The Muse of Suicide

They are pretty, aren’t they? This bracelet is my very favorite thing. It has taken a long time to collect these charms. Each one is a very special memory of someone very dear to me. Everyone deserves to be remembered, don’t they? Especially beloved friends.

Do you see these baby shoes? They’re not for a baby. But she loved babies. Any time a friend had a baby she would be there, holding the wee thing, playing with it, entreating its smiles. She and her husband fixed up their nursery as soon as they were married, and then they waited. It was only a matter of time, she thought, until they filled that nursery with babies of their own.

When the doctors finally told her, she was devastated. Her husband found her in the rocking chair, a receiving blanket in her lap.

This Christmas star. He had everything a man like him could possibly want. The important job, the lovely wife, the kids so accomplished at school and in sports. They lived the picture perfect life.

Christmas was their favorite time of year. They had traditions for every day of the month. That year they went to every Christmas tree lot in town to find the perfect one. They brought out all the ornaments, especially the antique ones his grandparents had brought from the old country. They threw three parties that year, and the mound of presents was higher than ever. On Christmas Eve they had dinner, and gathered in the living room to open one present each before going to midnight services—he told him he had a very special gift for each one of them.

The police found each one with a single bullet hole in their head—and the bankruptcy papers on his desk.

This one. The enameled cat with the emerald eyes. He was as sleek and well groomed as a cat, utterly self-possessed. He could weave his way through a crowded room like an eel through seagrass, slowly closing on the one he had elected for the evening, charming her away from her husband, friends, good sense. They always fell. In the end he always renounced them. Now crumpled and devastated, they still yearned for him, hoping to refill the void inside that he had created; a void of pride, of faith, of bank account, and of spirit.

He enjoyed his little conquests very much. He enjoyed the vainglory, affluence, and admiration they brought him. He enjoyed the luxurous things, the wines and sweetmeats, the furs and palaces. When it was done, he took a penthouse suite, ordered sumptuously from room service, dined alone, wrote his thoughts with a gold-tipped pen, and stepped over the balcony railing. I watched his silk scarf curl in the air as it drifted to the street below, horns and sirens blaring.

Her husband was unfaithful and cruel. He had admired her brilliance, and cherished the trust she put in him. Day by day he worked at her, molding her, training, sculpting until her eyes followed his movements only, her heart only rejoiced when he smiled upon her, her thoughts only and eternally about pleasing him. When he had finished shaping her, when she was his perfect and complete creation, he opened his fist and let her fall, shattered into a thousand, thousand shards, each one still reflecting only himself.

She desired only perfection for him. She made up her face to be flawless. She collared herself with his diamond choker. She donned the black fox coat and the high stiletto heels. She painted her lips red as the blood staining the snow where she lay. She imagined he would grieve for her. Her charm is this snowflake; diamond, ruby, and jet.

One perfect performance, years ago. One perfect performance, in a room with hardly anyone to hear. One heaven-touched moment in time, his saxophone crying to the angels the truth of the world. One perfect moment, thirty years gone, never to be found again.

He kept his vigil, waiting for his muse to visit again. Had anyone else heard it, it certainly would make his name. Its lack was all that held him back from the acclaim he knew he was capable of deserving.

He tried. He chased his dragon ardently. He dreamed of it in the restless noontide. He stalked it, wooed it night after night, gig after gig, and always perfection eluded him. He sought inspiration in sensuality, in drugs, in religious ecstasy, in tiny moments and in sweeping vistas. His quest pulled in and drove out lovers, friends, band mates, and associates of all stripes and all kinds. Obsessed with the memory of that single moment, practically unwitnessed, virtually forgotten, potentially illusory.

The end of the road. There is a certain charm to a promising young man, a charm that begs indulgence. A charm that is denied the washed-up never-was smoking at the end of the empty bar. Sitting on the hood of his car, fingers caressing the keys of his saxophone as he breathed deep and played his heart, gasped and played his dreams, choked as he played out his soul in the garage; the only other sound the low rumble of the running engine.

He touched perfection twice in his live. Nobody heard him either time. Except for me. I was there to hear his last tune. I was there to witness his darkening face. To watch his body tip, tilt, and slide to the cold concrete. As I am there for each one of my friends.

I remember them. Every life deserves to be remembered, don’t they? And every death as well.

Each life is beautiful in its own way. The unblemished purity of despair. The sharp slice of rejection. The agony of longing. The slow erosion of insignificance. These are my materials, the clays and paints and dyes with which I plait and twine forms of glorious and terrible ecstasy. The end of a lifetime’s hope, the beginning of hope for release. The growing resolve. The delirium of planning. To create beauty out of despondency, purpose out of meaninglessness, resolve banishing apathy. To craft one final, sublime tableau that explains everything. To make art of self-destruction, to forge beauty from well-considered annihilation. Each one is remembered here, in my charms, forever in the company of their brethren.

You understand me implicitly, don’t you? You long to join them. Tell me, my dearest friend, how may I help you?

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