swallow. (september 1st, 2022)
art by Hami Trinh
Content Warning: suicidal ideation, attempt, overdose
swallow. regret. cry. i’m sitting next to her, we’re in the car together, my mother and i are parked in a sonic drive-through. i forget i took six small blue pills just an hour ago. we talk like usual, mother-daughter kind of gossip, reflective but also a little mean, i don’t mean any disrespect. by the time we get home and i take my shoes off the house is so loud so so fucking loud and i go upstairs, and behind everyone’s back i decide to take everything else. swallow. regret. i don’t cry; regret hasn’t really settled in yet. i slide back into my bed, my room is actually three walls and a railing, sort of like an indoor balcony overlooking the living room. my parents always sleep downstairs in that living room, mostly because of my little brother. he’s claustrophobic and i don’t blame him. (i don’t blame anyone but myself.) i feel the regret now, a hiccup escapes from my mouth. the fear of what’s coming is worsening in my stomach, i’m curling up in my sheets in protest of knowing i’ll have to get up. fuck. fuck fuck fuck. i pause the movie i’m watching, i run to the bathroom. holy fuc—i’m projectile vomiting into the bathtub because i didn’t have the focus to aim for the toilet. it’s terrifying, i’m really scared. what did i just do? i can feel my vision blurring and widening at the same time. i can see more of everything i’d rather hide from, and yet also i feel a little more blind. holy fucking shit, this is what happens when you OD but your body is sane enough to flush out. against my will, my body is keeping me alive against my will. my heart is racing. my pupils are really, really dilating. something something self-flagellation. something something this is normal, maybe not really, normal for someone like me, someone being a little ill. another wave of nausea, another wave of vomiting, a tumultuous sea of regrets. mom, i’m so sorry. fuck.
my stepfather hears all of this and he tells my mother, who is the closest to me, who knows everything i choose to tell her (which is everything except for the fact i’m a boy, and what i just did to myself). my mother sleepily walks up the stairs and i want to cry. my mother is rubbing my back and telling me i should sleep next to her and i do, but by the time i get downstairs i’m running to the other bathroom to throw up in the toilet. my stepfather says nothing but gets up to put some gloves on. no one told him to, but i feel it. no one needs to, as my stepfather is trying to say he loves me. (my stepfather is a quiet person; we don’t actually have verbal conversations. everything we say is meant in what we do for each other.) it’s past midnight and my dad is cleaning up the mess i just made. dad, i’m so fucking sorry. i remember when my mother told me how he told her i was the daughter he was looking for for so many years. and for once, i know what a man does when he truly cares about someone.
i can’t swim, but there’s a sea full of regrets. i’m laying on top of my mother on a two-seat couch and i can’t cry, not even a tear because my eyes are so wide open and my heart’s beating so fast she can probably feel it. but my mother doesn’t know, at least not then, that i did something terrible and not that i caught my little brother’s stomach bug. and then i think about him, if i ever had to tell him. david, i’m sorry. i could never leave you behind, and not like this. i made a promise to myself that i would live to raise and take care of you. i listen to my mother’s breath and slight snoring; she’s asleep, and she shouldn’t know. only a few days later would i admit to her what i did to myself, and isn’t it ironic that i would rather tell her about how i tried to die than the full truth about me? i guess this is the thinnest layer i have to shed before i ask her, mama, can i be your son? because i would love to; i have wanted this for longer than you know, to be your son, maybe even to die so i could be born again as your son. i’ll find you either way, just as i’m in your arms now, like i’ve found the place i need to be. my mother can’t save me, but i can keep myself around just a bit longer for her, my father, and my brother.
i won’t keep them in the dark anymore; i would never want to make them cry.