A lot of people say that it's my own fault that I'm hurting. Some say that it's my fault that all of this even happened at all. For a long time, I believed them. I still have all the "what if's" and the "if only's" running around in my head, but the thing is... it's too late to do anything about it now. Hell, maybe it is my fault that I got involved with him in the first place; maybe I even played a part in his decision. Maybe, if I had just done one thing differently, things wouldn't have ended up this way.
I've always been attracted to emo guys, even before I had a label for it. It sucks that it's so hard to find any of them (especially at my tiny private school), and when I do come across one, there's, like, a 75% chance that he's gay. I'll admit that I was first drawn to Criss based on his looks. I mean, come on, isn't that what everyone's first attracted to? No matter what you say, I refuse to say that it's shallow in the least bit; it's really only when a relationship is based entirely on surface attraction that I would consider it shallow. If I had gotten to know Criss and he had been a jerk or unintelligent or a number of other things, I wouldn't have stayed with him for a heartbeat longer. He was amazing, though. Everything he did for me was always perfect.
You would think that he and I would have a countless number of things to do together living in LA, but most of the time that we spent together was in his bedroom. Sure, we went to see a few movies now and then and sometimes we would go out to lunch or something, but going out wasn't really his thing. It's not mine either, I guess. I was always perfectly content with him in his room.
His room really described who he was perfectly. The walls were a dark red, kind of like the color of blood, and I assume there used to be a carpet on the floor, but all I ever saw was unfinished gray cement. Most of the walls were bare. There was one framed Avenged Sevenfold poster that had been signed by all the band members and a small picture of the two of us that he had lazily put up with a piece of tape. The curtains were always pulled tightly over the windows so that it was always dark in his room. It didn't even pretend to have the presence of some happy-go-lucky, preppy kid.
It was always obvious, even from a distance, that Criss was depressed. It wasn't necessarily the way he dressed or the way he talked to people... it was just something about him. You could just tell. I knew before I got involved with him that he would never be one of those guys that would just lie and say he was happy so that I would be.
He was always honest with me; he told me everything. At least, I thought he did. He told me things about himself that he said he had never told anybody else before. He would tell me everything he was thinking and feeling at any given moment. He never lied to me except for that one time. I just wish that I had seen it. Usually when a person lies to me, I can almost always see it in their eyes regardless of if they want me to or not. That time that Criss lied to me, though, I couldn't see anything. For a long time, I tried to convince myself that at the time it really hadn't been a lie, but I can't really bring myself to believe that anymore. I know that he knew he was lying to me even as he looked me straight in the eye that day.
His eyes were one of the things that I loved so much about him. They were this deep brown color that's practically impossible to describe. In the right light, they sometimes seems to glow an almost reddish color. It was hypnotizing. He was hypnotizing... everything about him was. When we were alone together, there were a lot of times when we didn't say a word to each other. I would just get lost in his eyes. It was always the little things that he did that made me fall even more in love with him.
I can barely remember now how it felt when he would run his fingers through my hair or trace imaginary lines along my body. I do remember, though, that it would always send pleasurable shivers down my spine. I always loved his touch, from his fingers just running down my arm ever so lightly to the way he held me tightly when he kissed me. I guess, looking back on all of it, I took it all for granted. I never really thought that it could just be gone in the blink of an eye... I never thought that he could just be gone.
He gave me a chance to say goodbye to him, but I didn't know it at the time. Or maybe I did know it but I just didn't want to believe it. There's part of me now that wishes that I had paid more attention. Maybe if I had, none of it would've happened. Maybe things would be different now.
That morning, when I went over to his house, I had only intended from the beginning to stay for a few minutes. His parents were out of town and he had the house to himself for the weekend. I was going to be volunteering at the local animal rescue that day, and on the way there, I had stopped to buy a half dozen doughnuts for some friends that I was going to meet there. Since Criss lived between the animal shelter and the doughnut shop, I figured I might as well stop by to bring him one.
When he opened the door, I could tell that there was something not right. "What's wrong?" I had asked him.
He didn't answer me verbally; he just shook his head and bit his lower lip. I kept asking him if he was okay, and each time he just looked at me and nodded.
"I brought you breakfast," I finally told him quietly. I held out a bag with a doughnut in it and he carefully took it. "I have to go see the animals," I told him. "I'll come right back afterward, though, and we can hang out or whatever, okay?" He just nodded again. I looked down at where we were standing. I saw his hand still clutching the top of the bag and took note of the fact that he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt even though it was around 80 degrees outside. "Promise me you're not hurting yourself," I said. I looked up into his eyes.
"Promise," he muttered.
"And you're not going to?"
"Alright." I gave him a hug and kissed him on the cheek, but when I tried to let go of him, he held on to me tighter.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
When he said it, my mind immediately jumped to thinking things like that he was cheating on me or doing drugs again. I pushed him away from me harder than I really meant to. "What do you mean 'sorry'? Sorry for what?"
He looked at the ground and didn't shift his gaze. "I'm just so sorry."
I didn't say anything else to him before I left his house. I wish now that I had. I just left him standing there in his hallway looking after me. I never even turned back to him.
When I was walking back to his house after my volunteer hours, nothing seemed out of place. I smiled at all the stupid signs in broken down store windows selling things like "vintage lamps". My feet were dragging from the heat of LA and my skinny jeans combined. I was quietly singing some popular radio song that was stuck in my head. Everything was just the way that it always had been.
When I got to his house and knocked on the door, he didn't answer. I began to just turn away and assumed that he had forgotten when I was coming back and gone out, but something told me to try the door anyway. It was unlocked, which didn't surprise me too much. Criss had always had a bad habit of forgetting to do small things like locking the front door in his small neighborhood.
I walked inside and called his name. As much as I wish that I could have more words to describe it... I don't I don't want to turn it into something that it wasn't. I found him hanging from two belts by his neck in the hallway. There was a short stepping stool lying on its side not more than a foot and a half from where he was.
Nothing went through my mind. There was no sudden rush of adrenaline. There was just... nothing. Silence. I was frozen. I don't think I was even breathing.
I don't know how long it was before I finally stepped out of the house and carefully closed the door behind me. I do know, though, that it wasn't until after I called 911 and until after I hung up with his parents that I finally started crying on the ground in front of his house.
Nobody ever found a note from him. He wasn't the kind of person who did things the standard way. As far as I know, I was the last person he ever talked to. I wish I had known then what he was apologizing for that day. I wish I had just stayed with him when he tried so hard to hold on to me.
I wish more than anything that I could tell him I'm sorry too.