My friend Garrett and I knew each other since we were kids. As kids, we hung out at each others' houses every other weekend, we talked every day we were at lunch, we would always be partners for group work activities, and we were always on the same team for gym sports.
As time went on, and as school got more difficult, we began seeing each other less and less. Sure, we would still talk, but it wasn't as often as it was before. What's more, we began talking about some more serious things. Instead of talking about the newest video games like we used to do, we began talking about our futures and emotions.
Garrett was always a pretty smart guy. He was one of those weird kids who took math that was one grade level higher than his own. Given the chance, he would tell you about music theory, language, physics, and God knows how many other things. He could even write music and crazy sci-fi stories on his own. It always kinda freaked me out; I used to think that there was no way a single person could know all of that. I once joked, "If you keep learning more stuff, you're head's gonna end up exploding!" He laughed.
Garrett was also somewhat popular. He made friends easily, and it was often because of his sense of humor. His humor was surprisingly crude for someone so smart as he was. Most of his jokes consisted of cynical smart-alecky jabs at society, with some occasional toilet humor. When he wasn't trying to sound like a cynical smartass, Garrett would use puns and double entendre that would almost always be met with groans. Even so, he would still laugh.
Despite his seemingly know-it-all attitude, he could also show himself to be compassionate and sensitive. On the last day of our senior year, Garrett gave an 8-minute speech about his experiences with being bullied, the effects it gave him, and his plea to stop bullying altogether. It was a side of Garrett that not many people got to see, and he rarely even showed that side to me. I asked him why he didn't show that side of himself more often, and he answered, "It was one of the things I was picked on about. I've learned to hide it. Besides, if people saw who I really was more often, their heads would explode."
After senior year was done, Garrett told me that he was planning on taking a break before going on to college. He said that he deserved a break after all the work we did in senior year. I understood, and I told him that we should hang out more.
Garrett looked uncertain when I said that. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, "I need some time alone to study and get things together." I offered to help, but he declined. This was unlike him, and I grew concerned. However, since I knew he wouldn't budge, I stopped bugging him about it. Still, I told him to call me when he wanted me to come over. He agreed to do so, and then he and I went to our own homes.
The summer went by, and not once did he call me. I called his house several times and asked how he was doing, but he never called back. The same thing happened in the fall. With each passing week of no calls from Garrett, I grew more and more worried about him. This just wasn't like him. He never even called me to let me know he was in college.
It took until December 3 for me to get a response from Garrett. He called, and I jumped to answer the phone. I said, "Hello?," in a way that probably was too forceful.
Garrett answered, "Hey, Matt. I don't have much time to explain, but I'll stop by your house tomorrow. I have some last-minute things to do before I go on to the next level, and I thought it'd be best if I do them with my best bud."
I said, "Sounds great, man. What time will you get here?"
"No later than 2 PM. I'll be spending the night."
"Alright, then. I'll see you tomorrow."
When he hung up, I felt a great sense of relief wash over me. At least I knew he was alright. Plus, I was excited to see him after half a year of not seeing or hearing from him.
Garrett arrived the next day. He didn't have much with him, save for a flash drive, deodorant, a set of clothes, and a toothbrush. I wondered why he brought so little, but I was too happy to see him to care. We greeted each other with a quick hug and a round of "hey, what's up" greetings before heading inside.
I asked about how things were going with him. He told me that he was just thinking long and hard about his life and worrying about college. I told him not to worry too much about it, though in hindsight, I'm not too sure he took my advice.
We spent that day playing video games, watching old music videos, commentating on and joking about movies, and basically just letting loose for the first time in ages. It felt like we were kids again, and we both had a great time.
The next morning, I woke up and noticed that my house was silent. I looked around and called out Garrett's name. When he didn't respond, I figured he'd already left for his home. However, that theory was proven wrong when I found him sleeping in another bedroom. I noticed that the time read 7:29 AM, and then I remembered that Garrett wasn't really a morning person.
After that, I made myself some breakfast and began watching TV. Some time later, Garrett emerged from the bedroom, wearing the face of an insomniac that finally got a good night's sleep.
I said, "Well, looks like someone slept good last night."
"Tell me about it," he said. "It's been so long since I slept like that."
"Ah, just a lot on the mind. That's all."
Pointing to the kitchen, I said, "Well, hopefully some breakfast might take your mind off things."
Garrett shrugged and said, "Eh, might as well."
Without another word, he went to the kitchen. I could only hear him pouring some corn flakes into a bowl.
"So what's been on your mind, Garrett?" I asked. "You've been awful silent lately. Is there something you need to tell me?"
He paused and said, "I can't tell you. You wouldn't understand."
"Oh, come on! You can tell me anything. What is it?"
That's when he went up to me and handed me the flash drive. He told me, "Don't look at the files until January. I should be gone by then."
I was flabbergasted. "Whoa! Gone? Are you moving away or something?"
He gave a soft smile and said, "I guess you could say that."
"Why are you moving on such short notice?"
"It's so I can get an easier access to the higher level."
I figured he enrolled in an out-of-state university. With that finally pieced together, I said, "I see. So you're moving closer to the college?"
"Yeah. I'll start the move by the 21st."
"Good luck, man. Be sure to give me your new address when you can. After all, I need to know where to send letters and presents and stuff."
"Sure thing, Matt."
After that, we spent a good amount of time talking about the times we had together. It was the time for us to rekindle good memories before we'd most likely forget them.
At 2 PM, Garrett told me he was gonna head home. He said, "This may be the last time we'll ever see each other." I told him, "It better not be. Make sure you visit, alright? I'll be right here." We hugged each other goodbye, and then he went on his way. I made sure to keep the flash drive in a safe place, and just as Garrett told me to do, I didn't look into its files.
On the 21st, I sent him the following text:
"Come back soon!"
He never replied. I figured he was busy moving, so I didn't think much of it.
I sent him another text on Christmas Day:
"Hey man, sorry I couldn't get you a present. Never got your address, though. Be sure to send it so I can give you a present!"
Still nothing. I figured he was busy with Christmas stuff, so I didn't think much of it. With that, I went about my day feeling somewhat guilty. I wondered if I said something wrong, and I felt bad that I didn't get to give him a present. Still, the rest of December went on as it normally did.
The New Year arrived. I texted Garrett at midnight, saying the typical holiday greeting and asking how things were. Still, there was no response. I was worried, and I knew something was up. I called his phone. There was no answer. I sent him an email. Still no answer.
I then remembered the flash drive. I remembered what he said to me about it, and I decided to finally take a look at what it had in store.
There were six files. Four of them were image files, one was a text file, and the last one was an audio file. I looked through the images first, and I was greeted with some rather sad stuff.
The first image was called "me at my best" and showed a smiling Garrett surrounded by some of the things he knew. It was stuff like musical notes, math stuff, and words in other languages. It was nothing out of the ordinary for someone like Garrett. However, I noticed that at the top edge of the image, there was a black area showing six pairs of eyes looking down at Garrett. It was odd. Why were they there? What purpose did they have in the picture? I then looked at the next image.
The second image was called "freak" and showed four tall black figures looking down upon a small white figure, with a dark red background. There was only one word, written in red: "freak." This one weirded me out. The eyes looked like the ones from "me at my best," and I was searching for an explanation. What the hell does this picture mean? Starting to feel uneasy, I went on to the next image.
The third image was called "understand me" and showed a white dot surrounded by blackness, with white words scrawled at the bottom that read, "will they understand me?" Why wouldn't they understand? Do they have a reason? What did this picture mean? Whatever this was supposed to be, I hoped it was just Garrett being facetious. I continued to the final image.
The final image was called "me at my worst" and showed a greyed-out Garrett surrounded by white scrawled words. The words read stuff like "why are you alive?" and "nobody loves you" and "worthless waste of life," among other negative things. The word "mistake" could even be seen on his shirt. Garrett's face blankly stared on into the distance, his eyes widened and his mouth in a blank frown. This one worried me. Did someone tell him these things? Why would anyone in their right minds say shit like that to him? What really got me was the references to suicide. A horrible feeling in my chest began to grow as I feared for the worst. I closed the image, and I went to open the audio file.
The audio file was called "Toccata in F Minor." It was just a somber piano tune with violins in the background. It actually depressed me a little, and I wondered what it meant. Once the song was finished, I opened the text file.
The text file was titled "goodbye." In it, Garrett described how alone he felt in his life. He described his personal fears about the future and his life and how they grew to be too much for him to handle. He felt like nobody understood him and that he felt out of place. It was here that he finally showed me the side of him that nobody ever got to see. The bottom line of text read:
"December 21, 2010 — My mind will explode."
What the hell was going on? Is this some kind of sick joke?
Out of options, I decided to call Garrett's parents. His mom picked up the phone.
Immediately, I said, "Mrs. Madison, have you seen Garrett? He hasn't spoken to me since December 5."
Mrs. Madison choked up. When I asked again, she sobbed, "He's dead."
Shocked, I said, "Dead? What do you mean he's dead?"
"He shot himself in the head on the 21st. He told me he was going to get to the next level. I'm sorry, I have to..."
She just lost it. She hung up the phone as she began to cry hysterically.
I just sat there staring aghast at the computer screen. It was then that I realized that everything on the flash drive—the images, the song, and the text file—was Garrett's suicide note. Upon realizing this, I began to cry. My own best friend was gone before I even knew it, and it was all because he felt so alone and so unloved. I just couldn't understand why. Why did you have to do this, Garrett? We would've understood! We could've helped you! Why'd you have to go and kill yourself?
I closed everything on the computer and removed the flash drive. I looked at it and thought about throwing it away, but then I remembered Garrett giving it to me. He wanted me to have it so that he could take comfort in knowing that, if nobody else, at least I'd know what he was going through. I decided to put the flash drive in a box, and then I put it in the closet. I keep it for the sake of my friend, not because I want to remember it.
After all, Garrett didn't want to be remembered for his sadness.
He just wanted to be remembered.
Written by GMart5