a year in stories::nineteen

I’m actually finally caught up! Nineteenth week, nineteenth story. Again, no time to chat, but I’ll do some talking on here soon. For now, just the story.

Yesterday’s was about not dying, and this one is about dying.

Aren’t they all?

The Art of Dying

I killed myself again, just to stop the bright. There’s too much light in this world, too many shadows without dark. When I close my eyes there’s a blackness, but shimmering, glittering. I fear I’ll never escape it. This light that surrounds us, that is us.

But in dying I find beauty. In dying I find something to live for. It lasts only a moment each time, this infinitesimal blink where all is black and absence, and then I’m here again. Alive.

I am cursed to live and so in living I die, and in dying I live.

Cursed to go on breathing, this shrapnel, this oxygen. Cursed to fill my veins and organs and arteries with blood, with this life unwanted.

Drowning. Starving for air. It is terror transformed serene. When the weight rips at your ankles, pulling you ever deeper while you thrash to escape, there is nothing but panic. But fear, blinding and searing white. Starving for light. And in this starving, this terror, you find peace. Your body rages on, begging for life and light even after your mind’s made up, after you’ve tied the knots, bound your hands, opened your lungs. But then, all at once, after your life’s flashed, everything is silent, still. The struggle disappears and you watch as the surface and the light fades to blackness so deep and thick that you forget the light. It is a life without light found only at the precipice of existence and non, and then that final step into nothingness: blackness. Death.

And then awake, again: alive.

And so you watch me from the crowd. You throw money at me to watch me throw my life away, again and again. You who come to see me, who call this art. The art of dying, performed by only me.

There was a boy I once knew who reminded me of myself, of being a girl trapped. I loved him and let him drown me. He held me under until I fought back, then pulled me up, kissed the water from my lungs. Over and over, no matter how many times I told him to keep me under, he released, gave into the fear, to the light. And then he killed me, finally. Held me under and his face was the last that I saw before I gave myself to the darkness, the blackness.

But in waking, he was gone. No note or final words, just an apartment empty of him.

When I stand on stage, waiting to die again, I imagine you out there, watching me. Maybe behind your computerscreen, streaming my death again and again, watching me fall limp to the ground. I will rise again, and you–you are the only one.

The only one I see in this blinding light. When I close my eyes it’s your silhouette against the sun, blurred by a foot of water. When I close my eyes you are the shadow cast over the bright.

Trapped like me, you are.

Return to me.

Tonight a man comes from the audience. He reaches the stage, a black bag with a white X over his head, and there is silence.

Tonight, for the very first time, I say, You will not only see me die, but you will watch me killed!

I throw my hands in the air but to no applause. The faces staring hold expressions of toxic fear, burning desire, horror.

This is not a stage. This is a room lined in plastic sheets, twenty strangers standing ten feet away dressed to disappear into crowds. The camera behind them streams this across the world to anyone who cares to watch me die.

Queen Suicide, the name they made for me in Korea. Lady Death, Nothing, Human, The Black Lady–all names invented for me but I take none for myself, have given none for who I am or what I am, but perhaps they’re right. Me, in love with the blackness. Them, in love with my death.

From the closet I take the axe and put it in the man’s hands.

Watch close, ladies and gentleman, tonight you will see gods.

I nod to the hooded man and imagine your face beneath as he rears back and swings hard and wonder, for an instant, if losing my head will make the blackness permanent.

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