Honey & Tobacco
By Avery Wickersham (TheLorian)
A honey-tobacco scented candle flickers in the corner of his desk, a gift from a long-ago girlfriend who probably doesn’t even remember giving it to him. The room fills with a gentle glow, the stillness intermittently interrupted by the occasional wobble of the flame. A page of college-ruled lined paper sits in front of him on the desk, the date meticulously written in pen in the right-hand corner. “Dear everyone,” it begins. “This decision has been long-coming.”
Smudges in the ink dot the paper as tears roll off his nose. He finishes the letter with “I love you all. Sincerely, Joseph.”
Joseph picks up his death note and folds it carefully in half, then in half again. He pulls an envelope from the top drawer of his desk, slipping the note inside and sealing it with a quick lick to the seal. He presses the flap closed and flips the envelope over, addressing it: “In the event of my death…”
He sits in his chair, pressing his forehead into his forearms as he leans his head down on the desk. He wonders who’s going to find him first. All of his roommates are gone at the game—he hopes the tailgates and the after parties will keep them occupied. He had to convince them to leave, telling them he’d be alright, that he was just tired and wanted to sleep. Joseph had to push them out the door.
He feels guilty for lying to them, guilty for putting them through this. He wants to call his mom, to tell her that he loves her and to let her know he’ll be seeing Dad soon. He refrains, desperate to rip off the bandage and get it over with. He did call one person. He thanked his counselor for the help and that he wished he could’ve been a better patient. Joseph’s counselor was still talking when he hung up the phone.
Joseph had prepared ahead of time, dumping out the rest of his medication. He takes a deep breath and takes the first dose. Frantic knocks echo on the door to his room, but he ignores it and takes the second dose, succumbing to the heaviness of his eyelids.
Joseph’s roommates lower him into the bed, pushing a water bottle and a bowl of soup towards Joseph. Joseph smiles gratefully, grabbing onto one of his roommates’ hands and gripping it tight as a way to say “thank you.”
Joseph’s other roommate picks up his death note. “What do you want me to do with this?”
Joseph points to the honey-tobacco candle, relit in the corner. “Burn it.”