Intrinsic Value

To my regret, I woke up again. I was lying in a hospital bed chained to a breathing apparatus. The sisters spoke of happiness when I came back to life and in the weeks that followed, when they looked after my well-being, her words did not comfort me any more either. I only replied with a cold look. My flash blue eyes could be hostile if I wanted to. I got this from my father. A look with which he could scare away even bears in human form. But one of the sisters was different. She was older, and you could see her work experience. She wasn’t a bear or a deer. More like a raccoon with the dark rings around her eyes. I always heard that they were shy, but the one I saw as a boy hadn’t run away either. Not even when I hammered against the barrels the raccoon was nibbling at. The raccoon wasn’t afraid of me, he just looked at me confused. The nurse was also not afraid when she brought me the test results, which concluded that no physical damage would be left behind. She looked at me confused when she saw my relief.
Day X. I had been saved. The woman who reported it had become a heroine. Even a small newspaper article was dedicated to her. I, on the other hand, didn’t know what I wanted to call her. What do you call someone who saves your life when you don’t want to be alive?
I’d thought about it a lot those days in the hospital. I had nothing else to do. Television bored me fast. I often just left it on, so I wouldn’t be all alone. One sister often looked after me, but only to make sure I didn’t try again. No conversation therefore sought beyond “How do you hold up? Feeling fine?”
I didn’t think more about it either. I didn’t want to die as a patient. I was thinking of Martina’s grave. That’s where I wanted to die. To die at this grave, as I did before the day of her funeral. I didn’t visit it. Then when I came back, I tried to kill myself. Two weeks I laid on my sickbed. Then joined an unknown face. A psychologist who wanted to accompany me with my healing process. I knew he’d come. The raccoon sister explained it to me.
I hated him from the first moment I saw him. It was not because he tried to help me, although it was difficult for me to ignore this stain on my judgement. It was rather the interplay of his appearance and his way of choosing words. His face was angular. He had short black hair and brown eyes. There was a small scar on his forehead that largely disappeared under his hair. He seemed military. Strict and disciplined. One of those people who could be believed to be completely lost if they left the strict line.
“Nathaniel, how do you feel about…“, he took a dramatic break, “…what happened to you?”.
That’s the first thing he asked me, and I already got annoyed.
“Why don’t you just say it? I tried to kill myself”
The doctor’s face froze, maybe he suspected shame in me. I showed no reaction. I stared into his eyes. The pity, it tripped out of him. In his pupils, I saw the regret for what I had done. Maybe that’s what I really hated about the doctor.
“How will you help me? You can’t even say it.”
“I’m sorry”
I believed his apology. Because of his fingers, which the doctor stretched out and then withdrew again. The regret disappeared from his face. He switched back into professional mode.
“You know how it’s gonna be?”
I nodded. I’ve had it explained to me so many times.
“Do you have any questions or wishes?”
I’d said it enough times. “Let me go,“ I told the nurse. Hundreds of times. Thousands of times. They ignored me until my wish even lost its meaning for me. Sometimes they’d say, “It’s for your own good” I saved myself the trouble of asking the doctor. Wasted energy. I shook my head. The psychologist seemed satisfied. “You’ll see. I can help you, Nathaniel.”
“Do what you think is right, Doc”
I was surprised at what happened then. Doctor Fall moved a chair next to my bed, placed it closer to me. I knew a gesture would follow. Staged too much, it came over to me, although I couldn’t see any intrigue in it.
“I know you won’t let them help. I know you only want to get out of here and kill yourself right outside this hospital. Yet…” He was taking a break. He put his hand around my left shoulder.”… you need to understand what it means for you to get another chance”.
Something moved inside me. Someone, because I knew he was wrong, and my nature would have preferred to shout it in his face: Lies! All lies! I pulled my shoulder away from him. Doctor Fall recognized the sign and took his hand back before it fell. I hoped to break his will with the gesture. I expected disappointment, but what I saw was ambition.
You’re not crazy, Nathaniel. He’s a liar. You can break him. His weakness will turn into his downfall. His compassion, you can impale his heart with it.
I swallowed and asked for water. I drank in one go and put the mug down. I used the time to think. I wanted to show the doctor what it means to be me. Nothing I’d achieve with that, I already knew that. The doctor’s ambition. I could feel him.

 

“You hear voices?”
“Yes, but they’re not bad guys. It’s the voice in me there’s the one with the bad advice. The one everyone had, and they are also the voices of others, mainly of this woman I once knew” I grinned when I thought of her “you know, the voice had become louder and louder over the years. Now I can hardly hear anything except them, as if everyone else had just left when I no longer needed them.”
“You’re afraid you’ve lost yourself then?”
“Yes and no. No, because I think I know who I am. Yes, because I don’t even know any more if I was ever made for this world. So, I wanted to give myself the chance of keeping it a short trial with life and maybe I will die again slowly like you, but unlike you, in a place to which I do not belong.”
“Doubting that one belongs to this world, that this place we share actually leaves room for one’s growth, is the side effect of the aging process. A lot of people go through the same thing you did at their age. Everyone will find a place if they try to”
“That may be true, but what if you don’t want to try anymore? What if every self-discovery becomes a search for the recognition of others? What if the thoughts you carry in your head can only become words that others think are right? You can’t fully unfold without robbing yourself of something else. What if at some point this place, given to me, is no longer enough for me? I just don’t want to be cramped. No specific size in place”
“You can’t expect the world to adapt to you, Nathaniel”
“So, I let myself be pressed through a sieve until only my best wheat comes through – what if I don’t want to become bread? Who wants to live like this? I’m not standing on a wheat field, growing all day.”
“Many people are happy with what they have; and many look back on tragedies they have overcome. You only have to find the good in your environment, set yourself a goal, find something that fulfills you”
“I’ll be gone in two months, and then I won’t have to be encouraged. You don’t have to listen to me anymore. In the end, no one has to listen to me. They got their check from the state, and no matter what, it’s out of their hands…your hands. I’m not their problem anymore. So, the only thing that really matters is, does it make you feel good listening to me, Uncle Doctor?”
“You shouldn’t see it like that, Mr. Schradinski”
“Ahhh…should…but someday I’ll be alone again in my thoughts. Who but me to save myself?”
And he answered: “That should be enough”.

 


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