He snuck away when no one was looking. He even made sure to be very quiet so as not to draw attention, though, in truth he probably didn’t even need to worry about it. No one really paid attention to anything in the library. It was carpeted and the air conditioner was always on, so people just mostly came by to skip class and sleep. One random person walking by wouldn’t be so suspicious.
He went over to the aisle on British literature and sat on the floor. Could he have chosen a better place to do this? He probably could have, but the British literature aisle was one of the few secluded places in school. No one ever went there. Not the teachers, because they’d all had enough of the British material at the school…although sometimes they’d sweep by just to make sure no one was doing anything “reserved for adults” as the principal would put it.
Most of the senior students wouldn’t be caught dead even standing within ten feet of the library so there was no need to worry about them. And all the junior students were scared to death of the British literature aisle. The teachers had spent months filling their heads with stories about ghosts lurking in the books. Totally ludicrous, but everyone believed them for some reason. They’d all sounded so confident about it. So as far as anyone was concerned, there was never anyone in the British literature aisle.
The boy shrugged his school bag off his shoulders and accidentally knocked over a book. He sucked in a breath as it landed with a thud on the floor. For a very long ten seconds, he sat holding his breath, trying to be as still as possible. After another ten seconds, he breathed a sigh of relief. No one had heard that. Or at least if they did, they couldn’t be bothered to investigate.
He opened his bag as quietly as he could and pulled out a light blue envelope. The boy felt a small tug of doubt as he ran his fingers over it. He’d been thinking about this moment for a long time, but now that it was finally upon him, it didn’t seem like such a good idea. He’d expected he’d feel at least a little nervous, but actually it was more a sense of dread. Like he was going to end up regretting what he was about to do.
But he pushed the thought out of his mind just as suddenly as it had appeared. “Probably just my conscience,” he muttered to reassure himself. He supposed it had occurred to him at some point that suicide might be a sin, but if he suffered in hell then at least he knew he deserved it. He’d done nothing to warrant the life he had.
He’d had a terrible fourteen years, punctuated by only about three happy events, none of which lasted longer than half an hour. And he was dead sure it would only continue to get worse as time went on. He’d often heard people say ‘but what could be so bad that it would make you want to take your own life?’ or ‘suicide isn’t going to solve any of your problems’. He’d never really understood that. To him life was just one problem after another, and more problems were all he could see on the horizon. Was trying to hop off the bus a little early really such a bad thing to do?
He opened the envelope and pulled out a small cellophane nylon. His heart jumped a few beats as he looked at it. It was finally in his hands. The key to his happiness. The one thing that could end his suffering. A single mushroom. Most mushrooms are generally edible, but quite a few of them are poisonous. What he had in his hand was one of the more poisonous types. It was said to work much faster than cyanide. It hadn’t been easy to get, and it had been even less easy to keep it as long as he did. He took it out of the nylon and held it in his hands.
He noticed he was shaking, despite the fact that it was only about twenty-five degrees in the library. His mind was racing. Was it really alright to do this? Would anybody miss him when he was gone? His parents perhaps? Maybe, but they weren’t around anymore so they didn’t really count. Frank and his gang? Sure, they’d have one less person to torture, but it wouldn’t be much of a loss. Bridget? Possibly, but definitely not enough to have made him want to keep going.
‘So this is it then.’ He thought. Good-bye world. He slowly brought the mushroom to his mouth and closed his eyes to prepare for the transition. A soft gentle voice suddenly cut through the silence of his little corner of the library. His blood froze as I scrambled to his feet to face the voice’s owner. It was a girl. She looked around his age, if not slightly younger.
“Who are you?” He blurted. She wasn’t supposed to be there. No one was supposed to be there. What if she told a teacher? What if she’d been a teacher? The girl looked down at her shoes and kept silent. The boy’s heart was pounding in his ears. The mushroom seemed to grow hotter in his hand and he briefly considered swallowing it immediately. She wouldn’t be able to reach him in time.
“Who are you?” He asked again, a little anxious. The tension was almost visible in the air. The girl suddenly looked back up at him. She had tears in her eyes and he couldn’t for the life of him figure out why.
“I’m the devil’s daughter.” She said softly. “Who are you?”