Dear Mr. Palise,
I don’t know what I want to say to you. I don’t know what I want from you. But I remember when you were setting up for a hero’s journey test retake in tenth grade and my arms were burning and I asked you if you had any neosporin and you said you didn’t and that I should go to the office. I remember being scared because I couldn’t go to the office for neosporin and two of my friends told me that if my arm was infected, I’d get a disease and sometimes people need to get their arms amputated if the infection gets worse or spreads. I remember the marks on my arms felt like they were searing deep into my skin and I was full of adrenaline when I walked up to you again and told you that I couldn’t go to the office because the wounds on my arm were self-inflicted. I don’t remember why I did that, but I remember you dropped what you were doing and put your arm around me and walked me to the office. Your voice grew soft when you spoke to me and I remember feeling less scared, even after you handed me over to a school counselor.
I remember raising my hand in class to ask off-topic questions or share stories about my cat and you'd sometimes get annoyed, but let me talk anyway, and it felt nice to say whatever I thought and be heard.
I remember you letting me stay in your classroom and draw before/after school and/or during lunch. I liked looking around the room and studying the books and posters surrounding me, and I liked glancing over at you working at your computer. I wanted to live in those moments; they felt comfortable.
Right now, I’m listening to “No Surprises” by radiohead and thinking about the times I’d play that through my earbuds and put my head down in your or Mr. Grodzicki’s room during lunch last year. I remember sleeping in Mr. Grodzicki’s room, looking up to see you right across from me waving, and feeling embarrassed and putting my head back down. I never wanted to do anything last year; I only felt like listening to radiohead and sleeping, and that’s still all I feel like doing.
Although embarrassing, sleeping during lunch was nice. I wasn’t sleeping at home, so the nap obviously helped me get through the day, but waking up in a room I liked near people I liked felt nice. Waking up and realizing I was still at school and you were still sitting across from me was awkward, but I sometimes liked it better than waking up in my house with a pile of laundry in the middle of the floor and smelling my little brother smoking weed in the room over. I don’t know what’s wrong with my house; I guess I just feel weighed down by everything around me: I’ll look at the floor in my room and see my 14-year-old self sitting on the floor covered in blood, or I’ll walk up the stairs to my room and remember how scared I used to be of moving into my grandma’s house and sleeping there. I’ll look around the livingroom and relive shouting matches with my dad, or walk past the bookcase and watch it shake as he throws my little brother against it.
The thing is, though, I have bad feelings and memories everywhere: I could go back to my high school and point out the old bathroom stall I’d go to cut myself in, go to the corner in the band hall where I had a panic attack, or sit in the seat in your old classroom where I looked up ways to kill myself on my phone. I’m always attracted to being anywhere but home, but my memories and feelings follow me wherever I am. I don’t understand why the school felt safer than home; I didn’t even like school. I guess it was because you and the other language arts teachers were there.
I still don’t know what I’m trying to say to you. I know my grammar isn’t correct and I’m all over the place in my writing right now, but I don’t want to fix it yet. I’m trying not to look back at what I’ve written so far because I’m afraid that if I do, I’ll stop writing this altogether. I know what I’ve written so far sounds bad and doesn’t make sense. I don’t even know why I chose to write to you for this scholarship; I don’t think I could ever actually give you this letter, anyway.
I wrote you a letter once before. It wasn’t one I’ve given or ever thought of giving you, and I don’t remember what I did with it or why I wrote it, but I remember just scribbing whatever it was I felt at the time. I guess that’s what I’m doing right now. I keep crying when I write this. I keep thinking about how dumb this is and how clingy towards you I am and, well, I don’t really know. I don’t really know what I’m feeling right now, but I don’t like it. I just want to go back to literally any other moment of my life and stay there because atleast then I won’t be doing exactly what I’m doing or feeling exactly how I am right now. I’m afraid my whole life is going to be like this; I’m afraid my whole life is going to be doing things I don’t want to do and feeling what I don’t want to feel and wishing I could go back to when I was doing or feeling something else.
“High and Dry” just came on and I remember the first time I really, actually listened to it was in my business tech class last year. I stopped listening to music junior year, but then Mr. Ikens, the senior AP LIT teacher, got me listening to Radiohead and Coldplay. I don’t know why I stopped listening to music, but hearing it again and feeling something from it was nice. On the last day of class, Mr. Ikens said to us that if we remember anything at all from his class, he wants it to be the music. I really liked that.
You and Mr.Ikens somehow gave me a sense of safety and comfort. Maybe it was because you two seem confident and put-together and stable and in-touch with your emotions. Maybe it was because you two are creative and supportive of your students in a way I wasn’t used to. Maybe it was because of all of those reasons. You two made me feel like I could get to a stable point in my life. I don’t feel like that now.
“Where is my mind?” by the Pixies just came on and now I’m crying again. My big brother showed me the Pixies when I was fourteen and we’d listen to this song and sing and dance to it all the time. Now, he’s back on heroin and doesn’t care about me or the Pixies, and I see him shaking and covered in track marks once every few months. He used to stop by the house after work nearly every day and go on walks or get ice cream, but stopped when he changed jobs. I realized that he only came by here because his work was five minutes from my house and he could take a nap here before driving the twenty minutes to his house; he only went on walks or got ice cream when I begged him to. I thought I lost my big brother when he first relapsed on heroin, but then I realized that I never really had him to begin with. I was his annoying little brother who bugged him into quality time when all he really wanted to do was nap after work.
I’m supposed to be writing a research paper that’s due in four days. I haven’t even started it yet; I didn’t even realize it was due so soon until two days ago. Time has been slipping away from me lately; days and weeks tend to blur together until I suddenly have a research paper I haven’t started due in four days. I don’t want to start it. I don’t want to do anything, not even write this letter. I want to go to bed. Going to bed sometimes feels as hard as doing work, though, because my mind is still running. I just want to stop thinking sometime, but I don’t think I ever will. I think I’ll be stuck feeling this way and thinking about things I don’t want to think about forever.
I feel like when I first started writing this, I had a lot more run-on sentences and word salad just fell out of my hands. Now, though, my sentences feel choppy and it’s taking me a while to think of the words I need to use. I’ve been having trouble thinking of the words I need to use lately; both when I write and when I speak. I’m afraid that it shows and how it looks to be an 18-year-old college student who doesn’t know how to use his words. If I can’t figure out what I’m trying to communicate and how to do so, I can’t do anything else, either. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t even want to do anything anyway.
I want to die. I know you know that, and I don’t need to say it, but I want to say it again because I think about it so often. Last June, I swallowed around 30 aspirin pills and slit my wrists, but it wasn’t enough. I needed at least 52 to kill me, but I stopped being able to keep anything down after 30, and I was too sick and shaky to get very deep when cutting. I know now that I should’ve crushed a whole bottle of aspirin and put it in warm water or applesauce to get a lethal amount inside of me and keep it down. I also now know where to cut and how to keep cutting, even when shakey or sick. I think about trying again every day, but I don’t want to do anything without talking to you first. If I talk to you, though, you’re just going to tell me not to kill myself and I’m going to feel guilty for telling you that I want to kill myself. I guess maybe I want you to tell me to not kill myself; I don’t know why. Hearing you say that I shouldn’t kill myself isn’t going to make that statement true. I guess that, every now and then, I like deluding myself with the idea that life could one day be bearable. Sometimes I daydream about being an artist, living in New York and writing you a letter from my studio inviting you to see an exhibit of mine. A daydream is all it is, though; I’m not an artist in real life. I’m never going to be an artist or have an art exhibit or live in New York in real life. I’m not even taking art in college; I’m taking a Liberal Arts program with a focus in psychology.
I just remembered that I have class on Monday and a paper due on Wednesday and it’s 2:35am on a Saturday morning and I have an eleven-hour shift at the restaurant on Sunday and I have a bottle of aspirin and applesauce and a razor and I want to kill myself right now. Everything feels so terrible and I don’t know why. I don’t remember what I was thinking when I started this. I don’t know if there was really anything I wanted to tell you, and I don’t know why I’m typing this right now; this isn’t the kind of letter than wins scholarships. I don’t even know if I really had the scholarship in mind when I was typing. But thanks for being a good teacher. Thanks for doing whatever you did for me to make me want to tell you all of this. And, most importantly, thanks for never reading this letter.