Editor’s Note: We keep the author’s original spelling when it differs from U.S. English. In this case, Brandan’s UK spelling of “counselling/counsellor” with two Ls persists throughout this work.
If I were to write my suicide note I think I’d sign it “I’ve never liked anyone more than myself and I like myself this much.” A parting statement which I think is honest. I can picture it—the note attached to my shirt with a safety pin, my limp body hanging from the ceiling; a plastic bag wrapped around my head for good measure.
Anyway, my counsellor says, “There are a lot of bad people in the world but there are good ones, too.”
I agree but respectfully say that the good ones are too small in number so it doesn’t really make a difference.
My counsellor asks, “Why do you think it is that you have such an unfavourable view of life.”
I say because it hasn’t given me reason not to.
My counsellor contemplates something. Probably thinking of how to phrase a string of sentences together eloquently. Eventually says, “What do you think would make you comfortable on a day-to-day basis?”
I say a soul mate; say a career I enjoy; say some property I own.
My counsellor says that’s good; says they are reasonable and good things to want.
I agree but say that the likelihood of achieving them is not high. All three: impossible.
My counsellor asks, “Why do think that?”
I say because I find it hard to connect with people; say the chances of getting a career I enjoy being slim to none; ask, how many people do you know who actually own property?
My counsellor asks, “Which one of the three do you desire the most?”
I say, soulmate.
I think of my soulmate in terms of abstracts, mainly. There isn’t a physical body so much as a shifting and contorting shape. The main point of interest are the abstractions; what you can’t see—love, compassion, honesty. But, like the amorphous shape, these things can also be difficult to discern.
Anyway, my counsellor says, “When was your last relationship?”
I say, never.
My counsellor says, “That’s fine.”
My counsellor asks, “How do you think you might go about acquiring these things you say you desire.”
I say, I don’t know. If I knew how I think I’d probably have them already.
My counsellor says, “There’s still every opportunity for you to achieve what you think will make you happy and more. Life can be difficult but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pleasant surprises around the corner.”
I say, I doubt it. Say, if there’s something waiting behind a corner it’s probably holding a weapon.
My counsellor takes a deep breath. Says, “I’ve spoken to you for five sessions now. You don’t seem to be able to view anything as other than a negative or possible negative.”
I say, sorry.
My counsellor says, “Don’t be sorry.”
I say, sorry.
My counsellor smiles, takes a deep breath. Says, “Well, I’m sorry, too, but your time is nearly up.”
I say, okay. Say, thank you. Say, don’t be sorry.
I stand up to leave. My counsellor stands up and takes some steps towards me.
My counsellor asks, “Can I give you a hug before you leave?”
I say, yeah—sure.
My counsellor wraps their arms around me. Mine are down by my side, I don’t know whether to raise them or not. I can see my reflection faint in the window across from me.
I can picture myself content and safe in the arms of someone I trust. I don’t have to think about it too hard.
About Brandan Hingley-Lovatt: I live in England and currently study English Literature at University. When not meeting module deadlines I’m apt to be reading or writing; or doing something else with my time and wondering why I’m not reading or writing.
For me, this paragraph is a big turning point in your story:
“I think of my soulmate in terms of abstracts, mainly. There isn’t a physical body so much as a shifting and contorting shape. The main point of interest are the abstractions; what you can’t see—love, compassion, honesty. But, like the amorphous shape, these things can also be difficult to discern.”
It’s like having a dream and how it begins to escape you in the morning. I love “the main point of interest are the abstractions…” because this is what Soul is about. Not appearances, but something deeper.
I feel like the protagonist is out on a ledge but continues to seek awareness of his life. This is what makes your story compelling. We all crave the truth.
Love your insights, Joanne! I really loved that distinction Brandan made too. Thanks for reading.