One Hour by Finnegan Anderson

Clock. Timer. Sixty minutes. Start.  

I think the recommended amount of time is fifteen minutes, but I’ve always been an overachiever. Maybe that’s part of the problem. 

Half a minute. Maybe it’s not fifteen minutes either. That’s still such a long time. Maybe it’s ten minutes? 

One minute. Alright, it can’t be longer than five minutes. I’m fairly sure time is mocking me right now.  

Two minutes. I’m going to google the answer. Oh, it’s five minutes. I got the right answer eventually.  

Five minutes. Half of me feels like I won, the other half feels just as upset as it did when I started. Taking a walk would give me something to do. Then again, I live a twenty-minute walk from the river, and considering my plan is to drown myself, that might not be the best option. Not right now. Not when there are still fifty-five minutes left on my timer. I can make it.  

I can’t just keep sitting here, though. My mind is racing, and not in any good way. My decision not to go on a walk means now I’m thinking about all the ways I could kill myself at home, and if I refuse to do that, maybe just self-harm? 

No. I need something to occupy my attention. TV hasn’t been cutting it lately, so that’s out. 

The phone chimes. Maybe that’s the timer. I did it. I survived the hour. 

Oh, it’s just a YouTube notification. Apparently my favorite singer has a new song out. That should kill some time, even if only three minutes. 

Ten minutes. The song is good. I switch to a lyric video so I can know everything being sung. Then a slowed reverb version. Then back to the original video. 

Twenty minutes. I glance at the timer. I’ve made it this far. Four times the suggested length of time. “People who are considering suicide should take life five minutes at a time, as that’s the amount of time it usually takes to decide to go through with a plan. If you can make it five minutes, restart the timer. Make it five more.” I’ve made it twenty. Half of me is proud to have made it this far, the other half is screaming that I can never go through with anything. There’s another part of the problem.  

“You have a support system, that’s good.” My old therapist’s words echo throughout my mind, briefly making me wonder if I texted her, would she answer? She moved away ten months ago. She has other clients now. Probably a new phone number, too. Besides, she’d call the police or whoever you call when someone is suicidal, and I’d end up back in Psych.  

I don’t inherently hate it there. It helps. It’s just… I’ve been there four times now. The last time I went in, one of the staff there said I couldn’t admit myself “whenever life gets hard”. As if life isn’t ever not hard. Who happily checks themself into a hospital where their every move is monitored, where they don’t have access to any electronics, where they can’t even have a glass of soda when they want? Not me. I always cried during visitations. My “support system” could never be bothered to come, so I’d spend the hour watching the other patients mingle with their own families, wondering why I wasn’t important enough for my own.  

Support system. What a joke. I always tried to talk my family up in therapy. They were so worried an “outsider” would blame them for why I am the way I am. I didn’t want to strain our relationship further by saying what they’d done out loud. I always settled for the classic, “They did their best”.  

Thirty minutes. I consider messaging a friend. She’s several time zones away, so while it’s one in the morning here, it’s only eight at night there. I know she’s awake. I also know she’s having a hard time herself. I’d just make things worse. I usually do.  

My dog whimpers in her sleep a couple times, then jumps up. She sees me still awake, lying on my bed, and is instantly excited. Her tail flies around, hitting the wall near her repeatedly. Thump. Thump. Thump. Her tail is a clock that doesn’t keep time. 

“You want to go outside?”  

At the prospect of being able to run a few laps, she’s excited even more, jumping onto her back legs and resting her front paws and head on the mattress as if to say, “You’d get out of bed for me?” I force myself to sit, then run a hand along her course fur. She’s not the softest dog in the world, not since she lost her puppy coat, but I sure am thankful she doesn’t shed much. Not even the softest fur isn’t annoying when it’s all over the floor. 

She leads me to the back door as if she to show me the way, jumping at the handle. One of these days she’ll manage to accidentally open it. For now, I do, taking a seat in the yard on the swinging bench.  

She does run a couple laps, then finds a stick she must think is interesting, carrying it to me. I take it and set it next to me. “Oh, what a nice stick!” I exclaim, making a big show of gently setting it down so it doesn’t snap. “Almost as beautiful as you!” 

For the next thirty minutes she brings me every possible stick in the yard. Each time I make a show of how happy I am to get the stick, at one point laughing at the pile now next to me.  

The timer finally goes off. I made it. Sixty minutes. My dog still wants to play. I can’t do anything drastic now.  

Giving her a big kiss right on the forehead, I go back to the clock on my phone.  

Timer. Sixty minutes. Start.