Good For The Soul

Good For The Soul

This is Day 5 of “7 Stories in 7 Days”. I asked my Facebook followers to give me a line from a favorite song to use as a writing prompt. I have not looked up the context of these lines so any similarity to the actual song is purely coincidental.

Kenny had had a bad day. It was one of those days where nothing went right. His alarm didn’t go off so he overslept. The milk was sour so he couldn’t prepare the breakfast he wanted. He ran out of gas on the way to work and had to walk over a mile each way from the car to the gas station. He decided to just go ahead and call in sick when he got back to the car. The battery in his cell phone was dead. It was one of those days and it wasn’t even 10 o’clock in the morning, yet.

The events of this day were nothing extraordinary for Kenny. He didn’t go out looking for bad luck, it just seemed to find him. Or maybe Kenny had just gotten to the point where he only expected bad things to happen and he had perfected the art of attracting it to him. Was today the day he would finally do something about it? Kenny’s mother had battled depression her entire life and died while he was in his twenties. His father lost his battle with cancer a month shy of Kenny’s 35th birthday. That was just a couple of months ago.

Kenny had first contemplated suicide in middle school. At 13 years old, there wasn’t much thought about how to do it, more about how much simpler life would be. The irony of that thought wasn’t lost on him even at that young age. High school found him experimenting with drugs, using them as an escape, not just from his own distorted thoughts, but also from the pressures of his abusive mother. By then, each act he developed in his mind for his own demise was more gruesome, more foolproof than the one before. One thing he knew with certainty, once the decision was made to take his life, failure was absolutely not an option.

He graduated high school, barely. When pressured by both parents to attend college, he decided to take a year off from school to ‘find himself’. With his old beat-up sedan his grandfather had given him, a second-hand tent he had bought off eBay, and a couple of hundred dollars he had saved up from his after-school jobs, he took off. With visions of travelling the country, he spent the first night at a public campground at the lake less than 100 miles from his parents’ home. He spent the next 3 months at that campground.

Though he didn’t find direction for his life during his sabbatical, he understood some of his obstacles. He realized his mom worked to make everyone around her miserable to make herself look better in her own eyes. He also knew he wasn’t cut out for the routine and drudgery of college or a ‘normal’ job. He spent the next few years bouncing around from odd job to odd job, often working outside doing construction, lawn maintenance, even garbage collection.

When his mother committed suicide, he thought he was done with the main bad influence on his life. He also witnessed the toll her suicide had taken on everyone she left behind. He hated her for what she had done to him and his father and for taking the chicken’s way out. He thought his mother’s passing would ease his pains. He hoped that he and his dad would mend their differences and bond over her passing. Neither happened as his father turned to alcohol to fill his void. He became even more abusive, but Kenny had no other place to go.

After the ravages of alcohol and cancer had claimed his father, Kenny was forced into the life he had tried so hard to avoid. He needed the steady employment and the steady income to stay ahead of the bills. But, as always, problems just kept pummeling Kenny. Today’s problems with the alarm clock, milk, gas, and cell phone had become a way of life – Kenny’s way of life. It had to stop.

He drove back to the gas station and filled the car up using his dad’s credit card. He then drove home and pulled out the hand gun he had found in his father’s nightstand as he was going through the house after his death. It was time to go to the most peaceful place Kenny knew and create the everlasting peace he would never have to worry about returning from. Kenny drove to the lake he had spent the summer at so many years ago. He had found answers there before, now he would answer his final question. He arrived at the familiar campground, still deserted in May before the summer recess had begun. He hadn’t brought the tent because he knew he wouldn’t be needing it. He sat there on the bank, taking in all there was around him. The colors seemed much deeper, the sounds fuller, the smells sweeter. The breeze brushed against the hairs on his arms sending chills all over his body. He had never felt more alive.

Daylight turned to dusk, dusk to dark, and Kenny sat there, breathing in all that he could contain. In the early morning hours, he walked over to the car and pulled out a notebook and a pen. Sitting back down on the bank, overlooking the lake, he wrote “Stars are shining on the water here tonight, it’s good for the soul when there’s not a Soul in sight.

Police found his body two days later, a single gunshot to his right temple, the notebook laying on the ground beside him.