What the world does
By Arnaud Filliat
She was a phenomenal girlfriend; her name was Kathryn, a blonde, a soccer player. I first met her when my roommate Xandon at the time started dating her. They were never very serious, and as Kathryn and I got to know each other, we slowly fell for each other. She was 5'7'', blue-green eyes, and with a smile that melted my heart. We started doing things together frequently. Skiing, smoking, playing soccer, anything we did together made me feel happy, my heart would beat faster, it was simply fun.
Eventually, I talked to Xandon about how I felt about Kathryn and asked if it was alright if I could go out with her. They hadn't seen each other in a while and luckily nothing bad had happened between them. He replied with “of course” and told me he had known for a bit that I liked her.
“After all,” he said, “I saw how you would ask her to play soccer, with that sneaky smile.”
I started going out on dates with her. We went on hikes together and would share a picnic. A couple of times we went out to a restaurant, but usually we would just stay in, and either she or I would cook. At night, before bed, we played cards together or watched a show on Netflix, like Dexter. Once in bed, we messed around, tickling and kissing each other. She loved when I did the very fast kisses in succession, it would always bring a smile to her lips. Those nights almost always ended with phenomenal sex.
She had two roommates. Their names were Jacob and Daniel. They were friendly and although I can't be sure, it seemed that they accepted me wholeheartedly. Jacob was around 5' 8'', white and rather skinny, Daniel was maybe 6 foot or just above that, and Latino, he had grown up in Texas. Our school, Colorado School of Mines, only had five thousand students, so I had met Daniel before at a house party and Jacob in a lecture. Jva4e2cv
As Kathryn and I grew closer together, we found that we liked each other more and more. I soon grew to become good friends with her and her roommates. At the time, I delivered pizzas for Dominos, and once and a while she would order pizza. So I would head over to her place and smoke weed with her and her roommates while they ate the pizza; I only stayed for a few minutes and went back to work, but I learned that Kathryn liked the extravaganza pizza, which basically has all the toppings, Jacob enjoyed the bacon, chicken, mushroom, and green peppers pizza, and Daniel just ate theirs.
Then, one Friday, a few weeks after we started dating, I decided to ask her to be my girlfriend. She accepted, and it was all nice and dandy. We went skiing that Saturday. On the way up the traffic was horrid, we even wondered if we should turn back and instead just hang out at her place. But no. Skiing is one of those things that will always be fun no matter what, so we trudged on through the traffic and ended up having a blast at the mountain. Kathryn was learning and stayed to the blues and blacks; and although I stuck with her, I oftentimes went into the trees next to the run. In the trees, I was able to push myself, doing backflips off small kickers, ripping through the fresh powder that had fallen just the night before. We enjoyed ourselves and made out on the chairlift, debating whether it was a good idea or not to have sex in the Gondola. Later that night, when we got home, we drank quite a bit and even took a few straight shots of Everclear.
The next morning, I drove Kathryn home. That is when things turned to custard. We walked in to her apartment and there was Jacob hanging from the banister. At first, she thought it was a joke, I didn't even know what to think. It didn't hit me that it was real. She almost laughed and jokingly said “Jacob”, but as she got closer her eyes slowly realized the truth. It wasn't a joke. I went up to the body that hung there, limply, with a belt around the neck, and touched it. It was cold to the touch, and I could see the purple that had started in the fingernails and around his mouth. That image will forever be engraved into my mind. The way the couches made an L, how Jacob hung from the upstairs banister, over the longer part of the L, and how he had used a belt and sheet contraption to...you know—do the job. His eyes were closed and the skin near the noose of the belt was molted. It was Kathryn that finally took the initiative and started pacing quickly and half-screaming half-crying.
“Jacob, I didn't think it was real, Jacob, Jacob.” She grabbed her phone and called 911 as she walked out of the apartment. I didn't know what to do. I stood there for a while unbelieving of the scene before my eyes and followed her out.
Once outside I went over to her and we hugged. Then we sat in the parking lot on the grass waiting for the police to arrive. I was torn inside but didn't cry. I tried to comfort her as tears streamed down her face at mach speed. I didn't know what to do or say so I just kind of held her, attempting to comfort just by being there. To me Jacob had started to become a friend and I really hadn't seen this coming. She knew him as not only a roommate, but a best friend; the emotions wracking her body must have been unbearable.
The police arrived as well as some people that gave us Cokes and tried to talk to us. They spoke with Kathryn but it was hard to console her. She kept sniffling, just staring at the ground or off into the distance. There was a person from one of the nearby houses that walked over with her dog and asked me what had happened. I hesitated.. She said, “Oh if you don't want to spill the beans that's fine.” This jogged me to speak, and I replied, “No, no, I was thinking about how to put it. Kathryn's roommate killed himself.”
Saying those words made it sink in. Life is so short sometimes. So short.
She looked stunned and said, “Oh, I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can get you?”
There was nothing I wanted. Nothing I needed. Maybe understanding. Comprehension of why this had happened. What had made someone disappear forever. But there was no way to convey that and so I looked at her and she let me pet her dog.
The dog, Coda, jumped at me at first; it was alright, though. I had owned a dog previously and knew what to expect. I sat down and pet him for a bit then looked over at Kathryn who was talking to the police and some of the counselors. I asked the lady with the dog if I could bring him with me to see Kathryn. She told me of course and smiled encouragingly.
Coda walked with me. He was an Alaskan Malamute and could befriend anyone and anything. As I walked over to Kathryn I could see the sadness in her face and it tore my heart apart. I hoped the dog would help.
She gave the tiniest of smiles upon seeing me and crouched down to pet Coda. He licked her hands and nudged her face. She smiled a bit. They seemed to be having a good time so I went to talk to the trauma people and police. They asked me some questions about what I'd been doing and why I was here. I answered explaining how I had been bringing her home after we had gone skiing the day before. They quickly let me go and I asked the counselors if they had any advice for dealing with suicide. They told me some things and gave me a pamphlet. On the pamphlet it had advice and other things similar to this:
Did I cause this to happen? No! You didn’t cause your loved one to take their life. He or she was enduring such unbearable pain that it seemed the irrational act of suicide was the only way to relieve this suffering.
Family and friends feel tremendous guilt over suicide, and worry about what they could or even should have done to prevent the death.
Finally I went back over to see Kathryn. She was just sitting there with Coda talking to the lady. She almost looked happy.
As I sat down next to her, she moved her head to my shoulder and we just sat there not saying much. Eventually I spoke “There was nothing you could have done,” I said, “Sometimes things just happen.”
She didn't reply. What could I say?
We sat there, outside in the parking lot, seeing the buzz of people moving about, for what seemed an eternity. The lady left and sadly, so did Coda.
Eventually Daniel, her other roommate arrived. Kathryn had called him after calling the police. He paced and paced. The police asked him some questions. Nothing more happened. Nothing of consequence.
That night I went over to my friend John's house. There I found a group of friends, including Kathryn, hanging out sullenly. We smoked some weed and I asked to bum a cig. John gave me a whole pack. I went to the roof to smoke.
I remembered the pamphlet the counselors had given me and how we weren't supposed to refer to someone killing themselves as committing suicide. According to the pamphlet, this would make it seem like a crime and would be hard for those affected. But I couldn't help thinking—isn't suicide basically murdering yourself. Your leaving so much behind when anyone, simply anyone would help you. I couldn't help thinking—isn't suicide just the cowards way out...
I didn't want to think of Jacob as a coward; he was a nice, smart, and funny guy. That was I should remember him, not as a coward.
I saw Kathryn again and although I could tell she was deeply saddened, her face wasn't streaked by the marks left behind by tears anymore, and she was trying to smile once in a while. I gave her a kiss and asked if she wanted to stay here or sleep at my place. There was no way she was sleeping at her own apartment. She told me she'd like to sleep with me. This made me happy but instantly that happiness turned to guilt.
I drove us home. On our way Kathryn had told me that she would probably just go to my room and lie in bed for a bit.
When we got home Xandon Charlie, and Abe were there. They still didn't know. I hadn't told them.
“Hey sexy,” Xandon greeted me.
“Hey babe,” I replied trying to smile. “Let's grab a cig outside real quick?”
“Sure, let me just finish watching this episode,” replied Xandon
After the show ended Charlie and Xandon both came outside with me as we lit some cigarettes.
“Hey guys, I gotta tell you something.” I said.
“Wasssssaaaaw man” Xandon said jokingly.
“Kathryn's roommate hung himself.” Instantly the playfulness was gone and they stared at me not wanting to believe it.
“Jacob or Daniel?” asked Xandon.
“Jacob,” I answered.
“Well, damn,” said Charlie. “Not the best time for us to take a road trip.”
Over the next couple of days a lot happened. Kathryn's mom came to town. Kathryn mostly stayed at the hotel with her mom. We were students and still had school. Kathryn missed a few days. Her teachers and professors excused her though. This was part of extenuating circumstances. We also went on hikes.
Those hikes up Chimney Gulch trail cheered me up for sure. Kathryn and I talked about everything and anything. Why is the sun yellow? Not solely because it's a star, but why does hydrogen burn yellow at those temperatures. We even talked about Harry Potter and joked around, pretending we were wizards. She described her hotel, I explained one of my new assignments, and we just talked, comforting ourselves in each other's presence. Once at the top we would usually smoke a joint. But the subject we generally avoided was Jacob.
Then, one time on the way down we talked about Jacob.
“What happened really sucks,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said, melancholic. “It does suck, but people are supportive.”
For a few moments we said nothing, only stared off into the distance at the mountains.
“I've been having trouble waking up.” Kathryn paused. “I'll wake up and feel scared almost like I can't, I don't know it's hard to describe, and I can't get up but I need to see someone to know that the person in the other room is still there.”
“You could scream,” I said, “I'm sure someone would come.”
“I don't want to scream. It's not like I'm in real pain. It's just—hard,” she said
I didn't know what to reply for a while and just thought about it.
“That sounds similar to a few anxiety attacks I had before. If you want you can sleep over more.” I smiled. “That way you won't be alone. I'll try to comfort you as best I can by giving caresses and stuff.”
“Maybe that'll work,” she replied
With those short hikes I fell for her, hard. It was a sad time, but my heart became hers.
She started to stay over more and it seemed to me as though she was getting happier, going to class again, going out, smiling, drinking. It was a good time. Once in a while when I went to the grocery store I'd get flowers too and give them to her with that content almost idiotic grin on my face. A few times I wrote some poems for her. I'm not sure if these cheered her or saddened her although I wrote both kinds.
I wanted to tell her I loved her but it didn't feel right. It wasn't the same as my my previous relationships. That love had been more fiery, more lustful almost. This one was more subtle and I couldn't come to grips with saying those three words to her. But one day I just did it.
It was right after she had moved in to a new apartment provided by the school. We had just come home from another hike. Maybe it was just the coffee I had drunk, but my heart was beating quickly. I was sitting on her bed and looked over at her.
“Hey Kathryn, I love you”
She heard the words, they registered. She smiled at me. She came over by me and took my hand.
“Thank you,” she started, “thank you for telling me. I'm not ready to say it but I really really like you. A ton.” She smiled at me splendidly and we kissed.
That night was wonderful. We spent it watching How I Met your Mother on Netflix and making love for hours in bed. In terms of what we did well... let's just say it was the best sex I've ever experienced.
The next morning we woke up a bit later, 11 am, and decided to get brunch at noon with Xandon, my roommate, at Sherpa House. While she was in the shower I decided to write a poem. We went to brunch and nothing much happened. We ate Indian food, the waiter spilled a glass of water on Xandon, and I cried from how spicy some of the food was. Then once we left I gave Kathryn the poem I had written.
What the world does
It's hard to explain how I feel about you
I could say “I love you,” no that won't work
Those 3 words can't describe what I feel for you
If I see you cry, I lay by your side
And hope to take your sadness away
When you smile, Oh how it brightens my day
and makes my heart do cartwheels in my body
But when you are hurt, I rage at the world
It is not fair that the world does this
I cannot make your pain disappear
I see how hurt you are, torn inside
That despair, that dark hole sucks it all in
But even dark holes will one day implode
Then it would fill back up, and flourish
I understand your pain and wish to help
What can I do, I don't know, I don't know
It is not fair that the world does this
The blow so real time alone will heal
So we go on
Why do you do this world
Eventually spring break came along. I knew it was that time of year because skiing started to die down. The snow was melting. We stayed in Golden together for spring break and went skiing quite a few times. Her roommate Daniel came along too. It was pretty sweet but at one point Kathryn fell pretty hard down a double black. It was definitely sketchy but luckily she seemed alright so I skied up to her.
“Hey, Kat you ok?” I had started calling her Kat for short and she mostly liked it.
“Yeh, I'm fine, I'll live. Just some bruises. Why did you take me on this run though?” she asked angrily.
“I'm sorry I thought you were ready. Your skiing is much much better than before.” I replied.
“Next time listen to me if I tell you I'm scared,” she said. Then, while trying to clip one of her skis back on, she knocked it over and it went down the steep hill 50 feet.
“Fuck,” she swore.
I quickly skied down, grabbed her ski, and started sidestepping with the skis back up the mountain to her. I helped her get her skis back on and she expressed thanks for that and then she skied down the rest of the run. She had fallen down half the run I'd say, so the last little bit wasn't too tough; I still followed close behind to help her if needed though.
Later that night we yelled at each other. I don't know why but it happened. Maybe the fight from skiing started it. Maybe some underlying tension between us. Or maybe it was just that time of the month. We yelled about stupid shit too.
“Why didn't you do your dishes? Why didn't you take out the trash? Why were you 30 min late? Why don't you love me?!”
This last one rang clear. I had said it to her. She still hadn't told me she loved me and it had been more than 2 months since I had said it to her. I had said it to her a few times since, trying to give her an opportunity. But no.
Then she said those fateful words.
“What?” I replied, my anger dissipating instantly
“We're over. I don't want to be with you anymore. I'm sorry.” she explained.
I was stunned. Not what I had expected.
“Are you sure?” I stammered.
“Yes and no. I'm gonna go home.” And Kathryn left, even having the gall to give me a hug.
What the hell? At first I was sad. That sadness slowly turned to anger. She broke up with me. After all I had done. After everything?
I went for a run right then and there even though it was midnight. Once I got to the mountains I yelled.
“Why do you do this world? She never even said I love you.” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
After taking a deep breath for having run and screamed I whispered only audible to myself.
“She was a bitch. I wish she was gone.”
I ran a bit farther and then went home.
The next day I didn't see Kathryn at school. Texting her felt strange but it happened anyway. She didn't reply. She must be thinking that I'm such a jerk. I wanted to apologize to her. Not for anything specific. Maybe it was just to try to save the relationship, maybe I just wanted some closure, maybe I needed a reason. I went over to her new apartment and tried see her.
She wasn't home. Daniel was there.
“Have you seen Kat?” I asked
“Not recently. I saw her yesterday morning but I thought she was with you last night?” he said
“She was but we broke up and she left,” I replied
“Well she never came home” he ,said.
This got me worried. Where had she gone? We quickly tried to call her but no reply. Then we quickly checked her room. We didn't go through anything but I noticed a hamster cage with a hamster in it that hadn't been there before.
“When did she get a hamster?” I asked Daniel
“I don't know. I don't remember seeing her bring it home,” he answered.
“Weird” I said.
I went over to see the hamster and saw that it had a small necklace around its neck that simply read.
I stared for a couple seconds trying to piece things together and wondering if the world had gone mad. Then I burst out laughing. There was no way Kathryn had been turned into a hamster. Someone must just be playing a horrible practical joke on me. But at the same time I laughed at the misfortune of it all. I was happy Kathryn was a hamster. It's what she deserved for breaking up with me.
“This is what you get.” I said
Daniel walked out of the room.
“Hey Kat, you're a cute little hamster aren't you? I wish I was your hamster friend so I could tell you how much of a bitch you are,” I joked at Kat the hamster.
I played with the hamster for a while and slowly things changed. The cage grew bigger, the hamster became more friendly, the wheel seemed more appealing, the floor even started to change colors.
I played with the other hamster, nudging it with my face, running around it idiotically. I knew I was a jerk. This is why she broke up with me.
Finally, I stopped running on that hamster wheel, and said to no one in particular.
“The world is just not fair sometimes.”