Maybe one day you will understand
That I want nothing from you
But to sweetly hold your hand
Til that day just please don’t be so down
Don’t make frowns
You silly clown
"Mr. Di Angelo!"
Nico's head snapped up off his desk, and the room filled with the sound of stifled laughter. "Yes, Ms. Nieves?"
"Will you at least try to not fall asleep in my class?"
"Sorry, Ms. Nieves, I couldn't sleep last night."
"That's your own fault, boy. Pay attention."
Nico sighed and pressed the palms of his hands into his eyes, pushing until it was painful. Wake up, Nico, he told himself. His grades were already suffering; it wasn't good to sleep through class. So, he stayed awake for the rest of the day and stared at the wall, not doing anything at all.
As soon as the bell rang to let out school, Nico left as fast as he could and took the bus home. There he sat for a full hour staring at his English homework and trying to figure out the answers. In the end he flung the paper on the floor and stormed upstairs, accepting he wouldn't be getting any work done.
He flopped down on his bed and wrapped himself in his thick comforter, not caring that he still had his shoes on or the comforter made his body feverishly hot. He just curled up in a ball and pressed his face into his blanket, breathing deeply out his mouth.
Every day of his life was a struggle since Bianca's death. He hadn't had a full night of sleep for two years, always waking up to panic attacks from dreams of what Bianca's last moments might have been like. To him, it seemed like everyone in the town had mourned her for one or two weeks, paying their respects and whispering among themselves about what a nice girl she had been. Meanwhile, he was here, trapped in a deep dark hole while everyone ignored it and told him he was fine.
Sometimes Nico felt like he would never get better, that he would always be sick, always be panicking behind closed doors and putting on a face of stone in public.
Nico laid there for hours, shivering and hugging the blanket around him. Midnight passed, and his eyes still glinted out of the darkness, staring at a wall and occasionally blinking. Eventually the pain from hunger became too much, so Nico got up and crept downstairs, making himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Still eating, he stepped over his English homework still laying on the floor and logged on to his computer to see that Percy had IM'd him.
Blue_Sea: Hey Neeks
_Darkness483: What do you want
Blue_Sea: just wanted to check if u r ok
_Darkness483: I'm perfectly fine, Percy.
Blue_Sea: well, i wondered cuz u said u couldnt sleep last nite
_Darkness:483: I'm fine. I just had a night where I couldn't sleep.
Blue_Sea: then what are you doing up @ 2 am?
_Darkness483: I couldn't sleep again, Percy. I'm fine.
Blue_Sea: man, u can talk 2 me about ur feelings. Im here 4 u
_Darkness483: Thanks, Percy, but I'm fine. Go to sleep.
Blue_Sea: nah, im just about to beat this game
_Darkness483: Well, I'm going.
Blue_Sea: did u do ur hw tho?
_Darkness483: Percy, I'm fucking fine. Leave me alone. You're not my sister, and you'll never replace her.
Nico slammed his laptop closed before Percy could reply. Nico was done. He couldn't take it anymore. Maybe, if he died, he'd see Bianca again. It was worth a try. At least he'd get to leave this life. There was nothing for him here.
With that thought in his head repeating over and over, he ran upstairs and creaked open his dad's door, stealing two of his twenty pound weights. He heaved them out the door and into a backpack along with heavy duty twine, then slung the pack over his back and rode his bike toward the pier.
When he got to the pier he hopped off his bike and hid it in the bushes, knowing he wouldn't need it anymore. The. He went to the edge of the pier and sat with his feet dangling over the water. He slid the backpack off and took out the weights, tying one to each foot. The whole time he was doing this, he felt strangely at bliss. It was all almost over. He could finally be with Bianca. With that thought etched in his mind, he let the weights drag him off the pier and thirty feet down.
It wasn't until he dropped to the bottom of the lake and he was almost blue in the face from holding his breath that he started to panic. Nico held his breath as long as he could, then breathed in a mouthful of water. He spluttered and gagged, inhaling more water through his nose and mouth. His vision started to go dark after awhile of thrashing and breathing in water, and that's when the entirety of what he was doing set in. Nico thrashed around even more violently, desperately trying to untie his feet. But his knots were too intricate, and it was taking too long. He was fading, and would be dead soon. Suddenly a strong arm grabbed around the middle and thrust him upwards, struggling to pull up both Nico and the weights. But the person eventually succeeded, and Nico was thrust onto the pier while his rescuer hoisted himself up, gasping and choking, out of the lake. Nico lay there, shivering and marveling at the fact that he was alive. But slowly as the shock wore off and he came back to reason, he began to grow angry with the stranger that had saved him. He struggled to a sitting position and wiped the wet hair from his forehead, yelling toward the silhouette standing before him, “Hey, fuckwad! I didn't want to be fucking saved! Leave me alone and don’t play the fucking hero for once!” Nico struggled to stand, but as soon as he got to more than a kneeling position in the damp grass, black spots clouded his vision and he slumped backwards. He heard heavy coughing a ways away from him and turned on his side towards the noise, yelling slurs at the stranger. Suddenly the dark night was filled with flashing red and blue lights, and Nico was lifted on to a stretcher, still yelling and thrashing. The only thing he remembered before he blacked out was the expression on the boy who saved him. It was one of utmost concern.
Nico woke up in the hospital the next morning, groggy and confused. What had happened last night? Oh, yes, he’d tried to get to Bianca and some dickwad stopped him. He turned in his bed and started, for there was a boy about his age with deeply tanned skin, blond hair, and bright blue eyes occupying the chair next to his bed. “Who the hell are you?” Nico asked, his speech slightly slurred.
The boy nervously looked up, and said quietly, “I’m Will. Will Solace. I go to your school.”
“Well why the hell are you here?”
“I—I wanted to see if you were ok.”
“I don’t even know you.”
“I know, but I just—I just wanted to—”
“I don’t fucking know you, so get out of my room.”
“No. I think I should be here.”
“I don’t fucking care what you think, asshole, I want you out.”
“Well I freaking saved you, so shut up and lie down and stop being so—so—”
“You’re the one who ‘saved’ me? Oh my fucking God.”
“Yes, I saved you, you were drowning! You were dying!”
“That’s what I wanted to happen, dumbass.”
“No, you don’t know what you’re talking about! There’s so much in life that makes it worth living—”
“Like what, Solace? I tried, I fucking looked, and there’s nothing. There’s nothing that makes my life worth living. And now I have to go on living it because of you.”
They were both silent for a while, staring anywhere in the room but at the other. Eventually Will looked up and sighed. Then he spoke. “Look, Nico, I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I want to help you so this never happens again. Stick with me, and I’ll show you what makes life worth living.”
“You know what, Solace, I don’t need to be fucking fixed. Get the hell out of my room before I cut you.”
Will looked up at Nico, stood, and walked out of the room. Nico exhaled and lay down in the soft white bed, his mind whirring. As soon as possible, he told himself. As soon as I get out of here and they stop watching and monitoring me, I’ll try again. And next time, I won’t fail.
Nico was discharged from the hospital after another week in which they did numerous tests to test the oxygen levels in his blood, ischemia, and more. They also warned his father to keep watch on him, and to maybe take him to start therapy. Thankfully, as soon as they got in the car, after about ten minutes of silence, his dad coughed and said, “Nico, I don’t think you’ll need therapy. But please be careful.” Nico nodded and bounded upstairs as soon as the car was parked in their driveway. He grabbed his laptop and ran upstairs before his dad could ask him if he wanted to play canasta.
Nico was just about to open up his laptop when he realized he left his bike hidden in the pier behind the bushes. He didn’t know why it mattered to him so much, but he felt he couldn’t do anything else unless he went to get his bike. So he got out of bed and snuck outside, walking to the pier while the last light of the evening sun died. Eventually he came upon the place where he had attempted suicide just a week before. He checked behind the bushes next to the pier and found his bike exactly where he had left it. But, instead of taking his bike and going, he sat on the edge of the pier with the tips of his boots just kissing the water again. He stared out into the lake, wishing he could try again. Suddenly, a voice whispered, “Hey, Nico.” from behind, startling him so much he almost fell off the pier. Nico turned and saw it was Will Solace sitting behind him, smiling sadly and holding the back of his t-shirt to prevent him from falling into the lake.
“Do you want me to drown again, Solace?” Nico asked.
“Well, technically, you haven’t drowned. If you had, you’d be dead.”
“Shut up.” Nico murmured, a smile playing on his lips. “Hey, you’re not too bad, Solace.”
“Thanks.” Will said, smiling more broadly. “Do you mind if I sit with you?”
“Nah.” Nico said, scooting over and patting the edge of the pier next to him. Will cautiously stepped further out onto the pier and sat next to Nico, the sunset glinting off his bright blond hair.
“Listen, Nico, I’m sorry about before. I shouldn’t have tried to… ‘fix you’, I guess. And I think I understand, now. You don’t need fixing. You just need a friend. And Nico, I… I can be your friend. If you’d want me to, of course. I wouldn’t just—impose on you like that. I’m not like that—”
Nico shushed Will, rolling his eyes and smiling at the same time. “You’re rambling, Will. But sure, you can be my friend. Just as long as you don’t annoy me to death.”
Will and Nico laughed in unison, and then grew quiet. They sat there together for hours, leaning on one another and watching the sunset until the sun went down, and then watching the moon reflect off the water in a beautiful way. In that moment, Nico felt something he hadn't felt in a long time: happiness.