Thursday, July 25, 2013

SuicideHotlineButterfly .ch9.

Chapter 9

“Hello, you have reached Suicide Hotline Butterfly. This is Candice. How may I assist you?” Candice swiveled in her chair at her new place of work. It was a little after midnight and it was a slow week day. The crisis building had three rather small rooms and few workers; from the outside, it was just as quaint – a small, red-brick building that could easily be mistaken for a house on a side street off the main road of St. Christina, which was great for the safety of the workers. She had been working the lines for two weeks, sometimes in the company of another employee, Caleb. He was also a college student at the same college Candice attended, and she went out of her way to avoid talking to him. The small talk he tried to engage in was simply excruciating, but he was well trained to deal with the callers.
“I, umm....Hi.” came the tired male voice from the other side of the phone. “I'm not having...not having a good night.”
“How so?”
“I feel like I'm...two feet out of my body. I don't feel real...I don't feel like being here.”
“Are you under the influence of anything? Any medication?”
“No...I'm supposed to be on medication. Risperidon and Xanax...Prozac.” This sounds like he's being treated for schizo-affective disorder, thought Candice. She began writing into her journal.
“Other than feeling unreal,” she said slowly, “what else is making you not want to be here?”
“Nothing, I guess. Just no reason to stay.”
“How is your support system?” Candice had noticed that most of the callers did have a support system, but that they were afraid to ask for help. Being suicidal isn't always met with sympathy.
“What support system?” the man on the line laughed. “No friends, family disowned me. Brother finally cut ties with me yesterday. Doesn't approve of my...orientation.”
“Typical Louisiana,” Candice muttered, absent-minded. “What is your name?”
“Do you have any intentions of harming yourself?”
“No... well, yes...I want to. I can't feel.” Candice thought for a moment. She doodled a heart into her journal.
“I can help you ground to reality. Do you have immediate access to ice cubes?” There was a moment of silence, probably due to the odd question, and Robin answered,
“You need to hold one in each hand. Hold is for as long as you can, shut your eyes, and feel it. It does hurt...but you were wanting to inflict pain anyway.” She wondered how this guy would feel about a college drop-out giving him grounding techniques if he knew.
“I'll...I'll try. Umm...thanks...”
“I want you to call back within an hour,” she said. “And if I don't answer, ask to be transferred to Candice.”
Alright. Okay. Uh...Bye.”
Candice ended the call and continued to swivel. A small knock came at the brown door opposite her and Toby entered. He was wearing a white button-up and jeans as he usually did when working at Suicide Hotline Butterfly. He did own the building and was the manager, spending extra time here on most nights and Candice would curl up in the blankets they had brought from home and listen to Toby on the lines. He was much better at it than she was, sounding purely empathetic. Perhaps she could work on inflection.
“This is the slowest night in a while,” he said immediately upon entering. “I'm not staying here more than two more hours; Caleb is coming in soon and it's all his.”
“Good. I just got a call; he's calling back within an hour, and other than that...well, nothing is happening.”
“That's usually a good thing.” He entered the room and approached the desk where Candice sat and put a green apple in front of her. “Stop forgetting to eat.”
Candice waited for the call. She drew hearts in her journal and wrote little notes beside them. This wasn't her usual type of drawing, but she couldn't seem to stop. Much like she couldn't stop thinking about Toby and that night he came in late – what happened in the living room. She could feel her face burning every time she thought about it.
Ring, ring.
“You have reached Suicide Hotline Butterfly. This is Candice. How may...”
“It worked,” came the familiar male voice. “I'm back on Earth. Still want to die, but...” he sighed. “Thank you.”
“I am so glad it worked,” Candice replied. “Now we need to discuss why you want to die. I must ask... do you really want to die, or do you simply no longer wish to exist?
“What do you mean?”
“There are two types of suicidal people. Those who want to murder themselves, and those who just don't want to be alive anymore. Which are you?” There was a period of silence, and Candice listened to the soft sound of Robin breathing.
“I'm not a fan of pain... I guess I just don't want to be alive,” he replied with some realization traceable in his voice.
“Why not?”
“I don't have friends, I don't have family. I don't have anything but this trailer and my fucking monthly crazy-check.”
“Do you really need friends or family when their sole reason for abandoning you is based on who you prefer to sleep with?”
“No, no, I're right, but it doesn't mean I want to be alone...” his voice broke.
“You're not alone. But you have to be the starring role in your life, and there's no room to play nice with your haters,” Candice didn't notice herself slipping into her usual lingo – lingo that others often had a difficult time following. “They don't like that you're gay? Tell them to roll out. There are people who will respect you.”
“Finding them is the problem.”
“You can find them, though. Now isn't the time to die. Suicide should only happen when your pain outweighs your coping mechanisms – and now you have a coping mechanism.”
“I do?”
The next day, Candice felt a bit sleepy from only three hours of rest, but this had become common in working at the hotline. Toby had woken her up from her bed and told her to get dressed for the woods. She wanted to know why but he had vanished into the shower quickly. She pulled on jeans and a dark red sweater that reached mid-way down her thighs, and gray boots. She quickly straightened her hair and pulled it to the side in a braid.
“Change shirts, put this on,” Toby said from her door, startling her. He threw an olive sweater to her. She pulled the red shirt off.
“What are we doing in the woods?” she asked. She pulled the new sweater over her head, acutely aware of Toby's careful watching.
“You're a bow-hunter, aren't you?”
“Yeah. It's been a while, but...”
“Well, I'm taking you hunting.”
“I don't have my license.”
“I don't care. Let's go.”
It was cold out and Candice walked very close to Toby as the got deeper into the woods. She was carrying her small bow in her right arm, wondering how she would aim at a target if she kept shivering. After walking for what felt like at least half-an hour, not talking, but listening to each other breathe, Toby stopped. They were surrounded by thick trees and dead, fallen leaves. It didn't feel like morning this deep in the woods – it felt like another world.
“Candice,” Toby whispered, “listen.” Candice did so. She closed her eyes, and she listened. She heard her breath, she heard Toby's, felt his hand on the back of her head as he pushed her to crouch down and he did the same. She heard the wind. She heard birds. She heard footsteps.
“I hear it,” she said. She opened her eyes and looked around her without really moving at all. She brought her bow around and drew an arrow. She could tell by steps that it was a deer, a buck grazing. And not far in the distance, she saw the animal, she saw the antlers. On instinct she lined her arrow up with the animal, pulling back hard. She steadied her breathing, and Toby sounded like he'd stopped existing altogether. She didn't feel the cold. She felt the bow, she felt the arrow, and she felt the adrenaline as she released the arrow. She swiftly, automatically drew another bow and aimed again, the animal now running. You run, I run. Candice took off, Toby standing behind to observe his hunter. Mid run-she shot again. The animal was wounded at this close range- she had shot it in the neck. The buck ran no further, but struggled to stay up. It made a groaning sound and made eye-contact with Candice. She pulled a third bow and shot again. Blood poured from the creature and spilled out against the dead winter earth, like red paint on a black-and-white photograph. Candice put the bow over her shoulder again and approached the animal. Toby walked up behind her.
“You're much better than I ever anticipated,” he aid quietly. “True killer instincts, Candice. I won't even be needing my pistol to end its misery... not if you can do it.” Toby reached into the pocket of his long coat and handed to Candice a beautiful dark-wood handled hunting knife. She gripped it in her hand. She had never ended an animals life with a knife; only through distance, through shooting with her arrow. She knelt down to the animal, feeling the wood of the knife in her hand, seeing her blonde, green-eyed reflection in the blade. The animal moaned. “He's in pain, Candice.” Candice breathed in deeply, pulled back and drove the knife into the animals throat. The sound was quiet but deafening as she pulled up and ripped through its flesh, main artery entirely severed. The animal was dead and she ripped the remaining two bows from him, placing them on the ground with her bow. She shivered slightly and put her hands across the bucks fur, brown and soft, as the blood pooled beneath the animals head and neck. He was still warm.
“It's beautiful,” she said quietly. Toby knelt with her and put his index finger into the blood seeping from the deers neck. With his other hand, he gripped Candice's face lightly and pulled her to face him. He smeared a warm, sticky line of blood across each cheek. He looked on at her for a moment and smiled, leaned in, and kissed her nose.
“You're beautiful.” He helped Candice up, the knife still gripped tightly in her hand. “And this,” he said, gesturing to the animal on the ground and the bloody knife in Candice's hand, “this is my gift to you.” He smiled.
Killer instincts.
Dragging the carcass back to the house was no easy feat, but the managed with rope and muscle power they had combined. Toby took the animal outback and spent the afternoon skinning, cutting, and preparing the animal for cooking. Candice simmered the innards as they came, preparing a special sauce; she felt relaxingly vacant. Toby worked for two hours on the carcass before bringing in the meet for the deep freeze, and putting some in the oven for the meal tonight. He poured Candice a glass of wine. His lips were pale from working in the cold all day.
“I have something for you,” he said. Led her out back to where he had prepared the animal. All at was left was the beautiful pelt, and two white hunting knives on the long fold-out table.
“This pelt will keep you warm,” he said, “or you can hang it on your wall. But these,” he gestured to the two sharp knives on the table, “I carved from the antlers.”
“And those will keep me safe,” she said, sipping from her glass. Looks like ivory.
“That's one way of looking at it.” He smiled. Candice looked at her reflection in the glass she held – her face was still smeared with the blood of her prey. Toby moved quietly towards her and wrapped his arm around her waist. “No more nightmares, Candice.”


  1. It’s always so nice to find Christians who are also gay friendly, as you come across in your writing :)

  2. Thank you! The original romance in this book was fully gay until I turned it into an assignment for my therapy =)