January 22nd, 2010. I know it better as "The Day We Killed Each Other".
Darren and I had been arguing on and off for the past few weeks. I honestly can't remember what it was about anymore, but knowing him it was probably just him trying to shut me out of something stressful in his life despite my attempts to butt in. Between his mother's medical bills, his dad and mother-in-law's pressures, his most recent break-up and the company he kept at school, he had a lot on his plate. I did my best to distract him from it, but I just as often bugged him to find out what was wrong to see if I could help (I don't know why I bothered since I knew I never could).
We usually settled arguments via dueling in his backyard. That had always been my idea- he always had the urge to hit something even when he knew he was wrong, I always felt like I deserved to be hit unless I knew I wasn't, and it was good practice. This day was no different in that respect.
We tired each other out pretty quick, as he put all of his power into his hits and I strained myself dodging blows. The duel ended with the both of us on our asses, laughing at our own bruises and welts. We dragged ourselves to the wall of his house and got to talking. I don't recall how long it went on- maybe a half hour or so- before I said something stupid and he snapped, fueled by rage to fight again.
I didn't have much I could do at that point, since I'd never been as quick to recover as him. I didn't pick up my bokken and tried instead to talk him down, receiving a couple more swipes for my failings. I tried to physically disarm him but I never had the strength to overpower him, even when I wasn't weakened. All I could really do was block the worst of his rage-filled blows and close the gap between us.
I backed him into a corner of the fence with my advances and grappled him. He kicked and scratched trying to free himself, but I locked both of my arms around his back and pressed myself as closely as possible to him to form a restraint. When he was tired of striking me his body remained tense and he breathed heavily, but he gave up on that after a few minutes of standing there stopping himself screaming. He let out a deep breath, dropped his bokken, slid his arms around my back and slowly put his head down near mine. He apologized, having realized how tightly I was holding on. He told me I was a good friend for letting him cut loose, but that I should never let him wail on me like that again because he couldn't bear the thought of doing serious damage. I loosened up and pulled my head out of his chest, reminding him that I'd faced worse at crueler people. He smiled, his eyes glinting with choked-back tears.
He always said his smile was goofy, but I always found it wonderful. Beautiful, even.
That's when I did the most stupid thing I will ever profess to.
I kissed him.
It hit me within seconds after doing so that I had literally forced my first kiss on a guy who had always professed to be straight, who I came to in a moment of weakness after a recent break-up. I was horrified by the implications and pulled away.
He looked me in the eye a moment as I stuttered, trying to apologize without knowing how. That's when he did worse: he shook his head with a grin and leaned in, returning the favor.
It was like I had a moment of perfect clarity when we were together; I could see a future for us that I wouldn't have imagined beforehand. Just the two of us on the road, leaving our misery behind. Working off bills, coming home to a lousy apartment to watch bad movies on the couch or play Halo, having impromptu picnics on weekends to talk about the mythos I'd been working on for D&D or the motorcycle he'd been dreaming of owning... For the first time in years I could see a future I wanted. I could see myself happy.
I was happy.
The next part I remember clearly. Pain.
It originated in my lower chest and erupted all over my body. I stumbled back away from Darren, and caught the glimpse of horror in his eyes. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't scream. My legs gave way. Darren ran to my side, screaming to deafened ears in a panic.
I woke up in a hospital bed a couple days later. There were my parents at my bedside, praising their God for my health, crying over me like a stage mom who vicariously won the beauty pageant through her 8-year-old daughter. The only things I understood in my confusion were the bruises on my arms and the numb feeling in my legs.
The doctors were completely stumped. Somehow, I received a very large and nasty chest-wound. Punctured diaphragm, irreparable damage to my spine. I had some serious blood loss, and between the head injury from the fall and the lack of oxygen, I'd suffered from some brain damage. They glossed over the fact that I had died on the operating table, which my parents certainly didn't take well. That didn't bother me nearly as much as their doubt that I would ever be able to walk again. What stumped them was that they didn't know WHAT could have made the injury- there was no exit wound, no bullet, the hole was too circular for a blade and too big for a typical bullet anyway.
My parents were convinced that Darren was responsible somehow. I was dazed, and couldn't defend him because I didn't understand what was going on at the time. The ensuing investigations only revealed my blood all over Darren and his bokken- which had similar dimensions to the hole- and since he was the only other person there, it seemed an open and shut case to anyone else.
But... he dropped his weapon, right? We were too close to each other for him to gain any sort of velocity for a gouge that deep. Nothing added up after my mind began to clear.
I spent months in the hospital. Some nights I dreamed the incident again from Darren's perspective, crying over my own body and staring at the blood on his hands. I spent every waking hour wondering where he was, facing only grim looks and topic-changes whenever I requested his presence. I couldn't understand why he was staying away, but angered myself harboring the idea that he'd been turned away at the door by my overprotective parents. I refused to believe he was away intentionally.
It was a week before I would be released when Darren finally arrived in my room. He was panting from riding all the way over on his skateboard, bleeding from scraped limbs. The two of us were speechless at the sight of each other. After a minute or so of silence, he broke down in tears in the doorway. I beckoned him over and cried at the sight of him as well. He kneeled by my bedside, apologizing with broken words for the state I was in. I told him to get up and shuffled to the other side of the bed, motioning for him to join me. We lay in the bed together for a few hours reminiscing, avoiding the subject, my head on his shoulder, our fingers wrapped around each other's... He tried to leave after a while but I made him swear to stay with me. He chuckled teasingly as he agreed.
Eventually I fell asleep. When I awoke he was gone.
I found out a couple days later that he had washed ashore, evidently having jumped off a bridge to his death. My parents finally confessed that during the course of hiring an investigator to find evidence proving that Darren was responsible for my condition and suing his family to pay my hospital bills, they stumbled upon the necessary evidence to bring Darren up on attempted murder charges (their only regret was that the judge to disavowed actual murder charges in spite of my temporary death). After he somehow escaped custody, he "must have realized it was hopeless and killed himself to clear his guilty conscience."
Yes, I drowned in disbelief too. This cemented my assumptions that I live with people who are batshit insane.
In hindsight, it can't have been anything but fate that the funeral was two days after I left the hospital, unless Darren had planned for me to attend it before his jump. My parents refused to drive me there, but after what they'd pulled, they deserved to be spited by me. I rode 3 buses in a wheelchair to the service.
I arrived fully expecting scorn from his family for what mine had done. Instead, we mourned his loss together, and they drove me home after the burial ceremony.
So here I am. My best friend is dead. My body is my prison. I lost the will to survive a long time ago, but can't just kill myself because of him. For every ounce of me that adored him, there's a part of me that hates him for his hypocrisy in death, and that hatred assures I can't do anything he did.
Now a being is coming who will solve this... problem... of mine. I know there are better ways to go out, but what am I supposed to do? Run? Think I need to walk first.
A final note.
The second time I saw Our Mutual Tallish Friend... it was the anniversary of Darren's death. When I looked into
Do you understand now?