Two years ago I took Aline to the fair. She was 17, I was 21. We are both quiet people so for you to find us at a place like this was peculiar. She ate a lot of candy that resembled the colour of clouds, and I played a lot of games that I wasn’t very good at. We bought two balloons before leaving, as we stepped out of the park she stoped to light a cigarette. While doing so she lost grip of the balloon and pouted as she watched it float away. We kissed for the first time. Now whenever we see a balloon in the sky we are reminded of that day.
It was close to midnight when I got a call from Aline the unpleasantly cold January night.
“Hey, Dane. I’m really sorry, did I wake you?”
“Aline, I have class in the morning.”
“I really don’t feel well, and my family is out of town and I really just don’t want to be alone right now, Can you just stay on the phone a little while longer?”
” I’m just getting dressed now, I’ll leave a note for my parents. I’ll see you soon.”
“I don’t want to be a bother.”
“It will bother me if you’re all the way over there feeling like crap and I’m here sleeping. I’ll worry, that would bother me.”
“Okay, doors open. I’ll be in my room. See you soon.”
Fifteen minutes later and I’m at Alines door. I Knocked quickly before walking in. I hate that she leaves the door open. This neighbourhood really isn’t the best and I’m always afraid she’s not taking care of herself. We talk very little about the scars left on her wrist or the attempt to end her life when she was still in high school. I don’t ask about her therapy appointments she goes to every week or if she’s taken the pills she needs. I just hope that all is going well and I stick around when I feel like she needs me. Which is exactly what I’m doing now. I walked to the kitchen before making my way to her room because I know her well enough that if she’s in a crappy state she hasn’t eaten. I grabbed a granola bar and started a pot of coffee. I waited for the coffee to be done before making my way up to her room, mug and food in hand. I found her in her room curled up in her bed.
“I brought coffee.” She turned and sat up, I kissed her on the forehead and handed her the mug.
“Thank you.” she muttered between sips.
“I feel so tired, but not the sleepy tired, and I don’t know how to fix it anymore.” I held her close and just let her be. We didn’t talk much. She just needed to be around someone. But I was tired, and I quickly drifted off. Around three in the morning I woke up lonely in her bed. I sat up and I found a post it note on her pillow.
“Couldn’t sleep, went to take a bath.”
I stood up and walked down the hall to her washroom in a haze. I knocked on the door a few times with no answer. I pressed my ear to the door and could hear her favourite album playing softly.
“Aline, is everything okay? Can I come in?” again no answer.
I started pressing on the door, I know there was only a flimsy lock on the other side so growing tired and concern I hit it as hard as I could with my shoulder. The door flew open and hit the wall with a loud thud. I looked to the tub and saw Aline in a pool of red water. Her brown hair tied up, still wearing the white night gown she had on when I had arrived. I ran over to her trying to pick up her limp frame and slapping her gently across the cheek.
“Aline, hun please wake up come on. Aline, please.” I pulled my phone from my back pocket and called 911.
She left letters for her family and close friends. The only one she left for me was a brief apology where she stated she was sorry I had to be the one to find her but she knew that was the night she needed to go through with it and she couldn’t bear the idea of her mother or sister finding her in the morning and that was why she was so relieved that I was able to come over. The has never been a day that I don’t think of her, or wonder if I could have done something to stop her. But let me tell you that every time I see a balloon floating across the sky I get a sick feeling in my stomach like she’s there with me watching it float way out of reach. She resembled them in that way I guess. So distant, lost. I just hope things are comfortable where she is now.