Death Be Not Young

Death Be Not Young

By KerryAnn Lussier. 

The breath felt hollow in my chest.  Or else, maybe it was just that my chest felt hollow.  Honestly, it was a little hard to tell.  I laid down on the bed and looked at myself, a mirror image. Did I really look like that? So skinny.  Hair a mess. When did I last brush my hair? Practically swimming in that sweatshirt.  I don’t even remember buying it. I wonder where I got it.  Am I always so pale? And what about the dark circles under my eyes? They’re like an eyeliner experiment gone horribly wrong. Minutes seemed to pass like hours as I watched and waited… and waited… and waited.  There was lots of time to think while I waited, remembering how I got here.  Thinking back, it’s been a hell of a year.

It was just after I broke up with Colby that I noticed a shift in my universe.  At least, I figure it was only my universe. Everything else seemed to go along normally, so surely breaking up with my boyfriend didn’t knock the entire universe off balance, only my little corner of it. The first thing I noticed was how Maddison looked at me when I told her Colby and I broke up.  So much for BFFs.

Okay, so what it Colby was smokin’ hot, captain of the hockey team, and all that.  All that was crap compared to how I felt when I was with him.  I felt smothered, small, invisible.  Like I didn’t even matter in the equation of him + me.  I didn’t know what small or invisible felt like until later.

Before that day, I never thought about whether I was part of the popular crowd, but looking back, I guess I was. I never really thought about it because I had lots of friends in different groups at school. But once Colby and I weren’t a couple anymore, everything changed.  It started with the look Maddie gave me when she heard the news, then the guys we normally hung out with, Colby’s friends, stopped joking around with me, then stopped talking to me altogether. By the end of the week, the gossip was that Colby had dumped me because I had hooked up with some other guy.  Let me be perfectly clear, there was no other guy.  But I figured that trying to correct a rumor was pointless.  People were bound to forget it eventually.  And the people who mattered most weren’t going to believe it anyway – or so I thought.

The rest happened so slowly that I never saw it coming. My crew stopped calling. And I mean serious radio silence. First they stopped inviting me places because Colby might be there. Then they just stopped everything. No texts. No Kik. No SnapChat. But they did keep me on Instagram…so they could tag me in all their group pictures.  Some days I’d stare at my phone and wonder if they pictures were fake and maybe they were just posting them to make me feel bad or jealous.  No longer welcome at our regular cafeteria table, I cozied up to the librarian who finally agreed to let me eat my lunch in one of the study cubbies in the back of the library.

My life became very solitary and quiet. Forget dates, I had no friends anymore, so I stayed home at night and on weekends.  After a while, I actually found myself going entire days without talking to anyone at school. Sometimes it even shocked me to hear a teacher call my name in class.  Only my parents ever said my name at that point.

Eight months after I broke up with Colby my life was completely different than it had been before.  I overheard y parents talking one night about how I had become moody and sullen and was isolating myself.  Dad wanted to get me some “help” (as if sitting in some shrink’s office for an hour a week was going to get me my friends back) but Mom insisted I was just being a teenage girl.  She said I was just taking the breakup hard.  Even my own parents thought Colby dumped me.    What the hell?!  Wasn’t I capable of doing the dumping? Was it that easy to assume I’d been the one dumped?

The headaches started soon after I’d overheard my parents’ conversation. I missed a lot of school because of those headaches – not that it mattered since no one missed me when I wasn’t there anyway.  Mom took to a doctor who diagnosed me with migraines.  I was suddenly driving down Medication Street to Narcotics City.  The medication helped – not the headaches, because those never went away – but it helped the hurt.  I didn’t realize until then just how much my heart hurt until my happy pills came along.  They didn’t exactly make me happy but they dulled the ache and everything else. It became easier to make it through the day with my happy pills.  Numbness helped me function.  It helped me not care if I was alone.  It helped me not care that no one saw me, or talked to me or…anything.  And then there were stomach aches.  They said I was supposed to take the pills with food.  The only problem was that I really wasn’t eating much.  Even my favorite skinny jeans looked baggy on me.  So I took the happy pills to get rid of the pain, which only caused more pain.  Eventually I stopped taking them altogether since they only seemed to cause more trouble than they were worth.

And that’s how I ended up here, laying on my bed in a too-big sweatshirt that I don’t remember buying with an empty bottle of pills on the floor and…wait…is that vomit? Did I actually vomit? Oh that’s just gross.

Right, anyway, my point was that this was where I ended up exactly one year to the day after I broke up with Colby.  I thought I’d be more…something.  Feel something.  But no, it was just nothing.  Not numb, just hollow in my chest.  Empty, like my chest.  Something was missing. Not something. Many, many things.  Everything.

So here I lay… waiting for someone to discover me. To discover my foolishness. And I wonder whether things could have been different if I’d made different choices. I shrank when I should have stood tall. I stayed silent when I should have spoken up.  Hid when I should have been bold.  Amazing how these things, these choices I should have made, became clear when I suddenly could no longer make any choices at all.  Is that what death brings? Clarity? Knowledge? Understanding? It’s so ridiculous that a person can’t have those things before the very moment when it’s all worthless.  But that’s another thing that’s worthless at the moment: regret. There’s nothing left for me to regret. Nothing left for me to learn or understand. Nothing left for me at all.


KERRYANN LUSSIER has been writing since she was in the fifth grade and is currently dividing her time between two long-term writing projects.  When she is not writing, you’ll find the self-proclaimed tv addict reading or spending time with her family, which often entails playing chauffeur to her 12 year old daughter. You can find more from KerryAnn

Photo by Christopher Sessums.

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