Life Begins At Thirty : Chapter One


Renner

Hello.

My name is Renner.

My name is a palindrome.

Einstein’s theory of relativity states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In my mind this means that for every person that is born, somewhere a person is dying. For every person living a worthwhile life, there is a person living a life of little worth, of little contribution, of little consequence.

I’m one of those people. A person of no consequence. A person that nobody really cares about. Nobody would miss if they weren’t there anymore.

A few days before my thirtieth birthday I had that thought and I decided to end it all. To take the cowards way out. I didn’t know how to fix my life, how to make it mean something. I considered that if my dying would mean that another person would be born then that person might live a more worthwhile life and bring something to the world that I could not. I convinced myself that I owed it to the world to die.

With that thought in my mind I stood in the bathroom of my tiny one bedroom flat looking at myself in the mirror staring at the cold soulless eyes looking back at me which had given up on life. Staring at the short graying un-styled hair that made me look like a much older man. Staring at the colourful assortment of pills lying in my hand.

I was calm, at peace with my decision and yet the hand shook in the knowledge of the events that would surely follow. Sometime later I would be found dead of an overdose on the cold floor beneath my feet. A funeral would be held in a few days and only those with an obligation, either through family or employment would attend. I had no real friends you see, no one who would require such an attendance to vent grief over my passing. It would probably rain. The song ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ by Monty Python would play and people would eat some dry cake that my mother had made. Then people would go on with their lives.

It was the Twenty-seventh of August in the year Two Thousand and Fourteen. My thirtieth birthday. Most people would mark such an occasion with a party or an event. Not me. I don’t like parties. Well that’s not true. I like any excuse to get drunk with my work mates, but they don’t invite me to their parties. The only parties I get invited to are family party’s and I hate them.

I’d never felt comfortable at family functions without the aid of a considerable amount of intoxicants and I was loathed to be intoxicated around my family for fear of what I might say or do as this would undoubtedly result in humiliation on my part. Some might say being found dead, naked in the middle of your bathroom floor from an overdose would be the ultimate humiliation but at least then I won’t be around to listen to it. I’ll be gone.

I guess you could say I like to be in control. In control of how I’m perceived. How I’m judged by those who would choose to do so. I guess that’s why I don’t have many friends. I don’t like giving up control to people. I don’t trust people to control me in a positive way. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for those so called friends to find ways to humiliate me. If you think that sounds foolish and self-defeating you’re probably correct. I’m lonely and depressed because of this and that’s really why I’m here standing in front of the bathroom mirror, naked and ready to kill myself. I’m lonely.

I guess I should really get dressed before I do this. It would be unkind enough to allow someone to discover me dead, but naked as well would be cruel. I’m fat you see. Not massively obese mind. I don’t need to buy an extra ticket on the train in order to fit my fat ass in. But my body is certainly not what you’d call attractive. Nobody has ever seen me naked, not as an adult anyway, and the first person to do so really shouldn’t be discovering me dead also. What does one wear to one’s suicide? A suit and tie? At least then my mother wouldn’t have to redress me for the funeral.

You probably guessed from the whole nobody seeing me naked thing that I’ve never had sex. But it goes further than that I’ve never even really been kissed. I’ve never had a proper romantic relationship. I’ve had various little online “relationships” in the past but never have I actually met one of those girls in person let alone kissed or made love to them.

As you may expect being male and without a girl in my life that life involves a healthy amount of pornography and masturbation. Well, whether it’s healthy or not depends on your point of view I guess. I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s just like snacking on a breadstick whilst you’re waiting for your steak at a restaurant. Of course at this point, I’ve eaten so many of the damn breadsticks and have had my fill of breadsticks and still my steak hasn’t been brought out. I should really ask for the manager and complain. Note to self, when I get up to heaven, ask for the manager.

That’s assuming I get to heaven. If heaven even exists I’m probably not on the list. Saint Christopher will be standing at the pearly gates. He’ll check his clipboard, check it twice, then nod to one of the heavies standing either side and drag me off to the kerb where the taxi is waiting to take me to hell. Hell is where the cowardly suicidal people go.

Like most things in my life I always thought I’d be quite good at sex given the opportunity. I’d like to think that having watched so much sex on TV and on the internet I would have at least some idea of what to do should I ever find a girl and have the opportunity to have sex with her. But I’m never going to get that opportunity, because I’m about to kill myself.

Okay so I’m starting to have doubts.

Why kill yourself when there is so much out there you haven’t done? I’m a completest, I like to leave no stone unturned. When buying a new computer game I make sure to buy the strategy guide so I make sure I don’t miss anything. If I find out I’ve missed a treasure or a secret I feel like I have to go back and start again to make sure I get it. But there is no guide in life and no restart from last save if you miss something. I know I’ve missed delights, treasures and secrets in the first thirty years of my life and I will never be able to go back and get them. It’s not as if I know how to make my life better starting from this point onwards. I don’t see any sudden event in the future that is going to miraculously land me a girlfriend or a high paying job. Nothing is going to make my life normal.

I look down at the pills again and the hand they sit on. It’s starting to get sweaty. The pills are starting to dissolve. It’s now or never. But first I need to get dressed.

I reach for a piece of toilet tissue and lay down the multi coloured assortment of pills on it before turning and heading into my bedroom. Boxer shorts first followed by socks. Both black. I smile to myself remembering the old saying about always wearing clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus. Shirt next. I go for a black t shirt, plain like me. Someone who had planned this in advance might wear a witty slogan like “Death, that’s the last thing I shall do!” Or one of those shirts with a bloody knife sticking out of the gut. I reach for a pair of black chinos. My trouser of choice. Being fat I’ve always found jeans a hassle that really isn’t worth the effort.

I’m interrupted by a jazzy ringtone which sounds from across the room. From my phone. An iPhone because I’m as easily seduced by pretty technology as I am pretty girls who are nice to me. I walk over and pick up the phone. It’s my mother. Joy. That’s sarcasm by the way. Not her name. Her name is Judy. I call her Mum.

“Hello?!” I say into the phone.

Silence.

“Hello???” I say again.

“Renner?” Mother’s voice sounds unsure, worried maybe. I immediately think of my Grandpa and wonder if something has happened.

“Is everything okay you sound…?”

“Everything’s fine. We… You… Won the lottery” she said. My brain doesn’t really process it but something occurs to me.

“Mother, I don’t play the lottery” I say arguing. People have told me I’m argumentative. I don’t agree. I’d argue about it but that would prove their point wouldn’t it.

“You did. We did. On your behalf. For your birthday, because it was a double rollover” she sounded almost apologetic. “Three, seven, eight, nineteen, twenty seven, thirty. They all came out. The jackpot was twelve million pounds.”

I don’t remember what happened next. My mother would tell me later that she spoke to me further during this time but I don’t remember. I was numb for days. It turned out that there were three winners of the jackpot that week and we each won just over four million pounds.

On Monday I went in to work as if nothing had happened. I work in a contact centre for London City council writing letters to faceless people who live a hundred miles away. That day I didn’t speak to anyone. I never do really so I don’t think anyone particularly noticed. I was distracted all day thinking about the events of the weekend. Thinking of things to spend the money on. Relieved that my debts would be paid off.

“Did you have a nice birthday?” A female voice interrupted my daydreaming. It was my manager Marissa, a good friend, someone who I usually confided things in.

“Erm yes thanks” I said, unsure what to say. I looked up at her smiling at me, her hazel eyes emitting so much warmth and empathy. Under other circumstances I would perhaps have fallen for her charms long ago but as that has never been a possibility, she has been happily married since long before I met her, thankfully my brain has spared me the suffering that any longing for someone so unavailable would lead to.

“Did you do anything special?” She asked.

“Not really, Chinese and a movie” I lied, looking away. Was this what it was going to be like from now on? Lying to everyone about my life?

I asked that very question to Kiera. When you win the lottery and you claim your prize you are assigned a winners counsellor who talks you through everything. Mine was Kiera, a thirty-six year old blonde with large breasts who worked as a part time nanny when she wasn’t jetting around the country counselling winners. She advised me to take some time to decide what to do with the money and helped set up a new bank account and transferred the money. She gave me her phone number for if I needed any more help.

“Take a holiday away from everyone, family and friends, so you can decide what to do” Kiera had told me one piece of advice that she said she told everyone. I didn’t feel like I needed time though, I’d always fantasised about what I would do if I won the lottery, despite never really playing it.

After a few hours consideration I had decided to give my mum and dad half a million. I gave two hundred and fifty thousand to my brother and put another quarter million in a trust fund for his one-year-old daughter Leia. The rest I decided to leave where it was except for one hundred thousand which would be paid into my account each year. So sensible. So boring.

I did spend some of the money though. I bought a range of expensive gadgets for my kitchen. I bought a new car. I bought a MacBook. I booked a week’s holiday at a mid-priced hotel in London. People would ask if I felt that winning the lottery had changed my life for the better. That holiday certainly did. I finally met someone, someone to care for, someone to love.