Don't Go Outwritten by Lucy Sinclare - inspired by an original artwork from James Everette
It's strange how life works sometimes. Little things we do or don't do can have the biggest outcomes. So monumental- that we sometimes forget the seemingly insignificant origins. Like that car crash you got into when you took the street you normally don't, to get to work. You could blame it on the other car that barreled into you. But perhaps if you weren't on that street, it wouldn't have happened. And it probably goes deeper than that. If you hadn't woken up late- you probably wouldn't have taken the street to try to get to work on time. And it goes even deeper than that. If you had decided not to watch that extra thirty minutes of television- you would've gone to bed on time, got up on time, taken your usual street, and avoided the collision all together.
But the point was, you didn't. That insignificant choice of watching more television than you used to set the course and sealed your fate.
Or maybe that was simply fate. What if everything has a certain design and we're all just falling into the pieces fate has set for us? Maybe it would've happened anyway.
Fate or coincidence. A question that's plagued people for centuries. I'm not quite sure myself what it could be. I like to think it's coincidence. The thought of everything we do being predetermined is frightening. No escape man, that's what it sounds like. But when things in your life become so- important- it's hard to imagine fate not being the answer. Even though I don't believe it, I think fate explains everything right now.
Because I can't explain any other way why I was standing in the middle of the small forest by Stark's Pond, talking to a classmate who was about to kill himself.
My name is Tweek Tweak. There are lots of things wrong with my head and body. Too many to go into detail. One of these things is OCD. It isn't very severe, but I'm pretty prone to doing routine things obsessively. If I miss it or do something different, things just feel- off. It's not that big of a deal I guess, but I can sleep well at night and the world is in perfect order if the things that I know need to be done are done.
For example, my walks every morning right after breakfast and before chores. It helps me unwind and lets me know the world is in proper order when I take that forty-five minute route. I like to walk around to make sure everything is as it should be. My route goes from my neighborhood, by the school, down main street, and finally through the park- then back to my house using the short cut through the old abandon house.
It's my summer schedule and I like to keep on it.
And this morning was like all the others. I woke up at eight. Went downstairs to my empty house and ate a bagel with some orange juice while My Little Pony was on [don't you judge me]. After I cleaned the knife I used to spread the cream cheese, and placed my cup in the sink to wash later, I started the coffee maker and went upstairs to get clothes on. When I finished getting ready, I went downstairs, poured my coffee in a thermos, then went outside at exactly nine fifteen.
Right on time.
I was not late.
I never am.
Everything was done and planned exactly the way it was supposed to go.
Everything was normal. In my world and the real world. The suburbs were quiet- per usual with the exception of Stan Marsh's family getting up and ready to go to some family outing. I didn't bother asking. The school was quiet and main street was full of old people getting their errands done before the rest of the world woke up. I went through the park and- for some reason I felt like exploring Stark's Pond. The urge came out of no where- like really out of no where. I didn't have a reason for doing it other than- wanting to do it.
Which was why I wonder about fate, coincidence, and all that. Because this small act of changing my route, something that probably shouldn't have happen- that shouldn't have been a big deal- brought me here.
Was I meant to be here? Or was this some sick coincidence from the one impulse on my part?
I was walking through the trees, making sure to watch the ground so I could avoid anything to trip me, or- god forbid- some kind of dead animal to step in the remains of. I was not familiar with the area since my parents always told me that if I wondered into the woods, I would be captured and sold into the slave trade.
But I'm almost a teenager so- that can't be true. At least I hoped it wasn't.
A clearing that I never knew existed lay just a few feet away. There was a big tree in the center of it. And the way I was walking toward it- it looked like that's all that was there. But as I neared, I noticed I wasn't alone. No- it was more than that- I didn't just stumble on a person. I stumbled onto something I probably was not supposed to see. In fact I'm sure I wasn't supposed to see it.
Because as I rounded the tree to see what was on the other side, I came to face with Craig Tucker, a stool, and a noose hanging from the tree branch.
I didn't really know Craig Tucker that well anymore. We hung out when we were kids. Then we all kind of just went our ways. It wasn't that big of a deal I guess. I just went one way and all of them went another.
I still knew of him though.
The school wasn't very big, so you had a good idea what everyone was doing in their life. Last I heard, Craig was kind of drifting away from the rest his friends. His parents were having some kind of issues too. But none of that was really new news. Everyone knows that all those things started happening when Ruby Tucker drowned in a pool last year. It was real tragic. And another reason why I liked to avoid bodies of water that covered your head.
I wasn't sure how the Tuckers were taking it, because I wasn't close to them or anyone that knew them. And it wasn't my business anyway, even though I felt bad for Craig and his family. In South Park you learn it's best to keep your head down.
So all I knew was that Craig had been more antisocial than usual and was lashing out in school. But that was all. And not really out of the ordinary for Craig Tucker- not surprising either. I was an only child, and no one from my family has died, but it couldn't be a pleasant experience.
I and everyone I knew figured Craig was upset and was simply acting the way one is supposed to act when their sibling dies.
I never would've thought-
"Uh- H-hi C-Craig." My voice was nervous and crackly, more than usual and it showed. But Craig stared at me with barely any interest. His eyes were so empty- but then so full. I wasn't sure what to think of it. This had to be the first time I've talked to him out of school in years. And he was standing on the stool adjusting the noose still like he was doing something completely normal.
"Oh. Hi Tweek. What's up?" He sounded normal. It only made things that much weirder.
"N-nothing j-just- going for a walk. Uh- wha-what are you doing?"
"Just going to hang myself." The conversation was too level and casual. Everything was. The sun was shinning brightly already, the grass green, the tree vibrant with blossoms, and a steady breeze cascading over us for a cool feel to the warm weather. It was the perfect summer day. But the air hung with a tense feel, at least for me. My heart pounded and I could feel my hands shake a little more than usual. Everything felt so fake, like stepping into a lucid dream where you can feel everything- but you know it's wrong.
"W-why w-would you do that?" I should've been panicking. Screaming, yelling, babbling- anything than continuing with the lax atmosphere. I've screamed for less, but I couldn't seem to help it, "A-any reason?" Craig hopped down from the stool and adjusted it slowly.
"Well- it's mainly for killing myself- but I'm guessing you want more of a life reason." He dusted his footprints off and sighed, head tilting up in contemplation, "Well- I guess it's- everything. I'm tired of it and- well- I just figured it's about time to remove myself from the situation." He turned around and sat on the stool. He took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from his pocket and lit one up in his mouth. I didn't know he smoked. He inhaled, then coughed violently.
"Y-you ok?" I asked then immediately wondered if that was an appropriate question. Did the health of someone matter when they were about to kill themselves?
"Yeah-" Craig choked out before going into another coughing fit. He spat to the side and shook a little, "Took these from my dad. I wanted to try it cus, well why the fuck not?" He looked at the burning cigarette and cautiously took another drag- but a tiny puff, "You want one?" He asked blowing out the tiny poof of smoke. I looked at the cancer stick and shook my head. He shrugged and stuck the pack back in his pocket. I bit my lip and shifted my weight from one side to the next. I had no idea what the fuck was going on or what I was doing. We never talk but we were carrying on like friends. This was just too weird.
"C-Can I sit?" I asked. He nodded and nudged his head to the space next to him. We just sat there while he took puff after puff.
"You might want to leave soon though- I think I want to jump pretty soon. I chickened out yesterday but, now I think I'm sure." My fingers pulled at themselves.
"I- uh- well I- Maybe it would be o-ok if you didn't jump?" That was pathetic. My heart raced and for some reason I felt like I offended him.
"No offense Tweek, but I really don't want to have this kind of talk with you. We're not even friends. I just kind of want the company for the time being. Nothing you say really interests me." My teeth snagged my lip again.
"W-we were friends once." I offered.
"Once. Not anymore. Shame- I liked you." He shrugged. I looked at him, feeling a little- well- happy at his words. That probably wasn't right with the current circumstances.
"Yeah. I liked hanging out with you and stuff. Was kind of sad when you decided to hang out with Butters and Stoley. But- you know- shit happens." I looked down.
"You stopped talking to me first, y-you know." Craig looked at me with a brow raised. I immediately looked back down at my shoes.
"I was mad at you for hanging out with Clyde without me. I didn't talk to Clyde either that week. But he still tried talking to me."
"Well I was scared! W-we had barely started hanging out in the third grade and I thought- I just- you kind of scared me." We were quiet again. All I could hear was the breeze and the small puffs of smoke.
"It's not like I was trying to be scary." He said simply.
"This all happened years ago anyway. I don't think it matters too much." I wanted to keep talking about it though. But I guess he was right.
"Y-yeah. We're almost in high school now."
More silence. Craig finished his cigarette and took out another one before he spoke again.
"High School probably would've been nice. Driving, getting a job, graduating. Pity." He lit the cigarette up. The smell practically clung to us.
"Y-you know you don't have to kill yourself." I pointed out.
"Saying goodbye always has its' downsides- but that doesn't mean it can still be avoided. Besides I'm not really sure any of that shit is worth it."
I didn't know what to say to that.
So we sat there some more in silence with Craig until he finished the last of the cigarette. He sighed and stood up. My heart jolted, "Well I can't think of a better note to leave off. You should probably get out of here. It was good talking to you, I've always wanted to once more and I was able to. Thanks." I stared up at him. His eyes looked- ready. Ready to die.
Suddenly it felt like all at once some emotions hit me. I stood up and grabbed his shoulders.
"Craig please don't do this! Why would you kill yourself! That's stupid and selfish of you! You have friends and a family and a whole life ahead of you! What the fuck is wrong with you!" I was screaming and ranting and babbling. I was afraid and panicky and- so confused as to why it took so long for this to hit. Craig's eyes were visibly surprised but he remained still as I shook his shoulders.
"Whoa Tweek- you're starting to make this little talk unpleasant." He grabbed my skinny arms and pushed me away. He stepped on the stool but I caught his arm before he could get his other foot up there.
"Craig- I'm serious. Don't do this. Whatever you're going through- this isn't the solution. I- You can't do this." Craig sighed and rolled his eyes.
"You don't even know me Tweek."
"I don't need to know you t-to know that w-what you're doing is wrong." A sharp pain hit the side of my face and I got knocked to the ground. It took a second to realize Craig hit me. The grass poked my fingers and my cheek throbbed. I looked up to see Craig off the stool and looking at me dangerously.
"You don't know shit! Don't come to me like you're exempt from needing to know what I go through and tell me that what I'm doing is wrong. That somehow you're someone who knows what's right and wrong and what's best for me. Fuck you Tweek. Did you kill your sister? Do you have parents that never let you fucking forget it? Do you see her screaming, crying face every time you close your eyes? Do you live with the knowledge that if you weren't out hanging with your friends, that you could've saved her. That if you were there like you should've been, none of this would've happened?" Craig was screaming now. His eyes flashing with the invisible emotion that had been there the entire time. My voice froze and my veins turned to ice as well.
"I- I'm sorry I-"
"Do you go around every day knowing the fact that you're alive is an insult to her? That everyone looks at you with pity you don't deserve? How living seems so god damn pointless? How that if you were the one that was dead- it would be ok. Everything would be ok. And you know what? That's the right thing to do. For me and for everyone." He turned his heel. I was still in shock from all that word vomit, but I still managed to get up and grab his shoulder. He spun away from me, "Fuck off Tweek."
"I- I don't understand your situation ok! I'm s-sorry! What I s-said was wrong. B-but Craig, you can't kill yourself! No one would want that! It- it isn't what everyone wants! Your parents and your friends don‘t want you to do it!" Craig laughed this time. A laugh that echoed in my mind and haunted me to my very core.
"Oh? My parents wouldn't give a shit. They haven't even looked at me since Ruby died. And my friends? Please. I stopped talking to those assholes for a few weeks and they were worried at first, but they've moved on. No one would really care."
"You know that's not true. P-people would care. People would be really sad. Would you s-seriously do that to them?"
"Does it seriously look like I give a fuck?" Craig threw back harshly. I was dumbfounded. He started back toward the stool. I watched helplessly as he climbed on it and stuck the cord around his neck, "Well- it's been real Tweek." He grinned.
The stool gave out under him.
The air felt like static and everything else was numb. I thought that the slow motion silent part of movies were only for dramatic effect- but that was exactly how everything looked as I ran the few feet over to him and grabbed him to shove him up high enough so that he wouldn't die. I could hear him screaming at me, but none of it went through. I kept him up with my skinny arms and would keep him up as long as I needed to. But then his knee dug into my stomach. My body crumbled and before I knew it I was going towards the ground, pulling him down with me. I was going to kill him! But I couldn't get my fingers to let go.
I don't know why it was me of all people to walk in on Craig Tucker when I couldn't save him. When my words didn't get through. Shouldn't fate have given him a friend to save his life? Someone who knew him better and could've stopped him from jumping off that stool? Why did the world send me if all I was going to do was kill him? Was that really fate? He would've died without me. There wasn't a need for me to be there and help make it happen.
But then- maybe fate was that it had to be me. Because only I would've been clumsy enough to fall while trying to keep him up. I don't weight much- but when I tumbled down, I must've tipped the scales just right.
Because the cord snapped.
Craig fell with me to the ground.
Choking and gasping, but he was alive.
I scrambled up to pull the cord off. He kept coughing loudly, eyes looking up at me in rage. His fist connected with my jaw for the second time today. I fell next to him and before I knew it he was sitting on my waist, hand on my collar, and punching the ever loving shit out of me.
"What the fuck is wrong with you! Why would you fucking do that to me!? You asshole! You shit! I didn't want to be saved." I squeaked at each fist to my face. My hands feebly trying to defend myself. Thankfully his hits kept getting weaker and weaker, "I don't want to be alive. I don't want to feel like this anymore," Now he just gripped my collar, trembling, "I just want this shit to stop. Fuck- this isn't fair." He crumbled, falling over my shoulder. I was too skinny to hold his weight up, which makes me wonder how I kept him up in the first place. He cursed and sobbed on my shoulder as I just lay there under him, "Why can't this all just- stop?"
What could I say to that? What could I say to anything he told me? Fact was- I couldn't. I didn't have the right. He was right when he cursed at me for not knowing. He was broken. And it had only just hit me now how the thought of suicide probably wasn't an impulse decision. I could never know what he was going through. It was wrong of me to tell him how to live and tell him a bunch of things he probably already knew.
I still wasn't going to let him die.
And not even for the moral principal everyone has to try and save a life- this was something deeper.
"I- I'm sorry Craig. B-but I don't want you to d-die." he remained silent, still on my shoulder, "I- I don't understand what you could b-be going through. And- and I know this p-probably doesn't mean m-much. But I would c-care if y-you died. I never got over that we s-stopped being friends. And- and that was almost five years ago. And I- I would be really sad if you died. I'm glad I f-found you here. I never walk this way- ever. And- n-now that I'm here I c-can't help but feel I have to tell you that I still care about you. P-please don't die. P-please don't give up or stop fighting. Please." Craig's silence was deafening. I felt so helpless. I never felt more out of control. All I wanted was to find the right words to say. To be able to do something right for once and help him. For a moment I thought he was asleep- or if he was really dead. But then I heard him sigh.
"I'm tired of fighting Tweek." He said sounding indeed tired.
"I- I'll help. I c-can fight with you." He shook his head and finally removed himself from my shoulder.
"I don't know."
"Please." I begged. Please god- just let him give me a chance.
"Take me home." He said. My heart skipped a beat.
"S-so that means-"
"That I want to go home. I'm tired of arguing with you. Walk me there." I didn't know what that meant. But I think that was ok. He got up and grabbed my arm to pull me up too. He started walking ahead of me out of the trees. I caught up to him and grabbed his sleeve, and he let me hang on to it.
I didn't know what was going to happen. His eyes still looked hallow and sad. But he wasn't dead yet. I don't know what's in play here; fate or coincidence that I happened here on some unknown impulse. Though now the origins seem insignificant. I can't know how I ended up here. Or what brought Craig to actually walk away from that stool and broken noose with me.
But I was glad he did. I was glad I did. And now whatever happens now happens.
I hope fate- coincidence- or whatever is kind.
If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!