Cuento
05.22.02 // 1:49 a.m.

It’s been exactly two months since Yo’s suicide attempt. I think of her constantly. This weekend was the first in two months that I had not seen her at all. That "what if’s" still take over my thoughts at times making me realize how unbearable life without Yo would be like.

A few words to preface the cuento, or story, on April 19 I was at my apartment in the wee hours of the morning online. Wilson, a friend in Chicago, asked me to tell him a story via AIM. This is what I came up with that night, on the spot. I don’t remember how long it took, but I don’t think it was more than 20 minutes.

Few people have read the story. I posted it on okayplayer as part of a post "work-shopping" prose and got some good feedback. I have made very few changes to it since that night and am not quite sure what direction I’ll take, if any, in the development of the cuento.

The details (numbers) may not be exact, but they’re close enough for you to get the picture. Thanks for reading.

--- principio ---

i missed the signs. didn't even know what she was going through. 35 miles from that house named after a coffee brand. it doesn't seem so far. no, its not really. its a phone call, an email, a fax, an instant message away.

at 1:13 she left her bed. kicked aside the winnie the pooh stuffed animal and headed over to the bathroom near the front door. she tiptoed across the cold off-white tile. past her parents' door. past her brothers' bed room.

at 1:13 am they were all sound asleep. no one heard her. no one knew. no one saw. no one felt her.

she entered the bathroom. the one with the mural painted by her cousin the artist. she examined the finely painted bird. so accurate. looked at the signature. bibi. '97-'00. damn, she thought, it took her a while to finish. she looked at the mural and imagined herself jumping into it like julie andrews and dick van dyke jump into a chalk drawing in mary poppins. if she were there, she'd be on a small bridge over a calm river. tranquil. peaceful. no worries. she would breathe.

just breathe, she reminded herself and turned toward the medicine cabinet. for what seemed like an eternity, she stared at her face in the mirror with the smudges on it.

she studied her face. it was the face of a failure. one sibling short of graduating. 2 d's. 1 f. in danger of failing read the progress report. it was the face of an 18 year old who never had a boyfriend.

it was a beautiful face. smooth. tan. reflecting her mothers. lunares dotted her face. an artificial smile costing a few thousand dollars. she was beauty defined. but she didn't see that. she was suffocating.

just breathe.

finally, she opened the medicine cabinet. on the 3rd shelf next to the icy hot and mouthwash was the huge bottle of generic tylenol. pain killers.

pain

killers. they were going to kill her pain.

she took one. two. three. stopped to read the warning in red letters. advertencia. do not exceed the maximum dosage. she calculated the maximum adult dosage and thought, i must not exceed it.

four. five. six. seven. eight.

wait, she stopped and thought, have i exceeded the maximum dosage? i can't do that.

but she continued, and thought oh well. then she just didn't think as she took pills 15, 16 and 17.

she stopped. turned off the light in the bathroom and tiptoed back to her bedroom, the same one she and her older sister had shared for years.

1:31 am. she stared at the clock. tried to write, but didn't know what to write. the pain was coming to her stomach. she tried to sleep, but could not as those 17 pills of pain killers tried to make their way out in the form of vomit.

finally, at 3:09 it was too much. she ran to the bathroom. the blue one, with the shower, not the one with the mural. like a bulimic, she lowered herself to the toilet and opened her mouth to liquidy pain killers and rice from dinner.

the pain from throwing up was almost as bad as the pain from the pain killers. her parents awakened to the sound of an 18 yr old daughter vomiting. they held her hair back. got her water. cleaned her face. and she laid at the foot of the bed.

something is very wrong, she muttered softly so as not to cause any more pain to her throat. i took too many pills

how many? asked her gray haired father.

i don't know. 15 or 20. i lost count.

her mother gasped. reached for the phone. i am going to call 911.

no, call poison control, he directed her.

the calls were made. the brothers awoke. the vomiting continued. the instructions were given. the expert at the other end said, you found her at the right time.

5:47 the call was made to 911. the bomberos came. AMR, the same company her friend worked for. they carried her out, all 120 lbs and 5'2" of her. she rode along with her mother. asked questions to the handsome young firefighter in the ambulance.

why did you become a firefighter?

to help people like you, he responded with a calm smile.

she signed lori rather than laura on the form. wait, i signed the wrong name.

it doesn't matter, the paramedic responded.

at the kaiser medical center she was kept under surveillance. took liquid charcoal. vomited solid black liquid again. the hows, whats, whys, and how manys were asked.

the family was incomplete. one daughter was missing. no one had told her. no one knew she was fretting over finals.

they couldn't keep her there for surveillance or a session with a psychologist. no longer a minor, she decided she would rather rest at home. she went home and rested, but was never once left alone by anyone.

the sister did not learn of this until 8:52 that night.

--- fin ---

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Me siento: overwhelmed, perturbed and whiny
Escuchando: Res' Tsunami and Amor Eterno por Rocío Durcal (this song makes me cry...)

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