A/N: So, this is the result when Iíve got a challenge to fulfil and my mind is decidedly, unfortunately, empty.
I hope you liked it and that it made you think, or in bluebellís case that it made her cry! ÖBecause that doesnít sound odd at allÖ or that you just thought it was an interesting read. But either way Iíd love your thoughts on it. ;) Thanks for reading. Bethan. x
NB before you begin:
*this paragraph is a whole chunk of indirect speech plugged together and said in the tones of many different people so I apologise for any confusion on that part.
Inspired by this quotation by Alan Watt:
ďAdvice? I donít have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If youíre writing, youíre a writer. Write like youíre a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and thereís no chance for a pardon. Write like youíre clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and youíve got just one last thing to say, like youíre a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for Godís sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that weíre not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or donít. Who knows, maybe youíre one of the lucky ones who doesnít have to.Ē
Bennie Owen's Diary 2024
Sometimes you reach the point where you start wondering when you stopped being and simply existed. You wonder when the point was that you became detached and you began floating, like an astronaut let loose into space, no longer a man joined onto a rocket. Youíre separated from it all. Emotions, relationships, people, life.
But sometimes the astronauts drift too far, and thereís little hope left for getting them back. Theyíll just burn up as they get closer to the Sun or suffocate through the atmosphere of another planet, and sometimes they just fade.
I think I had faded. I didnít do anything extravagant, nothing that, though short-lived, would be remembered for a long time, and I didnít fall into a panicked frenzy and go on a desperate rampage somewhere, eager for that final thrill. I just drifted, which was the lonelier, more pathetic process than all the others really.
There are so many people who offer so many things in life: money, sex, drugs, help for one or all three of those, and yet when I really needed someoneís help, they couldnít give it. Iíd like to blame everyone for my misfortunes, I really would, and Iíd like to talk about the injustice of the world and society and how no one did anything for me.
And though those things were true, I also didnít for it
. I was silent through it all, and I never stretched out the helpless hand to begin with.
It could have been laziness, or shame, or cowardice, or simply uncertainty⎯who knows, maybe all four of those things⎯but either way I didnít stretch out my weedy pale arm and ask
. It was as much fault mine, as it was theirs, and it still is. Mine, that is.
You always hear people saying that every person has meaning, and that every person matters, but what if you truly donít
? Not in the way that youíre conflicted and you hate yourself or that youíre angry with the world around you, but the feeling of genuine uselessness. That horrible feeling where you stand in a room and feel guilty for taking up someoneís split-second thought about you, when they could have been thinking about more important things, or taking up space and taking someone elseís oxygen though it was dispensed pretty freely.
Because thatís what I felt. I didnít have any friends, I wasnít smart; I was plain-looking, someone who would dissolve into a crowd and maybe get stood on a few times, and also I was more than certain that no one would miss me.
Sure, a tear or two would be shed around because thatís just how some people react to death and some people beneath me would cry because of the horror or the simple shock, but real connected emotion wouldnít come into it. They wouldnít be crying because of me
. They wouldnít be upset or see the body as me
, just as Ďanother miserable kid whoís thrown their life away that I happened to knowí.
All that I could possibly be given at the end of this tunnel, one where there was no light but just an infinite blackness, was a few days⎯or weeks if people really had nothing better to do⎯of gossip that would circulate around that *Bennie⎯no, Bernard⎯no, Ben kid who threw himself off the top of the astronomy tower because he probably wanted attention and there was always something bloody creepy about him and I always knew he was sad and that there was something special about him⎯a lot like me, really, but he never talked to me when I asked him if he was okay so if you like, think about it, he, like, he brought it upon himself, yíknow?
You see, the problem with people is that some of them are so stupid they really have no idea how stupid they are and how stupid they sound. But thatís just my opinion.
Iím not afraid of death, even though I know it will be the right thing to fear at the time, because itís something I have been contemplating for a while now. The students and the people who have another eighty years ahead of them wonít fear death, though. Death is simply another topic at the rumour mill, though perhaps a headier topic than most⎯one with implications and rules and boundaries, but sometimes even those are erased, until death becomes a joke, and a means to an end but not one that people expect to experience soon.
I wonder if my own will be added to the stockpile, or if it will simply lay buried again, hidden at the bottom of the heap. Will it instil fear in others? Or will the reminder of their ultimate ending that I give simply be as fleeting as my leaving, my passing that will occur in the space of a breath.
Thereís no chance of surviving the fall, Iím sure of that; just as sure as I am that the number of people that will miss me will amount to the rounded figure of zero.
Iíve written something like that twice now. I wonder if the one thing that upsets me is that people wonít
miss me. As much as they all annoyed the shit out of me, there was still a small part of me filled with a longing: a pinprick sized hole somewhere around my solar plexus that aches
for that to be true. Iíve walked around the school as a ghost; the living-dead; a student simply left to haunt those more fortunate, and a remnant of what they could have been and should have been and perhaps were.
As human beings we are programmed to fight and to survive and live, and yet Iím sure to defy it in that moment. Iíll be a master of something for once in my life and Iíll be able to break the rules. Some could argue that I had lost the will
to live, but Iíve simply been left to ponder the thought silently that perhaps thereís something different ďout thereĒ for me. I'm doubtful, but I'm lost, and I've no where else to turn.
Of course the adrenaline and the Ďfight or flightí instinct kicked in in the last few moments, and my arms and legs started to flail and a lump was working its way up my throat and I think I may have even whimpered a tiny, pathetic sound, but that was simply a mechanism. It was something we are all prepared for. Even though I had accepted the matter and I was a hand-span away from the ground, there was still something inside me that wanted to fight, that would feel a failure if I didnít at least try. Even those who have truly given up have that inside of them; theyíre just too tired and beyond hope to go and put up the struggle looking for it.
I was often known as Ďthat odd Slytherin with the scary stareí. Diane told me it was because I looked at people with such intensity that they felt like I was seeing through them or seeing into them. I didnít understand how that could work⎯nothing puzzled me more than the minds of other people. She said I had a slight quirk to my mouth, too, like I was smiling, but not out of kindness. She said I smiled a lot, like the world was a secret joke only I was clever enough to understand. I was hardly bright, not like Rose Weasley or the rest of that fame-born clan, so that puzzled me, too.
When I looked in the mirror after she had said this to me, I
didnít see what she said I looked like. The image I had built up in my mind from her words suggested I was a little mad, but the light that reflected back showed nothing but dull old me. Brown hair, brown eyes, soft, rounded jaw, lips a little thin, nose a little big. Well, Ďdullí was up for debate.
My mumís letter went a little like this:
Iím sorry I failed you, Mum.
It was only six words, but there was no way to possibly encapsulate my thoughts and feelings into words⎯she would have either understood the meaning behind my actions and the hastily scratched apology or she wouldnít. It really was that simple.
Sheíd never expected much of me, mostly because Iíd never expected much from myself, but I still felt like she deserved something after the wasted years raising me and making me a somewhat-decent person. I didnít feel guilty for leaving her⎯she had my scholarly sister to fill in the gap big enough for the both of us⎯but I felt guilty for having wasted her time and her money and her tiresome effort having to look after a kid that she didnít really care for all that much and that didnít really care for anyone else all that much.
I wasnít sure if sheíd keep that letter for sentimental value or just throw it into the fire during the heated moments of anger and perhaps anguish, and perhaps even sorrow if we pushed it a bit and pretended we all loved each other a bit more.
I wasnít one for strong, bonding relationships. I kept to myself and stayed quiet out of a general abhorrence for the dull conversation around me than anything to do with my rumoured nervousness or shyness, and even if I had chosen to tell anyone about my final, ultimate decision, I doubt they would have taken me seriously enough anyway. If Iíd told Ryan⎯a boy much like me though rather more odd and therefore noticed⎯he would have wanted to know why. Why
I felt like I did and why
Iíd reached my morbid conclusion and what the reasoning behind everything was.
He may as well have asked me what the meaning of Life was, and my uncertain answer would be more depressing and confusing than the question itself: There is no meaning.
I had hoped that the teachers would listen, too, though they werenít high ones. They were my last resort, despite their constant efforts to let us know that they were there for us and that we werenít alone. Their promises and their declarations of guardianship were short lived and empty, unfortunately. Professor Lewis had written in my termly report: ĎGets on well with others, seems to enjoy working by himself.í I didnít get on well with others, I just wasnít rude to them, and I didnít enjoy working by myself, it was just that no one would work with me. I was lost, and they hadnít batted an eyelid when I truly needed it.
Professor Vine was too busy sneaking cake back to his office and tugging his belted trousers over his questionably sized stomach to stop and listen to me, and one look at Professor Lionelís face and I knew heíd talk me out of it. He always talked me out of bad decisions, but I really didnít want him to this time. For once I wanted him to tell me that I was right and that my thoughts and opinions mattered, rather than listening to him splay out the vast pool of his wisdom and youthful intelligence that made me feel more like a child and more foolish and more pointless than ever. This time his
opinion wouldnít matter.
He could talk and talk and talk and eventually heíd realise that not everyone wanted to listen. Which was the case with a lot of people.
When people open their mouths, they assume that everyone is terribly interested in what they have to say or what they experienced, and that the people that are seemingly listening are really hanging off their every word. It never crosses their mind that people donít
want to listen, and that they really donít care what you have to say because it just doesnít matter to me and it just doesnít effect me in any way and youíre just
. Not. That. Important.
Thatís what I
want to say to all those people, all those people incessantly talking and making noises and sounds without meaning, and holding themselves up on higher ground than everyone around them.
If they thought me high-strung theyíd tell me to join in or relax, or my favourite one: Let go. Did they realise what they were saying? Did they not understand how bone-achingly hard
it would be just to bunch up all my problems and worries and fears into one balloon, and let go of the string? It was impossible. And had I tried it the fragile casing of that balloon would have popped far too soon, leaving me just as scattered and bedraggled as before. Just as lost.
I keep adding these short paragraphs day-by-day. In my History of Magic lessons, when Professor Binns goes off on another of his tangents and students are lazily doodling on the desks and some are drooling into the crooks of their elbows, and at lunch or dinner or breakfast when Iím sat on my own adding another cube of sugar to my already too-sweet tea, or when Iím lying in bed at night, listening to Kieran and Ryan and Ivan and Mathew snore. Iím always wide-awake in those moments, even when my mind is dragging its way miles behind me and begging me to slow down, but thatís when I write these.
Iíve read them all now, and I really do sound like the depressed little shit that I dreaded turning into, but often when we see things, we forget to remind ourselves that there is another option, and in doing we convince ourselves that the one outcome we have created is our inevitable demise, because we never looked to anything else, just waited patiently for all we thought we were destined for.
ĎBennie, stop!í Diane screams. Her blue eyes are wider than Iíve ever seen them before. I canít help but think that her expression of terror is the most beautiful Iíve seen on her face. Sheís got a hand reached out towards me as my toes curl over the ledge, and I see that outstretched hand like a lifeline, but a hand one would see in a hall of mirrors⎯itís a potent reminder of all the things I could have done, all the simple things with simple solutions.
I realise then that if I had stretched out my arm, I still would have needed to step forwards, and even then there were more jerky movements and more tiring steps to go after that. I hadnít the energy to lift my arm, so how would I have survived those next movements to salvation?
I give her a half-hearted salute, the one we used to give each another in the corridor. Her hand is always clutched in his now, so I donít give mine anymore if I know she canít return it.
Iíll miss her. I really will. Sheís one of the good ones, and sheís the only one that made anything the tiniest bit worthwhile, but not even she noticed my downward descent into this state of hopeless self-loathing. I used to think she was the greatest thing that ever happened to me, but that was before I realised a lot of other people did, too, and what we had wasnít really that special.
Iím not offing myself because of her. Thatís just stupid. But I will say that she has been one of the contributing factors. I actually tried with her when it came down to it, but even she was one to leave me hanging. When it all came down to it, no matter how many hours I had spent wiping away her tears after another git treated her like she didnít deserve any better (it never occurred to her that I might be a normal⎯if fleeting⎯choice for once) and spent hours comforting her that I could have spent with my often-avoided counsellor, she didnít really care all that much.
And anyway, when all these stupid words Iíd written down over the year popped into my head the second before I hit the ground, a sight that some people below, milling lazily about in the warm summerís afternoon would never forget, I realised that I didnít care all that much, either.
Because this was not living, and I had yet to find out what life was.