help me cope. I'm in denial, I guess. I still wake up thinking that all this was just a dream and that I'm gonna go to school and Todd's gonna be hangin' out with Elsa by the lockers and I'm gonna walk right past them and pretend not to see them. What scares me more is the fact that I want to go back to that. To a time where I didn't even talk to Todd. Because even in that horrible time period, he was there. And I always thought that were was time.
There would be a time in our lives where one of us breaks and has to talk to the other one first. That way, one of us wins the fight. That way, one of us wins his pride, his self-respect.
The fact that we both fancied our pride over our friendship is so sad, I feel like breaking down.
It's not about who wins and who loses. It's about valuing that friendship that it doesn't matter who comes out of it looking like a loser.
It's about realizing that there isn't much time left.
That, with every passing breath, you're losing a moment where you could've said "I'm sorry".
Or "I love you".
I can't get that image out of my head. Him telling me how much I'd changed. Me telling him "I hope you die". The words are floating around me in space, flying over my head, hanging out there by a thread…
How do you go on from here? How do you move past that?
It's simple. You don't.
And that's why Todd Jennings killed himself.
No more questions for me, please. [gets up and leaves]
Of course I would've stopped him, are you kidding?!
Ohh. How. Sorry. A little nervous, I guess.
Umm, I would ask him to get help, to see someone maybe? There are specialists who help people cope with depression. I'm not saying, take some stupid pill or anything but if it went down to that and if that was definitely gonna help undo what it did, then why the hell not?
Okay, sorry, what was the question again? [chuckles]
How… how… Umm, maybe I would talk to his mom or something? He seemed pretty close to her. I think, I don't know.
Wow, is it, umm, hot in here?
What—are you actually writing this? [laughs]
Can you…what was the—the question?
Gee, I'm shaking.
Can I go out get some fresh air?
[leaves the interview-room, never returns]
I would've done anything. I would do everything. To…to stop him, to get him back. To have him trade places with me right now.
This is hell. And I don't know just how much longer I can keep doing this. Being here and not being able to actually speak up.
They've all done a terrible thing. I have done a terrible thing, not speaking up.
And I'm paying the price.
You know I make a wish at 11:11 now? Morning and night-time. Call me lame or stupid or weird, whatever. I don't care. Because my life is all messed up now, because of this whole…shit. The fact that I anxiously await for 11:11 to be able to make a wish…proves just how shitty this is.
I sit and wish that none of this had happened. And for a second there, just for a second, I actually lie to myself and believe it. For that second, I smile. Something I haven't done since he was still alive. During that second, I feel something beyond power of reason. I feel faithful. I feel safe. I feel…free.
And during that second, just for that one second, I breathe.
Because that's the only time I can do that. Just during those two seconds…one in the morning, and the other at night.
That's all I have to live for now.
Two seconds a day.
Because the rest of my day…is wasted on the number of seconds I sit and cry and scream and dissolve into this completely inhumane thing that I have become now.
The only thing keeping me from breaking apart is going after the one thing you tried to go after, for years.
I would've helped him by telling him that I'm a jerk and that if anyone here deserves to die, it's me.
I don't know, honestly.
I always thought that people just say shit like that, you know? Like, they never actually go through it. Well, except those who actually do.
But seriously, no matter how crappy your life could be, how could you do that? How would you go for it? Think of all the people you're leaving behind, the heart-break, the emotional trauma, the experiences you're gonna miss out on…
But then again, I sit and wonder how it must've been for him.
To find his dead father lying around like that.
Shit happens, you know?
And if there's anything this whole experience has taught me, it's that…the more people put you down, the more you rise above them.
And he rose.
Todd Jennings rose above all of us that day.
The minute he got into his car and drove away from the gravesite, he rose above.
And then a few minutes later, he was literally above.
[interview gets interrupted by the police; they escort Luke out; he never returns]