It truly had been a crappy week for Daniel, but not that bad. Not bad enough to slit his wrist, just bad enough to joke about slitting his wrist. He and Ashley had fought about cigarettes. Daniel, a nearly forty-year-old man, had never tried cigarettes until this week. She couldn’t believe that he would go this long without cigarettes and then suddenly decided to give them a whirl, as if it were some flavor of ice cream he just had never gotten around to trying.
In addition, he had been randomly selected for a timekeeping audit at work. Although his audit was perfect, the possibilities had kept him up at night. All the things he could have said and done wrong! He could have been fired. He could have gotten his boss fired. He could have messed up the contract. It could have gone very poorly, and this was enough for Daniel. This was enough for him to have made a few off-handed comments about wanting to go home and kill himself. He had meant it to be funny, but nobody laughed….just an uncomfortable chuckle or two.
After dinner and a glass of red wine, Daniel and Ashley had managed to lay the cigarette matter to rest. He assured her that he would not smoke anymore and that he had only done it to look cool.
“Are you being serious here? You do it why?”
“It just seemed cool.”
“Cool? What are you? 15? You did it because all the cool kids are doing it? Are you SERIOUS?” Ashley never ceased to be astounded by Daniel’s lack of maturity in certain facets of his life. “You want to be cool? Try finishing the tile bathroom floor! That will make you COOL in my eyes.” Her face broke in to a smile and she couldn’t suppress a giggle.
“You silly, silly man.”
He kissed her on the cheek and climbed the stairs to the hall bathroom that lacked just one row of tiles; just eight more tiles, and he would be ready for the grout. Eight tiles which would need to be cut to fit the last row up against the wall. He began his methodical process by gathering all of the resources he would need: trowel, thinset, tilecutter, tile spacers, right angle, and tape measure. He fastened his knee pads, got down on the floor, and began measuring for the cuts, marking each tile as he went. After he had cut each tile to the exact measurements he had made, he spread the mortar. When he was completely satisfied with the evenness of the mortar, he began placing the tiles into their precise places with spacers. But as he lifted the last tile, he accidentally dragged the jagged edge of the cut end across his left wrist.
Feeling the pain from the cut, he looked down at his wrist to survey the damage. He had made a perfect, razor straight, slit in his wrist and he was bleeding very steadily. For a moment he just stared at it, frozen, not knowing what to do. Then he looked up. Ashley was also staring at him, also frozen.
Remembering back to his Boy Scout days, he quickly raised his arm to slow the bleeding while Ashley just continued to stare.
“Ash! Get the medical gauze and tape from the kitchen cabinet. Oh, and, it was just an accident. Sharp tile. No worries, but hurry”
“Sure it was. Was my dinner really that bad?”
“Ha ha…please? Bleeding here!”
The next day, Daniel showed up with a wrapped left wrist. The first person to notice was Kimberly, who had heard his suicide comments from the day before. She immediately grabbed his arm and dragged him into a conference room.
For a moment, she just looked him. She didn’t say a word. Then her face broke into a kind of a motherly expression. She glanced down at his wrist and then back at his face, and then he understood.
“Oh, Daniel, ” she said as she began to reach out to him.
He laughed his stiff, nervous laugh. “No, no, no! Ha ha no!” He held up his wrist. “No, this was an accident!”
“Shhh shhh shh” she comforted. “We all make mistakes, Daniel,” she said as she held him close to her and began patting his back. “I’m just glad you didn’t go through with it!”