Prologue - The Beginning of the End

Nearly everything was ready - had been for days. His room was clean, his laundry done and put away. The dishes were washed, the entire apartment was vacuumed, he had taken out the trash, and the desktop computer in his bedroom was in the middle of a complete hard drive wipe. Out of the corner of his eye, through his open closet door, he could see the chair he had set up. It was a cheap, wooden one he had taken from a dumpster a week ago. If he used a chair from the kitchen, his roommates would likely never feel right sitting in there again, and he didn't want that.

The belt, however, (already fashioned into a noose using the iron rod that previously held up his clothes in the closet), was new. It was firm, shiny and black in color, and it smelled like leather - the real stuff, not imitation. This wasn't the time to be cutting corners.

He walked over to the opposite end of the room to turn on his CD player, classical music coming from the speakers, then opened the window above the table it rested on. The air outside was cold, and it felt nice against his skin. He stood there for some time, relishing the pleasantness of this moment. A little good among all the bad.

He had considered doing the deed somewhere other than the apartment - a motel room, a public restroom, his car - but he wanted the comfort of familiarity. This thought was almost laughable. Should comfort even be a real factor in suicide? It wasn't as though it would matter in the long run. But screw practicality - allowing yourself a modicum of pleasantness couldn't be too bad.

After turning up the volume on the CD player, he walked into the kitchen and grabbed a cold bottle of water from the otherwise empty fridge, sipping it as he wandered back to his room. There were dozens of pills on his computer desk - a mixture of sleeping and pain pills. He put them into his mouth one by one, and swallowed them with a couple large gulps of the water. Hopefully they would kick in soon, and would slow his reaction time enough that he wouldn't fight too much once the chair had been kicked out from under him, and the belt had tightened around his neck.

He thought others might find it odd, but he had practiced tying the noose over a hundred times in the last couple months. He knew that a lot of people wound up doing it wrong, and died a slow death of strangulation, rather than the quicker neck-snapping.

He grabbed several envelopes from his bedroom computer desk, then moved purposefully to the living room, placing the envelopes onto the living room table carefully. He laid them out in a circle, organizing them in alphabetical order based on the names written on the front. The envelopes contained a letter he had written to each of his best friends. He didn't want to consider them suicide notes, but that was what they were. He hoped Noah would be the one to get a hold of them first - he'd likely be able to handle it a little better than Harper or Aspen would. Especially Aspen. He pictured the look on her face when she found out he was gone, and his heart broke. He almost second-guessed his decision then, but pushed the thought away with vigor. This needed to happen.

He walked to the closet and took a seat on the wooden chair, losing himself in the music for a while as he waited for the pills to kick in. He ran his fingers along the sides of the chair, briefly imagining who had owned it before him. Maybe it belonged to an elderly woman who brought it with her when she moved from Russia to America. Maybe she would sit in it at night, knitting, until her vision got too bad, and she had to stop altogether. Maybe her grand kids came over on the weekends, and she would sit in this chair, telling them stories about the "old country", the children surrounding her, enthralled at grandma's stories.

Or maybe it belonged to a young man who lived alone, just out of college. He had gotten it out of a dumpster, himself, and he kept it for years, until he turned forty, and his new wife told him it was time to throw it out. They were hoping to get pregnant soon, and she didn't want to risk the kids getting splinters.

Or maybe it was just an old chair - nothing else. He moved on to lightly tapping his fingers along the edges of the seat, wondering if the chair would give underneath his weight. Hopefully not, or he'd have to do this all over again, and who knew if he'd have the nerve the second time.

He stood up. His mouth was still cold from the water he had had to drink. He blew out a breath of air, almost expecting to see it cloud in front of him, but it didn't. "Adagio sostenuto" was coming from the CD player now. One of his mother's favorites. He stepped up onto the chair, the piano cords ringing in his ears. The wood held firm. His hands were shaking as he moved to tie the noose around his neck, but he ignored them. The last notes of the song trickled out from the speakers as the belt tightened, and the chair clattered to the ground.