Tardiness is not your habit. It’s just one of your infamous specialties.
You were already running late for work when your boyfriend called, flightily announcing the approval of their band’s upcoming world tour‒ something that they’ve been looking forward to since you can remember.
“Baby, it’s our big break! Our record label boss is having our faces tattooed on his thigh as a defeat from our bet about our album reaching double platinum,” Mathias continued. You checked your wristwatch to figure out how long he’d been speaking over the phone and what your own boss would tell you for showing up so late.
Looking for the materials you needed for work always seemed like accepting a mission impossible. The study room, just like most of the rooms in the house, was heavily decorated with half-completed projects of the musician. Files bounded in multicolored folders occupied the bookshelves with post-its sticking out labeled as ‘pending’, ‘working on’, ‘incomplete’, and many other synonyms of work in progress. His friends once teased you that he’d built your house out of writer’s blocks.
You were inside your car, about to start the engine, but he still wasn’t finished telling you about his plans once the tour begins. You laughed and he stopped talking upon hearing the sound.
“Woah, slow down! I can’t catch up! Someone’s just too excited!”
He had the energy like he munched a sack of coffee beans. When he was still writing songs for the album, he stayed up for nights until he was satisfied.
It was one of those days when he feels like he can do anything and nothing would go wrong.
If only humans could sleep their life away, he’d probably do so.
Mathias lay on his bed, splayed in his stomach. He couldn’t get up, feeling like a battery-operated toy without batteries. Tentatively, he reached for his phone to check the time (wishing he slept all day) and to see if you left him a message. A hard line formed in his lips as he read all the messages and found nothing from you.
Depression could be so addictive; he became fond of the feeling. He never admitted it to anybody but it’s his guilty pleasure. Sometimes, he feels so wrong to be happy.
Someone knocked on the door. Mathias rolled out of bed like the house had gone in flames, only to find out that it wasn’t who he was expecting.
Lukas poked his head inside and said, “Time for dinner.”
“Alright,” Mathias replied, his disappointment painting the tone of his voice. “Be there in a minute.”
Until you left yesterday, everything was perfectly fine. He’d been very confident that he could convince you into considering one thing: to go with them on their tour. But to you it was conflictual. You love him, no questions with that; however you love your career just as well. You were trying to establish yourself just as he was. You can’t simply leave… you can’t simply decide. It couldn’t have been much of a frustration until you got mad at the sight of your ruined blueprints that he claimed he knew nothing about.
“Yeah?” He lifted his head from his laptop and rushed to your side, ready for action.
You raked your hair with your fingers. “Matt, I don’t have time for your childish games! How could you do this to me? The deadline would be next week!”
“What?! I-I didn’t do anything!”
“Who else would do this? The neighbor’s cat?” To your frustration, you couldn’t hear anything or anyone else aside from your own thoughts. You couldn’t attempt to behold the wreckage of your once stroke of genius. “You really want me to quit my job, don’t you?”
Seeing you acting like that, Mathias couldn’t find the right words to say, as if his vocabulary had left him. He had nothing but to contradict your accusation.
“__________, I didn’t do it! I swear! I never touch your things, you know that! I haven’t even stepped inside this room for weeks!” he muffled. He’d never seen you as exasperated as you were at the moment and it affected him. What should he do? His heart was hammering out of his chest.
“You can at least admit it, you know,” Cold (e/c) eyes surveyed him.
“Why won’t you believe me?”
For a moment, you fell silent and stormed out of the room. “I’ll be out for the weekend.”
Even looking in the mirror was displeasing. He studied the young man staring at him‒ his light scruffy hair sticking out in all directions, his puffy dull blue eyes, his awful clothes, and his burly figure that never fails to daunt other people. He resented him. The young man was nothing but a useless little boy, the favorite oddball of the high school bullies.
“Nice one, Køhler,” he congratulated his reflection.
It seemed like Hanatamago had found a haven in your study room, making himself comfortable aloft your ravaged blueprints and Tino had been trying to lure him out of the room the entire day. Emil was the one preparing the dining table. Upon seeing Lukas descend the stairs, Berwald asked how their friend was doing.
The Norwegian only shook his head.
Lukas, Berwald, Tino and Emil spent the night in your house, making it appear that they wanted to discuss their tour but in truth, they did it to keep an eye on their friend. They’ve been with him through his extreme highs and lows, long before you entered the picture, and it was enough for them to know that Mathias is no stranger to suicide attempts even before.
“Lukas…” The voice on the other end faltered, maximizing the frantic pacing in the background. “________ left. Do you think she’ll come back?”
“We had a fight. I-I couldn’t explain myself to her, man I didn’t know how to handle it,” Mathias reported, his words almost slurred. “She’d never been so mad at me! It’s all my fault. I couldn’t do anything right! If only I said something better than those fucked up excuses maybe she wouldn’t be out for the weekend.”
“Do you think she’ll come back to me?” There was an odd shift in his tone which made Lukas’ heart sink. He’d heard it before. The footsteps were no longer audible. Hearing the suddenly eerie voice on the other line, he sensed what his friend would try to do. One wrong word could cut a thread of life.
“If she said she’ll only be out for the weekend, and then she will,” Lukas reassured him. Without having any second thoughts, he gathered his keys and scurried inside his car. “Calm down, alright?”
“But what if she never comes back?” The agitation in Mathias’ voice was gone and was replaced by an impeccable monotony. Lukas never knew silence could sound so disturbing.
“Mathias, what’s on your other hand?”
Silence. A cold sensation started creeping through his spine.
“…my lithium bottle.”
“Alright,” Lukas took a deep breath, his grip tightening on the steering wheel. “Just stay put until I get there, do you hear me? Don’t do anything funny. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Lukas drove as fast as he could, tempted to beat the speed limit, but of course getting a ticket would be the last thing he wanted to do at that point in time. Upon hanging up, he contacted Berwald, Tino and Emil to let them know the situation.
When he arrived, the front door was unlocked. The house was filled with hushed emptiness. It didn’t take him a minute to find Mathias, with eyes as vacant as the unnerving ambiance, curled up on the couch. He had a bottle of lithium in his hand, his phone on the other. On the coffee table were a blade and a collection of many other bottles of pills. Lukas took the bottle off his hand and sat him up like a father would do to his little child.
“I’m sorry for the trouble…” his friend said, burying his face on his buckled knees. “I’m sorry… I just didn’t know what to do.”
Under natural circumstances, moments of silence never seem to exist between the five of them, but during Mathias’ days of dejection, it’s all they know. They sat in the dining room together but nobody dared to utter a word. Only the clinking of the utensils made the atmosphere a little less unsettling. The awkward silence was only interrupted when Tino’s phone rang.
“Hello?” he stood up, trying to hide his slight surprise from Mathias.
The Finn kept his voice low as he excused himself out of the dining room and came back after a minute with utter reluctance.
“It’s her, isn’t it?” the Dane asked.
Tino nodded. “She asked me to pick her up. Her car malfunctioned and she’s stuck on the outskirts of the city.”
From the study room, Hanatamago began barking at the blueprints as he spilled a can of paint all over the floor but nobody noticed except Tino.
Mathias bolted upright. “Why didn’t she call me instead? I’m her boyfriend!”
Before anyone else could move, he stormed out the door.
“Are you sure it’s alright with you?” you asked Tino tentatively. “Alright, thanks! I’ll just wait for you here.”
Your fate tonight was worse than Friday the Thirteenth. Thanks to the traitor engine of your car, you were stranded in the outskirts of the city, alone in the dark highway near a cliff. You were having a go on fixing the engine, hoping for a miracle to take place but your luck was more rotten than you imagined. The darkness was creeping you out and the random images flashing into your mind were not helping at all. You decided to give it a last try when rain began to pour.
As an act of resistance, you stayed outside the car while waiting for Tino. A three-degree Celsius rainy evening? Oh great. Just what you needed to complete the worst night of your life! But it wasn’t for long when help arrived. A car pulled over in front of yours, only to let you know that it wasn’t Tino’s.
“Why did you come? Tino was the one I called,” you said as he got outside his car, looking at him sheepishly, wanting to shrink beneath the trees. Neither had he any umbrella or raincoat.
He glanced at you with piercing blue eyes. “Do I have to answer that question? Get in the car.”
“I’m taking the wheel,” you retorted and marched to the driver’s seat.
It wasn’t the first time that he’d picked you up after your car malfunctioned. He’d wanted you to replace it long before but it was only you who wanted to keep the betraying piece of junk for such ‘sentimental value’ because it was the first thing you’ve ever saved for with your own salary. After towing your car, he slipped to the passenger’s seat.
Nobody said anything for a while. He reached out, drying you with the towel he got from the backseat, completely forgetting that he stayed longer in the rain more than you did. His behavior pointed out that he wanted you to say something but you didn’t give him any more than a blink. You heard him inhale sharply.
“Listen,” he spoke, his eyes glistening through the dark. “I’m sorry if I made you feel bad but I got no freakin’ idea what happened. I didn’t do it. I-I wish I have proof to show you it wasn’t me. You know I’m a moron and I know that too, but I’d never do anything selfish at the expense of your happiness… You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to...”
You pursed your lips, studying his face partially bathed in the darkness, as he continued talking while squeezing his cold, shaking hands with anxiety.
“I-I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke. I badly wanted to but I stopped myself. I took my pills but I didn’t overdose if that’s what you’re thinking…” he confessed. “I’ll help you remake them if you want to, I’ll stay up for a couple of days, for a week, I don’t know. You don’t have to come with us if you’ve really made up your mind, it’s fine with me. I-I’ll just write you songs and call you once in a while to play them for you.”
Within your own silence, you could almost hear his heartbeat. You sat still, feeling the driver’s seat absorb the water dripping from your hair and clothes, as you traced all the emotions in the atmosphere.
“I’m sorry if music is all I can ever give you,” he said. “It’s all that I’ve known, it’s my life… It’s… it’s all that I am.”
Putting a hand against his chest, you stopped him before he could even recite the Constitutional Act. “Enough.”
You peered closer to him, gently gazing at his twinkling blue eyes, until your foreheads touched. It was never your intention to send him in such state of depression; you should be the one to apologize. Heartwarming were his words, kind and earnest than ever.
Eyes closed, you leaned closer to him as a soft kiss ghosted upon your lips.
“I believe you.”