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elimination

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The small silver sliver of metal glinted. It was so small, so tiny, seemingly innocent in the fluorescent light of the bathroom. It turned over and over and over in his fingertips, the sharp edge never catching at the skin somehow. Jeremy almost wanted it to, so it would be considered an accident, so he could blame it on his own clumsiness. But once he was thinking about it he couldn’t do it on accident. It didn’t work like that.

 

It’s funny how he thought this would end. How he figured the voices would stop. How he had imagined him making new friends and keeping them and somehow getting Michael to care again. But he was too far gone already.

 

He’d pushed Michael away, so he stayed away. He lied to Brooke so her heart was broken and she couldn’t even look him in the face anymore. He knew that Rich and Jake blamed him. There were whispers of a glitch with the squips, all set off by the voice in his brain, not the one in Rich’s. Jenna had gotten the promise of never being ignored again, but Jeremy had no way of guaranteeing that anymore. And Christine- Christine was worst of all. Manipulated and played with and seen as a prize.

 

Images flashed in his head. The bathroom. The mall. Play rehearsal. The party. The play. All his fault, everything was his fault. Because he couldn’t handle being an outcast. Because he thought the universe owed him. What did the universe care if he died? The universe didn’t have a goddamn conscience; it didn’t care.

 

The razor blade fell with an unsatisfying clink to the bathroom countertop. The little notches in the center revealed the marble countertop through the metal. Maybe he could just smash his head open on the countertop, his skull cracking and head bleeding and- no he didn’t want that he didn’t want to die yes you do admit it no get out of his head stay away you can never get rid of me loudest one is mine jeremy get out jeremiah get out get out get out no yes no yes no no.

 

There were red hot tears rolling down his cheeks, it was hard to breathe now. His stomach felt like he was going to throw up. Everything hurt, his brain most of all.

 

Just let go. Pick it up and do what you have to. You have to make everyone see how much of a failure you are. Blot out the stain that is you from this earth.

 

Jeremy’s hand reached for the razor blade again, and he could see it shaking. He pulled it away. The line between his voice and the echoes of the quantum processor was blurring to the point where he couldn’t even tell the difference between them.

 

They don’t care they’d rather you disappeared they just want you gone you made them all pitiful children you need to let it go let yourself go make sure to not have anyone need to care about your worthless self anymore you won’t be ugly anymore you won’t be alive anymore.

 

What about your dad, a tiny voice said in the back of his head. He’ll come into the bathroom and find his only son dead on the floor and how do you think that’ll make him feel?

 

He wouldn’t care, I was a mistake anyways.

 

You don’t know that.

 

That’s what mom always said.

 

She didn’t care.

 

She should have.

 

But she didn’t.

 

Neither does Dad.

 

He cares.

 

Why?

 

The voice didn’t answer back. Maybe because it didn’t have an answer. Maybe because Jeremy was talking to himself. He gave a pitiful sounding laugh, like a sob and a chuckle mixed into one. God, he was crazy. All the more reason to rid the world of his existence.

 

The razor blade was back in his hand again. Just a few wouldn’t hurt. Or rather, they would, but maybe he could numb the emotional pain with the physical. It was like shocking himself, one scar for each mistake. Each failure.

 

He set the blade against his skin, blinking and his forearm was scraped with bright red gashes he couldn’t feel, blinking again and they were gone.

 

Jeremy let the razorblade pull away from his arm. He slipped out of the bathroom, walking down the hallway as if in a haze, turning off the light behind him. In the darkness of the hallway, his dad’s bedroom light shone bright from under the door. He could go in there and talk to him and- do what, exactly? He’d apologized enough. He’d probably apologized too much.

 

He shut his bedroom door, trying to take a deep breath, still holding the razor gently in his hand. He pulled it out, staring at it. Tiny. Shining. Cold. Hard to imagine that he could kill himself with it.

 

Again he started to turn it over and over again, before he dropped it into his desk drawer. Later, maybe. If he wasn’t so chicken.

 

He opened his laptop, staring at the screen with unblinking eyes. No emails. No messages. He checked his phone. The only notification was from a retail store where he had signed up for a newsletter from just because he couldn’t say no.

 

If you have a purpose then why don’t you ever have texts from your friends?

 

Shut up.

 

You know, if you really mattered they would text first.

 

Get out of my head.

 

You wouldn’t need to ask them for help.

 

I said shut up.

 

Erase yourself and you’ll get rid of the burden.

 

Stop it.

 

It would be so easy.

 

I know.

 

It’s just in that drawer next to you.

 

I know.

 

Use it.

 

No.

 

Why not?

 

I don’t want to.

 

Why not?

 

Because I don’t.

 

Why-

 

Leave me alone.

 

It doesn’t work that way.

 

Jeremy shut the laptop, staring at his bare forearm, the one with the old burn scar from when he had tried making cookies ages ago on it, the one with the patterns of freckles dotted across it.

 

It would be so easy.

 

It’s just in that drawer next to you.

 

I know.

 

The next morning there were tissues balled in his garbage can with spots of red, and a long-sleeved shirt was dug out of his drawer. A bottle of pills had disappeared from the medicine cabinet, only to be found clutched in the hand of the boy who looked so small, so young, curled into himself like an unborn child. Maybe if he’d been a little bit braver.