things to say before it’s too late / clay jensen
title: things to say before it’s too late
warnings: depression, suicide, lowkey angst
word count: 1022
note: first writing?? i think hell yeah.
Hannah’s suicide. It hung in the air like rain clouds that refused to let down the torrential water, dark and looming and huge. Her sudden death hit the town like a hurricane; nothing like that ever happened in their small world. Many had been shaken in the impact, only few had been injured by the shrapnel that splintered from her bomb.
Clay scowled mournfully at the incredibly fake memorial in the hall for his late friend. If anyone was a true friend of Hannah, they’d know she hated roses, Mrs. Baker had told Courtney Crimson. She thought they were a cliche. The one flower that stood out amongst the various shades of red roses was a delicate bouquet of baby’s breath, white and fragile.
Everyone had known you were a friend of Hannah, close enough and nice enough to have never done anything to hurt her, intentionally or not. Clay knew that you were such a way that it hadn’t warranted you a place in the girl’s thirteen tapes and it surprised him; practically anyone who had ever come into any contact with her at school had been given a side of a tape.
The boy’s gaze turned away from the table of flowers and candles when a locker slammed uncharacteristically shut. You stood, tears welling up in your eyes as you examined the monument from your own place across the hall. These students didn’t care; they hadn’t cared when she was alive, so why would they care now? Clay couldn’t tell if your tears were from your anger at the student body of Liberty High or your sadness over one of your only friends taking her life. He decided that it was both when you stormed away, allowing the doors to slam behind you.
The two of you had met through Hannah. You had shown up at the Crestmont to surprise her at work and see the movie you had been wanting to see before it was out of theaters. The girl introduced you to Clay and you hit it off. You three talked in the halls, exchanged answers on homework for classes you shared, had a stupid group chat where Clay talked shit about low budget sci-fi movies he had seen on TV and you and Hannah laughed at his rants.
He was close enough to you to know that you weren’t okay. This was taking a toll on you just as it had done with Olivia Baker. He had realized his mistake with Hannah and, at the end of the day, knew that it was just as much his fault as anyone else’s. He needed to reach out this time, stop somebody from doing something to themselves that they couldn’t reverse, so he followed after you.
He wasn’t surprised to find your car parked out at Eisenhower Park, your eyes staring blankly across the playground. You jumped when he knocked on your window, but nodded and gave him permission to join you. The space was silent aside from the harsh blow of the air conditioner and the radio playing some slow ballad. It seemed like twenty years before Clay spoke any words.
“How are you?” he asked, his voice quiet and unintentionally wavering.
“I’m… okay,” you replied, tensing. He knew you weren’t, everyone knew you weren’t, so why were you telling such a white lie in front of the only person who knew you better than Hannah.
You turned your head sharply, so much so that Clay was worried he’d given you whiplash or something. Your eyes blazed, though he couldn’t determine an exact emotion.
He squared his jaw and narrowed his eyes. You couldn’t tell if this was his way of showing his anger at you or building up the courage to say something.
“Stop telling me you’re okay.”
That’s what took you aback; those five words made your eyes widen, blink in rapid succession, trying to analyze what his motives were behind his sentence.
“Every time I ask you how you are, you say that you’re okay, that you’re fine when it’s obvious that you’re not. A-And I don’t mean to sound rude, but it’s worrying me,” he started. “I refuse to sit here and watch another person I love unravel themselves and do something they’ll regret because I was too afraid to reach out and help them. If-If I had said something to Hannah, let her know that I was here for her, maybe I could have stopped her, but I didn’t because I was scared. I’m not going to let you do that to yourself, too.”
More blinks. Clay was smart, intelligent, attentive. He knew how to read emotions, facial expressions, body language. He knew that you were hurting, that this whole situation was breaking down your mental health and sending it into a spiral of depression. You sat there bugged-eyed, not knowing how to respond.
He was blinking away his own tears, sad and angry and melancholy. Here the two of you were, breaking down in the crisp cold air of your car’s AC unit, tearing up and wanting to reach out to each other.
“[Name], if I would have just let her know-”
He was choking on nothing, his throat was closing up; you leaned across the console, wrapping your arms around him tightly.
He was sobbing, his wet hitting and soaking through your shirt sleeve.
“I can’t lose you, too. I’m here and I want to be here for you. Just don’t leave like she did.”
You were both crying now, holding each other tightly and trying to soothe each other through your own wet eyes. It was some consolation, some sort of reckoning force that brought you back from those thoughts. Seeing what Hannah’s departure had done to her family and the friends she had left behind was heartbreaking, it wasn’t something that you could ever do now that you thought about it.
Your fingers curled and gripped onto Clay’s jacket, bringing his warmth and comforting scent closer to yourself. “I won’t. Don’t let me go please.”
“Never. Never in a million years.”