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Chapter Two

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As I walked home from work in the early hours of the morning, activity burst loudly all around me. Having lived in such a small town my whole life, it never ceased to amaze me how busy the city always was—even at a time like this, when it really should all be peaceful. The noise was annoying, it infiltrated my brain, but in a weird way it also blocked everything else out. If I was concentrating on the constant humming, then I couldn't think. When I started to think, it could quickly get dangerous. My brain would take me to the places that I actively tried to avoid, the ones that threatened to bring on the all-encompassing depression that I spent my time trying to fight against.

I climbed up the endless stairs of my apartment building, my legs feeling like I'd been working for forty hours, rather than nine. I still got tired and achy from time to time, but it was nothing compared to the way I'd been before. That was the one real positive of not dying—at least all the side effects from being sick had virtually gone. I wouldn't have been able to cope if I still had the soul destroying chronic pain.

As I pushed the door open to my home, I let out a sigh—not so much one of relief. It was more an escape of air from a breath that I couldn't quite seem to stop holding.

What a total and utter mess.

Not just the apartment—although it certainly wasn't as tidy as I'd like it—more my life. Even the thought of having to ring Amy tomorrow was overwhelming. I was on the edge of my capability as it was, and adding that one small task felt like too much.

It was ridiculous. I must have been the least able-to-function adult possible.

I lay down in my bed, just staring at the small crack in the ceiling, wondering if there was any chance that it could be getting bigger. If it was getting larger, did that mean the whole ceiling might come crashing down at any moment? If so, would that kill me, or would I just end up hurt?

I couldn't recall the last time I properly slept. Most of the time I just lay there, staring at that same crack, worrying about it, thinking about it, concentrating on it so hard that I didn't have to think about anything else. Every so often, a little memory would shake through—the trip to Spain, the final party, skinny dipping in the freezing cold ocean...just because—and I had to turn over onto my side, just to force them away. Reminiscing, remembering the past, it always brought a horrible black hole of sadness with it.

I didn't want to think about the old me, I didn't deserve to. When I was going to die, I was more alive than I'd been, and that cut me deep. Now that my whole future stretched out in front of me, I had no idea what to do with it, so I didn't do anything. I was cold, numb, alone, and I didn't even care enough to change.

What people couldn't understand was that I knew how to die. I understood that. It was living I still couldn't wrap my head around.

For a second, I wondered what would've happened if I'd had a normal life that wasn't plagued by illness. Would I be at university, would I be an artist, would I be a banker? I just had no idea. By the time it had come to making that sort of decision, my future was already in jeopardy, and what I was left with now was a whole lot of nothingness.

I squeezed my eyes tightly shut, calling out for the sweet release of sleep—at least in my dreams I could be someone, something. I didn't have to continually be this empty, pathetic shell of a person. But of course, my mind was whirring too rapidly to even consider switching off. Sleep had never come easy for me, and it got worse the more exhausted I became.

Everything about this existence was exhausting.

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