Short Story: Play. Skip. Repeat.

Short Story: Play. Skip. Repeat.

Have you ever had a friend tell you they wanted to kill themselves? Did they survive? Or worse, did they commit emotional suicide?

At first I had no idea where this story came from. But then I shared it with others and the truth came through loud and clear.

One of my friends, who has attempted suicide and has been plagued with severe depression, connected so much with this story, she thought I had written it with her in mind.

Maybe I did. Or maybe my own frustrations with her attempted suicide led me to write this story. I’m still not sure.

This one is dedicated to all of you who really know of suicide – either physical or emotional.

______________________________________________________________________________

The tree swayed gently in the whisper of wind.

Who gives a damn about the tree?

The tree stops abruptly. So does the wind.

Skip to the best part.

There is no best part.

Stop.

“What’s wrong?” He could feel the bass voice vibrating his bones. Jaw clenched, he offered no answer. He had none.

A deep, rumbling sigh.

“Need I repeat myself?”

No answer.

“You must watch the recording completely before we can move on.”

More silence. He slowly shook his head, eyes narrowed at the remote in his hand. Just a few choices—power, skip (either direction), stop, pause and play. So simple a child can operate it, he thought. One finger gently rubbed the red power button. Have power buttons always been red? He vaguely remembered owning a remote where the button had been green. Whatever happened to that remote, he wondered.

A polite, but firm cough.

An involuntary spasm over the power button and the monitor was on again. The images played instantly, without preamble. Back to the damned tree. He heaved a deep sigh of resignation, crossed his arms across his chest, remote snuggly under an armpit, and got as comfortable as he dared. Three little girls dressed identically in pink, frilly shirts and blue jeans made an entrance from the right of the screen, screaming, twirling, and laughing hysterically. The noise crawled over his skin, worse than any slithering, slimy reptile. His stomach did back flips and tried to defy all physical laws by crawling out through his mouth. Sitting bolt right he fumbled with the remote, ready to skip the nauseating scene.

“Leave it.”

He couldn’t deny the voice. Felt he shouldn’t, though he didn’t know why. He had to swallow several times before he ventured to croak out something that resembled coherent speech.

“I hate children.”

Minutes passed. The three little girls were still playing happily as the tree continued to sway in the wind. Why did they make so much noise? He got more agitated. When he spoke he bit into every word.

“I hate them. Hate the way they smile, the way they laugh, the way they think, what they say, how they behave, how everyone treats them because they’re somehow perfect and oh-so-innocent. I hate everything they stand for.”

With each word some spittle flew from his mouth. His hands bunched into fists which he alternately smacked from one open palm to another. His right leg became restless and uncontrollable. Breathing grew tougher with each intake. That annoying popped vein in his left temple swelled and throbbed to near-breaking point. If someone were to test him with a blood pressure machine, he’d surely fail. He felt the reaction could kill him, yet he could not stop it. In the back of his mind—way back there—he wondered what had become of the remote. His fists were now glued to his hair, trying to tear it out.

The youngest child giggled after messing up one of her sisters’ hair in mischief. In retaliation both elder sisters yanked some grass from the earth and gave chase. More squealing and running. Each squeal punched icicles into his skull.

“Why are they so happy? There’s nothing to be happy about! Nothing…”

Now guilt assailed his senses. But why?

He finally covered his eyes, he couldn’t take it anymore.

Click.

Silence.

Had the remote been in his hand all along? He pressed its hard, cool surface against his closed eyes. It felt comforting.

The rumbling voice was back. The shaking in his bones was a welcome respite from the scenes he had watched.

“You must watch the recording completely before we can move on.”

Panic swelled in his chest, battling with anger for dominance. Hands violently shaking, he now held the remote far from his body, as if it could somehow sting him.

Click.

The tree was gone.

In its place was a grassy field and a swing set. The three little girls were back; this time swinging and laughing. Laughing and swinging.

Tears streamed down his face as he watched but he could not fathom why.

The camera swings away from the girls and the tree is back in view. This time its leaves were dead still, its branches drooping and grim. Hidden from the girls’ view, a jean and T-shirt clad figure stood close to the tree trunk, watching their every move with poorly concealed anger. It was difficult to tell if the skinny, hunched figure was that of a man or woman. Dark, lanky hair hung in thin strands to the shoulders and hid the face from view; hands formed tight fists which were alternately smacked from one open palm to another.

He clenched the remote so tightly his knuckles turned deathly white.

More squealing and giggling. Giggling and squealing.

The figure next to the tree suddenly relaxed, palms open, and reached for the back of his jeans.

Surely the remote was near breaking point. Now he gripped it with both hands.

The figure gently stroked the trigger with one finger—stepped away from the tree—shot three times…

He had squeezed his eyes shut and begun screaming by the time he saw the figure stepping away from the tree. There was no doubt at that point that it was himself he was watching. The light caught his face full on once away from the tree’s shade. Try as he might to drown out the sound of the gun shots with his lung-tearing screams, he still heard them very distinctly—heard the dull thump as the bullets met their marks—the screaming victims.

Click.

One hand covered his face and attempted to stifle his agonized screaming while the other pounded the remote against his shaking legs.

“You must watch the recording completely before we can move on.” This time he recognized the profound sorrow in those words, which his screaming could not drown out either.

This time he could not—would not—listen to it. He felt the weight of the remote—no, the weight of his gun—in his hands. It had never been a remote, had it? He suddenly felt the same calm resolution he’d experienced before shooting. No hesitation, no time to think about it. He was tired of thinking. He was tired of feeling. The business end of the gun at his temple, his finger gently stroked the trigger before pulling it.

Click.

The tree swayed gently in the whisper of the wind.

“You must watch the whole recording before we can move on.”

Blink.

Skip to the best part.

There is no best part.

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