Literary Orphans

The National Suicide Hotline Changed Their Number To My Number
by Hannah Rucker

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“hey”

 

He was planning to kill himself.

 

Texting back, was probably the right thing to do,

none of my friends ever text me “hey”

 

I know it is a bad sign when

I open my eyes

to my phone vibrating next to my face

the wrinkles in the sheets

uncrease to release whispers

right after I decided

I was going to go to bed early that night.

 

I got a message from a friend that I

had not talked to in two months.

 

In the past six months this is the third

close but distant acquaintance that has called out

to me to help them get through a “rough spot”

they are, far away in LA

they are, too unstable to be welcome in my home

they are, an old high school friend, now living in an unknown location.

 

Why do they sit in their dark states

and pick me to help?

Why do their fears creep in through the cracks

under my door

and find their way to send a draft of

cold wind against my cheeks.

 

I have been to the darker side of

reality

I know there isn’t really

a moon.

But I know only a fraction of what they

have all been through, and I do not understand why

 

these people who are not my close friends

choose me to weigh in on their troubles.

 

These problems linger, they

find their way through my door and under my pillow

slip into my phone and release in one simple syllable

 

 

“hey”

 

 

My mind will race for a good three minutes

thinking of the what ifs, what were, and what are

I don’t know where they are

how drunk they are

are they outside my window?

I check

 

before I think to even text back

I whisper my words

my forehead now cold

pressed against the glass

looking for zombies lurching

towards my suicide salvage

my thoughts keep smashing up against

the worries that sting my toes

cold ceramic tiles I tip toe on trying not to wake

the heavy monster of grief that hides himself

in my shallow closet

 

but I know that if I do not respond

and something happens

the weight

will sink in my heart forever

 

so I slip back into my sheets

warm my cold toes

and try not to think of the heaviness that will arise

if I mess up—

or say the wrong thing.

 

So I respond, dance around words

and cold breaths my counselor

told me to tell the first friend who came to me

with this struggle.

I have a routine, a way where I know I’ve said

all that I could

and done

all that I could

and that

whatever happens at the end of it

after I’ve given up all this time and my heart

wretches as I know this person has thought

to come to me and I am failing them

probably

hopefully not.

 

I am the new suicidal hotline for acquaintance that I once thought

forgot about me. Something about

the way my curtains catch the wind

from the north when my windows are open

or maybe how I howl at broken hearts

in my sleep

cooing them to a still silence

I want to tell them that

I’m not strong enough to handle these

midnight requests of human compassion

but I will never do that.

 

“Hey” I say,

“it’s alright.”

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Growing up Hannah had a love for reading and writing poetry. After recently helping her mom move from her childhood home, Hannah stumbled upon a notebook that contained the first poem she ever wrote (roughly around age six): first puppy/ then puppy/ next puppy/ last puppy. As genius and inspiring as that is, it has been uphill from there. She is a recent graduate from Champlain College where she received a BFA in filmmaking, and one day hopes to combine her two passions of filmmaking and poetry into one medium.

Bio Photo

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–Art by Marina Ćorić