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a caustic fleeting thing

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It’s poetic, in a way. Like Ophelia. Like Virginia Woolf.

The rocks are heavy in his pockets, and Jack has never understood poetry, but he’s always liked it. It’s pretty. He’s always loved Shakespeare’s tragedies the best, and isn’t that poetry?

This is a pretty way to go, he thinks. No blood, no vomit, no real mess, no risk of failure. He’ll sink into the dark blue blue blue and he’ll be gone. Maybe he’ll never even be found, and isn’t that a comforting thought? It could be like he never existed—a world without the failure of Jack Zimmermann to be remembered.

It’s a long way down to the water. Jack thought his heart would be racing once he got up here, but it’s not; his pulse is steady. He’s not scared, is the thing. Maybe it’s all the pills in his system, or maybe he’s just ready.

The draft is in a few hours. Jack drove hours and miles and miles away from it, but he knows that if he turned around… he would find his parents sleeping in the hotel room down the hall from his. His mom is probably curled into his dad’s side, the way they’ve slept all Jack’s life. And in the room right across from Jack’s, he’d find Parse.

Jack wonders if Parse is sleeping fitfully or lying awake, nervous and excited for the morning to come. He wonders what Parse will think when they find Jack gone.

He wonders what Parse will think when he finds the letter.

Jack wrote two letters, actually. One to his parents and one to Parse. Not—not really to Parse, though. They’re Parse and Zimms on the ice and in public, but behind closed doors, they’re Jack and Kenny. It says Kenny on the envelope.

The letter to his parents says I’m sorry and it’s not your fault and you tried so hard to fix me, but I’m too far gone. There’s more, too. Paragraphs and pages of love and regret and everything he’d never gotten around to saying to their faces. I’m grateful you’ve always been gentle with me to his mother and I’m sorry I could never be as good as you wanted to his father.

The letter to Kenny is only four lines in total. You deserved to go first anyway and I love you and I’m sorry and you’ll be okay without me.

Kenny is gonna be good in the NHL. He’ll survive and thrive and he’ll be able to do it without pills and panic attacks. Jack’s only been holding him back.

Jack opens his eyes; he hadn’t realized he’d closed them. He’s still standing on the edge, toes just a hair from hanging over, and—and he’s ready.

The air is cold and his body feels so heavy.

Like Ophelia, he tells himself as he shuffles closer. Like Virginia Woolf.

Wind is whipping through his hair and he shivers involuntarily. He can hear the waves crashing below him and he aches to join them.

Like poetry. Like inevitability.

Jack takes a deep breath and a step and another step and—and he’s falling.

The fall is over so fast and the water is cold cold cold and—




—the weight of his heart and the stones in his pockets drag him down.



Jack sinks.