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I'm not sure how to begin, but I need to write about this. I have always found writing to be cathartic. Maybe if I write this down, it will help a little. Maybe it will help me understand what happened. Maybe it will help some of you going through similar things.

I have never understood the expression “Hindsight is 20/20” more than I do now. I have never hated the expression “Hindsight is 20/20” more than I do now. I guess I should tell you what I am talking about.

Several weeks ago, I lost two friends. I'd known both Daryl and Melissa since about fourth grade. I think they were the only people I am, I guess was now, still close two from that point till after high school. Most of my other friends from elementary school had drifted away by the time I graduated from high school.

I really couldn't believe what had happened. I couldn't believe Daryl would commit suicide. I couldn't believe he would shoot Melissa as well. Denial is one of the stages of mourning so they say. It has not been an easy time since it happened. I thought a lot about things that happened leading up to their deaths.

I suppose anyone who has gone through a friend committing suicide asks questions. Could you have done something? Was it partially your fault? Shouldn't I have seen it coming? He didn't struggle with depression. He didn't have anxiety. He and Melissa had a good relationship.

As I thought about the weeks leading up to their deaths, there were some strange events. Daryl, Melissa, our mutual friends Robert and Chase, and myself, Leah, all attended the local community college. I suppose if you were to describe our group, we were probably a little on the nerdy side. As such, we all liked to play video games and ended up talking about them quite often.

It was at one such conversation, in the school cafeteria, that the first odd thing I can remember occurred. We were all sitting enjoying our meal, such as it was, and talking about Mass Effect, the original trilogy of course. I didn't remember everything that was said but this was the gist of the conversation.

“I really enjoy using tech abilities. My favorite playthrough was with an engineer,” Chase said, taking a sip from his soda.

“That doesn't surprise me. Considering how bad you are at shooters. Just hide behind the barricade and let the drone and sentry turret do all the work,” mocked Bob.

“And what strategy do you prefer, oh master of the FPS and TPS?”

“Why, vanguard of course. The most fun, yet a challenging way to play.” Bob turned to me. “How do you play Leah?”

"Well, I used to play adept a lot, but vanguard is definitely the most fun." I flicked some ketchup off my fry onto Chase's sandwich. "I used to be bad at the game, but I practiced my vanguard abilities at the simulator in the Citadel DLC until I got good."

“Oh, yeah, the Citadel DLC was awesome. I still like playing the engineer. Maybe its because I'm an engineer in real life,” said Chase. Daryl leaned forward.

“Hey, don't talk too much about the Citadel DLC. I haven't had a chance to play it.”

“The game's been around for like, decades man,” Bob said. “You haven't played it yet?”

“Hey, I got distracted playing other games. But I'm just about to start it on my current playthrough, so don't say anything.”

"Wow, Daryl, even I've played the Citadel DLC," Melissa chimed in. " Do you want the rest of my sub?" She slid her plate over to Daryl. "What I'm interested in, is who you decided to romance."

“Why you, of course.”

“Good answer.”

"Okay, I'm going to interject before you go any further," said Chase. "And I am a big fan of Liara."

“Of course you are...” I said.

“And what about you?” Bob asked.

“I prefer either Garrus or Tali, depending on what Shepard I'm playing, especially since they are part of your squad for all three games.” Everyone else nodded.

“I do have an answer,” Daryl chimed back in. “Normally, I go with Ashley. But this playthrough, I decided on EDI.”

“Wait, you can romance EDI?” asked Melissa.

“I don't think so.” Chase looked at Daryl. “What makes you think you can romance EDI?”

“Well, I had a conversation with her, and there was a line that made me think there was a romance path.” He put down the half-eaten sandwich without taking a bite. “I thought there was DLC or something that made it different. But I'm sure I had a conversation with EDI....maybe I made a mistake.”

“That's what happens when you get your copy of MS3 at a yard sale,” Bob laughed. Daryl just rolled his eyes and took a bite of sandwich.

We kept talking for a little while longer, and then went our separate ways to class and work. There was more talk of Mass Effect and some other games. I don't remember anything else from that conversation that was odd. A few days later, Chase, Daryl, and I were at a local coffee shop. Daryl was looking very tired.

“Why are you so tired looking?” I remember asking.

“Right now, work. I've been working as much as possible. Trying to limit how much debt I'll have going into next semester.”

“Oh, I've already given up and decided I'm going to be in debt till I hit my mid-life crisis,” Chase joked.

“Yeah, debt is going to cause your mid-life crisis,” Daryl answered. “A few days ago, I was this tired because I decided to play through all of the Citadel DLC in one night. It wasn't a wise decision.”

“Yeah, it was kind of a long one,” I said. “Did you like the twist?”

“I did, but I think I enjoyed all the in-jokes more.” He rubbed his temple and let out a yawn. “I think the best scene was the fight in the sushi restaurant. Definitely Traynor's most awesome moment, besides the toothbrush thing later.”

“Wait, Traynor wasn't in the sushi restaurant. That was Joker,” I corrected.

“Is Joker in your game Daryl?” he laughed. “Maybe that's why you thought you could romance EDI.”

“Funny. I was mistaken about that. But I know Traynor was at the restaurant...I do remember Joker being there, I used him as bait.”

“Well, Shepard, I think you need coffee. I have to go to class.” Chase grabbed his drink and left. I remember taking a drink and turning to him.

“Are you okay?” I said.

"It's just work. After some coffee, I'll be fine." He drank several cups of espressos during our time there and seemed a little more awake when we left. After Chase left, we ended up talking about our mutual class, a general literature class. We had a project we were both working on. Its due date was next week, so we had some time.

Due to his work schedule, we hadn't worked on it much together, but we had all done some on our own. The other girl working with us and myself had met a few times, and we had communicated in a text group to hash out most of the details. Plans were made to meet that weekend to finish up some details in person.

That weekend, I arrived at Daryl's house before the other member of our group. He still lived at home with his mother. If everything hadn't ended up as it did, he and Melissa would be living in their own apartment or something. His mom let me in and told me to head upstairs.

As I started towards the stairs, I heard the sound of pills rattling in a bottle. I looked and saw a bottle of over-the-counter pain medication rolling towards me. I shifted my books to my right arm and reached down and picked up the bottle. His mom reached over and took the bottle from my outstretched hand.

“Sorry. It slipped out of my hand. I've been having bad headaches today.”

“No problem. Are you alright?” She looked a little distracted.

"I think so." She must have seen the concern on my face. "Leah, I'll be fine. If the headache gets too severe, I'll go to a doctor, but I don't think it is anything to be concerned about." I nodded and headed up the stairs to Daryl's room.

As I got closer, I heard the theme music from Mass Effect 3, but it shut off as I got to the door. I knocked, and Daryl let me in.

"Hey, Leah. Do you know if Rachel will be here soon?"

"I think so. At least, that's what the last text said." I walked in and glanced around before sitting down on his desk chair. He had cleaned up his room for guests. He wasn't that dirty most of the time anyway, but he had a habit of leaving food detritus around. "Were you playing ME3?"

"Yeah, just for a little bit, waiting for you to arrive. I hope to finish this playthrough soon." I nodded and set my stack of materials on the computer desk next to the monitor. I noticed some pictures hanging on the back of the desk.

“I didn't know you drew much...well, not since before high school.”

"I really enjoyed drawing when I was younger. Just decided to take it up again." One was of a Reaper hovering over a burning cityscape, with some figures of various aliens running about in the foreground. The other was of Traynor and a male Shepard having a shoot out in a restaurant with glass floors and walls forming tanks with live fish.

“I see you drew the scene with Traynor in the sushi restaurant.”

“Oh, yeah. Not sure why I thought that. But I enjoyed drawing it.” He paused for a moment. “At least I think I did.” He moved on from there and began showing me what he was working on for our presentation. Not long after, Rachel, the third partner, knocked on the door, and we got to work.

The odd thing about these pictures was not the subject matter. They were good drawings, good enough that I was a little surprised. He had doodled quite a bit when he was younger, but I didn't think he had put much effort into developing his talent. But maybe he had been drawing more than I thought. Looking back, I'm pretty sure the pictures were an important part of the lead up to the suicide.

Daryl continued to work long hours. He seemed fine during the presentation the following week. I remember getting a good grade. Even though it wasn't an important class, I was happy. Some of my grants and loans depended on my GPA, so I was quite glad. He went to work as normal that afternoon. At lunch that day, he mentioned he was going to finish ME3 that night, as he didn't have classes the next day, and didn't have to go to work till that afternoon.

I didn't see Daryl for the next few days. Melissa was planning on leaving for a few days. She wouldn't be back in town till the day she died. The evening before she left, she was texting me about plans for the trip. She was leaving to interview for a prospective job. She had been asking me for some advice. She was also texting Daryl at the time.

She told me Daryl must be working too hard. He had accidentally called her Miranda in the text. I was a little concerned, but she told me she was joking. He was still a little tired, but she thought he was doing better. And he assured her she didn't have to worry about competing with Miranda. Daryl took Melissa to the airport the next morning, and all seemed well.

A couple of days later, the most worrisome thing occurred. This is what should have tipped me off, made me more concerned, take actions that could have prevented it. But I didn't. Perhaps no one could have known, or nothing could be done. But I can't stop thinking there are things I could have done, things I should have realized.

Daryl asked me to meet him at the coffee shop near the school. When I got there, he was sitting at a table in the corner. His eyes looked tired. His shoulders were slumped and he was sipping a cappuccino. When I sat down, he managed a smile.

“I'm glad you made it,” he said. He took another sip.

“Of course. Why didn't you think I would come?”

“I know you are very busy, with your new responsibilities.”

“New responsibilities? Oh, you mean at the library.” He didn't seem to hear. His eyes gazed off beyond me. “Are you okay, really? You seem very tired.”

“Me? Yes, just have a lot on my mind.” He focused back on me. “Work and homework are keeping me busy.”

“Which classes are you having trouble with?”

"Liara, we can't all have an eidetic memory. Besides, the main thing is my work schedule."

"I don't have an eidetic memory. Maybe you should work less. I know you are trying to get ahead on tuition..."

“In a few weeks, things will change. I'll have a better schedule. But I don't think that is the problem.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. I have something else on my mind. It has to do with Miranda, I mean Melissa.”

“Daryl...”

"Please, let me finish. I have been considering asking for her to marry me. I even bought a ring."

“Oh.”

“But I am having a lot of doubts. I'm not sure I should.”

“It's a big decision. It would be foolish not to be worried.”

“This is more than that Liara.”

“Liara? Daryl, if you have such a busy schedule, you shouldn't be playing video games all night.”

“I'm not...I haven't played it in four days, and only when I had time. I haven't been sleeping well because I've been thinking and worrying about asking her.”

“You're going to ask her when she gets back?”

“Yeah, if I decide I should.”

"Daryl, I know both you and Melissa. When it comes right down to it, only you can make the decision. But, well, if you want my opinion, I think you should ask her. But seriously, get some sleep." Daryl reached across the table and grabbed my hands. He looked sincerely into my eyes. It was a little strange.

"Thank you, Liara. I feel better now." He released my hands and left the coffee shop, humming a familiar tune. He had gotten my name wrong again, but he had genuinely seemed happy. I tried to think of the song he had been whistling. I sat at the table sipping my drink for a few minutes until I managed to remember it. It was the bittersweet music from the beginning of Mass Effect 3 when the Normandy leaves Earth.

I didn't talk or text Daryl or Melissa again. His mother called me from the police station. Of our group, I was the closest to both of them. I spent a lot of time with his mother over the next few days. It was not an easy time for any of us.

I suppose I should just get to the details of what happened. Daryl and his mother had a gun for protection. They both had keys to the case, and Daryl had shot it now and again but was by no means a marksman. He shot Melissa from across the living room right in the forehead, and then put the gun to his head. He texted his mother "I'm sorry," around this time.

From when the neighbors heard the shots and the timing of the text, he probably sent the text between the shots, and not before. There was no other note or indication of planning, besides the fact that he had the gun with him. The last item of note in the police report was that he was wearing headphones connected to his phone. It was blaring rock music at high volume when the police arrived.

Several days after the funeral, I was over at Daryl's house again. His mom had said Chase, Bob, and I could take some of his stuff if we wanted. He and his mom had talked about what would be done with their stuff should one of them die. Not a pleasant conversation to have, but I guess it is always important to be prepared. While looking over his things, trying to decide what I wanted, or if I wanted to take anything at this time, I noticed that Mass Effect 3 was missing from his room.

This still feels very silly in retrospect, but I went into a short panic. I searched desperately around the room, trying to find the game. I couldn't find it anywhere. I left the room and began searching other parts of the house. I didn't find it. I calmed down but left the house without taking anything.

I suppose no one can understand why these things happen. Perhaps I just want some sort of answer. Maybe thinking the game had something to do with it is easier than thinking Daryl would kill himself. Easier than believing you wouldn't notice a close friend was struggling with suicide. But that's absurd, right? A game can't make someone commit suicide.



Written by GlennBob509
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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