It is not a good day. In the afternoon, I am so overwhelmed by the wish to die it is agony.

Maybe it is just the whining saw.

I take a nap and wake up feeling more or less the way I did before I slept. Maybe worse. Exhausted and terrible. I feel like I have the worth of a cube steak, like you could buy me on sale on a Sunday at Ralph’s grocery store.

I feel like it is worse than agony to paper over this feeling with normalcy just to get through the day and I don’t want to do it any more. I think maybe I can’t. I think about the river and I think about C and I think I don’t give a damn if affects her in a negative way if I go for a nice mid-winter swim I never come out of.

I guess that’s all I can take of it. My internet balance runs out about then and I go downstairs to the shop and buy a couple of vouchers. I charge back up again, put on headphones and listen to some songs.

I start with a Farsi song by Arash called Melody. It’s totally stupid. I understand some of the lyrics, and I recognize it as one of those just thoroughly stupid songs. It has a totally stupid music video that goes along with it that I think is funny in kind of the right way, I mean it is stupid in an ironic, self-deprecating kind of way that I like. I realize Farsi makes me feel kind of normal. Like life can go on. It seems to be what I need, so I move onto a song I don’t understand by the Black Cats. I never listened to any of their songs before and I like it.

I listen to some Russian songs too. I want to compare. I am curious. Well, Russian gives me a different feeling than Farsi. It creates a different mood. I have all these other, very sad songs or very little kid songs, lullabies, in Russian. I can’t really stand them that much anymore. They are too sad or too little. They are from when I was in a different stage of processing last winter and I think probably I was remembering Nadia and mixing her up with Nata. In certain fragments of memory, it would be hard to tell the difference if I didn’t know about Nadia and last year I didn’t.

But I listen to a different set of music, a kind of Russian song that gives me a different mood. It reminds me less of early childhood and more of early adolescence. They remind me of girl fights in the bathroom. They remind me of a frenetic wish to live, which is a useful kind of mood to get going when I think I don’t give a damn what happens to anyone if I should suddenly deliberately die.

I guess that’s who we are. We weren’t just nice people, the girls who took care of me. We were people who wished to live. I don’t know why we did. It might have been something we gave to each other, just a will and a determination. A wish to see if we could survive until tomorrow and if maybe tomorrow might hold something better. It’s that whole thing: just live to fight another day.

It seems to me we did that. We kept trying to live. We did live. One of us got out. Me. I’m here. I’m still alive. It did, I suppose, get better, if I could just get past feeling like I had the worth of a cube steak.

It’s part of my personality, I suppose. It’s also part of the traumatic memories. I wouldn’t have lived through them if I hadn’t had the kind of will I had. Sooner or later, something would have killed me. I would have killed myself long before now or there would have been accident. There are a thousand ways to die if you aren’t that interested in being alive. It isn’t easy to die on purpose—people fail at suicide all the time. But suicide by pimp is not that difficult. Suicide by drug overdose isn’t that difficult either, if you just keep trying. Sooner or later, anyone can get it right.

We weren’t like everyone else. I wasn’t either. People survive all kinds of abuse, but I no longer think the instinct to just keep breathing is necessarily the reason. I mean, I think there is something intentional about it. Some people refuse to be broken. I think we did that. Not for any logical purpose, not for any deep philosophical motive. I don’t think we survived just to get back at someone either. Maybe some of us did, but I don’t think I did. I don’t think I was just trying to piss off Yuri or take revenge on my dad, although sometimes I feel that way now. It wasn’t an adversarial relationship necessarily—not to say that we didn’t hate both of them. But those are stupid reasons to keep living. I don’t think revenge can sustain you for 40 years. There has to be something else.

That’s one thought.

It isn’t a terrible evening after that. It’s okay. I eat dinner, which is more than I can say about lunch. (Some biscuits, two left-over pancakes and something that comes in plastic packages and calls itself cake.) I wash up, which I haven’t been doing either. I wash dishes once a day lately, but not at night.

I think about C, and not in a good way. I told her to keep in touch with me and she hasn’t sent a text or answered a call or left a message on Facebook or showed any signs of life in the week since she’s been at football camp. I think I know the reason—two of them. She’s with people she doesn’t know, and her relationship with me is like this terrible, painful wound she is afraid to show anyone. I have seen it with her friends. If I am there, and she is with her best friend, her body is soft. She’ll even speak to me. If it’s almost anyone else, her body is almost rigid. She will hardly speak. There are few good friends, where it’s something in between. She’s nervous, but not speechless. Over time, she gets more comfortable, but it takes a while. So she is with girls she isn’t used to being with me around, she is with girls she’s meeting for even maybe the first time. She can’t expose whatever vulnerable feeling I bring up in her. Not even to send a bland text message that she might send to anyone.

And I think also that she knows I care about her. If she reaches out to me and finds I am not there, she could end up finding out she is wrong about me and I don’t. It is okay if she has no other choice but to accept that I am there, but if it involves reaching out to me in some way, she is afraid. She does not believe anyone can love her. It seems I do, but what if I don’t? So it’s preferable to keep me at a distance, at least in her own mind, so that she never has to know. She will run after people who don’t really care about her in hopes of persuading them to start—she ran after me a little, quite literally one day even, before it began to seem that I might really care—but it’s different with someone she could lose.

Anyway, I have this all worked out in my mind so that how she behaves—because this is not the first time, it’s a pattern with her—does not seem personal. It is hardly unexpected. I mean, if she acted any other way, it would mean I had her core woundedness misidentified.

But it still hurts me. It hurts quite a lot. I have this idea in my mind of just letting go. Stop crying. She can’t be bothered, why should I? I have an idea of sending a needy, whiny text. I have an idea of turning off my phone and unfriending her on Facebook.

Then I decide it’s dark.

Dark is a huge trigger. I still have not worked out why this is. I have had in my head a million possible reasons—well, half a dozen—and they might all be correct, but the dread at darkness continues.

I decide I don’t do anything after dark. If something upsets me and it is cold out and a saw has been whining all day at me reminding me of my Satan of a father and it is, on top of that, dark, I sit on my hands. If necessary, I go to sleep. But I do not do any of the above, because there is a good chance that whatever I do will be unfortunate and later I will have to pick up the pieces of something. Maybe just one or two of them, or maybe a powder ground so fine I cannot put it back together again. I did that the day before C left, and I am not doing it again.

It is dark. I don’t do anything.