What a crock of shit.
You know better. You know you’re not lucky to be alive. That’s just something people say when they’re trying to make themselves feel a little bit better about your shitty existence, because they don’t think that they can do anything else.
If there was any mercy in the world, if there was actually a God or whatever higher power was the flavor of the week, then that shrapnel would have rendered you braindead or pierced your heart or the hemorrhaging from any number of wounds would have killed you. Instead, your body is covered in scars and you’re pieced back together with pins and needles and plates like some kind of fucked up Frankenstein.
What’s more is you’re just… not wired right anymore. Sure, the doctors told you that your memory would come back in time, that the headaches should go away and that you’d stop losing moments of time, but that’s never made it less frustrating.
It starts when he leaves you.You can’t remember your own name some days, but you can remember the look on his face and the tone in his voice when he told you you were broken, when he told you he couldn’t do it anymore. You try to ask him why he stayed as long as he did, but you can’t find your voice. So you just watch him as he walks out of the apartment, shutting the door on the three years you had spent together. That’s the first time you cry yourself to sleep, because you knew in that moment that you’ve lost everything. You have no more job, no more fiancé, your whole life was torn away from you in a single moment, with a single blast.
(A year from then, you’ll find out that he was cheating on you, even before the accident, with one of the girls from the Officer’s Club on base, and you’ll wonder what she had on you. Was she prettier? Younger? Tighter? Was she a better fuck? You wonder how many times you’ve kissed him after his mouth has been on her and it makes you sick. And one day, you’ll see them on the street, laughing and smiling, happy and holding hands. You’ll want to ask, but just like when he left, you won’t be able to find your voice and you’ll leave before either of them can see you.)
Before long, it becomes par for the course, the crying, sometimes it’s because it’s hard to move, because despite countless hours in physical rehabilitation, your muscles and tendons and bones and nerves never recovered from being pieced back together, so you’re only in your thirties and you have to walk with a goddamn cane, or because you have trouble doing simple tasks or because loud noises startle you now, make you jump, make you want to react, where they used to just fade into the background and other times it’s just because you got in the back of a cab and forgot where you wanted to go the second the door shut.
Eventually you stopped crying. Maybe it was just that you were out of tears, but the truth is that it’s because somewhere along the way, you stopped feeling, you stopped caring. You just got so sick and fucking tired of the shitty, meaningless platitudes you got from people and the looks that they’d give you when they saw you, with pity in their eyes and questions on the tips of the tongues they had to bite to keep from saying something that could offend you and set you off.
One by one, you push them all away; first your friends, then your family. You stop answering calls, you stop answering emails, you refuse to get the door when they come and knock on it. Before long, it’s not just them you refuse to see, but anyone. You stop leaving the apartment entirely, you keep the blinds drawn and your mail and groceries and the weekly case of booze are brought up and left in the mudroom of your apartment by a neighbor you pay $50 a month.
Four years have passed since it happened. Four fucking years. You don't even recognize yourself anymore, but you know that you’re not sad, and hell, you’re not even angry. You’re just… numb. Or at least that’s the illusion you’ve created for yourself, with your regular cocktail of pain killers and anti-convulsants and shitty bottom shelf bourbon that you pump nonstop into your body.
The doctors told you that you were lucky to be alive, that some day, you’d get better, that it’d be easier, but you know now that the doctors are full of shit. You wonder why the fuck this happened to you, when you hadn’t done anything wrong, you had followed orders, followed all the right protocols, but at the end of the day it was just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they got a drop on you. You should have died with everyone else that day, but you didn’t, so on top of everything, there’s a guilt that eats at you day in and day out.
By now, all you’re really doing is drawing it out, but you're not totally sure why. There's no real point in letting yourself be miserable, in letting yourself waste away, in letting yourself hurt. But you tell yourself there is because it's all you know how to do anymore. More to the point, it's what you deserve since you didn’t die that day. You've done a fine job at convincing yourself that all of the pain is your penance for living. But goddamnit, you're tired and you're lonely and you don't actually like the person that you've become. You’ve lost everything. You have no friends, no family, no job, no life, no hope. It’s all gone. You don’t want to hurt anymore. Not physically or mentally or emotionally. All you’re doing is killing time.
It’s the same as it is every night. You’re sitting alone in an empty living room, settled into a sunken in couch with Wheel of Fortune playing in the background. You’ve made yourself dinner and knocked back the handful of pills with cheap whiskey. It’s just like any other Monday night.
The chill of metal on against your temple doesn't even faze you. You just draw in a deep breath and count to three and smile as your finger squeezes the trigger, knowing that finally, after four long years, you don’t have to hurt anymore.