I know that something is wrong again the moment I open the door and see that the lights are off.
I know for sure that Aimee was supposed to be home all day because she told me so the previous evening, before kissing me goodnight and going to bed.
I should have noticed something wasn't right. There were definitely some signs in her eyes.
I drop my bag on the floor, take off my jacket and throw it away. I don't even look where it landed.
As I run to the living room, I think about the last time it happened. It was not the first one, not even one of the first ones. But definitely the worst for her and the most terrifying for me.
“Aimee?” I say very softly and quietly. I know that I must not yell, however scared I might be. “Aimee, are you here?”
There is no answer. I am breathing harder and harder, my heart beats so fast, I'm almost choking. Please, not this time, I think. I beg you, Aimee. Not again.
Tears fill my eyes at the mere thought.
I go to the library now. It's a tiny room in our house that I guess was originally meant as a pantry, since it's also connected to the kitchen.
When me moved in, Aimee said she didn't need a pantry and instead she filled this tiny space with so many books, I was genuinely surprised they all fit in.
Ever since, we called it a library and Aimee was usually more likely to be found here rather than anywhere else in the house. I married a bookworm.
This time I don't find her there. I start sweating and take my sweater off, but it doesn’t help. I don't think it has much to do with the temperature. What if I find her the way I did then…?
I push the other door of the library open and walk into the kitchen. It's just as dark in there as anywhere else in the house, but the room seems a little more sinister.
Maybe it's because this is where she was the last time. I remember that I practically stumbled over her – it was dark like today and I had no idea that she would be on the floor.
I walk slowly around the kitchen, careful not to miss anything. I turn the lights on.
And then I see it.
Our parents never approved of our marriage. I was way too poor for her parents and she was far to crazy for mine.
We had a small ceremony in a different town – our parents obviously didn't come – with only three of my friends, and one of hers.
And that one friend knew how much Aimee loved to cook, so he got her a set of very fancy, and very expensive, knives. I bet he could never imagine what she would actually use them for one day.
One, the biggest and sharpest, is gone. Deep black whole in the wooden block where the knives are usually slipped into, glares at me and I feel as if my legs were gone and I am going to faint.
If I was afraid to this point, I'm practically horrified now.
“Aimee...” I whisper, and run, throw myself at the steps. I have her face in front of my eyes, I see the way I found her last time whenever I blink. “Aimee!”
I'm out of breath at the top of the stairs. I feel my lungs in my throat and my heart in my stomach.
I begin crying in despair when I dash toward our bedroom because I know I will find her there, and she is going to be on the edge between life and death like last time.
I failed again, missed the signs, overlooked the inevitable.
Did I really believe she would get better on her own?
The door to our bedroom is already cracked open. I storm inside and look around in horror. I have no idea what I am looking for first – her, the knife or the blood.
I also have no idea why I check the floor first. The white carpet we bought together along with an armchair when we moved into this house and had few things more, is clean.
There is not a single stain of anything red, and there is no Aimee. The only two remaining rooms on this floor are my study and our bathroom.
She never visited the first one, unless I was there and she wanted something. I'm ready to yell her name, even if I shouldn't, and sprint to the bathroom, but I spot her.
She is alive. She lies in bed, motionless, covered in the flowery sheets. I feel like I take the first breath since I came home.
I walk slowly toward her, trying to remember all the things her doctor told me I should be careful about whenever this happens.
“Aimee?” I say very quietly, trying to sound as mild as possible. “Aimee, are you asleep?”
Or worse, I think.
“Aimee?” I pray to every existing spiritual creature to make her answer me. To make her be alive and well. Aimee… “Sweetheart?”
She stirred. And it's more than enough.
I let out the air I was holding in my lungs. Then I spot the knife on the nightstand on my side of our bed. It's also clean. I am so relieved, tears actually do start falling from my eyes.
I wipe them away quickly with my sleeve and unlace my boots. I kick them off and leave them on the floor.
“Aimee?” I try again. “Are you okay?”
I get no answer, but it doesn't surprise me. I walk over to her and sit on my side of the bed. I give it a moment of consideration before I lie down and get as close to her as possible.
My head rests only inches away from hers, my arm almost touches her back.
“I almost did it,” she whispers.
“Thank you for not doing this.” The thought that I might have found her already gone makes me choke again. “I love you.”
She says nothing to that, but I wasn't really expecting to hear something in return.
I am too relieved to be scared now, so I just grab her and close that fragile fleeting body in a hard embrace.
I wish to become a steel cage that will never let her get near anything sharp ever again.
“When did it happen?” I ask, speaking into her jet-black hair. They don't smell very fresh, but I don't mind.
“An hour or so after you left,” she replies, her voice feeble.
I remember leaving her in bed, asleep. I tiptoed to the bathroom, got dressed in the living room without making any sound, ate a sandwich, and left.
“I wish you have called me,” I say.
Aimee did call me in September. She was feeling unwell and wanted me to come home from work a little bit earlier.
I told her I couldn't, I had a very important project to finish, it was due in a week and I was at a very early stage with it.
I told her all of that, not feeling guilty even for a moment, firing away reasons and excuses, then got a very feeble “all right” as a reply.
I believed “all right” meant “all right” but people with depression hardly ever feel what they say they feel.
I hate that what happened had to happen for me to learn.
It was already past midnight when I eventually got home from work. I was exhausted and dreamed of nothing more that a warm hug, something to eat, and enough space in bed to sleep.
As always, I parked the car right in front of the house, walked across the yard, threw a ball over the fence,
because it belonged to the kid leaving in the neighboring house and he kept on kicking it into our premises.
I opened the front door and walked into the house, then pulled the door shut behind me.
I smelled exactly three things – alcohol, coffee and chocolate.
I already knew back then that Aimee would bake this weird cake of hers, using those three ingredients, whenever she felt suicidal, because it reminded her of home.
But I still had no idea that that day was worse then any other. I called her name, but she didn't call me back.
Thinking that maybe she wasn't home, I took off my jacket and shoes, left them in the hallway, then went to the kitchen to eat something before taking a shower and going to sleep.
Aimee was on the floor.
She looked like a painting, a sinister and beautiful angel with puddles of light-red blood as wings at her sides, heavenly pale and focused on something beyond,
her eyes glued to the ceiling and arms bent at elbows, pointed at her head, as if she was preaching.
“Aimee...” I whispered and fell to my knees.
Then I saw her wrists, sliced open and bleeding out.
“Did you take your pill?” I ask timidly.
She says nothing, which means she did.
“Nothing,” she says, slowly and quietly. It lets me know that both everything and nothing happened, all at the same time. It was always like this.
“I love you,” I say again. To be honest, I do it because I have no idea what else I can say. What other than holding her and being here I can do.
There is no way for me to get into her head and mend what got broken because she isn't a machine with cables to connect or a missing screw, and it infuriates me.
Being here is all I am capable of doing for my depressed wife and it's as far from enough as possible.
“Sam,” she mumbles.
“I love you,” I say again.
“Don't be.” I kiss the back of her head. “Don't ever be sorry.”
“I'm broken.” She begins sobbing into her pillow. Her whole body is shaking. I begin crying myself because I'm too powerless and useless. “I'm sorry, but I have no idea how to be okay.”
Later she tells me what happened. Aimee woke up and felt like doing anything more than breathing was too much for her to handle.
Even opening her eyes was too difficult, not to mention getting up and starting a day. The air felt overwhelming, her thoughts were heavy. She stayed in bed until I came from work.
My heart skips a bit when she says she wanted to kill herself that day more than ever before. Only she couldn't find enough of herself left in her body to get up and find something sharp.
“Don't leave me, Aimee.” I whisper. I feel tension disappearing from her body. She is falling asleep. “I need you.”
“I can't stay anymore.”
“Let me save you.” How desperate can a man be? “Let me protect you.”
“You can't.” Maybe when she wakes up, she'll be better. “You can't protect me from myself.”
I say through tears, “Let me try.”
“I'm too far gone.”
And she falls asleep. I do as well, but many many hours later, horrified, lost and hopeless.
When I wake up, it's right after dawn, and Aimee is already out of bed. I smell alcohol, coffee and chocolate.