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LMS VI: Let Me Live Tonight 2.1

by winterwolf0100


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

When I started my job at the suicide hotline center, I started going out to bars again. I was thirty-five, divorced, and lost. I didn’t know what I was looking for. A part of me was searching for that dark alleyway from years ago, the man pushing me against the wall, the kiss. Colors, vibrant and dancing, and so, so alive. Another part of me felt terrified, remembered that drunken night. I’d thought I’d spotted the man, walked up, tried to kiss him. I was already drunk, not thinking straight. It wasn’t the man though; pocket-knife in my stomach, trip to the ER. That flood of gray, so strong, so draining, washing over me. I didn’t want to feel that again. The numbness seemed better than that.

I hadn’t wanted to work there, at the suicide hotline center. Still don’t. Money was tough though—is tough— and with migraines that took me out for days at a time, randomly, it was one of the only jobs that would mold around my schedule.

I would get drunk on cheap rum and coke, spend the night staring blankly at the back of the bar, zoned out. I’d make friends— all temporary, none permanent. We’d make small talk, joke. Sometimes, someone would walk up to me and ask if I was alright; after a long enough period of silence, they’d usually walk away. I waited for the haziness of the drinks to fog down my mind, ebb away at the knives. I think I thought that maybe if I drank long enough, they’d begin to rust and dull. Maybe they wouldn’t attack so viciously.

At first, I tried to go to different bars. I didn’t want the bartenders becoming concerned or trying to check up on me, even though I desperately wanted someone becoming concerned or trying to check up on me. I didn’t really have anybody at that time. No connections, no bridges, no trees spread across two yards, splitting the sidewalk with lightning.

Sometimes, I’d sit in the bar and I’d see her, or what I imagine she’d look like at that age. Long hair, bright smile. Squealing, “Clay!” and tackling me to the ground, breath caught in my throat, the scream, the impact, the silence. When she began to solidify in a barstool, less hazy around the edges, I’d pay my bill and stumble outside, needing the chill of the air just to know I was breathing again.

I’d end most nights waiting for an Uber, standing at the edge of the road, staring at the blurred headlights as they zipped past. And as I stood there by myself, in the dark, in the cold, I played a game with myself. I called it chicken.

I would close my eyes and picture the road, not the one I was on, but the one from my home, the one I grew up in. I’d see my childhood friends around me; I wasn’t in touch with most of them anymore. I’m still not in touch with most of them. I’d picture the cars racing by, see Robin or Orlando or Nox. I didn’t see Felix though. Felix had walked away, warned us it wasn’t a good idea. When I imagined it, I could hear his words. When I imagined it, I didn’t listen to him.

One step into the road. Eyes closed, heart beating. Breath in, breath out. I heard Felix’s voice echo from behind me, quiet, “You know, you don’t have to if you don’t want—”

Second step. “Scaredy-cat!” The taunts, the terror. Calls from the day would echo in my head, people sobbing on the phone, people so close to the end, desperately trying not to reach it.

Third step. Horns blaring. She’d jumped out of the way just in time, furious to still be pressured, to not be good enough. Maybe I wasn’t just playing chicken; maybe it had never stopped.

Fourth step. Nausea rising in my throat. The drinks never settled well in my stomach, didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. They were too cheap for that. I was fine with that feeling, unsettled, something unnamable stuck in my throat. I deserved it. What if I still deserve it?

Fifth step. That triumphant smile. She thought she’d gotten out of the way. She thought— So sick. So, so sick. By that point, I was nearing the first lane of cars. Dangerous territory. Eyes still closed.

Maybe I was still playing chicken. Maybe I shouldn’t jump out of the way.

I never did that; stayed in the road, I mean. Eventually, my car would come. I’d climb in, slur out my address. Try not to throw up on the car-ride home. Get there, lights off, and stumble into bed. Get up in the morning, ignore the hangover. Go to work. Do the cycle all over again.

I’m still here, even now. That’s ironic, isn’t it? Still here. Head still pounding. Wishing I’d done it. God, I wish I could claw out the knives— or my eyes. I want Felix to come back home. I’m so scared of the thoughts I’m having. Everything’s repeating, old-timey film flickering in my head. Migraine striking, again and again. It’s pitch-black and it’s all too bright.

Or maybe I don’t want Felix to come home. I don’t want him to see me like this. I don’t want to be like this. That game of chicken never ended, did it? It’s never going to end.

I’m crying on the floor now. In the dark. I’ll blame it on the migraine. I was so lonely then. I really didn’t have anyone, did I? Not since her.

I can picture her on one of those far-away bar stools, hazy like a dream— or maybe just too many drinks. Long hair. Older, taller. And I’m crying because that isn’t her. That’s never going to be her. I’m never going to go to the grocery store and stop in my tracks and go, “Hey! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you, how have you been?”

I sob in the dark, pressing the palms of my hands into my eyes, pushing until spots surface, because maybe that’ll help ease the pain, maybe that’ll pull the knives out. I’m gasping for air, struggling to pull it in. My head is pounding.

Five steps. That’s all it would take. God, it would be so easy—

But I can’t even rise off the floor. I want Felix to come home. He should be off work soon. Why does it feel like a lifetime? I just want him to get back. I just want her to come back. She never will. Maybe he won’t. The grayness is so overwhelming it’s sickening.

I wish it would swallow me whole.

~~~

So I'm backkkkkkk. I've been writing, just haven't been able to keep up with editing. As always, I'd love to hear thoughts, opinions, everything you're feeling! I'm a little less interested in anything grammatical like errors in spelling, but I'm happy to hear all thoughts regardless. Thanks!


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Stickied -- Fri Feb 10, 2023 4:01 pm
winterwolf0100 says...



Heyyo, thank you for reading! ^^ This is a gentle reminder that this chapter is part of a larger novel, and I would ask that you please don't review it until you have reviewed and/or read the previous parts! You can start here, at the prologue. Thank you! :]




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Sat Feb 11, 2023 8:45 am
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KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!! I'm back to see more! I've been waiting for some time now to see when this would finally come out and its taken me a while to find some time to properly review this and here we finally are.

First Impression: Well this was pretty much as expected, only now we're getting another glimpse into more recent times that appear to be closer and closer to the actual present here. Its as heart wrenching as ever and you showcase really powerfully how even now Clay is so terrible affected and you connect it back to that incident really well in this one.

Anyway let's get right to it,

When I started my job at the suicide hotline center, I started going out to bars again. I was thirty-five, divorced, and lost. I didn’t know what I was looking for. A part of me was searching for that dark alleyway from years ago, the man pushing me against the wall, the kiss. Colors, vibrant and dancing, and so, so alive. Another part of me felt terrified, remembered that drunken night. I’d thought I’d spotted the man, walked up, tried to kiss him. I was already drunk, not thinking straight. It wasn’t the man though; pocket-knife in my stomach, trip to the ER. That flood of gray, so strong, so draining, washing over me. I didn’t want to feel that again. The numbness seemed better than that.

I hadn’t wanted to work there, at the suicide hotline center. Still don’t. Money was tough though—is tough— and with migraines that took me out for days at a time, randomly, it was one of the only jobs that would mold around my schedule.


Well it seems we're jumping right back into the more modern day parts of this. It seems to be even further towards the present than we saw in some parts of the first book. It definitely is a different job here although its quite clear that unfortunately life hasn't changed too much for the better for our poor Clay. The problems seem a little different but they are still so connected to everything that came before and instantly we're still just hoping we could give Clay a nice comforting hug.

I would get drunk on cheap rum and coke, spend the night staring blankly at the back of the bar, zoned out. I’d make friends— all temporary, none permanent. We’d make small talk, joke. Sometimes, someone would walk up to me and ask if I was alright; after a long enough period of silence, they’d usually walk away. I waited for the haziness of the drinks to fog down my mind, ebb away at the knives. I think I thought that maybe if I drank long enough, they’d begin to rust and dull. Maybe they wouldn’t attack so viciously.

At first, I tried to go to different bars. I didn’t want the bartenders becoming concerned or trying to check up on me, even though I desperately wanted someone becoming concerned or trying to check up on me. I didn’t really have anybody at that time. No connections, no bridges, no trees spread across two yards, splitting the sidewalk with lightning.


Well the powerful images are starting already here and we can see the dangerous little circle of things getting worse that Clay has gone and created there with the idea of ending up rather dangerously drunk and wanting to avoid having anyone notice. Its a powerful moment to show how Clay desperately both wants and doesn't want people to be concerned, it a little too powerfully realistic almost cause that unfortunately is exactly the sort of vicious cycle that forms in scenarios like this one.

pquote]Sometimes, I’d sit in the bar and I’d see her, or what I imagine she’d look like at that age. Long hair, bright smile. Squealing, “Clay!” and tackling me to the ground, breath caught in my throat, the scream, the impact, the silence. When she began to solidify in a barstool, less hazy around the edges, I’d pay my bill and stumble outside, needing the chill of the air just to know I was breathing again.

I’d end most nights waiting for an Uber, standing at the edge of the road, staring at the blurred headlights as they zipped past. And as I stood there by myself, in the dark, in the cold, I played a game with myself. I called it chicken.[/quote]

AHHHH well here it comes. I was waiting for this to strike home, and here we go. We're seeing our connection right back to the loss of Dessie and well the drinks start to make even more sense. I was thinking this might just be more of what's connected to the job there, but it seems through all of these things that have added onto Clay's current state, Dessie's is still what its all grounded in and what ends up ultimately being the most dangerous.

I would close my eyes and picture the road, not the one I was on, but the one from my home, the one I grew up in. I’d see my childhood friends around me; I wasn’t in touch with most of them anymore. I’m still not in touch with most of them. I’d picture the cars racing by, see Robin or Orlando or Nox. I didn’t see Felix though. Felix had walked away, warned us it wasn’t a good idea. When I imagined it, I could hear his words. When I imagined it, I didn’t listen to him.

One step into the road. Eyes closed, heart beating. Breath in, breath out. I heard Felix’s voice echo from behind me, quiet, “You know, you don’t have to if you don’t want—”

Second step. “Scaredy-cat!” The taunts, the terror. Calls from the day would echo in my head, people sobbing on the phone, people so close to the end, desperately trying not to reach it.


Oh this is such a strong recall there. My goodness. I really should've remembered the tissue instead of jumping in straight away thinking the start of this had to be somewhat less sad. I was definitely mistaken and this just really hits so hard with the connections back to that big scene back in the first book. Its impossible not to tear and have our heart just torn straight out for poor Clay here as this echoes through.

Third step. Horns blaring. She’d jumped out of the way just in time, furious to still be pressured, to not be good enough. Maybe I wasn’t just playing chicken; maybe it had never stopped.

Fourth step. Nausea rising in my throat. The drinks never settled well in my stomach, didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. They were too cheap for that. I was fine with that feeling, unsettled, something unnamable stuck in my throat. I deserved it. What if I still deserve it?

Fifth step. That triumphant smile. She thought she’d gotten out of the way. She thought— So sick. So, so sick. By that point, I was nearing the first lane of cars. Dangerous territory. Eyes still closed.

Maybe I was still playing chicken. Maybe I shouldn’t jump out of the way.


Well this is a really powerful way of showing quite how much its all affecting Clay even at thirty five and how that guilt and those feelings are still ending up driving Clay towards perhaps going the same way Dessie did. It looks like for the moment Clay is hanging on by a thread, but those thought seem as powerful as ever and always waiting for the one moment where Clay just can't step away.

I never did that; stayed in the road, I mean. Eventually, my car would come. I’d climb in, slur out my address. Try not to throw up on the car-ride home. Get there, lights off, and stumble into bed. Get up in the morning, ignore the hangover. Go to work. Do the cycle all over again.

I’m still here, even now. That’s ironic, isn’t it? Still here. Head still pounding. Wishing I’d done it. God, I wish I could claw out the knives— or my eyes. I want Felix to come back home. I’m so scared of the thoughts I’m having. Everything’s repeating, old-timey film flickering in my head. Migraine striking, again and again. It’s pitch-black and it’s all too bright.

Or maybe I don’t want Felix to come home. I don’t want him to see me like this. I don’t want to be like this. That game of chicken never ended, did it? It’s never going to end.


Hmm okay, that's a slightly different detail. Its rare we get to see out of Clay's mind in this story so this little moment of a thought about someone else and the chances of that interaction is an interesting little difference, certainly one that as a reader you very much notice cause of quite how different it is to the way the rest of this all took place.

I’m crying on the floor now. In the dark. I’ll blame it on the migraine. I was so lonely then. I really didn’t have anyone, did I? Not since her.

I can picture her on one of those far-away bar stools, hazy like a dream— or maybe just too many drinks. Long hair. Older, taller. And I’m crying because that isn’t her. That’s never going to be her. I’m never going to go to the grocery store and stop in my tracks and go, “Hey! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you, how have you been?”


Ahhh the repetition there with Clay now at home and still reliving it all just collapsed right on the spot just nails that home just in case somehow you were able to avoid crying like a baby at the first depiction we saw. That one really does hurt something terrible here and well it just creates a powerful little black hole of emotion there.

I sob in the dark, pressing the palms of my hands into my eyes, pushing until spots surface, because maybe that’ll help ease the pain, maybe that’ll pull the knives out. I’m gasping for air, struggling to pull it in. My head is pounding.

Five steps. That’s all it would take. God, it would be so easy—

But I can’t even rise off the floor. I want Felix to come home. He should be off work soon. Why does it feel like a lifetime? I just want him to get back. I just want her to come back. She never will. Maybe he won’t. The grayness is so overwhelming it’s sickening.

I wish it would swallow me whole.


Well that ends as expected, with just the right little nod to the five steps there just so we can fully confirm exactly what space of mind Clay happens to be in. It truly does sink in powerfully especially to see how much later in life Clay still appears to be bearing this burden at.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall a really strong start to this second book. I am both terrified and excited to see where this is going especially along the lines of if we'll see more of the adult Clay now because it did look like the flashbacks came to their natural conclusion at the end of the previous chapter.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Kate




winterwolf0100 says...


Ahhh, thank you Kate! This made me very excited to see and I was super happy to see all your thoughts regarding everything!



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Fri Feb 10, 2023 10:33 am
jadeactor wrote a review...



This is actually good lmao, you depicted like ptsd or something, I don’t know why this has more reviews. I would genuinely look at more of this. Although I would like to see what happened previously, as this seems more like a prologue more than a normal episode. But other than that, I have no critiques for this story. I would love to see what happens to the mc after this.




winterwolf0100 says...


Hey there Jade, thanks for your review! This is actually the 15th chapter of the novel and the beginning of book 2, so I was surprised to see that you reviewed this, since I don%u2019t think you%u2019ve reviewed or read anything prior to it! So if you would like to see more of what happened previously, you might want to go to the first chapter and start from there, since this chapter really isn%u2019t made to be read out of the context of the story as a whole. There%u2019s a lot I%u2019ve already established previously, which might also be why you seemed to struggle a bit with really engaging with the story! ^^ The book itself is about struggles with ptsd, so I%u2019m glad you picked that up. Again, thank you for your review, and welcome to YWS!



winterwolf0100 says...


(Apologies, every time I write on my phone it turns apostrophes into crazy keyboard smashes XD)




The wince that you wince when you see your quote in the quote generator is quite a wince, I tell ya. To know that the whole YWS community has read and judged your quote is quite an awkward feeling like oh noes. *manly blush*
— Arcticus