With tears in her eyes and a knot in her stomach, Sarah quickly stuffed the handful of tiny white tablets into her mouth and forced them down her throat. Some were sticking and leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. She coughed and gagged trying to get them all down. Finally she sucked some Pepsi from her glass and washed the grains of medicine down her throat.
“There,” she thought, “the hard part is over.”
She quickly began straightening up her sheets and she folded her eloquent words in half and propped them up on her nightstand in plain view so the note couldn’t be missed. All she wanted was to be recognized, noticed, and missed. She had precisely twenty minutes before her mom’s car would pull into the driveway. She figured that was just enough time to become delirious but not enough to kill her.
She nestled into her bed and neatly pulled the covers up around her. Then, after a second thought, she tousled the covers and lay on her side, one arm over her head, the other hanging off the bed. Better shock value, she figured.
She lay perfectly still and closed her eyes. Visions began flashing through her head as she imagined how people would react. She imagined the flowers, the cards, hospital visits, and her friends hovering around her showering her with love. She imagined……
“Excuse me, but you have a visitor, Sarah. Are you up for company?” the nurse would ask.
“Yeah, sure,” she’d say. “Who is it?”
“A handsome young man,” the nurse would reply with a wink.
“Hey.” It would be Caleb, the one that got away. More like the one who broke her heart and left her alone and sad, but time has a way of erasing those negative things.
“What are you doing here?” she would whisper with a hopeful rise in her voice.
“Well, I heard what happened and I had to see you. Look, Sarah, I really,”
“No, Caleb, you don’t have to say anything. You’re here, and that means so much to me.”
“Sarah, I love you. I realized last night what it would be like if you were gone, and I just, I couldn’t take it. Let’s be together, always,” he would say. She would cry, and he would take her hand. They’d sit together all afternoon talking and planning their future. Yes, she was sure this would work.
Five minutes had passed, yet it seemed like an eternity. Sarah’s palms began to sweat and she started getting cold. She knew her mom would be home soon, and the pills didn’t seem to be affecting her. Slowly she reached under her bed and took out the water bottle filled with her father’s scotch. She had been taking it from his bottle one tiny drop at a time until she had filled her bottle half full. The instructions on the medicine bottle specifically said “do not take with alcohol,” so she knew that drinking would speed up the process. She would drink just enough that she wouldn’t be conscious when her mother found her. She wouldn’t need much.
She laid there motionless for a few minutes then she twisted the cap off the bottle. She had mentioned in her note about stealing the alcohol from her father hoping that he’d feel guilty about it and quit drinking. She smiled at herself, so proud that she was going to make so many wonderful things happen with her little plan. Then, without a thought, she pinched her nose shut and opened her throat to let the hot, stinging liquid melt through her body. She coughed and spattered as she realized the potency of the liquor. It burned her mouth and throat, and made her chest tight. It left a horrible taste in her mouth, but soon it would be worth it.
All of a sudden there was a noise downstairs. Sarah quickly threw herself back on the bed and closed her eyes, trying to lie as still as she could. Surely she could fake being asleep for a few seconds. She imagined her mother’s reaction, her tears and her screaming. As morbid as it was, Sarah couldn’t help but love the attention she would be getting. Finally her family would start to realize how special she was and how horrible they would feel if she were gone.
Minutes passed, but no one came. Sarah figured it must have been a squirrel or the cat in the trash. The time seemed to crawl. She hoped her mother would be home soon. She didn’t want to cause too much damage. A stomach pump would be enough torture. Sarah’s body started to feel as heavy as lead, and her head felt like it was spinning. She was drooling on her pillow and was having trouble staying awake. She was relaxed and dazed. Then, the silence broke.
RING. The phone was ringing loud in her ear. She stayed motionless and listened for the machine. Her heart began to pound. She was realizing that her plan was not fool proof.
“Hi, you have reached the Martin residence. We can’t take your call right now, but please leave a message and we’ll get back with you soon.” BEEP.
“Sarah? Hey Sarah, it’s Mom. I figured you’d be home by now. Well, anyway, my order came in at Sears and I’m going to run over to the mall to pick it up. I phoned in a pizza and I’ll pick it up on the way home. I thought you might want to ride along, but I guess you’re not home. So I’ll be home in about 45 minutes. See you soon!”
“NO!” Sarah tried with all her might to get out of bed. Her head was spinning, and her vision was blurred. She couldn’t move her legs and she was disoriented. Suddenly it hit her. She was dying. Her mother had hung up and was gone. Her only hope now was to call 911. She pulled herself up and tried to get out of her bed over to her phone. With a loud thud she hit the floor. She closed her eyes and tears began falling from under her lashes.
Everything changed in one instant. Suddenly her father’s sporadic drinking and the fact that he occasionally ignored her didn’t seem like such a big deal. Her mother’s long hours and stressful job weren’t so bad. She didn’t need Caleb. He had dumped her after all, why would she take him back after he was so mean to her? Her thoughts changed from thoughts of things she hated about her life to the things she loved about her life.
Suddenly she thought of her best friend Carrie, and the hours they’d spent on the phone talking about boys and gossiping. She loved the way they never had an awkward silence, and how even when they were quiet, they were communicating. She loved sitting up late on the big front porch swing and dreaming together about their futures. She thought about trips to the mall, and with a twinge of pain she remembered secrets she swore she’d take to her grave.
She thought about her church and her Sunday school class. She had done something terribly wrong, and she didn’t know how to fix it. What would her preacher say? How would they treat her family?
She thought of her little sister and how she loved to wear Sarah’s hand-me-downs. She would do anything if Sarah would braid her hair or take her to the mall.
“I don’t want to die,” she thought “I’ve got too much too live for.” She thought about her mom baking at Christmastime and her father carving the Thanksgiving turkey. She thought of the vacations they had taken, and how they were so excited about their trip to Cancun this summer. Her school came to mind, the teachers, the students and basketball, her one true love. She thought about college and marriage and children of her own and wondered how she ever could have put those things in jeopardy. Her only thoughts now were of survival. She crawled helplessly toward the phone, and just as she pulled it off the hook, she collapsed again.
She couldn’t die. Not now. Everyone would read her letter. She had tried so hard to pass guilt and blame. But it was only meant for them to feel bad if she lived. She didn’t want them to remember her this way. They would never know that she really wanted to live. They would never understand that she wasn’t REALLY disturbed or depressed. They would never know that all she wanted was a little attention.
“Please, God, help me. I’m sorry. I don’t want to go. I’m not ready. I’m so sorry I took everything You gave me for granted. Please, Lord, send me a miracle.”
As she prayed, she heard a car door shut outside. Dad was home early. She was so relieved. But as Dad came up the front steps and jiggled his key in the lock, Sarah’s eyes fell closed and she let out her breath. Her perfect plan was complete, yet the outcome was not what she had anticipated. Sarah would finally be given all the attention she could ever want, but she could never receive it.