A deleted scene from The Last Night
While this began as a deleted scene — the earliest I ever wrote — it also became the basis for a stand-alone short in The Lookout and Other Stories. Written in the second person, this piece became “The Lookout,” which I removed from the world of The Last Night in order to spin it into a narrative in its own right.
Spoiler alert: What the excerpt below captures is Alex’s emotion after his wife Ashley leaves him, which sets the novel’s plot into motion. What you are about to read used to be page one of the novel for a couple years. Even though this chapter didn’t appear in the finished novel, it provided me great insight into Alex’s state of mind.
An eerie call falls over you when you finally decide you kill yourself. You smile for the first time in months. Mentioning the type of poison you intend to use — that is, mentioning it to yourself, not anyone else — becomes as commonplace as a reminder to pick up Oreos at the supermarket. When friends ask how you’re doing, you say, “Great. Never better,” which is true in your sense of the situation. Think about it: This is the answer you’ve been searching for…right?
See, suicidal thought doesn’t necessitate a cause-and-effect explanation. Sometimes you just feel derelict, or bored, and suicide seems like a good option to break the tension — to give your life purpose. Sometimes there’s no reason at all. You just feel the urge. Like love.
They say dating is a rite of passage — that it’s a segue to the rest of your life. Well, what if you can’t continue the rest of your life without her?
Just yesterday and for three months before that, falling asleep was nearly impossible. Your mind created a sandstorm of nightmares you couldn’t wake yourself from because you weren’t even asleep when they began. You closed your eyes and those searing images remained: hands, lips, breasts, legs echoing in sonorous reds and yellows and greens, laced with blurred black lines, flashing by in a series of close-ups. But they weren’t your lips on hers anymore. They weren’t your hands driving up her back, sliding her skin between the canals of your fingers, making her moan anymore. They weren’t your legs moving slowly but forcefully between hers. Not anymore.
They were his.
You scratched at your face and smeared your salty streams of tears, but the more you strained your eyes, the more intense the horror show became. Then, your heart withered and combusted inside your rib cage when you knew it wasn’t her mouth panting, “I love you,” in your ear anymore.
Getting out of bed was even more difficult than falling asleep.
Now, here you are, with the first beacon of relief from the horizonless blog. Tomorrow morning, before dawn, the pain will disappear. No one will miss you. They’re too busy with their own problems. Too busy with their own lives. You’re tired of holding your friends back with your problems. With your life. So you wait…and intend to enjoy your last night.
The Last Night