A Terrible Mistake
By Raj, age 21, England, United Kingdom
Patrick had made a terrible mistake. When he had written that he wanted the rock 'n' roll classic "I Want to Break Free" played at his funeral, he had meant "I Want to Be Free." He had taken for granted that his mother would know he was referring to Elvis Presley, but of course now she would probably think he was referring to Queen.
"F*** DAMN IT!" He yelled so loud that the words weren't even discernible. They hurled out of his open throat and collided with the raging coastal wind. He swore some more and fell to his knees. Patrick had walked three miles to the highest cliff range in the area, after thinking everything at home was in order. The house had been tidied, the dishes in the kitchen had been washed, dried and put away, the trash had been taken out, he'd bought groceries and essentials for his mother, as well as a massage cushion and foot spa as a special treat for her. Patrick had even thrown out all the junk and useless crap in his bedroom, like his notebooks from school, cigarettes and porno mags, so his mother wouldn't have to.
Once everything looked perfect he wrote a note. The first note was too sentimental, the second too condescending, the third too angry, the fourth too detached. Each attempt he scrunched up and jammed into the pockets of his cargo pants. It was embarrassing trying to explain himself to his mother. He'd never had to explain anything to her before because they barely talked. They exchanged pleasantries and he did everything she asked. She never asked much. Patrick realized how pathetic he was and wrote a fifth note, which was self-deprecating but humorous, the high school persona he'd adopted to survive the jibes and harassment from his peers, but a side of him his mother had never seen. He read it ten times over before folding it in half and leaving it in front of a vase of fresh tulips. He felt satisfied. More than that, he felt pleased with himself. At 8 pm, two hours before his mother would be home from work, he left to walk to Heaven Rock. And now, on his knees, ten inches away from the cliff edge, Patrick was crying because the wrong song would be played at his funeral and it was his fault entirely.
Then, like a lightning bolt, something struck him and Patrick rose to his feet. Why had he assumed he'd even be given a funeral service? Perhaps his mother would skip it - after all, who would even attend? Now the request for his funeral song was doubly stupid. He tried not to care but he was humiliated. Patrick checked his mobile phone. He squinted at the digital clock on the bright screen. The time was 9:50 pm, ten minutes until Patrick's mother would arrive home to find her new gifts and his note. A second after putting the phone back in his pocket, he took it out to check it again. Nothing on the display but a clock. He threw the phone into the black expanse before him and took out his packet of cigarettes to smoke half of one and chuck the rest. Patrick played with his cheap lighter in the darkness, like he used to in his bed, or at school, when he didn't want to think about anything. Sheltering it from the fierce wind, Patrick watched the little flames ignite and die and ignite and die. He remembered the balls of scrap paper in the pockets of his trousers. He dug one out, uncreased it, and tried to set fire to it. He turned around frantically on the spot, to find a direction where the wind wasn't coming from. Giving up, he tossed the lighter and turned each of his notes into a paper aeroplane, letting them take off on the wind. He had no idea where they'd flown to, but he imagined them being ten times as large, rife in flame and crash landing into the sea, his idea of a most beautiful scene. He tried to smile but his face was numb from the biting air. He touched his face with his freezing finger tips and felt for the tracks of dried tears that had run down his chubby cheeks. He covered his large ears with his wide, thick hands to shut out the sirens that he was sure he could hear in the distance.
"There's no joy in my heart, only sorrow, and I'm sad as a man can be," Patrick sang to the dark sky. "I sit alone in the darkness of this lonely room, and this room is a prison to me." And taking one huge breath, he stepped off the cliff.