What you feel when you kill yourself

“I wish you were thinking of me during your death”

999 words · 5 min read

I always wonder what you felt when you were in the process of killing yourself.

I sometimes picture myself jumping off a high building, stabbing myself in the heart, or taking a crazy amount of painkillers and strong alcohol together. When earth’s gravity pulls me down at 10ms-2, what will I feel when the wind came rushing towards my face? What will I feel when I hit the ground? How painful will that be? For how long will I sense the pain before I lose consciousness? What I will feel with my hand when my warm blood rushes out from the open stab wound on my chest? Will I feel anything when the edge of the knife cuts through the muscle of my heart? Will I be drunk enough to not feel anything when I take the route of using painkillers?

But mostly, I wonder if, before I die, I will remain conscious enough to regret. I’ve heard—not sure from where—that people trying to die by carbon monoxide poisoning often became hyper-conscious for a very short period of time, during which they often regret choosing to die; at the same time, they were poisoned enough that they could not move at all, which often made them intensely fearful of dying. But I’m not sure if this is some made-up things people from the Samaritans say to you when they try to talk you away from killing yourself, for, after all, carbon monoxide kills fast enough to not allow many survivors to tell the tale. But this strange piece of information stuck to my head.

What were you thinking when you jumped off that lake and drowned? Were you excited? Elated? Or Fearful? I remember you were afraid of water, you never learned to swim, and you avoided going on a boat. What made you make this choice of jumping off the water? Was it because our little son drowned on the same spot?

It’s always struck me that death can be associated with such beauty. Years ago, before we even met, I was in Munich, and alone I went to Dachau Concentration Camp. The sun was high up the sky, the sky was the bluest I’d ever seen, birds were singing, and wind was brushing my face gently. Other than the slight noise made by tourists and German high school kids, the entire space was quiet. But there in the furthest corner of the camp was a crematorium where corpses were burned. I imagine the entire area is haunted by ghosts.

We were on holiday when our son died. It was in a beautiful lake surrounded by green hills. The lake was so large that the end of it seemed to join the sky into one seamless tapestry of silky blue. You and I were sitting by the shore when our son swam away. One moment, I could still see him; the next, he was gone. I boarded a boat of a local man and searched for our son, and what we fished out was his corpse. The weather was sunny, and the water was calm, so why did he drown and die? When I put his body on the shore, you knelt in front of him, hugged his body, and wept, while I stood there, looked around, and failed to understand what had happened.

I thought that was temporary, but it didn’t turn out that way: days, weeks, and months after that, I could still feel your resentment, which grew more and more intense. I loved you as much as I’d always been, but your resentment was tormenting to me: since his death, you had always turned your back towards me when you slept.

It was as if there were a wall separating your side of the bed and mine.

She and I was on a business trip. After a long day, we had a few drinks at the bar in the hotel we were staying in. She was about my age and single; and she was so soft-spoken that I had to lean very close in order to hear her speak. I realised her eyes looked like yours, with the same greenish hue so rare that I’d never seen anyone else having such eyes before.

We kissed, then one thing led to another. An enormous sense of guilt would set in the next morning, but the pleasure of holding a warm and naked human being was too much to resist, heightened by the reality that you had erected a wall between us for months that I couldn’t even touch you. It was a mistake, sure, but for a brief moment, I loved her.

If our son’s fatal accident wasn’t enough to justify your resentment for me, then I’d given you one legitimate reason to. But your way of responding to it was to go to the lake our son died and jumped off the pier. Why?

She came to our house after hearing about your death. Since she was the reason for your death, I didn’t want her in our house. Also, I was drinking, and I looked hideous. In the end, I let her in, and she made dinner for me, but I couldn’t eat.

You killed yourself because I slept with that woman, and that woman now made me a dinner.

If killing myself doesn’t involve physical pain, I will do it, now that there seemed to be nothing for me to live for, with you and our son gone. But why did you do it? You could still live foe me, and we could have another kid. Has that ever crossed your mind?

“You should eat.” she said. “You need the strength.”

But I could only picture the moment you drowned, and imagine what you were thinking. Did you regret? Did you, for a brief moment before you became unconscious, wish that somebody would save you?

I wished you’d regretted killing yourself. I also wished you were thinking of me during your final seconds.

 Short Stories    13 May, 2016
 Fiction    Love    Death    Adultery    Short Stories  
Copyright © Peter Y. Chuang 2019

Peter Y. Chuang


Peter Y. Chuang is a novelist, short story writer, and a music critic. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s probably listening to classical music or tinkering with his computers. He uses Linux (current distro of choice: Arch Linux). Read more about his Linux stuff.