My name is Conner Thompson, and I am going to kill myself today. I wish I could offer you some long romantic sob story about lovers torn apart by powers greater than themselves, a rough childhood where my parents beat me and paid no attention to me, maybe a downward spiral into drug addiction filled with hopeless nights and shameful days, or even that I suffered from some mental illness that filled my waking hours with wild anguish and despair.
The truth, though, I’m a happy person. I have a decent job, make an ok living, and have a few good friends who, in my opinion, is better than most can claim. I love my parents, and they love me. Therefore, I think it comes down to one thing: The idea of what happens when you die utterly consumes me. There it is plain and unadorned.
This never-ending mystery keeps me awake at night and is always present in the back of my brain, gnawing like a rat through cardboard. I’ll be sitting at work talking to a fellow employee, half my mind doing its best to pay attention while the other half is wondering what would happen if I died at this exact moment. I still remember as a child talking to my grandmother and asking her what happened when people die. She would smile, rub my hair, and say, such questions are unanswerable.
“People have their own beliefs as to what will happen to them and their loved ones after death, and one idea is neither more or less wrong than any other idea,” she would say.
That one sentence would start my lifelong obsession with the question of what happens after death. The older I became, the obsession only grew stronger and stronger, which directed my passion into all the different philosophies on the subject, none of which provided any empirical evidence of their claims.
As for my personal belief about what comes after death, I subscribe to the idea that nothing happens. Mostly, we have two choices: either a funeral and then gradually rot away or cremation, whichever way we choose, we just return to nature.
I don’t think I have some soul that is going to move on and ‘shed this mortal coil.’ That’s right. I am an Atheist. Which some people group with terrorists, rapists, serial killers, and child molesters. Seriously though, tell some people you are an Atheist, and they treat you as if you have the plague. It’s quite amusing, actually. I’m not sure when or why this stigma was attached to Atheism, but I’m not one to care enough about someone’s opinion about me to attempt to change their beliefs. After all, I don’t go around trying to convert the believers of a higher power into non-believers.
Some will say that since I am an atheist, I should be sure that nothing happens when I die, as I clearly stated earlier, return to nature. Also, if I’m not sure, then I should call myself an agnostic, not an atheist. However, I will argue that being an atheist is my belief that there is no God or Gods, just as a Christian or any other religious person holds the belief that there is a God.
Why should any of this rule out an alternative to what happens after death that has yet to be considered? Therefore, I guess I call myself an Atheist because I fit better within its criteria than any other option, other than not caring at all, which in my experience is hard to do.
As for how to go about killing myself, I have given much thought to. I don’t like the sight of blood, especially my own, so that rules out quite a bit of options. I can’t shoot myself because I don’t have a gun. Maybe an overdose, but from what I’ve read that rarely works, and when it does, it comes after days of excruciating pain, not a big fan of pain. Although there are poisons out there that will kill quickly, such as cyanide or strychnine, they are hard to come by this day and age. I was also considering jumping to my death, maybe experience the excitement of flying, but the tallest building in my town is the Welker Business Complex, which stands only five stories tall, not particularly encouraging. Then the idea of hanging came to mind. Hanging seems to be relatively painless, and it only takes a few minutes before you lose consciousness, it’s true I took the time to look it up. Of course, the distance that you drop before the noose tightens is a significant factor as to how the experience will go, a long fall and the spine can break giving an immediate death; I want the awareness of life fading away, I don’t want to have life suddenly ripped away. I suppose those few minutes will give me time to wane away slowly, kind of like going to sleep.
As to where I’m going to fix the noose, my apartment offers but one option, and that is my living room ceiling fan. Sitting down and working my length of rope into a sturdy noose, which took several tries, I attach one end to the fan’s main shaft, grab hold of the other end and suspend myself from it with a firm grasp. Yep, this will do nicely.
Walking into the kitchen and returning to the living room with a chair in which to stand on, I stand back and view the scene before me. Everything is in place.
Time to take my journey to the unknown.
A feeling of calmness overcame me, and I was left wondering if this is how people felt when they got close to accomplishing their goals or when someone ultimately received an answer to a question, one they had sought for so long.
I decided early on not to leave a note behind for no other reason than I don’t consider suicide notes to have the ability to diminish anyone’s pain. I am fully aware that what I am doing is going to cause considerable distress to my parents and friends. I realize suicide is a selfish act. Therefore, I guess I am guilty of being selfish and it pains me to think about how this will affect the people who love me. I dearly hope that they will be able to move on and learn to live with what I am about to do because, for me, there is no other route to take; I just have to know what is next.
As I stated early, I’m an Atheist which, is my personal belief. As my grandmother would say, “that is no more right or wrong,” compared to another’s views on what happens after death. No one knows for sure. After all, as far as I know, there hasn’t been a situation where someone has died and come back, with any hard evidence, to explain to us all what happened.
Of course, we have all heard the ‘near’ death stories of the white light at the end of the tunnel, out-of-body experiences where the person is floating above himself or herself watching the scene play out before them, and visions of Heaven or Hell. Nevertheless, this is not any kind of evidence as to what actually happens after death. I need proof.
Well, the time has come. I move up onto to the chair, catch my balance, and gently place the noose around my neck, tightening it as snug as I can make it. I start counting backward from ten; I don’t know why, but it seems the proper thing to do. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
My fists tense and then relax.
Memories of good times and a bad start to flash across my mind: My dad walking beside me, trying to keep me upright as I take off on my first solo bike ride. My mom reading me a funny story in the middle of the night because I had a nightmare and couldn’t get back to sleep. Kimberly, my first true love and how she broke my heart. The death of my grandmother.
All doubt about my decision canceled by being on the verge of knowing.
I kick the chair out from under my feet, and the noose instantly tightens. I underestimate the power of self-preservation and immediately began to try to free myself; kicking my legs in every direction, hoping to find a surface to push my weight upwards, my hands frantically clenching the rope and trying to sink a few fingers in-between the cord and my neck, but to no avail. The lashing about quickly stops, and I feel a little pain while I continue telling myself; I will pass out in just a few moments.
After what seems like hours, my body and will slowly begin to relax. I can still see the far wall of my apartment and the black and white photo of a winding path through dense woods. I think a small smile had come across my face as my eyes finally close.
I open my eyes and face a hovering deep blue sky. I instantly stand up and look around. Well, I’ll be damned. Either I’m not quite dead yet, and my mind is still firing away to create what I’m seeing, or maybe there simply is an afterlife.
Not knowing for sure which situation I’m in, I stand up and make a quick inventory of how I feel physically; everything seems fine, strange, to say the least. I glance around again and soak in the nature that surrounds me.
I wonder what to do now. I half believe for someone or something to visit me, so I wait a while and nothing. Therefore, I choose to follow the path that leads deeper into the woods; surely, I’m not the only one around.
No sooner than I take my first step, a voice comes from behind me.
“Where you headed?”
Startled, I turn around to find a woman standing a few feet away. She is entirely naked, with long brown hair, and with the deepest green eyes looking at me with a sense of curiosity.
“Who are you?” I ask.
“I’m God, or what you would consider a God.”
Consider a God?
Son-of-a-bitch! I think to myself with wide-open eyes, shock, surprise, and dread. After all, I am a suicidal Atheist, both of which can’t be good in God’s eyes.
“So you’re a woman, a lot of people would like to know that fact,” not knowing what else to say or do.
“I can be whatever the observer wants to see.” She quickly morphed into the classic picture of the Christian God with a long white beard and flowing hair. “You’re allowed one question, and you have a choice to make,” he/she continued.
One question, so many went through my mind. What’s the meaning of life? Why are there so many different religions? What about those ancient religions and the many Gods that they believed in? Why monotheism and not polytheism? Why would a God allow terrible things to happen to good people? What about free will versus predestination? Is there a heaven and hell? Where did God come from? Is there other life on other planets? And so on and so on…
“All good questions he/she/it said. But, I’m afraid you’ve already asked your question.”
Damn it—I’d asked who she was.
“You’re left now with a choice. You can either stay here and create your reality, or you can return to Earth as a spirit. Your choice is for eternity, and many have chosen wisely while many others were not so fortunate.”
Without the option of asking any more questions, I couldn’t help but wonder if I want to stay here and make my own reality, did that mean I would be able to make other people, towns and cities that they can settle. Will I become the God of my ‘here’? Not only that, imagine if the world I just left was someone else’s ‘here’?
With so many other questions left, but not one capable of receiving a response. I took remarkably little time and made my decision.
I voiced it.
So, if you ever think you catch a glimpse of someone out of the corner of your eye, hear footsteps in the night, or feel like someone’s watching you when you know you are alone don’t be scared it’s just me, Conner Thompson, and I’m only curious about you.
I wish you no harm.
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