Permanent Burns

Every time you look at him, your heart sinks. You know his facial features gently resemble his mother’s rapist and when she couldn’t stand to look at his tense eyes or dimpled chin anymore, she ran scorching hot bath water and put him in the tub head first. You know she tried to burn the familiar image off her son’s face like it would do the same for her memory, so you don’t hold it against her. Twenty-five years later, the burns remain but his tense eyes don’t; those now hold an unfamiliar lost gaze. Despite this, he had humor for days. He never ran out of jokes and you never ran out of giggles. That’s what kept you by his side and “mean-mugging” anyone that would stare at him longer than a millisecond. Well, that and his diligence you were in love with. He knew what he wanted and stopped at nothing to get it. Everything he wanted was his including you and his suicide.


He wanted to kill himself and you let him. You realize, when someone you love is dead set on committing suicide there’s nothing you can do or say to make them reason differently. So, you try prayer. But, you don’t pray that God would remove this desire and replace it with joy of life or that God would fill the gaping holes in his heart, deeply dug deep by his parents. You don’t even pray that God would show him that he was hand sewn together to live on earth with a purpose and that each flaw, each bump in the road is just preparing him for his calling to help heal this world. Instead, you pray for him to live, just live. You selfishly pray that God gives him the strength, but supernatural strength to continue to live a life he hates in a body he hates for your sanity’s sake. You pray he lives so you don’t blame yourself for what happened or have to explain to people how you knew he was going to commit suicide but he begged you not to tell. You think praying like this will allow you to live a life without the permanent picture of his body, hanging lifeless, etched in your memory or lose sleep over loving the life they hated. You pray for him to live so you don’t have to put in the effort of starting over with someone else, someone that’s not him. If you pray he lives, your conscious won’t recognize the guilt when you fall in love with and marry that someone else.


You find him hanging from his pull-up bar- a jump rope as a noose. When you see him you just stand there. You don’t scream or panic or reach for your phone. You just stare in utter shock at what you knew was imminent. You stare in disbelief that your selfish prayers didn’t save him. Yet, after a few minutes, all your senses return and you scream, panic, and reach for your phone. Fierce shaking overtakes your body and minutes pass before you compose yourself enough to dial 911. The ambulance comes what seems like hours later to cut him down from his death. They catch him before he falls, put him on a stretcher and carry him out of your life.

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