A Peaceful Smile

This is a repost from a Facebook note I wrote some time ago. There isn’t any deep, heartfelt story behind it; I just sat down and wrote what came off my fingers. I’d rather have it here than there, though. Because, you know, this belongs to me and Facebook is a little iffy on that.


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You don’t need much to meet the end of the world.  Syringe, tape, some music, I was ready when the lights went out and damned us all.  My lamp fell from the bedside table just before I got the needle in.

Now this is hilarious.  A needle that’s about to kill you still hurts.  I missed at first.

Easy does it.  The bombs would kill us anyway.  We just didn’t want it to hurt.

I didn’t want it to hurt.  Just me now.

That’s another bizarre thing about death.  It doesn’t matter that you’re headed for the afterlife to meet dead loved ones; their deaths come back clear as the hellish day they happened.  It wasn’t my life that flashed before my eyes when death finally breached vein.

It was hers.

Our first night out together happened at the drive in.  The radio was broken in my dad’s car, but we weren’t there for a movie.  Instead we sat there, nervous as rabbits and shaking like the orange maple leaves quivering overhead.  Then, quick as the thought the spawned it, she lashed out lips first and caught me on the cheek with a whispered sentiment.

That first kiss was a chink in the dam that kept us apart, and the days that followed were blissful as long as her parents weren’t involved.  I was only invited for dinner twice.

My eyes opened long enough to taunt me with the life that slipped away as fast as the needle could push it.  During Apocalypse, it’s suddenly normal to sell suicide kits, or “Ease of Departure apparatus.”  They make it sound complicated; it’s just a needle, an IV drip of some unspecified poison (because who gives a damn?) and a roll of tape to keep the needle in place.

The music was my own personal touch.  Simon and Garfunkel on shuffle.  Because who gives a damn?

It took me back, though, like good music does.  The spring after we got married, we hit a rough patch and she went to stay with her parents.  They were ecstatic at my failure.  I listened to Simon and Garfunkel and waited in our New York flat.  A couple of nights that I can’t remember, I’m sure I found friends at a bar, but she came back and she was all I needed.

We didn’t go to see her parents again.  She never told me what they had said, except to kiss me more often and sometimes go for long walks to clear her head.

We didn’t speak of that time again, because we didn’t need to.

The point of an IV drip, they said, was that it’s better to not kill yourself all at once.  If you make it last a little longer, draw it out, there’s almost no pain.  Like falling asleep.

Damn my insomnia.  Last laughs shouldn’t count for much, but they ring so loud and lonely.

The war started long before we felt it.  Not that it wasn’t everywhere in the newsstands and painted across Times Square like everything else we absolutely had to know, but there’s a kind of distance between the front page and the people in your life who still have colour in their cheeks.

We spent a lot of days walking in parks then.  Somehow, we knew this wouldn’t last.  We were welded at the soul, and blessed with a few short years, but a darkness was coming.

And in the span of one blink, the edges of my eyesight began to fade.  There’s no peace in death, except for the divinely comforted and the delusional.  It doesn’t matter how content you are with your life, that niggling lifelong companion will tear resolve to ribbons at the last.

Death comes for all.  It looms wide and huge before diving cowl first and devouring its prey.

The first bomb dropped without warning, and put half the country in the dark.  That’s when they started selling Ease of Departures.  We refused, because all we needed was each other.

Then, one night, she didn’t come home.

Poison intended to put you to sleep before you die starts with your eyes, because they should be closed.  Blindness is an inescapable prison that dances nightmarish puppets in the shadows beyond its bars.

Two days after she disappeared, I found her body, lifeless and bloodied in a street.  She died all alone, because all she needed was me, so she had no one else.

But there was a smile on her lifeless face, despite it all.  The same one she wore whenever she came back home.

Funny how all you need is a little perspective for death to seem less frightening.  Strange that it, like sleep, comes easiest when you’re at peace.

With a peaceful smile on your face.

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