Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cheryl’s Bedroom

When Cheryl finished putting up the wallpaper in the bedroom, she decided to end her life. It wasn’t just the wallpaper, and she’d be sure to indicate that in her note, though the wallpaper had definitely been a mistake. The wallpaper was the last in a long string of personal disappointments, setbacks and minor disasters, each making life a little less pleasant, nibbling away at her will to live until there was more missing than remaining. There hadn't been any major crises, and this wallpaper had seemed a harmless enough pattern in the store, when viewed in such a small section. But now that it surrounded her, staring at her from every wall, she could see it for the monster it truly was. It changed the bedroom completely, devouring and eliminating any feeling of peace which might have still existed there, and replaced it with angst and horror.

Cheryl stopped herself, waited until her breathing became more stable. She couldn’t let this wallpaper be the focus of her entire suicide note. And she wanted to keep her message brief enough that it would all fit on one side of a sheet of paper, so that her husband wouldn’t have to turn the page over. She knew he wouldn’t. If he saw it was more than a page, he’d skim it or just read the first and last lines. He was like that. He'd lose focus, he'd become impatient, and his mind would wander. Perhaps to sports. Who knows? When was the last time he’d read a book? She couldn’t recall. Maybe in college. Maybe not even then. Back then, he spoke like he read a lot. He’d fooled her, she saw now. He was no intellectual. He never had been. He was perhaps only slightly better than a moron.

No, don’t be mean, she told herself. She crossed a sentence from her note, then put a second line through it. She refrained from putting a third line through it, understanding that if her husband really wanted to, he could figure out what was written there. She guessed he wouldn’t bother, but liked giving him the option. And maybe she would end the note with “Love, Cheryl.” Would he believe that? Certainly he would.

Cheryl put the pen down and stared back at the wallpaper, at her final mistake, almost daring it to do further harm. And though it ridiculed her and insulted her and teased her, it didn't do more than that. But Cheryl had had it with insults, and decided she didn't want this wallpaper to be the last thing she saw. She'd have to kill herself in another room. The next best place would be the kitchen, which perhaps would not make the same dramatic statement as would her death in the bedroom, and might even have a humorous tone. But so be it. She took the largest, most serious knife from the drawer next to the kitchen sink. But as she contemplated various places of her body to insert it, she caught her reflection in the window, and something in her face still seemed to hold some promise, like that of a future she once imagined. And yes, perhaps it was fleeting, perhaps it was illusory, but it was enough. She returned to the bedroom with the large, serious knife, and began stabbing at the wallpaper, tearing at it, harming it, until it was in tatters, hanging off the walls in pieces. She then flipped the suicide note over and wrote simply: “I am leaving. Cheryl.” The longer message was still on the other side, but Cheryl was certain that her husband wouldn’t look at it. Well, fairly certain.

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