Better Not Wake The Baby

They say depression killed you, but I think it had a lot of help.

They say you took all the sleeping pills in the house and washed ’em down with Chardonnay. I suppose if I was going to die, I would drink the cheapest, nastiest Scotch I could find. No sweetness on the tongue to lure me back to life, just a fucking smoking peat bog, a liquid harbinger of the grave.

They say you picked a fight with your husband and chased him out. The suicidal mind does things like that. Makes sure nobody’s around to stop The Plan.

But they never said why you suddenly went made The Plan. They just said “depression,” as if it were code for “defective, do not salvage.” They turned their backs on you and left you in the crypt.

I know you were overworked, exhausted, lonely. I know you were going to the doctor
because you told me about the T-cells, and the vaccine that wasn’t working anymore.

I grew up during the epidemic. I remember the condom ads and the quilt. I remember
Freddie Mercury telling the world he was sick and dying a day later. I remember Ryan White and the moment America realised that AIDS didn’t give a shit who you were.

You remembered too. So did he. He’d buried more friends than either of us, but I know you never told him, because he didn’t act like someone who knew that there was a loaded gun to your head.

I saw him that night, when you tried to comfort and he pushed you away, calling you needy.

I know he cheated on you more than once and gave the politician’s apology.

I know your family abused you and fucked with your head and sometimes he took advantage of that to fuck with your head in new and exciting ways. I know they immediately pounced on your estate like vultures because they thought you were the rich boy who’d gotten out of white-trash-ville and Made It. I hope that pound of flesh gave them indigestion.

I’m angry that he’s still alive and you’re not.

It should have been him. I know that’s an evil thing to say but I mean it.
And when he occasionally tries to connect with me – it’s all I can do not to say so – to say, where the fuck were you that night, when he pushed, you just left him – you knew he was going to die and you just walked away and let him do it –

I don’t say a word.

Because I know if I get started I won’t ever be able to stop.

I’m angry that he’s alive and you’re not. I never had a big brother growing up. Then you came along.

And I’m angry that you’re not here anymore.  I do believe you’ll come back the world one day, and I hope I will find you again then.

But meanwhile he perches, smug like a fat bluejay on the wreckage of your life, and I want to load the pistol and knock him up with bb’s till he falls off that high horse, throw rocks till he hits the ground with a fuzzy thump.

I want to let it all out. I want to trample the fields of your shared memories, burn them to the ground. He didn’t treasure them then, what’s the point now? He hoards the tokens of his grief and cashes them in when it’s convenient, but he couldn’t even love you properly while you were alive. He acts like losing you makes him somehow untouchable, better than everyone else. “Death has visited my home,” he says, “and so I am instantly wiser.”

Bullshit.

Your death has torn me open and sewed something horrible up inside.

Hurts to touch it. Hurts not to touch it. Can’t. Shouldn’t. Mustn’t. But then someone else comes along and pokes it and it flares, and I lose myself in it all over again.

Don’t come near me, humans.

Just don’t.

(Author’s note:

This was the Random Song Title Jamboree challenge from TerribleMinds. This went in a completely different direction than I planned. It’s also still really short. I’m not good at the wordy yet. I tend to prune the shit out of things. Good for bonsai, not so good for storytelling. Title is from “Better Not Wake The Baby” by the Decemberists.)

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