The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to?"

Submitted: September 20, 2013

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Submitted: September 20, 2013

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"To be, or not to be — that is the question: Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. To die, to sleep — no more — and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”

I keep that quote posted on my monitor. I review the question daily. More often than not the answer is simple: not to be. Not to be because it’s easier to throw in the towel now than to endure further beating. Despite my ability to take the beatings thus far, I feel as though I can no longer endure. It made it easier on me to imagine that I was taking the beating for everyone else; making myself out to be some hero.

As I think all of this, I sit here with a pistol in hand. My finger trembles at the trigger. The rest of my body however is calm and welcoming of the metal placed at my temple. All the while I ponder the famous question. I was confused for a moment if this was one of my visions or not. It couldn’t be. The barrel felt too real. I felt the weight of the gun; I felt the burden that I have a chance of relieving. These visions weren’t vivid, merely brief episodes where I saw myself pulling the trigger. At times, they frightened me and other times I accepted them as fate. I’ve talked to those close to me about them. Half say it's what I want most in life and the others say its depression clouding my judgment.

Depression. I had only recently discovered this depression. I was having a conversation with a close friend about writers and tendencies toward alcoholism. I recognized their patterns. Their symptoms were my own. I told my friend of my inevitable slide into such a state but was matched with a response that finally had me think about my depression. “Quit the self-pity shit,” is all he said. It was that simple statement that got me thinking that perhaps my lethargy, isolation, self-pity, and profound negativity were not a result of nurture. They were symptoms of a much greater enemy; the biggest I’ve ever faced. The worst part was the fact that my symptoms were what I associated with introversion and the fact that these symptoms have been a part of my life for over ten years.

Despite my recognition and self-diagnosis of this aliment, I wouldn’t have sought out help. I wouldn’t self-medicate. To do so would bring an end to a mind I had otherwise held dear. To take medication for the problem would only prove that I was not in control. I needed to be in control of my brain — of all emotions that I express. I made it clear to myself, and those around me, that I would beat this problem. I told them that because every thought of medicating to calm myself down reminded me of someone. It reminded me of a man who would seek refuge in alcohol. He would drink all day and come home to a concerned wife. He cared little for her. She knew it too. That man was my father. I don’t want to become him but here I am, depending on the cold steel resting on my temple. It seems to playfully remind me that my life may soon be coming to an end.

Amid this chaos I can’t help but be reminded of my first love and my emotional level. She was one of those modern, large city types. She would always tell me that the world was made for her. I never told her that her mindset was ridiculous. I didn’t have the heart to. I always found it perplexing that she demanded freedom from things that had no real effect on her. She was a free spirit. Despite her childish ideals, I loved her. I loved the way she made me feel alive again. Her energy became my morphine drip. My internal pain subsided with her presence.

If only it were real. If only the emotions she shared were authentic. In the end she was just an actor. Her role was never to be my counterpart but she spoke her lines lovingly. She had lied about wanting to spend eternity with me. The world belonged to her so she had no reason to settle with me. My sole regret now is that I shouldn’t have built my foundations of happiness upon her lies.

It didn’t take long for her other relationships to come to light. After about three months I had received a call from one of her friends. I confronted her about it and she said she was sorry. It took me three more times of this same story to discover that she wasn’t sorry in the least. Forgiving her was both foolish and stupid. It was obvious that she was bored of me. The men that she spent time with had far more exciting lives of partying and never realizing that one day they will become old. They were reckless; the entirety of them was. Finally one day she just never came back.

I felt her absence immediately. There was a pit in both my heart and stomach that she had left there. Initially I tried to med this feeling with positive things in my life: Art, writing, photography. The things that I normally enjoyed no longer phased me. There were days when I would stare at my open notebook with an uncapped pen in my hand and nothing would manifest itself on paper. When the positive method proved ineffective, or too painstaking, I resorted to a more self-destructive means of healing. I began to excessively smoke and drink. Despite my aversion to these things, I felt great.

To say that I slept the night away, would be a testament to bad humor. I kept the moon as my companion and would sleep when the sun rose. Unlike our working class who so often become “weekend warriors” fighting the work days for their next day off, I fought the hours simply to see if I could go another day. If living was somehow a contest of willpower, I had put on the most parenthetic display of winning.

I live a life completely void of any real purpose. I continued this meaningless life for ten years. Seeking a place to belong but never finding home. Meanwhile, I worsened, bringing my visions of suicide closer to a reality. The worst part was that I would lash out at anyone who would extend a helping hand. Friends became acquaintances, acquaintances became another person on the street. I hated what I did to people but I simply lacked the energy to change. It would have taken a force far greater than my apathy to stop my destructive ways.

There was only one cause that had enough pull to get me to change, the desire to end it all. That is precisely why I'm here. The gun's cool barrel resting against my temple. My finger is shaking violently but the rest of my body seems calm. Like entering the eye of the storm, I know my relaxation will be replaced by one last moment of desperation and destruction. Ending it now seems like the only cure to my aliment called tragedy and I'm more than willing.

I've been told that those who contemplate suicide are selfish. I've also been told statements as utterly ridiculous as “Cheer up,” or “Just be happy”. I can't blame them for their misunderstanding though. It's the same thing I've misunderstood for most of my life. The symptoms vary, much like people. My depression was less of a perpetual sadness and more of a prolonged suffering that like to tease me with bright possibilities. Of course I had good times and friends that I would never forget but in-between, and sometimes during these times, I would have that feeling breathing right over my shoulder. It knew very well that when all things were said and done suffering is what I returned to. Suffering was my default setting.

As I ponder Shakespeare’s question, which has undeniably become my own, I realize that I have yet to pull the trigger. In any number of parallel universes that are predicted to exist I had taken it upon myself to pull the trigger. In a myriad of other alternate universes my visions drove me mad. I stand at the brink. I have possibly out-lived all other versions of myself. By some miracle, out side the hands of any god, I am here now. Perhaps it is strength; Strength obtained through constantly hitting a wall called life. But I am here

My finger trembles further as pressure is applied onto the trigger. To end the suffering or to endure? The legendary question is all of ours, and to you Shakespeare, I must answer. My final answer: To be.


© Copyright 2018 ALWiggins. All rights reserved.

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