Posted in Fiction writing

Frank knew that even the longest journey starts with just one step – and he took it

TW: suicide ideation

Frank knew that even the longest journey starts with just one step – and he took it. Or tried to, at least. He picked up his phone. Put it down again and wiped his sweaty hands on his trousers. Picked it up. Unlocked it and brought up the dial pad. Then he dropped it on the table with a thud and backed away. …I can’t, he thought. …I must. His focus shifted to the other side of the table and he swallowed. His mouth was dry. He tore his eyes away from the items lying there, and his gaze landed on his phone. Just one call. Just one step. He couldn’t do it. He looked around his living room, and looked back at the table with its dual burden. The box of pills and sat perfectly arranged next to his phone. Two different journeys. Two different steps.

Frank breathed out shakily. Breathed in again. He wrapped his arms around his waist and cried out in frustration. Tears of indecision prickled behind his eyes and spilled over onto his cheeks. Cursing, he stumbled to his feet. He was blundering around the living room, half blind, fumbling for the box of tissues he knew was here somewhere, when his flailing hands knocked something to the floor with a crash. He stopped. Wiping his streaming eyes and nose on his sleeve, Frank bent down and retrieved a picture frame from where it had fallen face-down onto the floorboards. He turned it over. The glass was cracked, but he could still clearly see that happy couple framed within, smiling at the camera, eyes squinting against the bright sun, arms around each other’s shoulders. He and his late husband, perfectly preserved in the photograph, frozen in a happy moment of blissful ignorance. Frank felt a wail building up inside him, and choked it down as he set the photograph back on the mantle. As he did so, his eyes shifted to the next photograph: himself as a baby, doted on by his parents. And the next: a collage of his three kids on their graduation days. And the last photo: his cat, Elsa, when she was just a kitten, a tightly curled bundle of black fur with two golden eyes peeking up at the camera. He thought about Elsa, about how she would wind around his legs when she wanted food, how she would rub her face against the edge of his computer, and how she would burrow under his duvet and nibble his toes in the morning to wake him.

He put the photo back on the mantelpiece with finality. His mind was made up. Frank strode back to the table, his eyes and nose dry. His hand reached out. Hovered in the air for a moment – and landed on his phone. His hands shaking, he brought up the dial pad and punched in three nines. Hesitated for a second. Hit ‘call’.

“Hello?” he said when the operator answered. “Hi. Yeah. I need help.”

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