EXIT INTERVIEW – (for Ash)
Attempting suicide is the only failure that’s a victory in itself.
she sent me her suicide note as a text message
It said: “I’m sorry I had to end it this way. I know you’ll understand.”
There was no warning, no waving red flags.
our last goodbye was her slurred “I’ll see you later”
at a dive bar two weeks ago
then she her weaved away into the dark
jingling keys like broken church bells.
she didn’t show up at work for two days
until her roommate found her face down in a bouquet of bile.
Medics pumped her stomach clean of the 28 Vicadins and quart of jack
and strapped her up under cameras for 48 hours.
They’re not sure why she survived.
It was a miracle she didn’t pray for.
I’ve known too many girls who believe in the fairy tale ending
the sleeping beauty myth of pills chased down with a fifth
believing the opiates will flatten you out pretty like a still life portrait
but your body can’t stomach such an easy defeat.
you wake up just long enough to dry heave hemorrhage on your fists over the floor
your face choked sky blue, eyes shot purple veined and bulging
pills don’t let anyone die a princess
you’ll go out in a toxic mess bigger then the one you left of your life.
when it comes to suicide, men are more victorious at giving up.
we go for the action hero ending and clinch our climax with a click clack
there’s no gamble with a gun, all you need is an index finger and a blast radius
A paramedic can pump your stomach
but a brain can’t vomit back a bullet.
Women survive because they pick a semi-colon instead of an exclamation point.
She gets one phone call, calls me with her last quarters.
She wants to hear from a mouth that’s tasted a gun barrel.
the one who’s seen the mental hospital that’s not in the movies.
I’m the only Houdini she knows who’s talked his way out of a straitjacket.
I don’t blame her for fumbling for the off switch
Too many years I’ve looked at my wrists like books
that needed to be opened to the last chapter
Until the night I skipped to the ending
took a broken razor and tore my arms open like envelopes
and now they’re resealed like a secret I wasn’t supposed to read.
she said she didn’t know why she did it,
just that she wanted to go to sleep
and never wake up again
there’s a scream gnawing behind that bedtime story
but I don’t push it
not when her ribcage is still wearing a doctors fingerprints
I let the question hang in the air like a noose without a neck.
anyone can force their way to the exit
the hard part is finding your way back.
and right now escape is behind a barred window
down a hall that needs three keys to unlock
through an orderly ready to protect your tongue from your teeth
the hours she didn’t want to live through have been spent watching the clock
tick scarred arms across it’s numbered face.
she says in here you have to prove yourself sane
but the tranquilizers help
turn your smile into a jigsaw puzzle
make the answers come easy
to the doctors questions
to determine if you’re a short time visitor
or a long time tenant.
this is the exit interview, the soft interrogation
when you can go from patient to prisoner.
the doctor will click his pen against his teeth
his face a Rorschach with no meaning
while he writes down what to do with the future
you didn’t want to live through.
she wants my advice so I tell her:
remember everything you say is about to be held against you
after you’ve taken your own life hostage
you have to be clever when you negotiate it’s release.
tell the doctor that night was a horrible accident
a mistake you’ve already learned from
that the police sirens and the emergency ward
put everything in x-ray clarity again
tell them answers you don’t have to believe right now
say even though you unplugged the phone
this was just a cry for help
admit you’re broken
ask for the latest fix they got in the drawer
ask for some hot-line numbers and counseling hours
ask for a pill prescription that they’ll never give you enough to overdose on.
whatever it takes to escape
until you can sign yourself out with a shaky hand
and look at your signature
remember your kindergarten teacher who showed you each letter that made your name
get your wallet back
look at your flattened eyes in your drivers license picture
take back your keys to a house that will still smell like the night you gave up.
If my advice wins you anything
you’re gonna feel like you clawed out from under the earth.
When the door shuts behind you
you’ll debate whether the sun is rising like a guillotine or an opening curtain
be careful who you call to come get you
whoever picks you up will look at you
like a ghost doomed to haunt itself.
you were a death certificate without a will
a funeral no one was saving to afford
they’ll tell you if you need anything to call
they’ll check in on rotating shifts
allow them their anger, every gunshot has a blast radius
and they’re going to debate why they were ever in range.
when you get home watch how the world never waits
watch t.v knowing these sitcoms would still play if you weren’t here to watch
your phone’s gonna ring
know you have to answer otherwise they’ll kick the door down again
a week later
you’ll wake up knowing your funeral would have been today.
It wasn’t that you failed at your final. You just asked the wrong question.
I tell her:
I look at my scars now as an answer that most people never live to see.
attempting suicide isn’t a mistake.
it’s your own life slapping you awake.
Hear that bird outside? You wouldn’t have.
That movie premiering next weekend? You never would have seen it.
Now you’re a sequel to yourself.
You were your own near death experience.
That night face-down on the floor is just prologue.
Keep this new beginning simple.
Light a cigarette.
Start the coffee.
Avoid looking in the mirror too long
when you brush your teeth.
it may be hard to meet your own eyes for a while
but feel lucky
the mirror still reflects you back.