The Darkness Inside
By Faith Engen Ellis
I am still here, hidden in the darkness, lying awake at night. They will never understand what it means be me. That isn’t an assumption or development of self-pity, it’s a fact that they can’t comprehend but can sure reprimand and torment me about. With so much consuming, suffocating me, after all of the blood and tears that I have shed to just stay alive. No, they couldn’t possibly understand but I be damned if they don’t taunt me for my thoughts and berate me for my solitude.
I swing my feet over the side of the mattress and stand up in the dark. Shadows breed but I can still see. I am still here after all. Though I feel dead inside, I am alive. Is the only that separates us from that line is the temperature of blood coursing through our veins? I don’t know. Part of me is interested to find out but instead I decide to move my feet and walk out of the room, down the stairs, and through the hallway toward the massive kitchen.
This kitchen has always been my safe place. Even in the dark of night, it is beautiful and calls to me. I have never been a chef or a baker by any means, but cooking and baking has always calmed me all the same. To be able to make a meal that is good for me and delicious feels like a reward and a skill, of which I typically lack. I am not skilled in many areas so I take pride in what I can.
I decide to make a cup of hot green tea and sit down at the breakfast nook by the large window overlooking the back field. The outside world is still dark and quiet, sleeping peacefully while I am wide-awake. Looking around my kitchen, I find that I forgot to load the dishwasher and wash the knives, which are still on the counter by the sink. “How un-like you” I whisper into my hot mug of tea. Steam curls up into my nose, dampening my forehead. The warmth coats my throat and wards off any eerie feeling I might have had.
My husband is still on third shift and the dogs can’t be bothered to wake up before sunrise. “Just like teenagers” I smile to myself. We never had children, my husband and I. We agreed well before our marriage that children weren’t in the cards for us. We have had a very happy ten years of marriage so far though, without kids. We traveled often, went on dates, out with friends, and of course we had our fur-babies for amusement, comfort, and another way to express our love. Would he miss me? I wondered as my thoughts bounced back and forth and the darkness slowly eased back into my bones. He’s been a good husband and very patient, but he could never understand the darkness that surrounds my mind. He just isn’t wired to understand the mental and emotional imbalances that some people can face.
I always thought it was a ruse myself. People who would speak of feelings and images they couldn’t control. As if some people are tapped into, a part of their brains that they were never meant to be able to conquer and it messed them up for life. Looking back, I was naive to think it would never happen to me. I didn’t realize how hard life could be. How unhappy one person could be, no matter how blessed they are. But now it all makes sense. I understand that there is more to this world and what we don’t initially see is where we actually want to be. What lays beyond this life, this universe, that’s where darkness isn’t feared, but embraced. Moreover, I am starting to believe it’s wonderful there.
I drain the last little bit of my tea, throw out the soggy bag, and put my mug in the sink. I turn to walk away, but I think better about it and stay to run some warm, soapy water and clean up the few dishes sitting there. My husband hates to do the dishes and I think that this will help ease the pain for him a little. He won’t understand and I want to make things as easy on him as possible. My hands cease their scrubbing and my eyes gaze out the window, searching the night for nothing in particular. I know it has to happen tonight, I can feel it. Like a coldness so deep that it sets into your bones and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get warm. I know it has to happen tonight, I just don’t know how. I don’t want to make it harder than him than it already will be. The thought enters my mind and I immediately drink my hands on a nearby dishrag and scramble to the desk in the study for some paper and a pen. I will write him a letter! I must. He deserves answers and I need him to know, there was nothing he could have done to stop me or to help me. This is my decision. He has to know that what he finds, it is all because of me.
I write steadily, getting as much information as I can onto the small stationary. I don’t want to confuse him more than I already will. I just need to him understand, I need him to feel peace and find strength in himself. He’s always leaned on me for strength and I on him but our paths were always meant to go separate ways. I was never destined to be with anyone for long, but rather to find that place, the things that live among the darkness. As the clock on the wall chimes to signal that it is two in the morning, I put my pen down and fold the stationary into an envelope with my husband’s name. I set it on the banister where I know he will see it when he drops his keys and his wallet into the basket. It’s time for me to welcome the darkness, invite it, and walk with it. I’m ready.
Again I walk to my large kitchen and I take a final look around. I had dreamed of a kitchen like this for so long. But even it couldn’t fill the gaping hole where I constantly felt empty. Even it could not keep me satisfied for long. I had cooked so many meals here and actually enjoyed cleaning it until everything shined like new. My husband and I had made love on the center island on our anniversary last year and when he received a promotion six months ago that we had been praying hard for. He had held me last month in the corner by the pantry while I cried but was unable to put into words why I was crying. This was my home and the kitchen, my husband, and my memories were the center of it all.
I walked to stand beside where I had left the clean dishes to dry. There were those knives again. High quality, professional knives that my husband knew I loved. They could cut through anything without a struggle. I picked up the largest of them and looked back out the window into the darkness that swallowed up our property. Silence. Inky blackness. I was alone, but I felt at peace. And then I finally did what I had decided to do months ago. I joined that darkness, I became a part of it. With that knife in my hand, all it took was one smooth motion. My blood spurted from my throat and gushed down my front, onto the floor. It would be okay, the rug needed to be thrown out anyways. I didn’t gasp in protest at the open wound slowly releasing my soul, I welcomed it. For years I have ached and dreamed of feeling this free. It was finally here. In just a few short moments, I closed the door on my old life, and I married to the darkness for eternity.
As I arrived home from work, the sun began to rise and shine down on our lovely home we had built together. My wife would still be upstairs in bed, the dogs too I’m sure. I carefully shut my car door and walked into the front of our home. As I deposited my wallet and keys on the banister, I noticed an envelope with my name written in my wife’s sloppy handwriting that I adored so much. I smiled to myself as I cracked the seal and took a seat on the entry bench. Kicking off my shoes, I read the letter silently:
I am sorry I will not greet you today, but I hope work went great and that you are enjoying how far you’ve come. You will not find me today, or any day after for that matter. I need you to understand that this was inevitable and in no way your fault. You could never have prevented this. Husband, you have been the greatest thing in my life. You were a friend, supporter, and lover to me for so many years and I cannot thank you enough. But your eternity is not with me, and we both know that. I am wired for another task, another life that I could never have found here. You always wanted to help me find my ultimate happiness, please understand that this is it. This is the only way.
I will always love you more than this life. I will always be appreciative of what you have given and been to me. Now, I have taken care of things such as paying the bills, cleaning the house, and doing your laundry for now, but I won’t be here to do those things anymore. Please take care of yourself. Find someone who can give you what you deserve. I know you, I know you’ll understand and that you won’t feel spiteful towards me. I also know that you will hurt for awhile too. I am here my love. In the other world watching over you.
Lastly, do not go into the kitchen. Call the police and have them take care of my vessel. I want you to remember me as I was, not the empty shell that I became.
With So Much Love,
Tears escaped my eyes as I folded the letter and replaced it in the envelope. I sighed and pulled out my phone to call 9-1-1. As the woman on the other end answered I choked, “My wife has committed suicide. Please, I-I need someone to come.” I answered the woman’s questions, gave her our address, and hung up. I’m not sure how long I sat there. The police came; they asked their own questions, I saw the covered body of my wife escorted out. I felt numb, hollow, but I felt a peace for her. She had struggled for so long. Wrestling with an unhappiness that nothing in this life could soothe for her. I said a small prayer that wherever she was, she was truly happy and that I loved her. Then I closed my eyes and swore I felt her smile against my neck and kiss my cheek and suddenly, my heart swelled with a strange comfort and warmth.