It is the third consecutive night I have found myself here, staring at the rope hanging in front of my face. I watch it gently sway back and forth, the bottom of the loop just above my head. It hangs from a steel support beam in my basement, which I’m positive will support my weight. Each night that I have come down here, I have not been able to step off the chair. But tonight, I stand on the chair with conviction that this is the last time I will play this disgusting game of back and forth with myself.
    I slip the rope around my neck, the fibers rough against my skin. Before I step off, I close my eyes to remember why I am doing this. The light, way too bright, the horrible crunch of metal on metal, the scream when I closed my eyes, the sirens and voices, the blood, and the final realization. I lived, and Alexander didn’t.
    Since he was on the side that was hit, he was killed. I was driving and just bruised. Had we left just a few moments earlier, Alexander would still be alive and the truck may have hit someone else, or no one at all. But I had to have a cigarette before we drove home.
    How could I graduate, go to college, and live the rest of my life while Alexander’s was cut so short? My best friend, the person I was going to walk with at graduation, room with at college, killed instantly. The last thing he saw was headlights. How is it fair?
    Today was his funeral. I stood in the back with Greg, who had been in the car as well, in the back on my side. I couldn’t sit in the pews with his family and everyone from high school. They all told me it wasn’t my fault. They didn’t blame me. But I knew what was screaming in their heads. And I agreed.
    The only person that had been honest with me was Alexander’s girlfriend, who had never liked me to begin with. Roxanne had walked up to me in the aftermath of the accident with death in her cold blue eyes, so visible in the lights that cut through the night. Tears sparkled on her face and I just looked up at her. She balled her hands into fists and took another step towards me.
    “This was your fucking fault,” she had hissed. Her eyes held mine and they filled with tears. I was certain mine were doing the same, but I couldn’t feel anything at all.
    “Roxanne,” I began, but she cut me off. Another step towards me, a clearer view of the horrible look on her face. Fury and panic, sadness and revenge.
    “He is dead because of you,” and she walked away, disappearing into the crowd that had gathered. I stood rooted to the spot, repeating those six words over and over. I knew it was true, but somehow couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Alexander couldn’t be dead. It just didn’t make sense.
    But then, I heard a firm male voice say, “Time of death, 12:43AM.” I wondered for a moment if he was talking about me, because I knew I must be dead too. I looked down at myself, and knew I was alive, if you could call it that. Alexander was dead. Forty-three minutes into a new day, and was robbed of the rest of his life. Because of me. Because of a fucking cigarette.
    So, here I stand, on this chair in the dirty basement of my own personal hell. The rope around my neck and the thought in my mind that I would see Alexander soon, and be able to apologize. I check the watch I had brought down with me, the display neon in the darkness. 12:41AM. I had two minutes to prepare myself to end my life. Somehow, it seemed like much too long.
    I occupied the time by thinking about what would happen in the morning. My parents had been asleep for at least two hours, and my older brother was away at college. I wondered what would happen when my mom came into the basement to get whatever my father wanted for breakfast out of the deep freezer and saw me hanging here, long gone from this world.
    I also thought about the fact that I could just put a bullet in my head and die instantly like Alexander did. But, how did I deserve that? A slow, suffocating death was much more suiting to one who had killed another. Although, in the end I knew it didn’t really matter. He was dead, and I would be soon too.
    12:42 and ten seconds. I took a deep breath and the voice inside my mind screamed that I didn’t have to do this. It wasn’t too late. I could remove the noose and step off the chair to greet life instead of death. But one flash of those headlights, so bright, forced the voice out of existence.
    Forty seconds. I took another deep breath, lifting one leg off the chair. I wanted to die at the moment Alexander did. These past three days were stolen time, and I should have died the instant he did. I couldn’t give back the 72 hours, but I could die when he did.
    Thirty seconds. It was time. I placed both feet on the edge of the chair and leaned forward, the rope putting pressure on my wind pipe. A deep breath, and I stepped into open air, kicking back the chair. It crashed to the floor and I couldn’t draw breath. I tried to gasp, tried to inflate my lungs. Nothing happened. Panic flooded my system, terror screaming through my veins. I thrashed, and then realized through my foggy mind that I was doing the right thing. I fought my desperate need to draw breath and allowed my head to become light. A nice change from the heaviness of guilt I’d been experiencing every second of the past three days. With all of my strength, I raised my hand to my face to check the time.
    I heard a door open and close upstairs, echoing through the empty house. I pressed the side button to light up the display of the watch. The two changed to a three, and then darkness overtook me as my brain screamed from the lack of oxygen.

The End

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