The other day I stopped talking long enough in a conversation with my mother that she asked me what I was thinking. I shook my head. “It’s nothing,” I said.
But then, she pushed me. Demanded that I tell her, right now, right here. Dared to ask me, why am I lying to her?
So I told her that I did not know how to tell her that I was thinking of suicide.
Was it really a surprise to me that she did not take it seriously? After all, I told her that waspishly, and she might just mistake it for sarcasm, which was certainly not uncommon coming from me. So instead of whatever it is people say when someone close to them is borderline suicidal, she sighed. Treated me like a petulant child, and I wish she could rewind to the time when my angry cries were pleas for help, and remember that I was never an unreasonable child. Never, never ever. Only now I am not that child anymore, now I carry this lead lungs with me and when I wheeze and cough I feel the most alive, because then my body finally feels like my soul.
I often pretend I was asleep past midnight, all lights in my room off, body still under the blankets as I listen. Then I would hear my parents’ bedroom door open and close. Footsteps. The computer whirring to life. The chk-chk of lighter and then an inhale and exhale. I hold myself from coughing on the smoke seeping into my room the way I hold myself from crying. It’s a leftover habit of that reasonable child I was, to never show signs of distress.
The same leftover habit also tells me to nod and take jobs I know I can finish, reasonably. Do not cough, do not show signs of distress. Smile and nod. Make nice with people. You will say, yes you, reading this, you are now thinking, “quit whining, useless bitch.” Rest assured I have told myself the same all the time. Or rather, the child that I was tells me that all the time. Her voice is still clear like bells, sans lead weight, her hair waist-length and messy because she has better things to care about than her hair. Her words are meaner than it actually was when I was her, but the message was the same. Do not show signs of distress.
I hold my breath.
I wish I did not tell my mother what I told her and lied instead, because at least she would not mistake it for sarcasm.