I had decided to kill myself. There were two things that I had done. One was worse than the other; both were unforgivable.
It was easy to choose death in those days. All you had to do was fill out a form; it asked you why you wanted to kill yourself. You had to answer the question, but it didn’t really matter what you said as long as it sounded good. You didn’t have to get anyone to co-sign. With the population exploding, they were happy to have one less mouth to feed.
I checked into a hotel near the hospital so that I could be there first thing in the morning. No one else knew I was there: I didn’t want to disturb anyone.
I had gone to Chapel Hill to complete the process. Not only were they good at it—one of the best in the country, but I would be able to take one last walk through its deserted streets.
The next morning, I got up and left the hotel for a walk. I thought about checking out, but I didn’t want to drag my suitcase behind me. I was walking west on Franklin Street when I got to the Carolina Coffee Shop. I decided to go in.
Bill Smith and Susan Perry were sitting next to each other in a booth facing the front of the restaurant. I hadn’t seen them since Byron’s funeral. I asked if I could join them. They looked at each other.
“What brings you to Chapel Hill?” Bill said after I had sat down.
“I have some business to take care of,” I said.
Bill had ordered ham and eggs and grits and toast.
“Would you like to see a menu?” the waiter asked.
“I’ll have what he’s having,” I said.
After we had eaten and caught up, I got up to go.
“It was nice spending time with you,” I said.
I went to the hospital and filled out some more forms. They sent me to another room. The nurse smiled at me.
Tim Micek is Professor of Education at Ohio Dominican University (ODU), where he coordinates the TESOL program. Having published numerous scholarly articles, he is turning his attention to more personal writing. He has had one story published by Impressions Magazine and another one accepted by Gesture, ODU’s literary magazine.