No matter what people tell you, once you have the label you’re stuck with it. You can’t ever lose it. I see it on my parents’ wrinkled faces and a few of my old friends from grade school. It’s attached to you like one of those mechanic bracelets or anklets they use for drug and alcohol addiction, except it’s invisible. You’ll always be the family with the daughter who committed suicide, or the brother whose sister died when she was five or the husband whose wife had a stroke at 35. It’s a well-known fact although people say it in supposedly hushed voices. There’s nothing hushed about it, whether they speak it or shout it or think it. That’s forever and for that I am sorry. Really.
My name is Lindsay and I’m 18 years old. I had been best friends with Kaitlyn for many years when we were younger, we grew up together you could say. Things changed a lot when we both started high school and we just grew apart. I guess if I am honest I grew apart from her. Kaitlyn didn’t know what to do, she used to kind of hang around me but we had nothing to say to each other anymore. I felt bad about it but mostly I just wanted to forget the past and move on to the future. If she couldn’t handle it, it really wasn’t my fault. She couldn’t figure out that I had grown up and changed and I didn’t want to explain it to her, that seemed so lame. I started liking cooler kids that were different, but she just didn’t get it and wouldn’t leave me alone. I heard her tell people I was weird. I heard her tell everyone I was a freak; not a really nice thing to say about an old friend.
Kaitlyn knew I had tried drugs and alcohol a few times but I never went into details with her, it was none of her business. I was a senior now and wanted to feel free and grown-up; I deserved it. I started to steal things and someone would ask about all these new items, I lied and told people they were presents. Well, in a way they were, they were presents from me to me. I couldn’t deal with all the questions and my old friends couldn’t handle it. I had moved on but they hadn’t and that was fine with me.
After awhile people looked the other way when I was around and I was glad. Once at a school talent show I threw my pack of cigarettes across the room just for attention; people literally freaked out. So I flirted with guys and played around; big deal. All my old friends were just so immature. People talked about my drug use; I admit I used cocaine, pot, pills and yeah, I tried acid but only once. If I hadn’t gotten so wrecked that one time and had to call one of my old friends to pick me up at a party one night because I couldn’t find my car, no one would never have known. But, of course the little snitch that picked me up told that story to anyone and everyone she knew. Bitch.
I know my parents were worried but really, I was fine. They even called the police on me, imagine calling the police on your own daughter. I told them that I was just a normal teenager doing teenage things but they would cry and scream and yell at me all the time. It got so bad that I learned how to tune them out and when they yelled I couldn’t even hear them anymore; I became numb. Numb felt good because it didn’t feel like anything.
The night I did it, I watched Kaitlyn go to sleep in the big queen bed we used to share on sleepovers. She lay in her room with while outside the snow and sleet pounded to the ground. She had curled up in her bed, I remember she used to be scared of storms and wind. She still slept in her old room that she never bothered to update with posters or good make-up; she liked things just the way they were. It was like we were still seven years old, her pink room filled with old stuffed animals and those fuzzy pink heart pillows; she could never throw anything away.
I saw my dad calling Kaitlyn’s mom, her mom picked up the phone and started to cry. I never thought that would happen. That morning at 6am I saw Katie’s mom walk quietly to Katie’s room, it was like looking at her walk in slow motion. She tiptoed into Katie’s room and sit on her bed for a long time. I saw the shadow of her mother peering from the dark room before Kaitlyn even sat up. Her mom’s body was outlined against the blazing orange hall light as if she had been outlined in a crime scene. Katie started to stir and was surprised when her mother was sitting next to her, she was confused. “Katie, honey,” her mother said ” I have really bad news” and I saw Kaitlyn’s whole body freeze with fear. I knew she was thinking about her father, her brother in college, her grandmother and grandfather. She didn’t even think about me for one second. So when her mom said ” it’s about Lindsay” she had no idea what was going on. Katie’s mom continued” ” I just got a call from Lindsay’s dad and Lindsay……..Lindsay is dead, honey. She committed suicide, I am so sorry.”
Kaitlyn was absolutely still for a few minutes, she didn’t move and then she started shrieking and screaming “No, No, No” over and over again. My dad’s terse message didn’t help you know, he could have been gentler. How was Katie supposed to react? He just said that he had seen me take some drugs that I was nervous and mad and I had been crying. He thought I was asleep but I wasn’t, it was time, long overdue and I had to get out. I had been in so much pain that I had to go, had to get rid of all those bad feelings that would never leave me alone, so I did it.
All Kaitlyn had to do is ask the question in her eyes, because she could not find the words, and her mother answered slowly “she hung herself.”
I watched Kaitlyn, crying, laying on her bed. I didn’t think she would care that much; we hadn’t been friends in years. I saw her stare at the ceiling and she rocked herself back and forth like she would do, when she was little and when she was really scared. I saw the morning light, the early sun, creep into her room and stop on her face; she was very, very pale. She had put on the friendship bracelet which we made for each other years ago. I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to do, honest, it felt like the best way out. For me. I had to go. I really did love you, I just hated myself.
I slipped out of her room and disappeared into the night air. It was snowing and was very cold, but I felt nothing and that was good.