let me tell you about the three happiest moments of my life. i promise, it won't take a lot of your time, but i need to tell someone. i apologize for writing in this book, because i always liked books, even the empty pages.


when i was ten, i had my first birthday party. you might think that's weird, but it makes sense. before i turned ten, i was a jehovah's witness, and they believe birthday parties are kin to some pagan ceremony i could never find evidence for outside of the watchtower and awake magazines. even if we had already left the religion, when my mom lit the candles on the cake, i whispered the name of every angel i knew to make sure the demons couldn't come get me. sure, i knew it was fake. or maybe i didn't. i don't know what i believed, but i liked the presents. my mom had set them all on the dining room table, but she was the only one there.

dad was at work; being disfellowshipped meant my jw friends weren't allowed to talk to me; and i had never been allowed to talk to worldly kids, so pretty much everyone at school thought i was weird and condescending and a buzzkill, but none of that mattered. my mom sang happy birthday in a near whisper, and i opened all the presents that were signed from her and dad, though i knew she had picked each one.

i went to my bedroom and put away each gift, folding the wrapping paper reverently.


when i was fourteen, i met my mom's girlfriend. that sounds like a bad thing for a lot of reasons. first, my parents had divorced, and i didn't see my dad very much, except for weekends when he would take me to the baseball games i never liked. second, i guess a lot of people would consider it a shock, especially because i didn't know her date's sex until we arrived at the restaurant where we were meeting her for lunch. third, meeting a parent's new lover is supposed to be traumatizing or something. from what i've heard and seen in movies, new lovers are mostly awful.

allison was not awful. she was thin and cultured and wore her hair shorter than mine. she dressed like a man but looked like a woman. she wore a wristwatch i admired and worked as a riveter. she had a tattoo of rosie the riveter that she said had been done by kat von d before she had a television show. allison looked at my mom like she had never seen anything so wonderful in her life, and she spoke to me like i wasn't just baggage from my mom's failed attempt to please her parents. "you know, you're a smart kid, ronan."

i liked the way she said my name. she didn't give the o too much emphasis or linger on the r, but i didn't know what to say, so i looked at my feet. she thought i didn't like her, but she moved in with mom soon after. i don't think she's ever realized that i really like her.


today, i bought a handgun. it took a brief background check, a foid card, and a waiting period after answering some questions on a survey. i have always liked guns, but i believe there should be more gun control. my dad really liked guns, too. he kept them for recreation but not for sport. he said he could never bring himself to shoot a deer, but he could bring the gun to his own temple and shoot himself. i don't really understand that. his wake was last week, and my mom didn't go. allison drove me there. it was closed casket.

the gun was a .357 revolver. when i bought it, the man behind the counter was very enthusiastic. he took me to the shooting range around back and showed me how to load it, how to clean it, and how to aim it. i pulled the trigger for the first time, and it was so loud i almost dropped it. after three more shots, my wrist hurt. the man who sold me the gun asked me, "are you okay?"

i started to cry, and he was startled but hugged me after making sure there was no one else around. i asked him if i could give the gun back, and he said okay.

because of that, today i am not killing myself. i was going to. this was going to be a suicide note. i had even planned to leave it in a book like this. i don't know what to call this note now. maybe it's just a note. i don't have many friends, still, none that i would tell all of this. if you read this, you are my best friend. thank you.