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I originally wrote this short story for the Writers’ Union of Canada Postcard Story Competition. The challenge was to write something that was no more than 250 words. It took me twice as long to edit it down than it did to write, but then I forgot to submit it in time, and I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I’m posting it here.
When they found Bobby Dean, he was lying in a puddle of his own blood and urine under a chandelier with a noose around his neck. He remembered kicking the chair out from under him and he remembered dangling there, swaying back and forth, but he doesn’t remember the chandelier giving out. He’d already passed out from asphyxiation.
The doctor said it was probably the blow to the head that caused Bobby to wet himself. He’d knocked it on the table on his way down. Either way, Bobby never quite recovered from the humiliation.
It wasn’t being found like that that bothered him. No, what really got to Bobby was how everyone treated him afterward. Everyone was really nice to him, but they kept their distance. They showed him the same kind of pity and concern we show the infirm that we commit to homes because we can’t be bothered to care for them but want to feel good about ourselves for doing “the right thing.”
Everyone thought it was a cry for help because it looked that way, and Bobby knew it. He’d been exposed as a weak and pitiable specimen, and he couldn’t bring himself to make another go at it because the fear of another failure had seized him.
Failure had driven Bobby to such lengths in the first place – in love, in work, and as a father – and now the fear of just such another failure had locked him into a life he wanted desperately to depart.