Through his experience of a shattered lifestyle Nick had been hired to give speeches to high school children on the subject of suicide. The problem was that Nick was a chain smoker. You couldn’t separate him from his cigarettes. So, when Nick was hired to give speeches concerning the, ‘don’t give up on me’, suicide prevention campaign, it was read in a dual context.
His voice was raspy, choked through all the tar and nicotine that he had inhaled over the years. When he took to the podium, he had a cigarette in his hands. Beads of sweat ran from his forehead to his cheeks. His face was reddened by the heat, his skin blotchy and every time he spoke a sentence, he would either inhale for air or take a toke of his cigarette.
“I’m here today to talk to you all about something very important,” Nick gestured around to the school children. All high school students, who sat in their seats with their backs straightened and held a bewildered expression on their face. Bewildered for not many of them had ever stared at a true maniac before. And Nick was just that, a true maniac. Nick brought his cigarette to his lips and inhaled the smoke, “Don’t give up on me.” And Nick exhaled the smoke into the auditorium where he was delivering his speech. “Yeah, that’s what I’m here to talk to you all about today. The act of giving up.” And then Nick began to wheeze and cough and splutter. After he had regained his composure, he continued talking, “You know what I’m talking about. When you feel like quitting. When you feel like the world’s baring down upon you. Just don’t do it. Don’t give up!”
Nick, being slightly inexperienced in the context of giving speeches to high school children, didn’t know what else to say. So one of the high school teachers came in and prompted him to continue on in his speech, to help assist him with the point that he was trying to make, “Maybe, you’d like to talk to them about your life story…”
“Yeah, my life story… My life story…” Nick took another toke on his cigarette, “Well, I didn’t give up, that’s for sure.”
One of the students, from the crowd of students called out, “Maybe you should have!”
Nick, nor any of the teaching faculty, knew where it had come from. Nick chose to ignore it and continued on with the act of remembering his past events, “Well, when I hit the bottle and I was sleeping with prostitutes, because no other woman would have me, I didn’t give up then!” Nick coughed and choked on his own words and then took another toke on his cigarette. He exhaled, “When I lost my job and had no other source of income apart from the pittance the government provides you, I didn’t give up then!” Nick had just finished his cigarette. He dropped it on the floor and stamped it out. Then took out another cigarette out of his pack and lit it up. Inhaling the first drag of his cigarette and then blowing out a quick puff of smoke. “When my mother died of a stroke. The only woman in the world that has ever loved me. I didn’t give up, then, either.”
Nick didn’t know what else to say. As he stood at the podium, gasping and wheezing for air as he continued to smoke his cigarette, the children grew restless. The teacher, seeing this, seized the floor. “Okay students, do we have any questions for this… ahh… lovely man?”
One of the students stood up and spoke, “You look like you’re going to die. How are you still alive?”
It wasn’t really an appropriate question, but Nick decided to answer it anyway, “We’re all going to die one day. Whether you like it or not, it’s going to happen. It’s just a fact of life. I’m still alive because I didn’t give up, that’s all there is to it. I didn’t give up.”