The website was probably designed to look nondescript. The homepage looked sort of like a Tumblr dashboard, only it was a different blue and the web address was CatchingTheTrain.com. To an uninformed looker on, it probably looked totally innocent.
Evan knew it wasn’t.
He was on it enough. Too much. So he had to clear his browser history every time he logged off of it. In case his mom decided to look at it. Which made Evan’s hands sweaty just to think about his mom opening his laptop, even if she didn’t see the website, even if she didn’t understand she would definitely ask about it and then he would have to come up with a lie because he hadn’t been able to bring himself to actually come up with a lie despite the fact that he spent all of his time worrying about how he could lie to her about the website if she found it.
CatchingTheTrain.com was a site about suicide. Ways to do it. Ways to deal with wanting to do it. It had message boards, different sections, tips and tricks, and even a messaging system if you had questions for other users. And the place where Evan’s hand was most drawn to, the place he’d been clicking on every single day since he had… since he had broken his arm. Partners. Suicide partners.
Evan slammed his laptop shut the moment he heard his mother outside of his bedroom door, feeling his heart rate tick faster almost immediately.
“It feels like every time I come in here lately you’re closing your computer…” His mother was in her scrubs with a hoodie over the top, frowning.
“Oh. S-sorry. I… I was just…” Iwasjustlookingatawebsiteaboutsuicidenobigdeal . “A letter! It’s… I was working on one of the letters that-that Dr. Sherman…”
His mother smiled then.
“Oh. That’s good. I’m glad you’re working on those, honey. I think it’ll really help.”
“Y-yeah. M-me too.”
Once his mother left him alone again, Evan pulled his laptop onto his lap again, pulling open Catching The Train again, his mouse hovering over the section on partners again.
It was stupid, Evan knew, but he had tried and just… failed. It hadn’t worked. And it was so embarrassing that no one had even realized, even noticed, everyone just swallowed the story about falling while he was climbing.
Partners… which was maybe the stupidest idea Evan had ever entertained, because, who would even be his suicide partner when he couldn’t even get anyone to sign his fucking cast.
Evan clicked on it anyway. Just because.
He sorted by location until he saw a new posting for his town.
It was a post by someone called Murphys_law.
From thirty minutes ago.
From someone who lived in his town.
Evan felt his heart speed up, suddenly, but not panicked, exactly. Almost… excited.
This whole thing is probably idiotic… but last time I got caught in an attempt, so I’m changing tactics. I keep telling myself I’m not the desperate type, but nonetheless here we are.
I only have a few requirements: One, I don’t want to do it with anyone who has kids. I can’t handle that shit. Two, you can’t live far away from me. My parents would catch on fast if I suddenly have a friend who lives two states over who wants me to leave the house for a change. Three, it would be best if you look like you could feasibly be a highschool student. I’m trying to be inconspicuous.
Evan’s breathing hitched.
He… met those parameters. He was in high school, he lived in town… no kids. Which. It was perhaps the first time he had ever seen something that he was quite literally perfect for.
Evan swallowed hard.
And with shaking fingers…
Began to type out a response.
He felt like he was playing detective.
The kid, Murphys_Law, they had to go to his school. Based on location alone, it wouldn’t really make sense for it to be someone from anywhere else.
For a brief, paralyzing moment as he was walking past the band room the next day, Evan thought that Murphys_Law could be Zoe Murphy. She played guitar in jazz band. The girl who drew stars on the cuffs of her jeans in study hall. The pretty girl he had spent a little too much time daydreaming about.
But there was no way it was Zoe Murphy. She just… she wasn’t like him. She looked happy, seemed happy, smiled all of the time. She had even briefly talked to him at the start of the year, apologizing for her brother when he shoved Evan.
Girls like Zoe Murphy didn’t want to kill themselves.
And Evan knew, even if by some crazy random happenstance that she was the person from the message, Evan knew he couldn’t take her up on it. People like Zoe Murphy needed to exist in the world.
“Stopping by the pharmacy on my way home tonight. You okay on refills?”
“Dude, could you quit checking your phone?” Jared said, nudging his shoulder. “You’re acting like you’re sweating a Tinder match.”
“What?” Evan said, his voice jumping high. “No-no, I-I-I wasn’t. I don’t. I don’tevenhave Tinder. It was m-my mom, I was texting my mom.”
Jared looked at him like he was perhaps the most pathetic thing on this Earth. Evan would have to agree with him. “Dude. Maybe don’t tell people you’re texting your mom.”
“Yeah. Thanks. I’ll… do. That.”
As their English class started, Evan did check his phone as stealthily as he could manage. He was waiting for a notification. A sign.
His heart nearly leapt out of his chest when his phone buzzed, one new notification in his email inbox, a reply from Murphys_Law and ruined the whole thing suicide partners thing because if his heart flew out of his body right then and there then he wouldn’t need a partner at all, he would just need to make sure nobody called 911 for like thirty seconds which shouldn’t be hard because nobody had come running when he dropped forty feet out of that oak tree.
If you are serious about this, we should meet up to discuss plans ASAP. I have helicopter parents, so getting around them might be a bit of thing. I want to make sure you’re serious. The last thing I need is for someone to flake out.
If you can, meet me at the coffee place around the corner from Central High tomorrow at 4:00pm. I’ll wear a red scarf.
There wasn’t a signature.
But it was there.
Evan responded quickly, saying that he would be there at 4:00pm the next day, and then deleted the emails from his inbox regarding the notification and cleared his browser history on his off brand smart phone.
Time flies when you’re having heart palpitations because you’re about to meet a potential suicide partner.
Frankly, it was some variety of a godsend that he managed to struggle through the whole day without a complete meltdown, even though Thursdays were the day that they closed the library during his lunch hour for some teachers meeting, which meant that Evan had to eat either in the cafeteria or find a teacher who would let him sit quietly in their classroom while he eat.
He ended up in the back of Mr. Reeves’s botany elective, which Evan had already taken. It wasn’t too bad and nobody looked at him weird really. There was Connor Murphy, Zoe Murphy’s brother, who was apparently in for a lunch detention, though Evan didn’t know what it could be for. Jared had said something about Connor getting pissed off and lobbing an onion plant at another student in the hall, but so far Evan hadn’t noticed an onion plant out of place in the greenhouse.
The day eventually came to a halt, and then it was like time was racing forward without Evan. He opened his textbook to look at his math homework and then suddenly it was 3:50 and he was going to be late to meet Murphys_Law.
Hitching his backpack over both shoulders and gripping the straps tight, Evan headed off in the direction of the coffee just off campus, internally debating if he ought to order something. People might think it was weird if he just sat there in the cafe not ordering anything, but then again he was going there to literally plan out how he was going to die, so who cares if people think he’s weird for not buying a coffee he doesn’t even really like coffee and besides it’s way over priced.
Evan stopped just outside of the building to take a deep breath while his thoughts wound themselves up, troubling over whether it was appropriate to shake the hand of someone who you just met when you were there to make a date to die together.
Finally psyching himself up, and only about a minute late, Evan pulled the door to the coffee shop open. His eyes scanned the people milling around for a red scarf. It took him a few minutes, because it was nearly October now and people were already pulling out their fall clothes even though it was still too warm when he stopped because he had spotted the only red scarf in the place.
It wasn’t. It couldn’t…
There was no way it was Connor Murphy.
This was a trick, a joke, something that… Jared had done to fuck with him, some sick idea of funny that was probably going to get his reaction filmed and put online only to go viral because he knew he was an ugly cryer; he got all red and sweaty and snotty and sometimes he cried so hard he couldn’t catch his breath which made him throw up.
He was bumped forward by someone trying to squeeze around him and then Evan stood in front of Connor Murphy. Zoe Murphy’s psychopath older brother. The kid who threw a printer in second grade.