I thought Edmund would lose his mind. That he would end up circling oblivion on the hard pavement like so many kids who didn’t ask to grow into who they are. I thought he would lose his mind. The wretched, dark corners of the world, the dirty, horrifying depths of the shaft of your mind… Of the countless fears one faces in their life, none can match or fathom the boundless leagues of empty space in there. And I thought Edmund would live there — eternally euphoric on a sea of shadows and of shadows of people.
Of course, he didn’t — not yet anyway. I should try my best to remember that night, that phone call. Tiana crying and confused and scared. Edmund’s voice — it was a raven’s voice — not really there, too high-pitched, too confused itself. Black, black, black euphoria. A crippling darkness came from his mouth that night as he graced the threshold of insanity. He would head off into that yawning chasm, on a gilded throne with shades as his pallbearers. Goodbye, dear friend. You poor boy…
Just another — poor boy.
Some kind of change. Some kind of spinning away.
He’s still here, though. But am I? Am I beside him still? After all is said and done can I really be beside him still? Who knows. How much more can my pale, pale heart take? Can I take more of my friends’ pain… You’re in so much pain, friend. And there’s nothing I can do because I’m so, so far away. I’m too far, dear boy. And I’m so, so sorry. You’ll have to take it from here, dear boy. Sorry, my friend. But maybe I’ll see you around? Some other day? — but it’s too late, you’re gone.
I just can’t take any more of your pain. I just remember driving south on the 101, down to Santa Cruz from San Francisco. Trying desperately to escape those fucking fires. Remember those fires? They say when people woke up in the Tenderloin, a thick layer of ash covered their sleeping bags, their fingers, their lips. The entire time, I was nervous — breathing in those fumes. I drove straight to Adam. He had a cat in the house. I had to sleep outside in my little hatchback — after I went to 7/11 to get some allergy medicine at three in the morning. Adam was gripping the throttle of bipolar mania, drinking until he lost consciousness… Smiling to the void, and laughing at no one in particular. I was brushing my shoulders with madness. And I remember now, how he told me — and I could probably even find it somewhere in my notes — how he told me he had been diagnosed bipolar: we were outside, we had been drinking, we were talking, he said he had been arrested for trespassing, that he had walked onto some school in the middle of the day and began to harass the principle. I was so experienced in this, but I had no idea at the time. I had seen Forest through bouts like this — but I just figured that was how people get when they drink. I wanted so desperately for that boy to be okay again but maybe he never was and maybe I never really knew him, or him me.
Adam wasn’t Adam, really. There was somebody saying something to me and he could speak words. But for the kid who drove me around in high school, who laughed with us when we strapped our boards to the roof, who had been there for me — though I’m not even sure he knew it then. That kid wasn’t there that night. There was someone else in his eyes.
That person was in Edmund’s mouth the other night. That person was in Tiana’s sobs and breathless gasps of worry and dread and pain. I know this person and I fear them for they know boundless suffering and they do not shy away from it. This madness took Forest from us long before that poor boy died in that bathroom. This madness will take everyone. This dark, dark, black, black, black soulless shade will take my friends from me. This person will…
I don’t know if I can take any more of your pain. I’m not like the rest of your friends. I’m sorry, I’m just not. I never will be. I will never be just one of the boys. I will never be, and I’m sorry. My heart is too heavy and I’ve seen too much. And just for once, I’m going to let myself say that. I’ve seen enough of my friends in pain for this heart to handle, dear friend. And I’m so sorry, but I just don’t know how much more of yours I can take.