Monday, 18 December 2000
"Let's go to the bridge," she said, taking his hand and pulling him after her.
He half-heartedly tried to stop walking but subconsciously convinced himself there was nothing to be afraid of. It was only a bridge. A very old, dusty bridge that swayed in the wind. Kind of eerie when the moon was out. But it was just that, nothing more. Just a bridge.
"Come on!" she said. "I want to kiss you on the other side!"
So full of life, he thought, looking at the dark haired girl sprinting away from him across the dangerously uneven concrete bridge. The moonlight caught her hair in the distance, making an imaginary halo above her head. An angel. A dark haired, impulsive, hurt angel.
"Twist! Wait dammit!"
Twisted Angel. That was her name. All of them had used it, or just Twist. Sometimes Angel. Of course by birth she was something else. Human, yes, all of them were, but Twist was different. She had the power to convince herself that nothing was wrong, that life was good. Even when t wasn't. Even when she should've died some time ago. Or believed that she should have.
She had deep intense brown eyes that told stories beyond the power of words. And a right brow that would arch slightly when she was confused or playing the seductive game of womanhood, unwittingly. Full lips that gave the indication that they were obviously made for kissing.
Soft hands. Small, soft hands. And it was with them that she had tried to take her own life so many times before. With those soft hands, that had never clung to another body nor delivered the closeness of a caress.
"Josh, are you coming?!" she called from the other side.
"I'm coming Twist. Gimme a second here." He called back, pushing a hand through his blond hair and staring at the whirlpool infested black water below.
For the sake of a kiss I will conquer my fear of heights, he thought. Stupidity has no master.
"Josh!" she called again.
He took the first step onto the forlorn bridge. Imagining he felt a slight sway of the concrete structure beneath him, he overcame the urge to jump back and tell Twist that he wasn't coming over.
You'll never get that kiss, his head told him.
Josh closed his eyes for a second and took the next step. The bridge didn't sway again and he relaxed, walking slowly but securely towards the dark angel waiting for him on the other side.
He took the last step on the concrete and when his feet touched the compacted soil of the ground on the other side, he let out a sigh.
He put his arms around Twist and held her closely. "You make me do the strangest things." He whispered.
She looked at him with icily serene eyes. Eyes that said it all without really saying anything. Eyes that pleaded to be understood; eyes that begged not to be drowned in despair.
Twist looked at the dark trees behind Josh, thinking, what's left for me? My mother told me she didn't want me. My father has no time for me. I'm hated. I'm alone.
"I just don't care anymore," she said.
Josh kept quiet, knowing, from experience, that she would eventually let it all out.
"Is it all good enough, Josh?" she looked at him, taking awkward steps backwards onto the bridge. Her eyes never leaving Josh'. "I mean, you always tell me how it's really stupid to want to die; how it's really all about giving up. But what if you're wrong? Josh, I know you don't believe what you say to me. Not one word of it." She looked into the restless black water below her. "I know you want to give up and give in and let go more than I do."
"I do. But that doesn't mean that I will do it." Josh said quietly.
Twist took hold of the steel bridge's arch and pulled herself up. Sitting down, she clung to the rusted bar next to her.
"Come up here." She said to Josh. "Come sit with me."
"Why?" Josh asked.
"So I don't feel so alone."
I don't feel so alone, the words echoed in his mind. Every part of him wanted to tell her that she wasn't alone. That she had never been alone. That she was surrounded by people who cared, if she would only let them in. Just for a little while.
"Alright." Josh said, pulling himself up onto the rusted bridge.
He was quiet for a while, and then he spoke, his tone both accusing and forgiving.
"You know you were the leader all along, Twist. You know we did what you said."
"No Josh. I made the decisions on how each of us would kill ourselves. I never gave any orders." She sighed softly. "At least none that any of them didn't have a choice not to follow."
"Oh but you did Twist."
I never asked for this, Twist thought. I never wanted any of this. I never wanted to be their leader and took no pride in leading eleven kids to their deaths. Just because.
"I never wanted to lead, Josh."
"Then why did you?" he retorted.
"Because someone had to."
"That's not an answer. You did it because you needed to be in control."
"Even so, I never told them they had no choice."
"Always the fucking choice with you! Dammit Twist, open your eyes and stop lying to yourself. You're responsible, just as I'm responsible." He looked away angrily. "We kicked too many dogs while they were down."
"I didn't kick any dogs, Josh." Twist said quietly. "It was just me. I wanted to die. I wanted no companions in my misery. I wanted no help; no sacrifices. I just wanted to die."
"But I wouldn't let you."
"Yes, you wouldn't let me. I wanted it so badly, Josh, and you," Twist looked at him, "you took it all away from me. You made me talk. You," she stopped, trying to hold back her tears, "you brought the others to me. Because you wanted to die all along Josh. It wasn't about me. However badly I craved the attention, it was never about me."
Josh was quiet for a few minutes. "You never told me why Twist."
"I didn't think I had to."
"Is it so fuckin' important to you Josh? Are the reasons of all their deaths so important to you? Are you afraid that if their reasons weren't good enough then your death wouldn't matter?" Twist stormed. "Because let me tell you something, Josh, death never makes a person's life worth more. And it definitely won't change anything in yours."
Josh said nothing.
"If you're not loved in life, you'll never be loved in death. Accept it."
"That's harsh, Twist," Josh said in a monotone. His eyes never leaving the water masses of the river below the bridge. "That's really harsh."
"No it's not. It's god's honest truth."
Josh looked sideways at Twist. "Will you tell me what happened before we met?"
"Oh for god's sake! Yes Joshua, I'll bloody tell you if it'll make you feel like you matter more!
Josh sensed the anger in Twist. And he knew she was angry because he was asking about her past. The only thing in her life that was permanent, the only thing she wanted to hide from. Angry because she was being asked to confront it.
"Nothing happened. That's the whole terrifying disaster of my life. That's the fuckin' reason for my depression, for my need for suicide. Nothing happened in my life to make it worth something. No matter how hard I tried." She said in a raised voice, shaking her head as the tears rolled, unnoticed, down her cheeks.
"My parents got divorced last year Josh. I knew it was going to happen. It had to. And it split me wide open, but," Twist looked at Josh, "it also taught me how to hide inside myself and keep the world out. It taught me to create illusions." She sighed. "And that, Josh, is the reason I want to die."
Her voice faltered and her tears dampened her cheeks, like raindrops. Twist was shaking slightly when she spoke again. "My illusions has caught up with me. And there's no way to fix it anymore. All I ever wanted was to matter. Just a little."
Josh looked into Twist's eyes as she sat propped up against the rusted bar of the bridge. He saw the exhaustion in them. She was thirteen years old and she was tired of living because her parents didn't care enough to care. She was tired of living as if she had spent an eternity hurting, bound to her own pain. And, for her, it must have been that long.
Josh dropped his gaze to the dark waters, realising that all she wanted was approval. Not from teachers, not from strangers, not from friends. But from her parents. That's all she wanted. Approval to make her feel like she mattered. And without it she would continue to try and kill herself until she succeeded in the end.
"That's not reason enough, Twist."
And she responded with quiet, disturbingly serene voice. "I should've tried harder not to be born. Should've tried harder when I was still that fetus swimming in my mother's womb."
"Twist, what are you on about?" Josh asked, staring at her expressionless face.
"I didn't mean to Josh, but I became the kind of person that knows themselves so well that everyone else can only be a stranger."
Josh balanced himself on the rusted bar beneath his feet. "Being human caries with it the burden of what you will do Twist." He sighed. "If you will do anything worthwhile."
Twist looked at the reflecting moon in the black water, her whole body relaxed as she leaned against the cold, soulless metal bar behind her.
"I'd say goodbye if I thought that I could actually go through with it." Josh said.
"Any fool can live. That's the easy part. It's the killing yourseld that's hard." Twist whispered, glancing at Josh.
"You remembered." Josh said, turning his back on the dark water masses below him. He fixed his gaze on Twist.
Something in his eyes brought reality back to Twist ans she moved slightly, relaxing once more when she saw a smile creep back onto his face.
"If I knew how to say it, I would've said it. But I don't."
"This." Josh said, leaning backwards with outstretched arms as the words left his lips.
Twist didn't reach out to try and stop Joshua. She just stared madly into his eyes until he hit the water, and was consumed within the whirlpools. He didn't scream; and no other sound left his lips. He wanted it enough to have the courage to do it.
For close to two hours Twist sat on the rusted arch of the bridge, starring into the murky waters.
Then she moved, as if life was breathed back into her by something unseen. She swung her legs over the side and jumped back onto the concrete of the old bridge. She ran the length of the bridge, starring into the river below her as if trying to find Josh somewhere in it. With sunrise just under an hour away, her actions were in vain.
They say the darkest hour is the hour before dawn.
Two years later, Wednesday 18 December
Twist sat on her bed with her back against the cold wall, starring out the window at the last bits of sunlight leaving the sky. A book was open before her ans she looked down at the empty page. She took the black pen from her lap. This is what she wrote:
Some graves can't be dug deep enough. I've just lived long enough now to ignore the darkness as it chokes. No matter how it begs, I won't try to save it.
Joshua left a not behind, in my room. I don't think he planned it all the way I did. But that's all it was ever supposd to be. Plans. I don't think I'll ever be over his death. Especially since they never found his body. Nothing to prove that he isn't still alive somewhere. And to me that's the way he'll always be. Alive. Somewhere.
The note he left behind said: "I didn't want to be that one mistake that you couldn't amend."
Who is Joshua Guevara? I guess he's nobody really when you look at him. Just someone who looks at you now and then when he feels like complaining. Just someone you used to know, but now is a stranger. Like all those memories you once had of him that dry up like so much rain after a heavy downpour.
I just kept on hoping there was a way to forget. But there's nothing left to know except that it happened. That it never will again.
I still feel his absence like a breath I cannot take.