I’ve been digging further into the vault. Suicide features quite strongly in the discarded ideas section. That and my obsession with the utter pointlessness of everything.
As I mentioned a few days ago The NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition kicks off again this weekend and it occurs to me, after uncovering this cheerful little piece, that I might have the basic framework for a story as long as the prompts are Romantic Comedy/Suicide/Sexual Poverty. As far as I know they have never used that exact combination of prompts before. So here’s hoping.
“I’ve been thinking about suicide,” I said to her.
She looked briefly up from her phone and brushed a few crumbs of toast off the edge of the table. A waitress walked by and I noticed a run in her stockings. A bus pulled up outside and I heard the sound of air gushing into a vacuum as it’s doors opened.
“Did you hear what I just said?”
“No. What did you just say?”
“I said that I’d been thinking about suicide.”
“Oh. Yeah. Actually, I did hear that.”
She looked up at me now with a smile that said – I hope this isn’t going to take too long, “Are you asking me to talk you down from the ledge?”
She looked at her phone again. A new message had arrived. “Can it wait?” she asked me, “I need to respond to Katie. She’s worried about her cat.”
The café had floor to ceiling windows and I saw a couple walking past outside. They were both wearing identical orange tee shirts. I think they were a part of some sort of protest group. They looked ridiculous.
Alison was typing away on her phone, but I continued anyway. “My main concern is fucking it up. Not taking enough pills or not picking a tall enough cliff to jump off, and ending up as some sort of pathetic living vegetable. And then, even if I get it right, there’s the issue of not being around to gauge the level of other people’s subsequent grief.”
She put her phone down to await further reports on the cat. “Which word troubles you most?” she asked, “pathetic or vegetable?”
“Then you’re halfway there already.”
The orange tee shirts seemed to be multiplying outside. Apparently it had something to do with a famine, somewhere.
“Will you sleep with me?” I asked.
“No. Of course not. My place. No, hang on. Your place. My place is a mess.”
“Will it prevent you from killing yourself?”
“Temporarily, at least.”
People outside were beginning to form a long orange line and were holding up banners and chanting something inaudible. Alison checked her phone again before raising her head and staring at me with a look of mock sincerity. “Listen,” she said, “I hate to sound old fashioned, but I really would like some sort of commitment about this. One way or the other.”
One of the banners outside read ‘I Was Told There Would Be Cake’, another said ‘Make Lunch not War’. It didn’t strike me as a very well thought out campaign.
“Have you tried anybody else?” Alison asked me.
“Don’t flatter yourself. Of course I have.”
It was a Saturday afternoon at the beginning of winter. Nothing much was happening. It would probably rain within the next hour or two. The prospect of being dead really did seem reasonably attractive.