“And so it sounds like a cliché, but I honestly… I can’t take it anymore.”
“Don’t do it man. Things will get better, I swear.”
The voice was small and tinny through the phone, which somehow made the desperation sound even more futile. Karen picked up a biscuit.
“But even if they do, so what? What does any of it… matter?”
“It matters to your family, your friends-”
“Are you eating? Are you eating a biscuit or something?”
Karen put down what was left of the biscuit.
“No. Now, thing is-”
“Seriously, it doesn’t matter to anyone whether I live or die. It certainly doesn’t seem to matter to you, Jesus, munching on a fucking Tim Tam like we’re chatting about the weather? Jesus!”
“I’m sorry, it really does matter.”
“Yeah well, coulda fooled me.”
“I’m so sorry. You got a family?”
“No. And no friends.”
“-or societies, no. No sporting associations. Nothing. No-one.”
“I work from home. I’m a writer.”
“Ooh, anything I’ve heard of?”
“But still, there we go! A published author!”
“Self-published. Cost me thousands.”
“Indie publishing can be very-”
“No-one’s bought a single book. The one review I got said it was ‘derivative and pedestrian’. I mean, not even the review was notable.”
“And none of it even matters! So what if I sold a million books? It’s all meaningless! There’s no point. If I don’t kill myself tonight, what? I live for another thirty, forty years? And I die anyway! Why’s it better for me to get run over by a drunk than to kill myself right fucking now? Why’s it better to get cancer and wither away, than hang myself from that unused chin-up bar? Why do you want to keep me alive for that? ‘Please, don’t kill yourself, I want to see you ravaged by disease instead.’ What kind of fucking monster are you?”
Karen grabbed the rest of her biscuit.
“The world is going to be swallowed by the sun, you know that?” the voice added. “And then what? The planet Earth, gone. And what difference did it make, to anything?”
“I don’t know,” Karen found herself saying, “but maybe that’s okay. Yes, it’s all so temporary and meaningless. But you have to make it mean something yourself. It’s work. And that act of trying to make it mean something, that act itself – and nothing else – is what makes it mean something.”
There was a moment of static.
“What kind was it?” asked the voice.
“What kind of biscuit. Were you eating.”
“Oh God, I love those. Haven’t had one in years.”
“Yeah man, they’re yum.”
“Fuck, I was still a kid.”
“Go grab a packet. Ooh, after you go, I’m making a cuppa and I’m going to dunk this shit.”
“That sounds awesome, actually.”
“Don’t kill yourself. Dunk some bikkies.”
“Seriously, go get some. I’ll be thinking of you.”
“Thanks. Thank you.”
“No worries. Thanks for calling LifeLine.”