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.
(Full Stop)
noun:- A punctuation mark placed at the end of a sentence to indicate a full
stop, in contrast to a comma used to indicate a partial stop, or pause.

They say that your life flashes before your eyes the moment before you die.
They, as usual, are wrong.
I think it's based on the idea that you search your memories for a way out of
the situation you're now in.
For me, there was no way out and my brain already knew it.
*

I have the same dream every night. I drive down the road and look at the
milometer. It must be a brand new car as it reads just 22 miles.
There are other cars driving alongside me but I don't care about the
people driving. Some of them I know but most of them I don't. I don't even care
about the ones I do know. I'm driving and I don't know where I'm going.
The road is long and boring. There are no junctions for me to turn off at
and no signposts.
I light a cigarette and wind down my window.
I don't even know why I smoke. Maybe it breaks up the journey. Maybe it gives
me something solid and never changing. A cigarette always tastes the same
even though the scenery changes with every mile I drive.
Maybe its that sense of sameness I need.
I look down at the milometer. I've driven 25 miles. I have no idea where
I'm going or how to get there. Suddenly the thought of this ongoing journey
makes me sick so I steer to the right and then veer sharply to the left.
The car flips and crashes into a metal barrier at the side of the road.
When the car crashes I wake up.
I've been having that dream for weeks.
*

Try and recall every memory you have, right now. It's OK. I'll wait for you.
I put you on the spot there so it probably didn't take too long. A few minutes
maybe?
Your whole life. Everything you can recall on demand, diminished to a few
minutes of memories.
How sad would your life be if that was all that flashed before your eyes when
you died? 5 minutes of life and then nothingness.
For me, it wasn't a problem.
My life didn't flash before my eyes. Not all of it at least.
Want to know what I saw in the seconds before I died?
The last few days of my life, played back to me in High Definition. Like
watching a movie you already know the end of.
And as I watched, I got this sick feeling, like the feeling you get when you hear
nails on a chalkboard, or a knife scraping against a plate, every time I saw a
decision that I made which brought me to where I am now.
And I watched these last few days of my life, as they occupied less than 3

seconds in my mind (sorry, the time slowing down thing really does happen.
It's hard to explain but one day you'll feel it too), screaming and shouting at
myself for all the bad decisions I made.
*

I wake up from my dream and check that I'm still alive. It's silly but I do it every
time I have that dream. If you can call the way my life is at the moment being
alive then I am most definitely still alive. My heart is pounding and I'm
breathing hard. Sweating profusely.
I don't know why that dream rattles me so much. I've had it so often that
I should be used to it.
I am 27 years old and live with my best friend. I get out of bed and walk
through to the bathroom. I can hear my friend snoring in his room. What time is
it I wonder to myself. I check the clock and am appalled to learn that it is not
even 5am. I'm well and truly awake though so I head downstairs and make
some toast. As I eat my toast I wonder why I keep having the dream and what
it might mean. The obvious answer seems too obvious for me and I've
overlooked it dozens of times.
The dream is an allegory for my life. I am bored of the same thing every
day and don't have the energy to make it to the end. This dream is a precursor
to suicide I think to myself. But I know that I would never kill myself. So I finish
eating my toast and get in the shower. It's just gone 5am by the time I've
finished and my friend is still asleep.
I decide to sit and watch a bit of TV. There is nothing on at 5am so I put
on BBC News 24 and learn about the latest happenings in the world...
*

Really this was the first mistake I made. Everything that has happened to me
since was a direct result of that decision. Mind you, thinking about it now, it
seems a little unfair to hinge the rest of my life on that one decision.
Still, you must have something like that in your life. Right? Maybe you met
your wife because you missed your train; and whilst it seems unfair to blame
the resulting lifetime on that one moment, that was it wasn't it?
Either way, whilst I can't say for definite that I wouldn't have done it any other
day, watching TV was stupid decision. And with it comes that scraping feeling,
the nails-on-chalkboard cringe...
*

I wake up to the sound of my friend changing the TV channel. I swear out loud
and observe the funny look my friend gives me. Don't you have work he asks
me. Yes I fucking well do I say to him in what I can only describe as an
unpleasant tone. Why didn't you wake me up you useless bastard I ask him in
an equally unpleasant tone. He mutters something about not being my mother
and walks into the kitchen.

It's 10:27 according to the clock on the mantle-piece. If I fly to work I'll
still be two hours late I shout through to the kitchen. My friend is making toast
and shrugs his shoulders. He tells me that it's not his problem and that I need
to make sure I'm awake for work. Quite right he is too. I'm still blaming him by
the time I arrive at work though.
My boss wants a word with me when I get in to work. I'm unsurprised as I
realise that I'm now nearly 3 hours late for my shift. Nice of you to join us he
starts sarcastically. Do you know what time it is he says. I do and I tell him so.
He is unimpressed by my unapologetic answer. He tells me that turning up to
work this late is unacceptable and that the night-man has had to stay on late to
cover for me. He makes it clear that I should be ashamed of myself and asks if I
know that the night-man has a child at home who he wants to get home to. I
point out to my boss that the familial status of the man I relieve from duty
should have no bearing on how I am treated for being late. That doesn't go
down too well and my boss says that he's going to be booking in a performance
review for me. I tell him not to bother and that he can insert the job into one of
his lower orifices. Obviously I do not phrase it so politely and I am promptly
fired. That's fine by me. I hate this job anyway...
*

Strange. I consider the decision to sit and watch TV (where I fell asleep and
was late for work) one of the decisions that changed the course of my life. I
can't place the same responsibility on my decision to quit work. Why do I not
think of this as a life changing moment?
I'm not sure myself. Maybe because I hated my job so much and that I wanted
to leave so badly. Either way, I don't get that sick feeling when I'm forced to
watch this moment of my life again.
It makes me think though. Is there something more to my decision to fall
asleep in front of the TV? Or is there something less to my decision to quit my
job?
*

I have the rest of the day free now I don't have work to worry about. I go home
and offer a heartfelt apology to my friend who is sitting on the sofa playing
Xbox. He says that it's fine and that he didn't give it another thought when I left
the house. It really was my decision to fall asleep in front of the TV and he
didn't feel bad in the slightest he asserts. He doesn't know my schedule and
therefore had no idea that I should be at work he informs me. I agree that's fair
enough and that there was no reason that he should have woken me up. I
admit that I would have been grateful if he had woken me up but that I don't
hold it against him that he didn't. He asks me if I want to play video games with
him.
It strikes me as odd that he doesn't question why I'm home already. I
assume that he figures I got sent home unpaid. I tell him that I got fired. He
laughs and opines that the current situation (me without a job) is cool. I ask
him why he thinks that. He says that I'm too uptight and that he blames my

job. Maybe now I don't have to go to work I can chill out a little bit. I thank him
for his concern over my mental health (and emotional heat apparently) but
point out that if I don't have a job I can't pay my half of the rent and unless he
can afford it by himself we may soon both find ourselves homeless. Expressing
further concern for my body temperature my friend once more suggests that I
should chill out. My parents pay all of the rent here he tells me. The money I
give him is just spending money for him he explains but that he doesn't feel
bad about not telling me before because we both got a good deal out of it. He
some beer money and me somewhere to live. I agree that we have both been
getting a good deal out of it but may have appreciated this information a few
months ago when my car broke down and I had to live off tinned beans on
toast for a month. My friend laughs and says that he would have told me not to
worry about the rent that month if he hadn't found my flatulence so amusing.
It's mildly annoying to learn that I spent a whole month living in poverty
because my body makes amusing noises and I make my friend aware of this
annoyance. He laughs it off (as he is prone to do) and suggests that I either join
him in playing video games or stop talking so he can resume.
I opt to join him and spend the next hour killing aliens until my phone
rings.
I check the caller ID and see that my girlfriend is calling me. I motion to
my friend to carry on our electronic campaign without me and walk into the
kitchen to answer the phone.
Hello I say to my girlfriend. She tells me immediately that she heard I got
fired from work. News travels fast I comment and then accede that I did indeed
get fired. She asks me what I got fired for and I tell her that I told her dad to
stick his job up his arse. She asks me why I did that and I point out that despite
her dad being my boss I hated the job and hated working for him. I tell her that
he was incredibly rude and derogatory to me when I arrived a little late so we
had a conversation which evidently ended with the words you're fired. She tells
me that I'm an idiot and that did I think about the consequences of quitting
before I did it...
*

Consequences. Of course! That's why I got the sick feeling when I fell asleep in
front of the TV but not when I quit my job.
The soul chilling nails-on-chalkboard moments relate to future consequences.
Falling asleep in front of the TV had consequences (I would lose my job) but
quitting my job didn't.
I guess that means my life would have ended up the same way whether or not
I had quit then or not.
That fills me with a couple of conflicting emotions. Given the hellishly
nightmarish process of reliving my final days, the pain of consequences will be
massive.
On the other hand, even in death I get to say fuck you to my boss...
*

I tell my girlfriend that I don't need to worry about getting a new job for at least
a couple of weeks so maybe it would be nice to spend a little bit of time
together. She says that she's angry about what I did and apparently particularly
about how I spoke to her dad. She says that she'll call me back when she isn't
so angry at me. I can't guess how long that will be so I tell her that I might have
plans by the time she calls back. For some reason this seems to make her
angrier and the conversation ends with her telling me that I need to stop acting
like a teenager and start taking responsibility for my life. She hangs up without
me saying a word so I go back to the video game campaign I left behind.
My friend says that my character kept dying so he's restarted it single
player. If I can let him finish the bit he's on at the moment then I can join again.
That's OK I tell him. I have some things I could be getting on with today anyway
and I'll see him later. As I walk out the house to my car I think he grunts some
kind of goodbye.
I don't really have things to do today as all of my previous plans relied on me
still being in active employment today. The remainder of my day feels slightly
pointless so with that thought in mind I decide I will go and visit my parents...
*

And off the back of that decision I find myself writhing in emotional turmoil
again. If I'm suffering the pain of consequences this has got to be the biggest
of them all.
Some of the things that have come to pass have taken my death for me to
realise my involvement, my part in their inception and creation. This one I was
aware of as soon as the consequences made themselves known.
And whilst I can easily forgive myself for falling asleep in front of the TV, I know
that this one is something I'll take to my grave.
The small mercy of that is, even taking it to my grave, I don't have to hold it for
long...
*

The fifteen minute car journey to my parents house is pleasant enough


although it is uncomfortably like my recurring dream. The road in my dream is
almost exactly the same as the one I have to drive down to get to my parents
house and I'm currently very aware of that.
I arrive at my parents house and see my dad's car on the driveway. I guess he
still hasn't got a job since being laid off at the factory so it will give me chance
to see both of them in one go. I ring the doorbell and wait what seems an
unusually long time for mum to answer. When she does come to the door I'm
surprised by the fact that she looks a bit like she has been crying. What's
wrong I ask. She says that it's nothing and she's just been watching something
silly on TV that set her off. I have no problem believing this as mum cries at
almost anything.
Where's dad I ask. He's in the living room mum sniffles back at me. I walk

into the living room and find my dad asleep.


I immediately notice a nearly empty bottle of whiskey on the table and a
small tumbler on the arm of dad's armchair. This strikes me as being a little odd
as I know that my dad hasn't drunk since I was a boy.
Wakey wakey I say in an attempt to rouse my father from what I presume
is an alcohol induced stupor. He grumbles and tells me to go forth and
reproduce with much less polite wording. I point out that this is no way to greet
his only child and he opens his eyes and looks at me. Oh thank God he says to
me. I thought you were your mother he states calmly. I point out that this would
be an inappropriate greeting for his wife too. He doesn't agree with this
sentiment but asks me how I am doing these days. It's been a long time since
you've come to see me he asserts. I correct him and point out that I visited as
recently as last weekend. He struggles to remember this event which leads me
to think that the drinking is not new. I ask him if he's drunk and he insists that
he is not. He's only had a few glasses he maintains and that the bottle on the
table is a few weeks old. I exhibit scepticism through the medium of my
eyebrows but say nothing.
We make small talk for a while until he asks why I'm not at work today. I
tell him that I got fired. He sits upright and launches a tirade of abuse at me.
I'm wasting my life he informs me somewhat ironically given his drunken
jobless state. He tells me that I'm a huge disappointment to him now that he
has to tell his friends that his twenty-seven year old son is one of these jobless
types. When I point out that I was made unemployed some two hours ago
whereas he has been one of those so called jobless types for almost a year now
I open myself up for yet another tirade of abuse. I watch him pour himself
another whiskey and I tell him that if anything I should be ashamed of him. This
visibly outrages him but I don't stop talking. I point out that he is now not only
one of those jobless types but a degenerate alcoholic to go with it. I have every
intention of paying my own way in the world I continue. I point out that he is a
strain on the benefits and unemployment system whereas I am young enough
and ambitious enough to land myself a new job by the end of the month.
This pretty much kills the conversation but does lead in to a beautiful
father-son moment where he tells me to leave his house and never come back
and I tell him that I will give him the time of day once more when he stops
drinking and going ahead like a certain male reproductive organ.
I haven't really spoken to my mum since I arrived but I do quickly move
through to the kitchen where mum is smoking a cigarette and tell her that
she's let dad become a complete state. I reiterate my previous position to my
mother that I will not be visiting again until dad has cleaned up his act. Mum
looks at me with tears in her eyes and opens her mouth to say something. I tell
her to save it for a time when I actually care and leave the house. I'm angry
when I get back into my car so I light a cigarette and start the drive home...
*

That was probably the worst moment of my entire life, although it didn't feel
like it at the time. By the time my anger had subsided I felt like a new man. I
had just told off my parents and I was convinced that they deserved it. Maybe
how I spoke to my mum was a little uncalled for, but dad definitely deserved it,
I told myself at the time.

If I could cry right now, I would. I know where this part of my story leads and I
know that watching that back will be the worst thing I have ever experienced.
There was a decision here. I could have called them up and apologised for
what I'd said but I thought I was in the right.
Everyone told me that what happened to mum and dad wasn't my fault but I
knew it was. And watching this moment of my life again, I know more than
ever that this was the real precursor to the major turning point of my life.
Mum. Dad. I'm sorry.
If it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty sure I got what I deserved for it...
*

When I get home my friend is still playing Xbox. I ask him if he has work
tomorrow and he says that doesn't. Does he want to do something tomorrow I
ask him. It's been a fair while since we spent any time together I mention to
him. He gestures to the TV and asks me if I mean that sort of something. I say
no and point out the window saying that I mean that sort of something. Going
to the pub or for a round of golf or something. Anything other than sitting
indoors.
He agrees that a round of golf sounds like a good idea but that we'll have
to be finished by around about 4pm because his girlfriend is coming around
tomorrow evening. I point out that his girlfriend and my girlfriend get on with
each other OK so would it be alright if I invited my girlfriend around too. He
thinks about it for a second and says that he can't think of any reason that
would be a problem unless I plan on interrupting his plans for sex. I make it
clear that I have no such intentions for the evening and he accepts the idea of
my girlfriend coming round too.
The remainder of my day goes by entirely without incident and I turn in for bed
at about 2am having been playing video games for about 6 hours solidly.
*
I have the same dream every night. I drive down the road and look at the
milometer. It must be a brand new car as it reads just 22 miles.
There are other cars driving alongside me but I don't care about the
people driving. Some of them I know but most of them I don't. I don't even care
about the ones I do know. I'm driving and I don't know where I'm going.
The road is long and boring. There are no junctions for me to turn off at
and no signposts.
I light a cigarette and wind down my window.
I don't even know why I smoke. Maybe it breaks up the journey. Maybe it gives
me something solid and never changing. A cigarette always tastes the same
even though the scenery changes with every mile I drive.
Maybe its that sense of sameness I need.
I look down at the milometer. I've driven 25 miles. I have no idea where
I'm going or how to get there.
Just ahead I see a turn-off. It has my ex boss's name written on it and I smile. I
take the turn-off and find myself on a very similar road. If I didn't know better I

would swear it was the same road. A signpost tells me that I am here and the
rest of the road is mine to make.
I keep driving for a long time with no cares for the dream I always have.
Had.
I've driven an awfully long way tonight. Longer than I've ever driven in
this dream before. And gradually my dream fades in time to the sound of my
9am alarm...
*

Deliverance. That's what it felt like that night.


Deliverance from the rut I had found myself in.
My life was mine again. As far as I was concerned, everything hinged on me
quitting work.
*

I wake up with a slight sense of surprise at the fact I've not been rudely
awakened by a bad dream. So paranoid am I about this dream that I actually
check that I'm awake and not still dreaming.
I remember reading somewhere once that in a dream you can't read. I
climb out of bed and pick up a book from my bookshelf. I can read it fine and I
find myself a little embarrassed at my actions. I can hear my friend snoring
again and I get in the shower. I wash myself and when I come out of the shower
my friend is rumbling around the house in his underwear. I get dressed and go
downstairs to make some toast.
Every morning usually feels the same to me but today I feel different.
Today I feel lighter. I attribute this to not having work today. I sit down in front
of the TV and watch a generic daytime show. An inoffensive man and woman
are telling me about the going ons in the world and what new books are out
this week.
After a while my friend comes into the living room and slumps on the sofa
next to me. He makes his apologies and tells me that he can't do golf today as
he has a doctors appointment that he completely forgot about but that we are
still OK for the double date this evening. This reminds me that I haven't
actually spoken to my girlfriend since yesterday so I send her a text message
asking if she wants to come round tonight. I let her know that my friend and his
girlfriend will be here too in the hope that this persuades her. She didn't seem
too keen to be spending time with me when I last spoke to her.
I'm surprised when my friend asks if he can have a lift to the doctors as I
was convinced this was an excuse to get out of golf. I say that of course I will
take him to the doctors but express surprise when he says that he will need me
to swing by and pick up his girlfriend. I ask him if everything is alright and he
confides in me that she has missed her period and that they are both
concerned that she may be pregnant. I express an opinion that it is natural for
them to be concerned about such things and that obviously I will gladly pick
her up and take her to the doctors. My friend expresses the somewhat clichd
sentiment that I am a great friend to have.
I ask when he needs to leave to pick her up and he glances at the clock.
He asks if we can leave in about fifteen minutes. Of course that's no problem I
tell him.

I was happy for my friend. Him and his girlfriend were a great couple and I
knew that he would make an excellent, laid back father.
There was a decision here; whether or not I should take them to the doctors.
Knowing what happens next, I keep thinking that this should incite that soulcrushing cringe, that this should be a nails-on-chalkboard moment.
I guess the consequences of this decision were never mine.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not unhappy that I don't have to feel the misery that
I'm witnessing just a little surprised.
*

I drive my friend to his girlfriends house and when we get there my friend gets
out to knock on her door. She comes out of her house and gets in the car. She
shoots my friend a dirty looks then looks at me and smiles pleasantly.
My friend tells her that I know about the situation but that I'm cool so for
her to not worry. She expresses that it is very easy for him to say not to worry
and that he wont have to make any decisions if she is pregnant.
I understand the implications here and decide to stay quiet. She
continues that if he doesn't like the outcome of today then he can just up and
leave but that she has no such privilege. My friend is visibly upset by this
remark and comments that he would always be there for her and the baby if
she was pregnant.
Part of me thinks that if they're arguing like this without even knowing
whether or not she's pregnant that I would hate to be around in the aftermath. I
refuse to comment on their situation however and sit silently for the duration of
the car journey. After a minute or two the argument coming from the back seat
stops and we all sit in silence.
We arrive at the doctors and my friend and his girlfriend get out of the
car whilst I park up. Do you want me to wait out here I ask my friend or shall I
come and meet you in there. My friend says that he doesn't really know how
long they'll be in there so for me to come and find them in the waiting room
when I've parked. They walk into the surgery bickering amongst themselves.
I park up and walk inside. My friend is sitting in the waiting room but I
can't see his girlfriend. I ask if she has gone in alone but he says that she has
just gone to see which office is her doctors as she has never been to this
surgery before. We sit in the waiting room for a little while and his girlfriend
comes around the corner and slumps silently into the chair next to my friend.
He asks her if she knows which one it is now. She says that she does and that
it's likely to be a nurse's station rather than the doctor. This sparks yet another
argument as my friend is fairly sure that the doctor will speak to her.
After a few minutes sat in silence they are called for. I tell my friend that I
will go and wait in the car for them so I never get to find out who was right. I'm
sure my friend will tell me who was right about the doctor/nurse argument.
My friend thanks me for the lift and says he will meet me outside as soon as he
is done.
I leave the surgery and sit in my car.

Several minutes pass but I'm not keeping note of the time. Just waiting
for my friend to come out and give me some news. I decide I will leave it
entirely up to him as to whether or not it is good news.
Several minutes more pass and they finally both emerge from the
surgery together. They're smiling. Not pregnant I say out loud.
They get into the car with me and my friend proudly tells me that his
girlfriend is not pregnant. I ask if this the news that they both wanted. They
both tell me that yes it very much is.
As I drive back home conversation is virtually non-existent.
I mention that we still have time for 9 holes of golf to my friend but his
girlfriend shoots him a dirty look. I apologise for bringing it up and say that
maybe we can play some other time. That's as far as my input into the
conversation goes and soon we're back home.
My friend and his girlfriend walk into the house and I follow behind them.
My friend goes to the fridge and breaks out a bottle of wine. He asks me if I
fancy a glass but I point out that I will probably need to pick up my girlfriend in
a while. My friend says that this is fine and it leaves more for him and his
girlfriend.
His girlfriend rolls her eyes at him and slowly follows him into the living
room. I follow after a few seconds. My friend is struggling to open the bottle so I
take over and after a few seconds the cork is out and two glasses are poured.
My friend downs his like it's water but his girlfriend sips on hers slowly. I sit in
the armchair in the corner of the room and close my eyes. I'm not trying to
sleep but my girlfriend hasn't texted me back yet and I didn't get a full eight
hours last night.
I awake about an hour later to the sound of crashing. When I open my
eyes my friend has fallen over the living room table. I laugh at him but then
realise that there are now three bottles of wine on the table. My friend's
girlfriend looks surprisingly sober so I ask her how much my friend has had.
She says that he's put away two bottles in the last hour. I muse aloud that he
was very pleased with the news. She agrees and we both help put my friend to
bed. I say that the double date is probably off now as my friend is paraletic and
my girlfriend still hasn't texted back.
I ask my friend's girlfriend if she needs
a lift home or if she is planning on staying with my friend tonight. She says that
she is OK to stay here tonight so I can have a drink if I like. I accept and she
pours me the remainder of the wine into a glass. I sip it slowly and think about
the day I've had. I want to ask what happened at the doctor and why they are
both so happy about the not pregnant news. It feels inappropriate to do so
however so I decide against it. Realising that sitting in the corner is a little
unsociable I move over to the sofa. My friend's girlfriend asks if I mind if she
puts a film on. I say that I don't and that maybe we can have a fun night in...
*

Shit. I remember this from the first time around.


Another of those moments where you know that the decision is the wrong one.
And with this decision comes consequences; with consequences that scraping
cringe that resonates through my whole being.
Suffice to say that whichever way you look at this situation, the decision I

made here was the wrong one. There are no circumstances whereby this
decision could ever be the right one.
But I'll watch myself make the bad decision and I'll hate myself for it once
more...
*

The credits roll at the end of the film. It's one of those where everyone starts
out happy until something changes and then they all become deeply unhappy.
They all come to terms with the changes and everyone is happy again.
My friends girlfriend says that she has had a good night tonight. Suddenly
she starts talking about what happened at the doctors. She says she's happy
with the outcome because she's so unhappy with my friend. I ask her what she
means and she explains that the relationship has become staid and boring. She
says that there's no excitement in the relationship anymore and she wants to
move on with someone else. She then drops the bombshell and says that she
wants to move on with me.
Suddenly she's kissing me. I'm shocked to start off with but start kissing
her back. I met her before she met my friend and I always fancied her then. I
know that what I'm doing is wrong but caught up in the moment I can't bring
myself to care. I think to myself that I'm hurting my girlfriend and my best
friend but selfishly I don't stop. Her hands move to unbuckle my belt and
suddenly I'm brought back to reality by the sound of my friend shouting what
the fuck is going on.
We stop and look at my friend. I swear and try to make my apologies. I
stand up to talk to him like men should but he hits my face hard with his fist.
I'm a lot stronger than he is but he caught me off guard and I fall back. My
friend tells me to get out and that he never wants to see me again...
*

I'm sorry. That was a bad decision. But to my friend, if you're reading this, you
never had to see me again and I deeply hope that that can count for
something.
I know what's coming next. More pain. More consequence. More decisions that
I made.
Given what I know now, what I did next didn't need to be done. But I didn't
know it then. And to my once girlfriend, I'm sorry to you as well.
I might have died. And you may never have had to find out.
And I'm sorry to you both...
*

I've had a couple of glasses of wine and I know that I'm over the limit to be
driving. I call a taxi and go to my girlfriends house. I knock on the door and
after a minute my girlfriend answers. She is initially cheery until she sees it is
me standing on her doorstep. I ask her if I can come in and she begrudgingly
agrees. She apologises for not texting me back but that her phone died and she
has only just charged it back up. I tell her honestly that it doesn't matter. She
says that for the record she is still angry at me but then her tone changes when
she notices my swelling cheek and impending black eye. She asks me what
happened and I say that I had a disagreement with my friend. She says that I
must have done something pretty bad to make him hit me as I'm much bigger
than he is and that he's usually so chilled out...
*

I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gone to see you that night. And when I did, I
shouldn't have told you what I did. You too told me that you never wanted to
see me again. All I can offer by way of an apology is that you never had to.
And if it makes you feel any better, this is one of those times where I have to
endure the nails-on-chalkboard feeling, pulsing through my whole being.
And once again, I'm sorry...
*

I tell her everything. She's crying and I know that I caused it and there's
nothing that I can do to make her happy again. I apologise and tell her that I'm
an idiot. She agrees with me and asks me if I know how this makes her feel. I
admit that I don't but that I would do anything to undo what I'd done. She says
that I can't and that I should leave. She tells me that she hates me and that she
never wants to see me again. I try to hold her but she knocks me away. She
repeats that she hates me. She tells me once more that she never wants to see
me again.
I leave her house and call myself another taxi.
This time I'm going to my parents house. I don't have anywhere else to
stay. I feel a little stupid because last time I was here I had an argument with
my parents and said that I wouldn't be back but I justify it to myself that needs
must. There will be a spare room for me at my parents house. I think about
what I will have to do tomorrow. I will get a taxi back to my house. I'll try and
patch things up with my friend. If I can't I'll get my stuff and leave.
I momentarily regret quitting my job but realise that this would all be
happening regardless. I feel a little bit sick thinking back to what happened
tonight. In my head I'm beating myself up. I'm replaying that moment again
and again and willing it to end differently. I try to think if there is any way that I
can undo what I've done. I try to think if there any way that I can make it right
again. And I know that there isn't. And I know that I can't.
I catch myself thinking that I'm a little bit drunk. Maybe this looks worse

than it is I think to myself. Maybe in the morning something will have come up.
Something will have changed and that I can make it right. I think that...
Fuck. There's a police car at mum and dads. And a coroner's van. I
scream at the taxi driver to pull over. My fare is about 12 but I throw the
driver a 20 note and tell him to keep the change. I leap out of the car and run
towards the house. A police officer stops me from going to the house and I bark
at him to tell me what happened.
He asks me who I am. Am I the son he asks. I tell him that I am and I
need to know what's happened. Why is there a coroner's van here I demand.
What has happened. Who is dead. I'm screaming and shouting at the police
officer and suddenly my world goes hazy. Everything slows down and seems to
be rising up. I've stopped breathing and I hit the ground.
*
A paramedic is standing nearby when I open my eyes again. What happened to
me I ask. Did the police officer hit me I ask. The paramedic tells me that I got
too worked up and stopped breathing. I had run myself down and collapsed. I
apologise for thinking the police officer might have hit me. I don't really think
he did at all. I'm just angry and confused and a little bit drunk still.
The police officer who stopped me going into the house helps me stand
up and walks me over to the police car. He opens the back door and asks me to
sit in there. I think that I'm being taken to the station for something. I don't
know what it could be and I find myself relieved when he gets in the front and
turns to talk to me.
He explains that my parents are dead. I ask him if he means both of
them. He nods. I ask him what happened. He tells me and I feel a little sick. As
far as the police can tell my dad got drunk and beat my mum up a little bit.
Then he stabbed her with a kitchen knife before tying some electrical cord
around the upstairs bannister and hanging himself.
He tells me that they'll know a bit more after the autopsies have been
done. He asks me if I can come down to the station with him. He would like to
take a statement about the last time I saw my parents alive. He says it will only
include things like how my father was acting and anything like that which may
help them to understand why it happened. I say that I will come and answer
any questions that they have.
*
I'm at the police station now and the police officer from the house comes into
the interview room to see me. He tells me that they found a note from my dad
but that I might not want to see it tonight. I tell him that I need to know what it
says. He warns me that it will be upsetting but wants me to know that what has
happened is in no way my fault. Sometimes people do bad things and
everything that has come before has no bearing on those decisions.
I read the letter with tears in my eyes.
My father's letter expresses his unhappiness with his life. That he's been
miserable since losing his job and that he has recently taken to drinking to

make his life bearable. The worst part of his life he continues is that his own
son is ashamed of him and refuses to speak to him until he has changed. He
says that despite it all he was doing OK with life whilst he had the support of a
loving family but with a recently distant wife and a son who now hates him and
is ashamed of him he has nothing more to live for...
*

Why did you have to kill mum? If you were unhappy with life then you should
have just killed yourself. You didn't need to kill mum too.
I guess she was distant from you because you got drunk and beat her. I bet
that was why she was crying when I came to see you.
But dad, I don't hate you. I never did. I was angry when I said those things.
Why did you have to go and do this dad?
Fucking hell dad. Why did you do it? Why?
*

I've identified my parents. I've given my statement. I've found out that I tipped
my dad over the edge and caused him to kill mum and then himself. I want to
go home but I don't know where home is anymore.
The police officer asks me if I have somewhere I can go tonight...
*

And this, I guess, is my final mistake. The final moment of soul-shattering pain
for the final consequences of the final choice.
You do not have anywhere to go.
Just tell the truth and say no.
Just tell the truth and say no.
Just tell the truth and say no.
God dammit you stupid fucking bastard. TELL THE TRURTH AND SAY NO
*

I tell the police officer I have somewhere I can go. I ask if I can use the phone to
call myself a taxi. The police officer says of course I can and shows me to the
nearest staff phone. I call and taxi and ask it to take me back to my friends
house.
The taxi driver looks at me as if he's judging me. I have just come from a police
station so I admit it wouldn't be unlikely that I had been arrested. I ask him if

there's a problem as I catch him looking at me in the rear-view mirror again. He


apologises and we make the rest of the trip in silence.
I get out and make sure I pay the driver the exact amount of money. He
pulls off immediately as I get out of the taxi. I barely have time to close the
door. As he drives off I shout an obscenity after him.
It seems pointless but feels like it had to be done.
I get in my car and start the engine. It's late and I might still be too drunk
to drive. I don't care. The people I care about have all told me they never want
to see me again and I'm happy to arrange for that to happen.
I have the same dream every night. I drive down the road and look at the
milometer. It must be a brand new car as it reads just 22 miles.
There are other cars driving alongside me but I don't care about the
people driving. Some of them I know but most of them I don't. I don't even care
about the ones I do know. I'm driving and I don't know where I'm going.
But tonight it's not a dream. The milometer doesn't read 22 miles or 25
miles or any of the other stuff from my dream. There are no other cars. And I
do care about the people I know. And they're all dead or hate me. And I caused
it all. I deserve it all.
I'm bored of the road. Of the journey. I'm bored of how my life has ended across
the course of one fucking day.
And I'm driving over a bridge and there's a low barrier and I'm driving fast...
*

The rest of my life happens in slow motion. The car falls towards the river. The
impact from the barrier pushed my body forward into my steering wheel and
my ribs cracked and crushed under the pressure. Broken fragments of bone
puncture my lungs and my head goes towards the windscreen.
I did this to myself and yet I can't over-ride the reflex to put my arm up and
protect my face.
It catches on the top of the steering wheel as part of my forward movement.
My arm breaks when it hits the steering wheel but I don't feel it.
I don't feel anything. I don't feel any of the pain involved with the car crash.
Strange...
Given everything that has happened to bring me here...
And everything I've been through and everything I've done...
In those final moments before I die...

All I can think of is this:

They say that your life flashes before your eyes the moment before you die.
They, as usual, are wrong.

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