I am exhausted. Two nights of trying to talk a suicidal friend off the ledge. One night of listening and saying supportive and fuzzily hopeful stuff, and one night of saying every goddamn thing wrong. I tried, was logical, practical, sympathetic; kept stressing all the real gifts he has, all the reasons to carry on living, but he found a fictitious sting in everything I said, twisting it all into some devil's logic that only proves "how fucked up the world is." I don't really have a soul; I am "mentally ill" (that is, depressed, whereas he is just sad); I was just trying to pick the scab of his epic hurt–and so forth. He was so fractious–this person who's naturally so kind and humorous and resilient. I let it roll off my old feathered back, and tried to stay as supportive as I knew how. It wasn't always easy–because he wants to kill himself for a girl who clearly isn't worth it (is any person ever worth that?). He's such a desperate man, he doesn't want to see any light, and will kick away any hand extended to him, and then, being decent, hate himself for kicking, cry a bit, and after drying his eyes, kick harder. I know I have to be here for him, and I will be, but I'd be lying if I said that I'm not dreading another couple hours of all that sadness and monomania, of being put in the wrong for everything I say. I am terrified, of course, of saying the wrong thing, but with my friend so deranged, that could be anything. My knowledge of human nature is no help to me here–he sees only this girl and the growing certainty that he never will have a relationship with her, and seems to think that wihtout her, nothing is worth a damn, and that killing himself is the only way to make her see what she missed. Your basic trite melodrama. Only there's nothing trite about it when a friend is involved.

I find myself so angry at this girl who thought it such prime sport to toy with a man's affections. Then, she's 27 and gorgeous (my friend is 40 and not)–surely she enjoyed the flirting and friendship, never imagining it would get to this. Tonight, in his ramblings, my friend let drop some of the stuff he put into his recent emails to her–heavy stuff, emotional blackmail. This intelligent, generous man, stooping to that–so sad. And I find it in my heart to feel sorry for the girl, too.

So much damn suffering in this world. So many prisons–some your standard cages, no songbirds in sight; some as red as the heart; some just the size and shape of a brain. And yet, there are keys everywhere, if we're strong enough and willing enough to lay hands on one. I want my key yesterday.

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