An early Flashfic Friday post, screeching in to make the deadline for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: “Death Is On The Table”.
Trigger warnings for talk of death, suicide and depression. Read at your own risk. If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story, pop on over to The Befrienders and find some support in your area.
Making the choice to die was one of the easiest decisions John had ever made. So easy, in fact, that he didn’t even remember making it. It was as though his whole life had been building up to this moment. In reality, of course, it had. What could be more inevitable in life than one’s eventual death? For John, he had decided that he didn’t want to wait for an eventuality. He wanted to take things into his own hands. He was going to make it happen.
John had thought about dying for as long as he could remember. To be honest, he barely thought about anything else. Over the months and years, he’d contemplated just about every way to do it and finally decided what he was going to do. He didn’t want there to be a funeral. Even if there were one, no-one would come. Why would they? It would be better for all concerned, he decided, if he just ceased to exist.
His family was long ago and far away. He hadn’t been in touch with his parents since he was in his early twenties, some 15 or so years ago. They didn’t even know where he lived. His job was shitty and pointless. They’d get someone else in to do it in a heartbeat. No-one would probably even notice he was gone. There wasn’t really anyone else to miss him. John didn’t make friends. The people he’d been close to when he was younger had all drifted away over time and there wasn’t anyone new. Knowing that you weren’t going to be around long enough to get to know someone is a pretty strong disincentive to socialising.
John didn’t expect his death to cause as much as a ripple. He had it all planned out. The rent on his flat, and the combined bill for gas and electric, had been paid until the end of the month. It was a furnished flat, so there was nothing to dispose of. He didn’t have much in the way of personal effects, and certainly nothing that anyone would find valuable. He’d bagged his belongings in black sacks with a note to the landlord to have them collected by the charity shop on the high street that did house clearances. His bank account had a zero balance. He’d never taken out any credit cards because he’d never needed to buy anything that required them. He had no creditors and no debtors.
It was almost as if he if he didn’t exist already.
He wasn’t sure what changed or when. It seemed to be around about the time the woman at the check-out in the mini-supermarket around the corner had smiled at him. He’d gone to get stamps to mail out the letters taking care of the remainder of his personal effects and when he said she could keep the change, she beamed a genuine smile and wished him a lovely day.
Maybe it was the fact that the planning was almost over. John had never really thought of it as ending. He’d been planning for so long that now he was looking his death in the face, it didn’t look as appealing close-up as it had from a distance.
But there was momentum now; a whole lot of things that once done could not be undone. He’d given his notice on his flat. He had no money left in his account and had given what he had away to charities and rough sleepers. There was no-one to miss him, but no-one to be thankful he was still there either.
Making the choice to die was one of the easiest decisions John had ever made. Making the choice to live was infinitely more difficult.