This is a new column by Nathan Hansen. These are fictional letters by literary characters who have committed suicide.
Elkton Hills Academy
1 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023
I address this letter to the world, as I’m not so clear on whom to address specifically. There’s never been a particular instance at which I’ve felt a connection to anyone, so it seems just as likely that I write to the world, playing the odds that one person might understand. One person beyond the walls of this God forsaken institution.
The decision I’m making is a difficult one, and people will be affected, but only for a short time. I suppose it’s my hope that one person might explain it to others. Then again I’m not naïve enough to think my name shall disappear from the lips of my peers as quickly as my light is extinguished.
Knowing this letter might eventually be found and given to my family, I might also suggest that they not worry, fearful that my death be their fault. That’s not true. It’s true that I’ve wondered why they sent me to a boarding school, so far from home, but it’s not true that I feel they’ve resented me. Many boys here have felt that, I think, though I’ve never had those types of conversations. The exclusion from family, conceivably substituted for another one amongst children my age, was devastating to say the least, however what made things worse was the fact that I couldn’t find a single person to confide in. I guess I shouldn’t say I haven’t found anyone. I suppose they just don’t exist in my life anymore. Ones that aren’t so full of themselves, that is to say.
As I write this I realize that the only entity I’ve truly come face to face with are the treetops outside my window. Alone, as I often am, I confess to the waving branches in the quad, quiet enough that my roommates never suspect my fears or classmates rough housing below glance up to witness my tears. The football passing between hands of peers, running, dodging, aiming, yelling. Their camaraderie compared to cowardice. Me lonely and listless three floors up. Granted, there have been a few that I feel want to reach out, but I’ve dug myself deep enough into my own sorrow that I don’t dare crawl out. I’m at my limit, frustrated with an entitled sort so arrogant in their ways. And I’m humiliated in a sense, unable to relate to the jocks or the popular boys who ask me to cajole in jest.
“Hey, Jimmy,” they say. “Do my homework and I’ll give ya a smoke! Oh, wait, you don’t smoke! Then how about you just do my homework!”
“Jimmy Castle, King of Nothing!”
“The Queen of the Castle!”
And those are just instances in passing. The commentary of daily life would be a novel.
I am different. I know this much. The fact that I know so much more makes it frightening that this little fact is what matters most. It probably doesn’t in the big scheme of things. Maybe not to an adult. Maybe adults don’t care. Maybe when you’re an adult there isn’t a battle of fitting in, letting your voice be heard. Maybe this is something I should just outgrow. Deal, as my father would say.
I can’t deal anymore. I can’t fathom another day, let alone the years it will take from me to be truly alone as I feel I’ll need to be. Isolated from the bullies of the world.
I’m coming to the final full stop of my life. It sounds so foolish to say. I’m so yellow. The thing is, in my cowardice, I’ve finally come to grasp a bit of comfort knowing my life is coming to an end. And admitting my cowardice has increased my bravery.
I’m finally content.
My desk sits smack dab in the middle of a window open to the October chill. The encroaching numbness to as much liveliness I’ve felt since I’ve been here and I know in my bones that it’s because I’ve finally submitted to the only answer in my life which happens to be an end. What’s funny is, I can’t think how to end this silly letter. I’ve been writing it as if it will be graded by Mr. Antolini. Then again, who’s to know if anyone beyond my roommates will read this. Maybe it will be passed around to school kids to embarrass me further in the after life. Maybe in that run of gossip others like me will stand up. Maybe it will be entrusted to a teacher or the headmaster who will in turn hand it over to my parents who pick up my belongings. Belongings. What a funny word.
I think most letters like these are supposed to explain something, a reason. But my head is a whirlwind, my chest a flame and stomach a flurry of butterflies, seemingly relaxed. Despite it all, I’m reminding myself to put a paperweight on this letter so the fall wind doesn’t blow it under my bed or the radiator for Christ’s sake. Imagine the stupid thing catching on fire and igniting my room, a practical inferno above my lifeless body confusing any and everyone from what to take care of first, a corpse or the damn dorm. Maybe I’m not so yellow, as I’m smiling just thinking of how funny that twisted confusion would be.
Well, it’s that time now. Everyone is returning from dinner now. It’s steak night, a weekly cafeteria highlight. In the end, I’m no better than a weekly highlight.