By Rebecca Fletcher
“Do you ever think about suicide?”
Hannah tore away from her tea, and three different thoughts to look across the table. “Why do you ask?” Ian shrugged. “Curious.”
The silence of thought fell over the pair, and Hannah returned to her mind, only to find that her previous thoughts had es- caped on the breeze of her mind. A memory had taken its place.
She is standing before the weeping girl under the tall pine tree in the school yard. The girl’s slender shoulders are shaking with a helpless fear that no fifth-grader should know.
“I suppose we all think about it sometimes. It’s a little bleak for three in the afternoon conversation though, don’t you think?”
Her companion was intentionally focusing on his cup of coffee. He’d forgotten to ask the barista for lactose-free milk again, and was wary of whether the stomach pain later was worth it. Hannah noted that he’d been increasingly forgetful lately. “I just sort of wished we talked about other options, instead of labeling it ‘sad’ or ‘cowardly’.”
She wishes that she knew what to say to comfort the girl she barely knows, but had begun to consider a friend. Not one word in her too-large vocabulary can properly convey her desire to help. No gesture feels sincere enough. So she watched, useless against the pained creature curled up before her.
“There are always other options though. Loads of people get help, and find another way.”
Ian began bobbing his head from side to side, a sure sign that he was becoming annoyed with her cavalier responses.
“That’s not the kind of other option I mean. You’re thinking of the happy-ending as the goal of help.”
“And you’re not.”
“I’m talking about if something like assisted suicide is morally-justified. People are always focusing on reasons to not kill yourself, but a lot of the moral worries can be bypassed if you get someone else to do it for you. So if your best friend came up to you, and wanted you to off them, should you?”
Every other kid on the playground is laughing up a storm. A basketball pounds on the asphalt court nearby like the drumbeat that follows the hangman to the gallows. Two hundred and thirty-eight students and yard-patrolling teachers, out enjoying the sun. Two face off in the shadow of a pine tree.
“Jesus, man! Don’t say stuff like that!” Hannah nearly choked on her gulp of tea. “That’s awful to think about.” Her voice was much quieter when she saw the look on Ian’s face.
“Yeah, I guess it’d make me a monster to ask a friend to cope with killing me for the rest of their life…”
“Hannah? Will you do me a favour?” a small voice asks.
She paused, hearing the drumming basketball somewhere out of sight and time. “What are you saying?”
The girl lifts her head from her knees. Her eyes are dark and hollow, like a dead tree.
Ian glances up from his coffee at last. His face is a blank slate. She can’t tell if he’s being serious anymore.
Will you kill me?