The rough fibers of the rope burned his skin as he fashioned the knot. It was a motion he’d practiced dangerously often. While Deborah was at yoga class, while Deborah was at the grocery store, while Deborah was in the shower.
Somehow, he felt the practice of tying the noose would keep his courage up, that it would become so second nature the ease of it would help him see his plan through.
It had taken years of pain – incessant depression, anger – to drive him to it.
He dragged a chair from the corner of the guest bedroom. A sturdy piece of furniture with thick wooden legs and a lumpy cushion on the seat. No one ever sat in it. It was padded in all the wrong places, like Deborah.
Climbing atop it, he tied the tail of the rope securely around the thick beam overhead. The beams were a feature his wife had insisted on. They added a “rustic” touch.
The rope hung at just the right length. He had planned so it would. He touched it and watched it sway.
The note was already prepared, typed on a thin sheet of paper and printed from the computer in the living room. Removing it from his shirt pocket, he clambered down, unfolded it, and left it at a slight angle on the bedside table, just beside the hideous lamp Deborah’s aunt had given them for Christmas.
He hadn’t labored over it. The words were short and sweet. I wish I didn’t have to go this way, but I can’t take it anymore. I love you.
He wiped nervous sweat and the stinging memory of the rope off on his pajama pants before stepping a few paces back to admire the grisly sight.
The scene seemed… inviting, somehow. Maybe Deborah had been right about the beams.
But now that it was time, he hesitated. He put one socked foot on the seat of the chair and paused, looking straight up the length of rope. Grabbing onto it, he tested his weight, feeling its tautness. There was something appealing about how firm the line felt. A reassurance of finality.
He hopped up, taking the noose in both his hands, and stared through the hole. Everything looked strangely different on the other side. Amplified. Important. The carpet fibers below stood at attention, and when he held it up to his face, just before dropping it over his neck, the rope framed Deb’s painting on the wall opposite him. Each brushstroke, borne from her nimble fingers, glared back at him, small but significant. A piece of the whole.
Inhaling deeply, he filled his lungs with air, taking note of just how that felt, and shuffled toward the brink of life, the edge of the uncomfortable chair…
At the last second, he closed his eyes, trying to get a glimpse of the afterlife. How easily we are extinguished, he thought. Something as simple as a rope, and every hope, every dream, every fear is no more.
With his toes hanging over the wooden lip of the seat, he opened his eyes, removed the noose from his neck, his arms and legs tingling, and clambered off his pedestal.
He padded down the hallway, the cold of the hardwood floor bleeding through his socks, and into the bedroom he shared with his wife.
Deborah slept peacefully on the left side of the bed, her usual side. Her hair, a tangled mass of soft brown curls, fell over her shoulder and spilled down her bare chest, gathering in a lush pile at her throat. His eyes followed the slope of her bare body from her shoulder to her waist, stopping abruptly at the peak of her hip where the blanket began. One hand held it there loosely, as if he’d been trying to tug it away while she slept.
“Deborah, darling.” He leaned over her, reaching for her milk-white shoulder. “It’s time.”
She flinched at his touch and goosebumps blossomed on her arms as she struggled awake. The blue of her eyes seemed dim that morning, and he wondered if it was because of the pills.