The following story is based upon a very sad news article from the evening standard about a man found dead on the Saddleworth Moor, who had changed his name and therefore remained unidentified for some time after his death.
The rolling hills of Saddleworth Moor look like green pillows, billows of soft grass enticing me and waiting for my body to join it. The rocks and the soil and the oddly sunny sky are like the hosts of a party I was not invited to, though I’ll be crashing it anyway. Crashing.
I am too old to keep walking up the hillside, so I settle, and two sheep graze just within my distance. Their company is welcome but I doubt that they would want to be here with me. My knees ache, my ankles ache and my hands are icy. I know this, because it is happening on my body, but I don’t feel them in the way I should–the pain is far away as if it were happening to a past self, my body years ago instead of the frail one that I reside in now.
I look at the watch fastened loosely around my bony wrist. It reads four-twenty-eight. The sun should start to set sometime soon, I think. I hope, each minute that passes on the moor allows me to think and think and think. I wish to no longer think.
My pockets are empty save for the small clear bag filled halfway with white powder for me. I place my hand in my pockets, attempt to feel the bag, roll it around in my fingers. It’s no use. The feeling has drained from my fingers with the biting cold of the English countryside. My toes have gone, too, they left somewhere back at the train station, about fifteen minutes into my walk to the moor. I don’t miss them. They won’t be missed.
I say my name in my head again and again, the surname I chose thirty-two years into my life after my family decided they didn’t want to have a Daniel in their lives anymore. That was fine. I didn’t want to have the Greenfields in my life anymore either. I didn’t need them, they didn’t need me. No one really needs me anyway, and I certainly don’t need me either. My name is my mantra and it reminds me that anything and everything is my choice. It has always been my choice.
The moor is my choice and it is mine entirely. For the night it is mine and mine only, though I think the two sheep would disagree. I wonder how they will feel by tomorrow morning, if they decide to stay on this hillside. They have choices too. To eat grass here or there. To sleep here for there. To live an uninterrupted life alone in the English countryside or be captured for wool and lamb chops.
I hate the way my mind stays thinking. I hate that I am out of control of my brain, it moves on its own and works when I wish it would just stop. Enough, I’ve had more than enough of it telling me to die, telling me to live. I have the choice to stop it, at the greatest sacrifice.
I had a rat problem in my home two years ago. I pull out the bag from my pocket, the leftover solution to the rat problem, and pour the contents out onto my tongue and swallow, coughing and choking on dry powder. The wind blows hard against my cheek. The moor speaks to me until I finally can no longer hear it.