Saving Just Ryan

Life can be a scary thing, and I think we all realize that. It’s complicated by all the disappointments, the hurt, the pain, … the list goes on. Inevitably, all this burden and pain changes people and makes them suddenly understand why some people smoke their lives away. Sometimes this manifests as mental illness, which is pretty much hell and the plague mixed together and drawn out. Below is a segment I wrote randomly (surprised?) because I guess it was all subconsciously on my mind.

“Tell me how it feels,” she said as she gazed into his deep brown eyes.

He paused for a moment, staring at his knuckles. “I don’t know how to describe it.”

“Well, tell me the best you can.” She put her slender, smooth hand on top of his gnarled one and gave it a little squeeze. Her eyebrows creased in concern and framed her green eyes, which were alight with a curiosity to know what his brown ones had seen. They wanted to explore his world and its colors—or maybe its lack thereof.

“It’s… It’s as if you’re dying, as if something on this hell of an earth is off but you don’t know what it is… It’s like, you know that there’s something out there, that this something is just whispering to you that you shouldn’t have been put here at all… it’s almost—“

“No.  Don’t say that,” she interjected sharply.  “I would die if you weren’t put here. You’re here for a reason.”

Silence from him. He picked at a scab through the largest hole in his tattered jeans, waiting for something to take him away from that lonely stair step.

Then, “You’re my reason, you know,” she whispered. And a single tear clung to her inner eye, trying its hardest to climb back up from whence it came. She didn’t bother to bring her polish-tipped nail up to her eyes and clear it away.

He said nothing but continued to stare at the wooden floor board before him.  His long eyelashes brushed downward with each slow, reluctant blink, and his faded gray hoodie rose up and down with each unnoticed breath he took. Without thinking, his fingers traced the crease of the first floor board back and forth, pushing little specks of dirt into mini piles at the adjacent boards’ boundaries.

She watched each motion but barely registered her surroundings. She was thinking, contemplating. Curious. She wanted to help.

“I’m sorry, Ryan, for interrupting… Go on, tell me more. I mean, please just go on.”

Not a word escaped his lips. His shoulders tensed up, and his tousled brown hair shaded his eyes from the light.

She continued: “…I want to know what it’s like, how it feels. I want to understand it all.”

He looked up at her and then quickly averted her gaze. His clear eyes, affixed to the stair banister, did not flicker as he adjusted himself in his position on the first stair step.

She could sense his discomfort, and she sensed that she wouldn’t be able to get another word out of him for today.

It’s time for a well-needed hug, she thought as she prepared to enclose him in her warm embrace, safe from the outside world.

But then: “It…” he started.

Stunned. “It what?”

“It feels like suicide.”


And she listened. And she heard.  With those words, she burst forward, her arms around him in milliseconds. In that instant, she knew that no amount of hugging, no number of pills, no god would be able to bring the old Ryan back.


~ Ruth



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