His friend quipped a hilarious comment, and he laughed.
Laughter roared around the table from the gathering of his friends.
The whole evening went on like that. The gathering of friends each striving to make the others laugh the hardest. It was a good night.
Then, the night wound on, and the gathering of friends made their separate ways home.
As the last friend closed the door behind her on her way out, his world was once again plunged into darkness. The memory of their shared laughter a dwindling light flickering off into the ebon blackness of the world he lived in. He sighed.
He felt hollow already.
He was wounded, seemingly from childhood. This tear that rent his mind, his soul, was part of him, ingrained in his actions, and his mannerisms. He knew no other way to exist. He simply assumed that the rest of the world operated in the same manner as he.
For the most part, he was correct.
So he dwelt, in this shadow world, looking for those rare moments that lit up his existence. In his youth, those ‘flares’ would occur somewhat frequently. Finding a friend, travelling to a new location, discovering a new love, learning and education. They were torches to him in his darkness.
The wounds that tore at him continued to worsen. They clawed at him, slowing him, affecting his reason, altering his decisions. They struck him down. Again. And Again.
But every time, he pulled himself up. He carried on, unaware that every time he fell, he lost more of himself on the ground. More and more of him was left behind as his wound increased.
In time, his darkness swallowed everything. His wound a ragged, a ravaging maw that destroyed all light it encountered. There was so little left of him. He was so tired.
A voice began to speak to him, at first in quiet moments, then more and more frequently as the years went by. It was Death.
It spoke to him as a friend. Promising an end to his struggle. A cleansing of his wound.
He considered: To Leave? To Stay? There seemed only pain in this world.
His view was not unwrong.
In his travels, he obtained knowledge about his wound, and that others also suffered as he had. He learned that it was possible to repair oneself, through various means. He arrogantly assumed that he was strong enough to endure where others had fell. He had chosen take none of those options.
He was so wrong.
It was his death urge that had convinced him that he could endure, knowing he would fail in the long term.
He was not strong. He never was. The nature of his wound convinced him otherwise.
And so, in his darkness, he considered his End.
Those flares in his darkness, those loved ones, those friends, seem so far away. Almost beyond his reach, beyond his memory. Those nights, spent alone in the dark, talking to Death, were among the longest nights of his life.
He was at his End.
He knew this.
He took the only choice he had left.
He asked for help.
He had to admit that he was broken and needed help.
And help was given.
Each new day since then is still a struggle, but now he has the tools and support to continue in the world. He has hope now, for perhaps the first time in his life. He can live in this world.
And so, He Does.
Those Torches in his life saved him.