caenorhabditis

So you want to die. So you’ve been eyeing the Drano under the sink. So you’ve been looking at your arteries like highways you could cleave with airplane-wing
steak knives.
So you’ve written about six different suicide notes and none of them says goodbye without actually saying goodbye in the perfect way.
So you’ve been Googling bridges.

I’m nodding. You’re clenching your fists. I know with the pain
even the bacteria in your intestines are tornadoed asunder.
But let’s stop comparing ourselves to natural disasters when we both know
you’re nothing like one. I promise not a mention of stars or ribcages. Drop the poetic
and let’s look each other in the eyes.

Wanna hear a name you should never give a child? Caenorhabditis elegans. It’s the roundworm.
They call it C. elegans on the streets. Every single roundworm has exactly 959
cells. Of 959
cells, 131 cells self-destruct. Scientists have mapped
the fate and the lineage of each and every one. This is non-negotiable.
Every roundworm on the face of the planet has exactly 959 cells and of them
131 cells will die. That cellular ceremony is called this.
Apoptosis.

This is not a biology textbook, but according to Barbara
Conradt and Ding Xue in “Programmed cell death” (wormbook.org), “Programmed cell death is an integral component of C. elegans development. Genetic studies in C. elegans have led to the identification of more
than two dozen genes that are important for the specification of which cells should live or die, the activation of the suicide program, and the dismantling and removal of dying cells.”

I know what’s underneath your tongue, tangoing
between your teeth: “I want to, but I can’t.” “I wish I could fight.”
“I’m so tired.” “My knuckles are broken open, decades fell into them,
my throat hurts, I want to close my eyes, I am numb. I am numb. I am numb.”
I know. I know because they’ve been underneath my tongue and sometimes still are.
I know because I’ve wondered what Drano tastes like.
I know because there’s still numbness between my toes.

And I know there is no combination of words, no right spin
to your master lock, no deadbolt thrown hard enough to keep you from the fogs.
But maybe this pain is a rite. Maybe this confusion, this numbness, this evolution into a streetlamp
is non-negotiable. Maybe this
is an integral component of your development, maybe there is a specification
of which parts of you should live or die, the activation of the suicide program,
the dismantling and removal of cells that chant dumb ways to die in your ear.
Maybe this is something to toughen your molars
and sharpen your jawline.

I know that it’s piercing the flesh around your spine, dipping into the
waters in you, that you’re coming to a standstill. So uncap the Drano. Stand
on that bridge. Pick up the blade. Maybe coming facefirst to this edge will reveal
the vastness of the space behind you. Maybe this
was programmed into you. The question is. Will you stay in this nightmare til it dissolves.
Will you keep clenching your fists. Creep to the edge. Look over it.
I won’t tell you to stay because I know you can’t.
I will tell you to grope desperately in the dark for a hand, and hold it like
an extra joint when you find one, because it will stay when you can’t. And anchor
the both of you down.

This is the apoptosis: you were not programmed to die in total, so
do not pull that trigger.
Not even C. elegans destroys itself completely. There are parts of you that
need to be swallowed whole, but only 131.
959-131 means 828 parts still studding your artery walls.
You may be breaking, but not all of you. When the winds come to sweep you up,
find roots and slip your limbs beneath them. Because I tell you this. Death
wants you completely. But you are not meant to be dissolved in total.
This is not how. This is not. This is not your deathtime.
This is apoptosis, breather. So breathe. Lose air sometimes, but breathe. Breathe.

—  Apoptosis (a proposal to the suicidal) | kira tang