Over the Edge.

A while back, I wrote this character named Max who I got really obsessed with. I never wrote a full story with him but I really got in his head and wrote a lot of little pieces about him and his life. Here's one of them.


There’s something about the possibility of living in a big city that’s unbearably alluring. Cities seem to foster revolution, whether it’s artistic or political. They’re dangerous expanses of opportunities, but at the same time they can provide a sanctuary. Cities are places where you could fall in love a million times a day.

There really wasn’t a more spectacular way that it could have all gone wrong.

Max was wrapped up in these thoughts as he watched the pathetically cliched college party play out in front of him. A calculated smile. A confident introduction and a series of movements that he hated to call dancing. A kiss. Max was learning that life was a lot less spontaneous than these people thought. They thought they were playing with life, when really life was fucking with them.

His cynicism was suffocating.

Max really didn’t want to be here. He wasn’t in college. He was 19 and he lived in a run down apartment with two of his friends. It was his half brother that had dragged him here. Max hadn’t gotten out of bed in a week and his friends had been concerned. Fuck them, he thought. He was fine.

He considered the nearly empty bottle of whiskey in his hand. Annoyingly, he wasn’t drunk yet. He was just hazy with a kind of drowsy warmth spreading slowly through his body. This would be a lot better if he hadn’t developed such a strong tolerance to the stuff. It was an unfortunate side effect of dependence.

He brought the bottle to his lips and winced slightly at the burning sensation as he drank what was left of the amber liquid. The folded twenty-dollar bills that he had slipped into his pocket as drug money was starting to feel very heavy. A single dose might send him closer to the edge, falling into that oblivion he was craving. That particular kind of oblivion was the grittiest kind of heaven that there was. He wanted to fade into it forever.

Recently, Max had been wondering what it would it be like to disappear. Not necessarily die, but leave without the possibility of ever coming back. He generally didn’t like to deal in absolutes. Absolutes seemed linked to regrets. Regrets were pain, and Max knew that well.

Sometimes he couldn’t take it.

The door on the opposite wall burst violently open. It crashed into the wall with so much force that it swung back and hit the girl who had kicked it open. His empty bottle of whiskey shattered on the linoleum floor.

Cassie.

She was perfection embodied. She was a rebel and an angel. Her black eyeliner was smudged like an afterthought. Her lips were naturally red because she bit them when she smiled. She was a revolutionary in leopard print tights. Max had spent the past three years of his life with her. But he had betrayed her and the next day she had gone, leaving three heartbreaking sentences in her place.

She didn’t notice him. He doubted she would have reacted if she had. He wasn’t sure if he even wanted her attention, seeing as he was sitting alone in the corner with an empty bottle of whiskey. It was pathetic how much he needed her. He desperately wanted to deserve a second chance.

But then he saw the man who had followed Cassie through the door. The man whose hand Cassie held tightly. The man she kissed.

Max didn’t remember leaving the party for his apartment. All he knew was that somewhere along the way the 100 dollars in his pocket had been replaced with a bag of several days worth of the off white powder that he was so desperate for.

He sprawled across his bed and poured a single dose of the drug into the bowl of a metal spoon that he had found on the floor of his room. He held a lighter under it until vapors began to form. He inhaled deeply until he had used up all of it, and lay there for a minute.

No. This wasn’t going to be enough. One dose would take away the pain but wouldn’t send him over the edge. The edge was oblivion. The edge was peace. 

He sprang up and rifled through his sock drawer until he found the things that would take him where he wanted. He resumed his place on the bed with a thick rubber band tied around his forearm. He hit below it on his arm with a kind of maniacal desperation. He usually avoided this because once when he had had blood drawn the doctor had told him that he had small veins that were turning over. He didn’t want any dramatic bruising on his forearm. But desperate times called for desperate measures. And bruises wouldn’t matter where he was going.

He looked up at the note Cassie had left for him when she moved out. Max kept it taped to his wall. Cassie had written three sentences and each one hurt more than he could bear. He knew he deserve it though. He deserved every word.

He carefully pierced his skin with what he hoped was a clean syringe. Fuck. He couldn’t find the vein and it hurt. A bruise began to form. He looked up at the note again.

“I wish that there was another way, but I just can’t stand being around you anymore.”

He tried again, a little more desperate this time. His vein turned over and he felt a throbbing pain start to build up in his arm.

“I hope you know that I’m so sorry it had to come to this.”

Tears began to form in his eyes as the frustration mounted. He violently jabbed at his arm until he found the vein. His breathing was jagged as he injected the drug into his body. It wasn’t enough. He repeated the process, a deep purple bruise spreading across his forearm.

“You’re not the same person I fell for, you’ve wasted everything now so I think it’s time I say goodbye.”

One dose, two dose, three dose, four. He collapsed backwards into the mess of blankets. He was starting to go, and he knew it. But he didn’t care. He closed his eyes and let the darkness wash over him.

Sangeeta Ranade