Andrew's All Alone Behind Closed Doors:
A Short Story

Photo by Juli Kosolapova

Written by: Carrie Jean Lipe | Published: January 14, 2021  | Trigger Warning: Suicide and Death

The brass on the doorknob shined in my face brighter than neon lights shining through the blinds while you’re trying to sleep. Or pass out. Am I trying to sleep or pass out? I can’t remember. All I know is I’m sick of this shit. So over the monotony of being out here isolated- in every meaning of the word.

Photo by Matt Seymour

I’ve grown fond of my friend the doorknob. Daily as I leave my room ready to wait another half hour for food, I stroke its side and ask how it’s doing today. Are you ready for me yet?

The brass on the doorknob is saying to me, “Come here, Andrew. I can hold all your weight. Let me take everything that keeps you from living and give you exactly what you want… the opposite.”

I know everyone back home wouldn’t get where my head’s at. The whole world is fucked up, I know. If I’d had known a new bat virus would clench the world for a few years in its stronghold maybe I wouldn’t have done any of this in the first place. No one asks to be floating on a cruise ship, tagged like cargo waiting for its next destination.

But my sister, Anne, needed help with her son and my parents are too old to work. Who else is going to provide for my family? Couldn’t be the low-class street runner Anne decided to keep up with. Other than the doorknob, Anne’s sporadic boyfriend’s lack in parenting skills is the one thing I could count on in my life.

That’s what got me here. A man missing his manhood and a virus birthed from bat consumption. I’ve learned in my twenty-eight years; it doesn’t take many things to align to set everything else off course.

So, let’s get back on track then. The doorknob. Yes, the doorknob.

I’ve grown fond of my friend the doorknob. Daily as I leave my room ready to wait another half hour for food, I stroke its side and ask how it’s doing today. Are you ready for me yet, I’d ask. And like she always invited me back after a long smoke or a few vodka sodas on the deck, she welcomed me when I asked her to hold me that night.

A doorknob? What could a grown man want with a doorknob? Oh, a lot of things. And perhaps not the ones you might imagine at the first turn. God damn, I hate puns. Isolation has changed me, even though I always liked it before. This isolation feels different. That’s what someone would want from a doorknob. I want to get away from being away.

Jumping in the ocean didn’t make sense. We were docked. I could swim back to safety if I really wanted to. Plus, I had always hated water and the ocean. I’d rather my last moments to not be totally terrifying. More than it already is.

No, I wanted to look at this cabin one last time as I took my one last breath. To be able to remember the place where I lost myself. Where we all lost ourselves.

I looked around the room night after night and found nothing. There was nothing in the room that could hold my tall, lanky dead weight. I started to think of other ways; taking too many OTC drugs, the Carrie-style wrist displays of attention, and even my feared water fate. Then as I made the journey back to the hell of my room, I saw it. Brassy answers lining the hallway, with one special for me. One to say, welcome home, Andrew.

Like I did every night, I tapped and rubbed my fingers around my trusty friend as I turned her. She let me in. Back into the room I’d eventually fall into the deepest of black mental holes. I’d fall asleep tangled in the same blanket of darkness that I’d wake up with. Night after night. Day after day.

The monotony had to stop. I had to end this. No one else could do it for me. No one else would do it for me. Wherever we came from, I knew, it had to be better than here.

White t-shirts, the ones I wore underneath my uniform as a revered “Cruise Ship Engineer”, are the one material I have enough of to make something of a rope. The bedsheets aren’t my own. I want something that belonged to me to walk me out.

Pussy-style, Rapunzel-style, or whatever you want to call it, I tied those white t-shirts end to end. I asked them if they’d be at all interested in having a polyamorous relationship with me and the doorknob. White t-shirts might be the Labrador Retriever of the garment world because of their loyalty. Naturally my new bleached friends obliged to venture on our new love affair.

Together we’d dance. Neck to neck. Hand in hand. Head to head. All of our weight hanging on by the sheen of the brass I grew to know.

     Hold me brass baby, and never let go.

     I’ll lay here with you, to the hum of the boat.

     Just do me one favor and don’t slip now.

     Here it comes, a life’s last countdown.

My brass baby held on. My white t-shirts harbored their honor, as they always do. More than I ever could.

It felt like everything and nothing I knew all at the same time. Waves and pulses of electricity left me first. I felt my toes begin to tingle, then my shins, and finally it came to my stomach. The mind and gut must be connected as they say. Once my stomach had no life, no blood running to it to save itself, my head went too. My body went limp as I, the real me, lifted out into new waves of energy. Something I’ve felt before, but exemplified. Sincere. Heavy and light existing at the same time.

Stars danced around me and welcomed me home. Brass doorknobs, white t-shirts, and cruise ship cabins are things the new me won’t know. Everything I knew now was energy. What I was missing before I came here. Energy.

See, when you’re on Earth you’re really playing a huge game. When you die, you realize you were just a character avatar in a virtual world racking up points disguised as lessons learned. You finally come to terms with your physical distraction. Things like food, media consumption, and sex kept you from emerging as the true you. The real you. Had you been brave enough to dance with your darkness, the light could have emerged, my greeters said to me.

Darkness is a friend as close to me as the doorknob that helped me escape isolation. Darkness, I thought, was a state of existence married to mankind.

Turns out I’d been lied to. Turns out the monkeys behind their desks keeping us on board, seeing numbers instead of humans, weren’t the only ones to lie to me. Darkness and pain aren’t normal. Darkness and pain aren’t normal. Darkness and pain are not normal.

Had I known that, maybe I would have figured out a different plan. Maybe I wouldn’t have asked brass baby what she was doing that night. I would have known there were other options. To call someone. Paint. Write. Scream. Make music. Reach out to a lawyer, fuck I don’t know. Social justice is a thing now right? Would a media tabloid have saved my life? Where was everyone that claimed they cared? Where was I?

Passed out. Or sleeping?  God damn it, I can’t remember.

Note: This was written in memory and response to staff members who were living on cruise ships and decided to end their lives after social isolation was too much to handle. While this is inspired by true events, any characters or situations depicted in this story is purely coincidental. 

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Carrie Jean is a Midwestener-turned-Californian freelancer with over ten years of experience in customer service. In addition to writing, she offers virtual assistance and vocal talent. Fun Fact: She loves Abe Lincoln.

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