I’ve been working on a story that’s darker than usual. My stuff always has tons of angst, but this one deals with suicide. It’s a New Adult story about a high school senior whose best friend kills himself. He finds out a lot about his friend and himself while dealing with the aftermath. This story was hard to write and easy all at the same time. It’s allowed me to tap into so many forgotten feelings from high school and college it’s been cathartic.
Ultimately, of course, my MC finds his way out of his depression by meeting an equally damaged individual. They help each other become whole again.
Here’s an excerpt: (Be warned there are sweary words)
I’m distracted by my thoughts of how terrified I am at ever making the first move when I hear Rory’s mother call my name. I’m frozen in place. What does she want?
“I’d love it if you’d say a few words, Lane.” She dabs at her red rimmed eyes with her tissue. “You knew him better than anyone.”
Finally. Validation that I was his best friend. I meet Baron’s gaze feeling triumphant. Until it sinks in she wants me to speak in front of everyone. I can’t do that. Does she not realize I never talk in front of people? How does she not know this about me? Why in God’s name did she not at least warn me, so I could have had some time to think about what to say? I swallow against the bile threatening to rise in my throat. With any luck I won’t throw up on the poor unsuspecting priest.
I force myself to walk to her side. I feel like I’m dragging my unwilling limbs along like a zombie. I’m certainly numb enough to be one of the undead. She takes my hand and I’m sure she must feel how cold and clammy my skin is. What should I say? Certainly not what I want to say; Fuck you, Rory, for killing yourself. Rot in hell Rory for leaving me here with all these other nobodies. I clear my throat, stalling for time. She’s shifting restlessly beside me. Well, lady, maybe you could have given me some God damned warning. That would have been nice.
“Rory was my best friend.” Great opening, genius. Everyone already knows this. My throat is like a rusty gate swinging open after years of disuse. Say something witty. Say something thought provoking. Say something. “I remember the first day I met Rory. He stopped some guys from tossing me head first into a trash can.”
That gets a little laugh. Perhaps I’m on a roll, now.
The smell of damp earth is heavy in the air, and a soft breeze blows my hair. Relax. Think about Rory. “From that point on Rory was always my protector.”
I see his face clearly in my mind. I’d had trouble doing that earlier, but now it’s there. I hear his husky laugh, and remember how he smells like the ocean when he hugs me. My heart aches because I never get to hold him again. “No one bothered me because they would have Rory to deal with.”
I meet his mom’s gaze and there are tears streaming on her face. I gulp, pushing down the emotions that want to bubble up. “He was kind and…” I’m shaking like a jackhammer as all eyes are on me. “He was sensitive…”
Why are they all watching me so intently? They must think I’m going to say something amazing. I’m not. Sweat trickles down my back and my legs prickle from the heat. I’ll be lucky if I don’t pass out in the flower arrangements. “He was funny.” A crow squawks as it passes overhead. This moment would only be improved if he let loose a load of bird crap on my head. At least it would distract everyone from how awful my speech is.
Rory deserves such a better eulogy than I’m giving. God I suck. His image comes to my mind and my gut aches. I miss him. It’s like he’s been gone forever and it’s only been a week. I let him down so bad. I should have been more alert. I’m so fucking stupid. He needed me to notice and I missed the signs. I missed the signs and now Rory is gone forever. I’m so fucking useless.
I whisper, “I let him die. I failed my best friend and now he’s dead.”
There’s a gasp from the group of people staring. I drop Rory’s mom’s hand and head straight for my mother’s car. I can hear people mumbling in confusion but I just keep walking in a straight determined line. Why did my mom park so far away? I only stop when someone grabs my arm.
“Wait up, Lane.” I turn to find Baron beside me. He has that same nervous look again. The one that says he knows I don’t approve of him being Rory’s secret friend.
I’m embarrassed because hot tears are spilling down my cheeks. The statue is crying after all. “I failed him,” I choke out.
I feel like I’m going to drown in my tears. “I’m a worthless piece of shit.”
“No. God, no.” Baron surprises me when he pulls me into his arms. He squeezes me so tight I feel like I can’t breathe, but I don’t really care. I’m tired of breathing anyway. His body is hard and warm. I can hear his heart pounding under my ear. “He hid it from you. He knew you’d try to protect him and he didn’t want that.”
I nod, even though it’s hard with him holding me so close. “He tricked me.”
Baron gives a tiny, hard laugh. “He fooled both of us.”
“I’m so angry at him.” My voice shakes with rage.
He lets me go, and I swipe the tears off my face roughly. I don’t know why I started crying. Maybe it’s because everyone was staring at me. I hate speaking in front of people. Now I’m mad at Rory’s mom for making me do that.
Baron grips my shoulder. “Can we go get that coffee now? I can’t take another second of this scene.”
I can’t just leave without telling my mom where I’ve gone. But there’s no way in hell I’m walking back over to that group of gawking people. My hands tremble as I text Kit and ask him to tell mom I’m going to coffee with a friend. Kit and my mom know my only real friend was Rory, so they will probably be even more confused by my text.
I follow Baron to his black sports car. I give one parting glance toward the group of mourners. I’m just in time to see them lowering my best friend in the world into the cold, hard ground.