Lapsed/Last Requests | By Alana King
the first time
you got baptized
you were seven
all you knew for sure
was that you didn't wanna go anywhere that gets hotter than Texas in July
but $20 from your grandpa and your granny actually seeming to like you—or at the very least, tolerating you—for the first time ever were enough to know you’d done the right thing
the last two years were a struggle
as you asked question after question that they couldn’t—or wouldn’t—answer
they had you till you were twelve
till threats of permanent custody elsewhere and the belt stopped being things to fear and instead something to hope for (the former) and pain you learned to stop feeling by then (the latter)
the second time
you got baptized
you were twenty one
you had more life behind you by then; experienced some things by then
was able to think for yourself by then
full immersion, just like the first time with the Black Baptists
but you got the count right this time with the mostly White non-denoms and don't end up taking in some of the water and then spitting it back up during the ensuing coughing fit
(which, in hindsight, might've been why it didn't take the first time (the coughing fit, not the Black Baptists...although...))
you really did feel like a new person coming out of that water than you did going in
and the feeling lasts a good while
but in the end, it didn’t take that time either
not everything is for everyone, you’ve learned
you remember just enough to either get you into trouble or to get you out of it.
that'll just have to do.
Trigger Warning: the following work contains topics related to suicide.
I think about death all the time again
Not like I used to do—at least, not as often as I used to
Then, it was thinking of how I could end myself and trying on a few methods for size along the way
Now it’s different. It's very different trying to plan for something I don’t get a say in
I don’t get to decide when...where...how
I don’t get to decide anything at all
All I get to know is how one day, it’ll be the last time I go somewhere, do something. The last time I’ll read something, hear something, try something.
One day will be the last day I see the pinks, purples, and oranges meld into one another as the sun quits for the day—please don't let me die after a cloudy day, after a day it rains
I think about why I will go. Because I'm black? A woman? Both of the above? Neither A nor B? What have I done to earn your interest in ending me?
Why will you kill me? Will it make you feel better once I’m dead? Like you've accomplished something? What do I do to you to make you want me gone? Let me know before I go, will you? Otherwise, I’ll always wonder.
Will the world be better off without me—wait. Please don’t answer that question. I already know the answer to that one. Will I be better off without it—don’t...I already know that answer too.
Just...please don't make me suffer. That's what life has been for.
After earning a B.A. in English from Texas State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Memphis, Alana King is currently working on a Ph.D. in Literature at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her work has been published in Quaint Magazine, Necessary Fiction, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and more.
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