Why Virginia Woolf Committed Suicide

Why Virginia Woolf Committed Suicide

A Story by kyoung

This is a short story about the meaning of death. It centers around an adolescent boy. I wrote it for my college Creative Writing class.

Virginia Woolf committed suicide. She piled rocks in her pockets and jumped in the river. It is a little peculiar to me that she did. Her husband was her best friend and he was okay with the fact that she didn’t want to have sex. I can’t imagine that best friends have a lot of sex anyways. I don’t think that is why they got married. They didn’t love each other romantically, I think. They loved each other, but in the way that someone loves another person that they just can’t live without.

 She fell in romantic love with this lady named Vita Sackville-West. They were lovers for over ten years. Virginia talked a lot about how much she loved Vita and I think Vita loved her too. I really do. She even wrote a book about Vita called Orlando. I should have read that one.

She was real pretty. Virginia, that is. She was pretty in an unconventional way. You may not have noticed her if you were in a crowd of people, but I bet Vita held her face sometimes and just thought to herself about how lucky she was to have something so beautiful that was just hers. It must be a pretty neat feeling to have something beautiful and know that you are the only one lucky enough to see it. Like being the only tourist at the Grand Canyon or maybe being alone on top of the Eiffel Tower when lights are glistening like dew drops that settled down onto Paris. I should have gone to Paris. But that’s okay.

Virginia Woolf wrote a book we just read in school called Mrs. Dalloway. Mrs. Eldrich, my English teacher,  taught it to us. I liked how I felt when it felt when I read it because the book isn’t written like normal books. It’s all thoughts. And all these people’s thoughts just sort of linger together and still they can’t see what each other is thinking. I walked down the street after reading a bit of the book one day and it felt like I could almost see what others around me were thinking. I could almost see that big pool of thoughts up above our heads, above the tallest buildings in my town. The only reason I couldn’t read the thoughts I imagine is because skulls sort of act like a shield. I wondered if without skulls we might be able to read each other’s thoughts, due to the lack of shield, you see. That walk was rather ethereal. Mrs. Eldrich taught me that word as well.

Anyways, my English class sat down to discuss Mrs. Dalloway. I should say that Mrs. Eldrich was discussing it. Not many people in my English class ever paid any attention. She would ask the class questions and sometimes I felt downright sorry for the poor lady. No one really liked that class, besides maybe me. Her room did always smell like old salad, which if you’ve never experienced old salad I sincerely congratulate you as it is pretty nasty stuff. She just wanted us to take something from her class. I don’t mean that like when Wendall Hesse took her dry erase markers and didn’t own up to it when she asked about it. I mean take something with them as in knowledge. I feel like I probably did already because I know what ethereal means now.

That day I was sort of having trouble concentrating on Mrs. Eldrich’s questions. I didn’t mean to not pay attention. I really didn’t. But the boy next to me smelled nice. He smelled like that store in the mall that is very dark with a lot of clothes that are far too expensive. They probably ought to hand you a flashlight before you go in there. Someone’s bound to have an allergic reaction to such a strong smelling cologne and run into someone in the dark. He smelled like a much milder version of the cologne. He put just the right touch of the stuff on and it smelled rather ethereal. I should really ask Mrs. Eldrich if she has another word like that. I feel like I might be using it to the point of sin.
I kept looking at him and breathing in the air around him. His name was Taylor Gresky. He wasn’t unconventionally beautiful. He was just obviously beautiful. He was one of those boys who just about made you take a picture of him and hide it under your pillow and maybe take it out when you are sad and then at least you can be comforted by the fact that people like him grace this planet. I hated to think like that. I really did. I don’t like it when people put a lot of emphasis on looks. It just isn’t that important to me. But I imagine that were Taylor and I in romantic love, I would have to be the unconventionally nice looking one. I don’t think I look bad, but I certainly don’t just knock people out with my looks. But I did rather like the idea of Taylor holding my face and thinking about how I look like a million bucks. Imagine. Someone like Taylor thinking that I look like a million bucks.
My mind came back to Mrs. Eldrich after I realized I hadn’t been listening for a while. She was really a large woman on her top half, which is why it was so perplexing as to how her legs held her up. They were actually quite twiggy and it reminded me of an apple that had been speared by two sticks. But she was real nice. And I bet her husband thinks she is a great cuddler. Maybe he thinks she is unconventionally beautiful. I liked that thought.
“Woolf wrote very much on the subjects of gender and sexuality. The latter is touched upon in Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa Dalloway reminisces about how she had been in love with her friend Sally Seton when they were young. If you’ll remember, Sally kissed her then as well.” She paused to gauge the reactivity of the class, of which there was none. Snores came from the far left of the classroom. Mrs. Eldrich didn’t get upset about that sort of thing like some teachers do. Rather, she would simply move on and let the sleeper lie.  
“Does anyone have any thoughts about why Sally and Clarissa did not rekindle their love when they met at Clarissa’s party years later?” I don’t know if she actually expected an answer but I decided to answer anyways.
“I think maybe Mrs. Dalloway didn’t want to ruin her marriage. Although, maybe she should have. Her husband didn’t seem to love her very much. He never told her he did. But Sally told her she loved her.” A few people around the class stirred when they recognized that discourse was occurring. Mrs. Eldrich seemed a little taken aback, but pleasantly surprised. She livened up a bit when she realized someone listened to her question.
“Do you think she ever would have left her husband?” she asked with a bit more vigor.
I pondered this for a moment. The room was silent for a while and I think that people thought I wouldn’t answer.
“No. I think that she felt too comfortable in her life. She had all of those parties and she had a reputation. But I think she regretted not being with Sally. Sally made her feel real things. With her family she had to practically make up her own feelings. They were so boring compared to Mrs. Dalloway.”

At that time someone from across the room coughed. It sounded a lot like “f****t”. I knew what that word meant. It was a bundle of sticks. I read it in Shakespeare one time. I remember looking it up in this ancient old dictionary that was in my house. I figured it must just have been my imagination, because no one would disguise a word like that, but a lot of kids started giggling. I guess they thought he was talking nonsense. Mrs. Eldrich didn’t seem to notice.  

“That is a very good thought. Did anyone notice the two characters in the story that actually felt real feelings?” She paused but no one answered this time. “It was Mrs. Dalloway and Septimus. But what did Septimus do?”

A girl in the front row spoke this time now that the lull was over.

“He committed suicide.” She sounded very flat.

“Yes, he did.” replied Mrs. Eldrich. “He committed suicide because he felt real things and for other reasons. He had felt real fear and real horror while in combat during World War I and he began to see 1920’s London for what it really was. He saw the corruption and the ridiculousness of British society. The only difference between Septimus and Clarissa is that Clarissa didn’t see the corruption. She was unhappy, but she had trouble finding out why. Septimus committed suicide because he didn’t want his soul to be corrupted by those who wanted him to become part of London’s debauched society.”

Mrs. Eldrich was cut off by the scraping of chairs on the floor as the clock turned to 3:00. That was another reason why no one paid any attention in this class. It was the last one of the day.

After getting my things from my locker and packing my backpack, I started home. I lived about a mile from the school and it wasn’t a long walk at all. Plus it was fall. Fall was my favorite season. For this reason I decided to take the long way, through the woods which was closer to two miles. I didn’t mind walking.

The woods were right beside the school and there was a path just off the soccer field that led directly to the outskirts of town if you knew the proper turns to take, which I did. My house was not far from where the path let out.

After crossing the field I found myself at the mouth of the path. There was something about fall days that just made me feel different. Do you ever hear something or see something so irrevocably right that you can’t help but pay it your attention and fascination? That was fall for me.

I started thinking about Taylor again. I don’t know why I did. My mind just sort of went there. I imagined that the reason that I kept thinking of him was because I had a crush on him and I really liked this idea. I couldn’t recall ever having a crush before and everyone always talked about having crushes and liking people. It was really comforting to me and It made me feel pretty good. I knew that I was really normal now. Sometimes I don’t feel that way. I just feel like I must have something wrong with me, and it just isn’t a very nice feeling.

I remember when I was in gym class once. We were playing t-ball. This was a really long time ago because I don’t think they play t-ball in high school. We were playing and my team was winning by a lot. I remember even hitting the ball once. I felt bad because there was this really nice girl on the other team. She always tried to make me feel better. I cried a lot back then and she always comforted me. She sat with me on the side of the playground and just talked to me. She seemed sad that her team was losing.

I decided to make her feel better. I wanted to make her feel like she had a friend like she made me feel like I had one. So I started yelling. Really yelling. I yelled for the other team. I tried so hard to make them feel like they could win. When the girl when up to bat I screamed her name louder than everything else. My team kept telling me to be quiet, to just be quiet, but I wouldn’t. The girl hit the ball and I screamed even louder. Everyone just got dead quiet. All you could hear were my yells and her footsteps.

She never talked to me again.

I really didn’t like to feel different. I was really glad that I could have crushes, though. I thought that maybe Taylor would hold my face one day and maybe for once I could hold someone while they cried and not the other way around. I wanted to help him feel loved and understood and like nothing he did was odd. Like he was the sparkling city of Paris or the Grand Canyon.

In the next second I felt force at my shoulder and I fell down, hitting the ground hard.

I didn’t really know what happened next.I know that everything hurt. I felt fists colliding hard with my face, my gut, and between my legs. I curled up in a ball but it didn’t help very much. I kept hearing the word f****t from everywhere. Voices kept yelling that word and laughing. I was crying. Man, I was crying. It hurt so much. It didn’t help that while they were beating the tar out of me sobs racked my chest.

I kept my eyes tightly closed throughout the whole thing. I didn’t want to see them at all. I felt them tugging at my pants. Because I wouldn’t move from my ball it was really hard for them to get them off, but eventually they did. They scooched my underwear down next. And they kept yelling at me to stand up. When I didn’t do anything but stay right where I was they hit me harder and kicked me harder. So I stood and kept my eyes closed.

They kept yelling at me and calling me a f****t and a homo. I didn’t want to see them. Maybe if I didn’t look it wouldn’t be real. Maybe my body wouldn’t ache like it did then.

They kicked dirt at me next. All of them, I think. Little stones pelted my skin and it hurt when it landed in open wounds. Maybe it would stop the bleeding. Maybe they felt bad and wanted the dirt to stop the bleeding. Like the drain in a bathtub stopping water from flowing out. Yeah.

I stood stock still even after I heard them running off and their voices getting fainter. I smelled a whiff of Taylor’s cologne and I just knew he had come to help me, but he had seen them running off. He just didn’t want them to do the same to him. He shouldn’t have risked coming out to help me. But it felt sort of nice.

I opened my eyes a bit. I looked around. Other than the area of rustled leaves and trails in the dirt, the forest seemed unphased. I cautiously pulled my pants up. I wiped my face on my sleeve. I looked down at it and saw streaks of blood contrasting against the grey of the sweater. I looked onto the ground below my feet at a small area where my body had been curled. It was mostly untouched by the fight. I started walking home again.

I was barely moving even though my legs were fine. I just really like to saunter in the fall. The slowly falling leaves sort of beg you to. They want you to stay at their lazy pace so they don’t have to be alone on their way down. I think that if I were falling so slowly I probably wouldn’t have anyone there for me.

I focused on the sound that my feet made when they came down on the Earth. I loved the noise of crunching leaves. It is sort of like eggs sizzling in a pan or the sound of the fizzling fireworks on the fourth of July. It was one of those sounds that just makes you sort of want to go home. Like go home and curl up with something hot to drink. I really liked that feeling. I decided to lay down. My stomach hurt.
I settled down and put my backpack next to me. I laid my head down on the ground and looked up at the tree tops. I wondered about that cloud of thoughts again. If I couldn’t hear others’ thoughts, maybe the leaves on the tops of the trees could. That might have been the reason that trees grew up so high. Maybe they were just intensely curious about what people are thinking. I caught a glint of the falling sun through the leaves. It was getting to be very chilly, but the sun shined through the leaves still.
In that moment I thought of something. Virginia Woolf was a lot like Septimus. Septimus didn’t kill himself because he was broken. Septimus killed himself so he wouldn’t break. I think that may be why Virginia killed herself. I think she really thought that she would just break if she stayed in the world any longer. So she just killed herself so it wouldn’t kill her first. I liked that idea very much. I liked the thought of ensuring that you went out of the world in a way you were okay with. In a way that made you happy.
I sat up then and reached for my back pack. I dug around in the front pouch for my pocket knife. My dad gave it to me when I started to walk to school. I’ve always been a small kid. He didn’t want me to get hurt.

I felt it and wrapped my fingers around it. I was real happy right then. I was real happy that the sun could shine even though it was cold and I was happy that the ground was littered with the most beautiful array of reds, oranges, purples, and yellows and yet they were all there because they were dead. The fact that death could be beautiful was simply ethereal.

I unfurled the blade and ran it length wise up my forearm. It hurt, but it just made me happier. I felt incredibly happy as I saw more red mix into the orange and yellow on the ground. That was the greatest moment of my life. It was beautiful. And as I laid down on the ground and looked up to the treetops, I saw the first flakes of snow mix in with a kaleidoscope of colors in the trees. And it was perfect.

© 2012 kyoung

Author's Note

Please let me know if you find grammar or tense issues. Other than that just tell me your general thoughts.

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Added on October 3, 2012
Last Updated on October 3, 2012
Tags: teen, teenage, story, short, short story, life, death, fall, home, walk, virginia woolf, history, mrs. dalloway, book, england, thoughts, english, bullying, bully, mean, boy, girl, sad, depressing



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