As with the previous writing project, I'm putting the first drafts here as a means of saving the stories. This one was particularly difficult to write, but it will take the place of the original first story. Unlike the first story, the difficulty doesn't come from the story being forced. It comes from
No one stood with her in the dimly lit room. A few pieces of sparse furniture met her comfort and sleep needs. Basic simple, meals lined the refrigerator and those were running out. The night stand stood in the corner, and a stack of pill bottles loomed menacingly on top of it. A few pairs of dirty socks sat by a collection of shoes next to the bed. Most of these shoes had collected dust in the past year or so. The dirty socks needed someone to claim them as badly as they needed laundered.
She thought she saw her cat play with them for a brief second, but then she remembered she had to give up the cat. Its empty food dish remained in the corner of the room. An empty, unused litter box stood in a downstairs closet. At times like this she might call a friend, but she had managed to alienate them the same way she alienated her former partner. No one wanted to be around someone with wild an unpredictable mood swings.
For a few seconds, she knelt down and began a prayer, but she stuttered over the words as they started to come out of her mouth. The pill bottle caught her attention as she stood back up again. The possibility of ending her own life had crossed her mind before. She’d even tried it once. The situation was different back then. She only had the death of a parent and the loss of her stability affecting her. She winced as a sudden jolt of pain went through her back and reminded her of what she now faced.
She shook her head as the thought of taking her own life crossed her mind.
“Suicide is not the answer,” echoed through the empty room.
The effects of the meaningless platitude were as unseen as the invisible illness that had changed her life. As she walked past the table, she saw the stack of bills. An eviction notice sat on the top of the stack. Letters denying her rent assistance sat below it. Memories of living in her car or in a homeless shelter flooded back to her. Her body shook with memories of the cold winter weather she experienced during her homeless period.
“Do I want to go through that again?” She walked towards the table and picked up the largest bottle. The cap came off with difficulty. Dozens of pills nearly tumbled onto the floor.
“I swore I would never do this again after the last time.” Not even a fly on the wall would have been able to detect any power or enthusiasm in the statement.
Light flooded the room as she flicked the switch. The nightstand drawers creaked as she opened the door and rifled through the drawer’s contents.
“No sense in acting too rashly. I’ve got to do this right, since it is one of the last things I will ever do.” After securing a pen and a piece of notebook paper, she sat down at her arm chair.
An image of the torn piece of notebook paper on which she had written the first torn note went through her head. As she put her hand down on the paper, she decided to carefully remove the perforated sheet. No one needed anything more than the practical details. Her life insurance remained in effect, even though the company would cancel it in three days. She carefully listed her reasons and put down the phone contact numbers for her next of kin. The landlord of the sheriff might need them after they discovered her corpse.
The outside sky grew darker during the hour she composed the note. When she was satisfied, she collected her pills, left the note in a positive place, and filled a large glass of water. She stuffed all of the bottles into her purse and went to her bedroom.
She opened the bottle of medication that made her most drowsy and swallowed several pills with each sip. She carefully put more pills into her hand before each swallow, and she repeated the process until the glass was empty. When one empty pill bottle rolled to the floor, she looked over at the remaining medication. Had she taken enough? Would this finally end the misery she suffered? To finish the job, she took out a few additional pills and swallowed them without water.
The random pain she experienced for the last two years subsided for a time, but as she drifted off to sleep, she experienced a host of other symptoms. Her illness kept her from being able to distinguish which symptoms came form her illness and which symptoms came from the overdose with any certainty. Even the strange dreams she experienced were not that different than her normal dream scape.
Eventually, blackness came to her and she found relief.
An unspecified time later, she woke up. As she opened her eyes, a flurry of blurry images and shapes rushed in to her mind. After blinking a few times, she gained focus. A white curtain hung down from her left side. A series or regular beeps came from a monitor to her left. Two simple chairs stood along the side of the wall. A blonde-haired figure sat in one of the chairs. Behind him stood a police officer.
A feeling off dread came over her. As with everything else in her life, she had failed at trying to end her life again.
She moved her head slightly to see if she could find a window. As she had expected, restraints kept her from moving too far or too quickly. The officer, dressed in a brown county deputy’s uniform, pressed a button to call a nurse. He moved his wrist up to his face to look at his watch. After confirming the time, he flicked the light switch close to him.
“Ma’am, it looks like this would-be burglar saved your life. After he broke into your home, he found you on the floor of your bedroom. He says he was looking for prescription medications to get high. It seems you did not have any. For some reason, he felt compelled to perform CPR and call the police. The paramedics he said he got to you just in time. You are one very lucky woman.”
She turned her head and looked at the officer with contempt. She found the tone of his voice grating, even as she looked into his eyes. For some reason, she noticed they were brown.
“I know you might be upset at me, but you’ll be staying in the psychiatric ward for awhile. This gentleman decided to save you and get help for his addiction, but he wants to tell you his story.”
The second gentleman spoke, “I was coming down off a high under the railroad underpass where I’ve lived for the past few years. I felt anxious, irritable and shaky. The windy weather last night did not help, and I feel the cold more intensely when coming down from a high. As I was walking through the run-down neighborhoods trying to get some money to feed my habit, I ran into someone who called himself Sam.’
‘Sam said he knew where I could get a lot some drugs and find something that would help me out. It may seem odd, but he described your house in great detail. He never gave me the address, but I had walked by it so many times that I knew of it. I don’t know how he knew, but he said I wouldn’t need to do more than open a window to get in.’
‘When I went to your house last night, I did as he said. You’d left the lowest front window on your first floor unlocked. I opened it from the outside without too many problems. I searched through the sparsely populated rooms, finding nothing but furniture and utilitarian items. Even your refrigerator looked like a deserted wasteland when I opened it. I almost gave up, but then I heard a cat crying upstairs. I thought it might be in trouble, so I went to see if it needed help. I never found that cat, but I did find you on the floor.’
‘I also saw the pills. I’m not proud of this, but I looked through those first. The empty pill bottles did not worry me, until I saw how many medications you were taking. I even recognized the name of an anti-depressant on one of the pill bottles. I realized then that you had probably attempted suicide, and turned on the lights. The eviction notice, the denials of requested help and several other items further deepened my suspicion. I started performing CPR and dialed 911. I don’t know what your problems are, but I’m glad I do not have them. You seem far too young to be taking that many medications.”
The burglar’s voice trailed off for a few seconds, before he took a deep breath and added, “Ma’am, I swear I heard a cat, and you had supplies for one? Will the cat will be okay while you are in the hospital?”
She turned her head back and sighed. She wanted to cry because giving up the cat still hurt, but she managed to gather a courage.
“I don’t have a cat,” she said.