I’ve completed this fifth chapter of Trig, my first novel. Read it here.
Questions, comments, and criticism are all greatly appreciated.
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Nick woke up from 16 hours of lucid, tearful sleep.
Patches of blood stained his sheet and pillow. Slowly, he remembered what had happened the day before. Opening his eyes, he saw a sliver of the wreckage in his bathroom. Pain shot up the pulled muscles in his legs. Still unsure of which memories were real, and which were dreams, he gazed around his room, trying to decide if he was alive or not. Had he slashed his wrists with the steak knife in the kitchen drawer? Gouged out his eyes with a pen? Climbed to the roof of the University of Brighton’s six-story library, and cast himself off?
No. These were just dreams. Visceral, life-like dreams, of experiences he had felt as truly as anything else – but still dreams. He was alive.
To what end, though? This was, he thought, the end of a too-long and pathetic life. So what if his heart beat, and his lungs filled with air? Curled in the fetal position, dried blood sticking to the bedspread, lonely, barely employed, asexual, void of hope – he was dead.
He hadn’t eaten in over a day, but didn’t care. Would he be able to walk to the store? Did he have enough money to order a pizza? Nick realized he cared only out of amused curiousity. I wonder, he thought, what starving to death feels like?
He stood up, slowly and painfully.
This is it, he thought. I’m going to die in this apartment. I don’t know how. I probably won’t have the courage to kill myself. But I also won’t have the courage to ever leave. I’m just going to lay back in my bed, and wait for death.
He looked at his computer, thinking of the hours he’d spent, ordering his imaginary character around in a make-belief world, working at make-belief achievements, spending time with his make-belief friends. Completely cut off from reality, deluding his brain with simulacra of meaning and accomplishment.
He thought of the world outside his bubble. Hatred burned in his chest for the men that truly lived in the world. With their jobs! Friends! Girlfriends! Why couldn’t I have just had a chance at a normal life? Why wasn’t I allowed to kiss a girl, or go to prom? Why couldn’t I have had a best friend? What’s wrong with me? Why does everyone hate me so much?
Usually Nick’s bouts of self-pity led nowhere. The questions he asked himself were unanswerable, and so went unanswered. But this time, a deep, mocking voice boomed from his subconscious:
“You piece of shit. No one hates you. No one gives a fuck about you. Everything that’s wrong with your life, you did to yourself. You CHOSE to piss your life away. You CHOSE to be a coward. You were born with all the tools you needed to get the things you want, and you let those tools rust and rot. You could have had all the things you want. But you don’t.”
He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the glare of his 19-inch computer monitor. In seconds, his perspective on his complete failure in life had reversed. Tears welled up in his eyes as he realized that it was all his fault. Everything. There was no grand conspiracy to hold him down. There was no weight on his back. He collapsed into his bed, sobbing, and mentally ran though hundreds of decisions he had made that had led to his current station in life. He could have finished his degree, instead of dropping out. He could have joined clubs and met people, rather than sitting at home by himself. He could have never bought a video game in his life, instead of wasting all his free time playing in imaginary worlds.
The realization that he was responsible for it all weighed on him more heavily than the failures themselves ever could have. Before, at least he had bogeymen upon which to lay blame. At least he could direct his unhappiness into anger. Now, even that had been taken from him – not only did he hate his life. He hated himself for the choices he made.
Rage coursed through him, as he realized: I did this to myself. I ruined my own life. And I didn’t figure out what I was doing until now – and it’s too late.
Minutes passed. Erratically, sobs escaped Nick’s mouth, but were muffled by the pillow he’d pressed his face into as he lay on his stomach.
Suddenly, a voice rang out:
“It’s not over yet, you know.”
Nick looked up, alert. What he heard was not the usual chatter of a restless, daydreaming mind. It was external, independent and a voice Nick had never heard before, deep and fatherly. Stern, yet comforting.
“What?” Nick whispered, though his darting eyes told him he was alone.
“It’s not over yet.” The voice repeated, slightly fainter, but still echoing crisply from each corner of the room.
Nick blinked and looked around, terrified.
He whispered: “Hello?”
Slightly louder: “Hello?”
Jesus fucking Christ, he thought. I’m going fucking insane.
Suddenly aware that he needed to urinate, he shuffled painfully into the bathroom. He cleaned the blood from his face and hands, picking a shard of glass from his knuckle, and shoveled the debris covering the floor into a small pile in the corner. He gazed into a long sliver of glass still clinging to the half-opened medicine cabinet door.
It’s not over yet, he thought to himself.
I’m twenty-three. I’m alive. Why does it have to be over?
His reflection smiled at him.
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