Although I know that suicide prevention month was September, we recently had a walk for suicide awareness, but I couldn't attend. Instead, I wrote this. (Please forgive my inexperience with funerals. I've never attended one.)
He could remember that day clearly.
He knew where it had all gone wrong now; as they say, hindsight twenty-twenty. He saw every hint she'd given him, all the things he should have said, but hadn't. Everything he should have done.
It was strange to know Bella was gone. He'd never realized before those last few moments that her life was so awful. He should have listened.
He didn't want to think about it. But of course, that didn't change it. It had still happened, and she was still lying in front of him, cold and dead.
His vision swam, replacing his view of the funeral with a vision of something from a few days before.
She'd been sitting on her bed, playing with his Rubik's cube. He'd never been able to solve it, but she had a knack for puzzles and games, so when he'd come over, he'd tossed it to her to see if she could solve it.
He watched the cubes of color rapidly moving before his eyes. They were aligning, and he had to admit, he was impressed.
She had a face of color done, and was building up from the bottom.
"Wow," he'd breathed. "You're so smart."
She'd smiled wryly. "Not really. You're the smart one."
He shook his head. "No way. You are. I could never solve one of those."
"Don't you know?" she'd asked. "There's a cheat code to everything." She spun the final row on the Rubik's cube. Complete. "Games, love…life." She tossed him the cube.
There had been a tangible pause, he realized now. He'd ignored it at the time, not seeing it for what it was: a warning.
"But you're still the smart one," he said as he caught the Rubik's cube.
"No, I just know how to cheat. You're the one who will actually do something with you're life. Mine's already over."
"What are you talking about?" he'd asked.
"Never mind," she said simply, and gazed out the window forlornly. She'd brushed him off, and he'd let her.
How he regretted that now.
He'd been leaving when she'd dropped the next clue.
"Can you stay a little longer?" she'd asked. "I…" She shifted uncomfortably. "I'm scared."
"Of what?" he'd asked, instantly concerned.
Then she'd shaken her head. "Never mind. I'm just being silly."
"Hey," he'd murmured. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. It's nothing."
"No, it's something. Please, tell me," he'd begged.
"Nothing," she'd said quickly. Then she shifted her weight. "I just…I don't know. My life is just so stressful right now. I don't think I can handle it much longer." There had been something real in her tone, something pleading.
But he'd missed it.
"Of course you will, Bella," he'd said. He hated himself for what he said next. "I'm always here for you if you want to talk, though." That was a lie. He hadn't been there. Not when she needed him. And then with a peck on the cheek, he'd left her, too concerned with his own problems to notice hers.
A few hours later, his mobile rang. He glanced at the ID, and saw that it was Bella.
"Hello?" he said, his brow furrowed. "Is everything alright?"
"Um…Yeah. I just…I wanted to let you know I love you. Will you tell my parents that I love them, too?"
"What? Why would I need to? They must be in the room next to you."
"Uh, no…they're still at work. I'm alone."
His heart constricted with unexplainable worry suddenly. "Well, tell them when they get home. You see them more than I do."
She laughed shakily. "Yeah, but I won't be seeing them."
"I won't, either, Bella."
"You'll see them again before I do," she said confidently.
"I don't understand."
"That's good," she said quietly. "I don't want you to." She paused, and then she asked, "Can I keep your class ring?"
"Yeah, unless we break up," he said, confused. He hadn't understood where the question was coming from.
"What if I die? Would you let me be buried with it?"
"You aren't going to die. What are you talking about?"
"Just answer the question."
"Yeah…I guess so."
"I'd want you to keep my ring. Don't let my parents take it from you, okay?"
"Bella, what are you—"
"Goodbye. I love you." The phone went dead.
Fearfully, he called her back. The phone rang until it went to voicemail. He left a fearful message. "Bella, what are you talking about? You aren't going to die. Should I come over? Bella, answer the phone! Are you angry with me? What have I done? Bella, I love you, please, don't do any—" He ran out of time for the message, and she didn't answer.
Out of his room, out of his house, down the street, around the corner. Her house was at the end of the street. But he couldn't run fast enough; something seemed to be holding him back. The air in his lungs was heavy, but fleeting. He couldn't get enough. Something seemed to press down on him, making his movements slow and clumsy.
His feet pounded on the pavement as he ran up the stairs to her front door. He knocked loudly twice, and then let himself in. He was too scared to be polite.
This was the part of his memories that he wished was a blur. That he couldn't remember all the thoughts running through his head, the sights, or the smell. He wished he couldn't remember anything.
Somehow, he'd known where to go; perhaps he'd sensed it in the air. The Bathroom. It would forever be capitalized in his mind, a permanent reminder of the horrendous act that had been committed in the room.
He could see each picture he'd passed in the hallway as he ran towards the bathroom. He flung the door open and stepped inside, suddenly slow.
The room was cold, and he rubbed his arms for warmth. He saw that the windows were open, the curtains billowing softly and quietly.
Words were written on the mirror. "I love you. I'm sorry." They were written in bright red lipstick, and contrasted sharply with the reflection of the mint green room.
There was a knife resting on the sink edge, covered in blood, and a trail of blood on the floor. His eyes followed the trail from the sink to the bathtub, but he noticed that there was a lot of blood.
There she was, already lifeless. Her head was tilted back, resting against the curve of the tub.
He crossed the room slowly, stunned, but needing to know.
She was naked, but the sight didn't appeal to him. She hadn't made two measly cuts on her wrists, she'd cut all over her body, and he saw on her right forearm she'd carved the words "I'm sorry" in large, jagged letters.
The tub was filled with water, and he noticed that she'd dropped ice cubes into the water to make it colder. The water was frigid, he saw, even with her blood coloring it and her body to warm it.
There were two empty pill bottles on the floor. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Generic brands, but taken in large quantities, deadly.
There was a gun resting on the floor, too, but he could see no gun wounds. Probably in case she didn't die quick enough.
She hadn't taken any chances.
If the blood loss didn't kill her, pneumonia would.
If pneumonia didn't kill her, she'd overdose.
And if that didn't work fast enough, she had the gun.
There was a note resting on the toilet seat. He picked it up numbly and read it.
"If you aren't one of my parents, call them and tell them I love them. If you aren't my boyfriend, tell him, too." The numbers were listed below that, and without thinking about it, he pulled his mobile out, and dialed the first number.
The phone rang briefly, but then a flustered voice answered. "Hello?"
"Mrs. Swan?" he said softly.
"Yes, who is this?"
"It's Edward. Bella's boyfriend. She said to tell you…that she loves you…"
"Edward, I'm busy. Couldn't this have waited? And why couldn't Bella call me?"
"Because, Mrs. Swan," he whispered. "She's dead."
"'Dead'? What do you mean she's dead?"
"I mean," he said hysterically, "She committed suicide."
"Oh, my—" She stopped. "I'll be home in a few minutes. And if this is a joke, I will personally kill you both."
"Would I joke about this?" he asked, and then hung up. He dialed the next number and waited.
"Chief Swan? It's Edward, Bella's boyfriend."
"Hello, Edward, can I help you?"
Silence. Then, "Where are you?
"At your house."
It was worse when they got there, and it was still real. It was worse when he watched her parents break down and sob, not caring if he saw.
It was worse when he saw his class ring, still resting on her right thumb.
It was then that he broke down and sobbed with them.
And now…he knew he should have listened. She'd given him so many hints.
He glanced at her mother, standing in front of her body. She was talking about her daughter and how wonderful she was.
And then it was his turn. He stood and shuffled to the stand. He cleared his throat.
"My name is Edward and Bella was my girlfriend." He had to stop for a minute. "Bella was amazing. She was beautiful, smart, and incredibly humble. Maybe that was the problem, though, because she never saw herself as any of those things. No matter how many times I'd tell her, she could never accept that she was more than gorgeous. She never accepted that she was smart." He shook his head. "She could solve a Rubik's cube in two minutes, but she thought she was stupid.
"She wasn't just beautiful and smart, either. She had the most amazing personality…I actually met her at a game tournament. She knew all the cheat codes to every game. She had bookshelves stocked with books for every game system and their games. She had so many websites with cheat codes favorited. It was crazy.
"I know, that seemed sort of random, but I can't get one of the last things she said to me out of my head. She said that there was a cheat code to everything. To games, to love, even to life.
"I always thought that she really did know the cheat code to everything, but she was wrong when she said there was a cheat code to life. She was wrong when she thought she found it. Suicide is never the answer. It's not the code.
"And I think maybe she knew that. But she was scared, and she didn't know what to do. So she inserted the code, as many of you know, very thoroughly. She was scared to keep living her life because it was too stressful.
"But that's really not the worst part. She asked for my help, but I didn't realize what she needed, and in the end, I wasn't there to help her through it, and she died.
"Mostly," he continued. "I feel like it's my fault. But I also want to prove her wrong. I want to let her know that if there is a cheat code to life, she didn't find it, and for once, she didn't win."
He paused. "She had the wrong code. She didn't find the cheat code to life, just the easy way out. And no one who's close to me… This won't happen to anyone I love, ever again." He choked out a sob. "Never again."
He sat back down. Subconsciously, his hand went to the ring that was on a chain around his neck. Her class ring.
She hadn't wanted him to give it back to her parents. He still felt he should give it to them, but then he'd feel bad. Well, either way he would feel bad, really. On one hand, he felt as though he was keeping some integral part of her from her parents, but on the other, she'd demanded that he keep it. And wasn't it fair for him to keep it? After all, she was being buried with his…
After the viewing, he went to the burial. He stood silently next to her parents, as they sobbed quietly. Most of the people were trickling out, as the dirt completely covered the coffin, but he felt as though he was rooted to the spot.
As the diggers finished and packed up, he turned to her parents.
"Mr. and Mrs. Swan?"
They looked at him wordlessly, tears streaming down their faces.
"I…Bella…I still have her ring," he said at last. "Do you want it back?"
They exchanged a glance. "No. No, keep it," Chief Swan choked out.
"She wanted you to have it," Mrs. Swan agreed. There was no doubt in her voice, even though Edward was sure she'd never told them.
His face softened, and he looked back at her grave. "Thanks," he whispered. "It means a lot." They all fell into an uncomfortable silence, and then he cleared his throat. "Uh, I better go."
He shuffled away, holding the ring tightly in his hand. He'd probably wear it forever.
When he got home, he went straight to his room. He didn't bother changing out of his suit, just fell onto the bed and went to sleep, utterly exhausted.
He woke up the next day with a splitting headache. He'd woken up with them everyday since she'd died, so he wasn't surprised. He grabbed the acetaminophen and popped two in his mouth. That would take care of the headache and—
He froze, realizing what he'd just swallowed. He felt like throwing up. He grabbed the pill bottle and threw it into the hallway. It rolled away from his room, and he sank to the floor. A headache was better than that.
With a sigh, he sat back down on the bed. His suit was wrinkled from sleeping in it, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He changed into casual clothes that were more comfortable, and left his room to get some food.
When he reached the kitchen, he grabbed a box of cereal and a bowl. After pouring it into the bowl, he opened the fridge to get the milk. On his way back to his bowl, he picked up a spoon.
He was pouring the milk when he saw it.
The Rubik's cube.
He could have died from the agony he felt suddenly. He dropped his head into his hands. Everything he did, saw, felt would remind him of her.
For a long time he didn't move, just letting his tears fall to the floor.
Ugh, I really can't stand how...empowering this turned out. Yuck. In any case, I do sort of like the ending. Comments? Questions? Please give me your feedback!
Um, a really good song that I felt applied, at least musically, and with some of the words, was New American Classic by Taking Back Sunday.
The original version of this story is available on fictionpress. You can get the link on my profile.