The joy of living becomes a fire in our veins. It’s a volatile force that burns through them, alighting every nerve and ultimately, in some, leaving a husk. Darkness rolls in like smoke afterward; slumping the empty shell of the person down onto the floor where their charred out remains wither and rot.

The mind becomes plagued.

Shrines set up in remembrance to the time before, small flashes of joy amidst the oil slick sickness that tries to swallow everything. War breaks out between the memories of joy and the ever-present question screamed into the darkness of why am I like this?Remembrance of the before the only weapon against the disturbing presence of the now. The sunshine bright blood of the memories leaks into the infected tissue, slowly being tainted until the joy is gone and all that remains is you were always like this, there is nothing else.

Three years of this.

Technically three years, two weeks, a day, six hours, and thirty-seven minutes; but, I’m rounding down in my favor. I am destroyed. A hollow shell filled with nothing but never-ending pain and a mind so clouded I can’t remember the slightest detail let alone a bigger idea. I’ve given up.

I no longer look both ways when crossing the street, I calculate the moment I could step into traffic and the likelihood of living. I’ve stopped buckling my seatbelt. I barely eat. I don’t hold the railing when going down the stairs. I position my steps so that I teeter on the edge staring down the rough incline as excitement builds in my throat. Almost, every day as I exit the apartment is an almost as I descend to the ground floor.

I plead that something will end this because I haven’t been able to take that final step. I’m teetering on the edge, my teeth on edge and my hands shaking, but I can’t do it. The war is still raging and the joy will win a battle to keep me breathing just a little longer. But, I’m so tired. I’m tired of looking for ways to survive and I’m tired of crying “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m broken. I’m broke and there’s no fixing me” at you. Those words don’t help.

You are the victim of this war my mind is fighting. You are the one I yell at, scream, and break down in front of to the point of not being able to talk to one another. I’d apologize, but I obviously don’t know the words. Uttering the words, ‘I’m sorry’, is not enough. How do I tell you that you are dear to me, but I am still alone? How do I tell you that I appreciate everything you have done, but nothing is helping?

I think it’s best for the both of us if I leave. I don’t know if this war will ever be over, but I can’t let it destroy you too. I do not want to infect you with this sickness. You are still so full of joy, so full of fire and you are not at risk of it destroying you. Please know that you tried and I will always be so appreciative. But, I am done.

-The final note left by Sam

Their body was found in the Adirondack Mountains a week later.