The darkness could succumb. Trying to think things through. Mind is racing, needs replacing, can’t get back to you.” The headphones blared in Dan Howell’s ears. He couldn’t remember who sings this song. He couldn’t remember what day it was. He couldn’t remember why he still was alive. Actually, he could. He could remember that it was one person that kept him alive, barely. Phillip Michael Lester. Phillip Michael Lester, also known as Phil Lester, also known as Phil, also known as AmazingPhil, also known as the one person who had always given Dan a reason to keep going.
Phil Lester was also Dan’s favorite YouTuber. He always made him smile, laugh, and forget about the pain of living for just a couple minutes. Recently his videos hadn’t been very effective. Dan was getting sadder. He contemplated ending it all more often than not. Phil had been able to help to some extent but when the crushing reality that Dan would never meet his idol came crashing down on his head, he couldn’t take it anymore.
The day of October 19, 2009 was the day that Dan had truly decided to give up. The music coming through his headphones that morning was what had woken him up. Those song lyrics were the first that he heard. Dan thought this was a sign that he should end it all that day. He felt like a concrete wall had been built between him and happiness. He could not see one wrecking ball in sight.
Dan’s legs moved to make him stand up, surprising himself that he could even do that. He got up off his bed and looked in the mirror. The night before had been the first time he’d slept in days. His exhaustion had been decreased slightly. On a “normal” day, where Dan didn’t feel miserable, he would go out and walk in the streets. Today was no normal day. Today Dan would walk down the street to the bridge he lived near, perch on the edge, and fall.
Dan slipped on his shoes, not bothering to change the clothes that he had been wearing for the past two days. He put on a hoodie, grabbed his notebook, and stepped out of his flat. Dan planned to stop at Starbucks on the way to the bridge to write some goodbye notes. He would leave his notebook at the Starbucks after all of the notes had been written.
Making his way down the street, Dan thought of how many notes he would write. There was a total of five. One for his mom. One for his dad. One for his brother. One for his only friend. One for Phil. He knew he had to write one for Phil, even though he also knew that he’d never read it. In 10 minutes, he arrived at the Starbucks. Dan entered the building and stationed himself in the far corner of the lobby.
“Dear Phil,” was the first sentence he wrote in the notebook. His mind became more clear as he continued to write to the one person who had done more for him than anyone he knew personally. His pen raced across the paper, the blue ink smudging because of him being left-handed.
Dan thanked Phil for making him laugh. He thanked him for making him smile. He thanked him for creating a window for him to look through to see his happiness through that concrete wall. He thanked him for being the light in the darkness. He thanked him for existing. He thanked him for the memories that he had made and the time that he had spent being happy because of him. Dan thanked Phil for everything.
By the time he was done writing, Dan noticed tears in his eyes and a couple wet spots staining the paper. His mind had fogged up again and he closed his eyes, wishing for something to happen to take away these thoughts. Then, a miracle happened.
Dan didn’t think anything of it, but the sound of the door opening was the sound of a sign. His eyes slowly opened and he looked back down to the paper in front of him. He turned the page in the notebook to a blank sheet of paper. Dan had just put his pen to the paper when he heard sunshine.
It rang out clearly through the building, almost as clear as a gunshot would be. The sound that Dan Howell heard was like summer breeze mixed with laughter. He felt something inside of him light up. Something that lit up only when he did one thing. That one thing was watching a specific someone’s videos.
“It’s too good to be true.” Dan thought, his eyes pointing upward. He searched the entire room, looking for that piece of sunshine. Suddenly, as if he had just appeared, Dan saw it. Phillip Michael Lester. Standing in the very Starbucks that Daniel James Howell had decided to sit inside of. Dan blinked almost twenty times, thinking that once he opened his eyes, Phil would disappear. He never did.
Closing his notebook, Dan stood up. He pulled off his hood and moved away from the seat that he was just sitting and crying in. Dan wiped his eyes of all tears and walked to the front of the store. There was no one behind Phil in the line to order from the register. Dan slowly walked up and behind the other boy, his breathing becoming slightly fast.
His hand moved before he had any time to think about what he was about to do. The feeling of Phil’s shirt registered in his mind as he tapped on his shoulder. Dan’s spirits lifted when his fingers made contact with actual person. This showed him that Phil was truly here.
Phil’s head turned and looked at Dan, their eyes connecting. His bright blue eyes seemed to pierce into Dan’s soul, filling it with light. A couple seconds passed until Dan realized that he needed to react. His heart raced as he opened his mouth and said “Hi. My name is Dan.”