Chapter 1:

Razor Blades

Razor Blades

“There you go, sir. Filters, tobacco, and a ten-pack razor blades. Do you need anything else?”

The smile the girl behind the convenient store counter shows me is not as insincere as one has come to expect from someone working such a soul-crushing job. I return a small smile of my own as I quietly pay the bill she has rung me up for and leave the store.

The mid-summer humidity robs almost the last of my energy as soon as I step into the street. My day at the office was draining enough, but at least the weekend is coming up. Now the big question is whether I should spend Saturday and Sunday recharging in bed with a quality slasher flic or actually go out. And do stuff. Or meet people.

I bet the seaside is still beautiful right now, and almost as relaxing as my couch at home.

My feet carry me all the way to my apartment complex without any conscious thoughts involved. As I step into the elevator, I just hear a short “Hold!” and barely a second later one of the older neighborhood ladies’ barrels into the lift with me.

It’s the gossipy grandma two doors down from me. The doors barely close and the lift isn’t even moving by the time she turns to me and starts talking. Of course, it’s about the girl and her boy that jumped from the building next to us almost six days ago. Two more days before the story has lost its freshness and people will finally stop talking about them.

“They found a note. The girl seems to have planned it all along. I told you she was a bad apple. Apparently, she was all happy at the thought of dying!”

No ‘hello’ or a ‘how do you do’. Just straight to the depressing news. I look at my nosy neighbor and can’t help but think that she probably binges true crime novels. I know if I don’t reply she’ll just keep hounding me.

“I’m not surprised the girl jumped. She looked like she read too much Nietzsche, Camus, and” — I visibly have to suppress a shudder — “Freud.”

The old lady looks at me a little perplexed, so I elaborate a little. “Nishitani and Tanabe.”

“Aaah.” Nothing else follows her acknowledgment, though her answer carries a touch of disdain. She doesn’t say anything else as the lift carries us higher and disgorges us on our floor.

A short goodbye later both of us squirrel into our own small apartments. I step into my living room, and I am greeted by a large bookshelf carrying dozens of books on philosophy. It is not something I am proud of.

Sophie’s Choice’ lies opened on the small stand by my couch. I can honestly say I loathe the book. Stepping out onto the balcony I roll myself a new cigarette and fill my lungs with acrid smoke. My fingers are playing with a fresh razor blade.

Just as they do every night. I simply can’t help it.

There are people out there for whom the choice to live isn’t even a conscious question. They just do it. Every day.

The girl and her boy jumped from their building almost a week ago and every day since I’ve been able to picture Nana again like I haven’t for almost 10 years now, since she’s been gone.

Nana had taught me more about the usage of razor blades than even my father had.

You cross your wrists for attention. But if you want results, you open the veins down their lengths.

She’d also introduced me to Nietzsche, Camus, and — I cannot suppress another shudder — Freud.

Of course, I had come into that college class being receptive enough after finding myself in some of the darker writings of Nishitani and Tanabe. Still, I wouldn’t have thought self-destruction to wear such a lovely face before Nana.

The razor blade is thin enough that I can fold it without issue, rendering it completely unusable. Nana died 10 years, 3 months, and 17 days ago. When she opened her veins for the fifth and final time. For results, instead of attention. And everyday since, all 3.762 days, I have crushed another razor blade in my fingers.

Some people don’t have to choose life consciously every day. But compared to all of them, I like to think that I am not simply choosing life each day anew, but also that I am beating death.

A shame that the boy that jumped down the building couldn’t choose his own life over his Nana.

My cigarette burns up and I throw it into the trash, along with the useless piece of scrap metal I hold.

On Saturday, I stay in to watch a trashy slasher. On Sunday, I go to the beach despite the weather turning a little stormy.

Life is beautiful.

Razor Blades

Razor Blades

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