Skydiving

I had been planning this for a long time. The worst part about suicide is that feeling you’re going to burden someone else with your death. I decided to take my time, and make sure I had accounted for everything.

A few years back I took up parachuting. It raised eyebrows among a number of my friends and family, but eventually it was an accepted fact. It was good. Every weekend I would be out jumping, and sometimes I’d go on holidays to jump as well. I trained up. I got my licence to jump solo, trained to pack my own parachute. The fact I was so busy with my new hobby meant that I’d grown more distant from my family and friends. That was good. It would make it easier on them. Of course, they had assumed I’d made new friends with my new hobby but this wasn’t true. I’d stayed aloof, except for photographs.

As I knew the time was nearing, I started selling my possessions very slowly. I rarely had house guests so it wasn’t too obvious. A week before my final drop I was down to just my bed, a couple changes of clothes, and my parachute. I’d been careful. I’d given the landlord notice that I was moving out, and I gave my bed to goodwill on the day I handed my keys over. I booked into a hotel for a couple of nights. I hadn’t told anyone. Just me, my parachute, a change of clothes.

Of course, I had my will sorted out years ago. My savings account had enough money to pay for my funeral easily, and anything else was to be donated to a cancer research charity. I hadn’t left any instructions about the way in which I was to be buried as that had seemed irrelevant. The funeral wasn’t for me, after all, it was for them.

I slept soundly that night knowing it would be my last. I wasn’t particularly hungry, but I ate, and I ran through the motions in my head. I had packed my parachute incorrectly so that it would fail. I had picked a drop where I knew it would only be me.¬† The drop was to be from a relatively high altitude. I would deliberately not breathe correctly and lower the oxygen in my system. When I pull the cord for the parachute nothing will happen and it will look to forensics like an accident. I will black out long before I hit the ground. I won’t be conscious to experience my death, but my last memory will be a beautiful vista.

Secret world

They are crawling all over you. They’re moving across your arms, your legs, your face. They are burrowing into your follicles, subsiding on the dead skin and oils that are secreted by your pores. They are excreting their waste on to your skin. They are moving and jittering. They are falling in love, settling down, having kids. A new generation is crawling all over you, sucking your blood, mining you like a mountain. Empires are rising and falling in your hairline. Their nations are waging war on your legs. Your navel is a peace zone. They are developing weapons of mass destruction. They will kill you. They don’t mean to kill you.

The Blue Desk

The bell sounds, and we all walk into the classroom and take our desks. I start tapping my Unique Pupil Number into the tablet, swipe my ID card, and log into my desk tablet. The teacher waits patiently, watching his screen, checking who has logged in as the register completes itself.

“We don’t have all day, Jackson.”

The boy at the back of the class is sitting aggressively across the desk, legs sprawled, snarling. He rolls his eyes, continues talking on his cellphone, and taps in his UPN.

The underlighting on the desk in front of me flashes red, then glows green. That usually means that someone who has registered for this class isn’t here – it flashes red – but they have clearance to be absent so the teacher knows not to report their absence – it glows green. I don’t recall who is missing. We have classes of up to 90, and it can be hard to keep track of people if they aren’t your close friends.

The teacher takes a deep breath and prepares to start the lesson. We all tap along on our desk-tablets, teacher showing us the class performance breakdown periodically. Desks flash amber where other students aren’t responding to enough questions. Jackson’s desk is glowing blue. He’s still talking on his cellphone. The blue glow means that he hasn’t answered anything and will need to have a performance management conversation with the headteacher.

I wouldn’t say I’m friends with Jackson, but you get to notice the people who regularly have blue desks.

Sometimes blue-deskers are the kids who are under so much pressure to perform that they just freeze up in class. When their Individual Performance Report from the lesson is uploaded to their Personal Development Blog on the part of the Virtual Learning Environment that their parents have access to, they have every aspect of their classroom performance analysed and critiqued by their parents. They start to worry too much about everything they do in the room until they break down. I know one kid like that, Jenny, who got sent to a boarding school where they didn’t use Integrated Learning Technology. Just pens and paper and stuff. Apparently it’s less stressful that way, but I really can’t imagine how that could be true.

Other times, blue-deskers are rebels, going through a phase, kids who just don’t care. I’m guessing Jackson falls in to this category. I heard him on his cellphone once calling the class “interactive quiz show bullshit” and complaining that he could do it all at home while playing virtual reality games.

I keep my head down and try to do well. I heard that if you have too many performance management conversations with the headteacher and you do not improve, you are encouraged to take concentration enhancing medications and sedatives. It happened to one blue-desker, Jessie. She turned up one day completely subdued, barely-there, meekly obeying instructions. She would spend break times sat perfectly still, nodding her head. She used to spend lunch arranging bets over marbles. She had changed and it wasn’t because she had wanted to change.

Class draws to a close, and I feel relieved to see my desk-tablet show my score as amber-green, just above average.

A canyon

There is a painting of a canyon and a waterfall hanging in my room. In my dreams, when I am sad, you take me there. We sit, overlooking the water, curled up close together. Nothing bad can reach us there. The land is peaceful, just the sound of the waterfall, and we are safe. I am so relaxed and comfortable with you that I can fall asleep in your fur. You surround me, a patient guardian, and you’ll protect me from any danger. You have calm brown eyes, and you are as gentle as the rolling mists. I don’t need you to tell me you love me. I already know. You’ll be by my heels forever.

The Binary Star

You are my binary star. We are twinned, walking a shared path, a single fate intertwined. We are defined by the vast distance between us. ¬†Should we ever close the gap, it would be a great catastrophe. We will always light each other’s path, and we shall always question who is following whom. You shall always be so dear to me, the one I revolve with.

The Tell

I know you’re lying to me. You’re a terrible liar.

I’d call you out, but I know exactly what you’re lying about.

I don’t want to know.

Lie to me.

Keep lying.

Get better at lying.

When I find out I’m right, I’m going to die. I won’t tell you I knew all along, like I always knew all along. I will just die. The world is too short for “I told you so” and my silence made me complicit in the lie. I let you do this to me.

I wish you weren’t such a terrible liar.

When I leave this town

When I leave this town, nobody will notice. There will be no ties to sever. There will be no trace of me left. You will not miss me. Just as you didn’t notice I was here, you will not notice I have gone. You will call at my house one autumn afternoon and a stranger will answer. You will start to doubt if I were ever there at all. Did I even exist? You will realise we haven’t spoken in months. When you find me, I will have changed. I won’t remember you. I will be happy. I will have a new life, a new town, people who love me.