So when Roy’s text came in, dear Lord in heaven, I didn’t believe it. I was … shocked is too gentle a word. I got to the hospital just after they’d pumped her stomach. She was so tiny in that white hospital bed. The gauze wrapping was thick as oven mitts. Here was a girl who’d never been sick, never got colds or croup or flus or fevers. Now Charlie was another story; he was sick all the time, ear infections, summer virus, oh, you name it, we were always rushing him to the doctor’s. Never Addison.
I sat by her bed until she woke up. And then my daughter turned her head and stared at me with her big, sad, dark eyes, and she smiled. She told me that Ida had followed her from Dartmouth.
“I guess Ida’ll find me if she wants, Mom.”
It just about broke my heart.
DOMINICK LUTZ: To talk about Ida, first I should explain I got to be friends with Addison only after she’d moved from Rhode Island to New York City. That night—it was sometime in early fall, I think—my brother and I had arranged to meet Addison at Lucey’s Lounge in Gowanus. Lucey’s is this dive bar where you get a bucket of ponies, a bucket of popcorn, and sit in the back for six hours, and nobody’ll bother you. A lot of artists hang out there. It’s a solid scene.
As one half of the Lutz brothers, my twin brother Cameron—Cam—and I are artists. We’re known for being off the radar—just try to find a public image of us; you can’t—and working huge. We put twelve-man crews on some of our outdoor installations, and we use real shit: bronze, wood, marble, mortar.
Just like everyone else on the scene, Cam and I’d been seeing Addison Stone’s art hit. We’d seen Talking Head and the Fieldbender portraits; we knew this artist was becoming major. But we didn’t know much else.
Some people were saying Addison was a South American guy—but that turned out to be another street artist, Arturo Heron, who uses gas and electric light in his work, and who mostly gets the credit for Stop Thinking (About It), just like Addison got credit for some of his stuff. Other rumors had it she was a team of people. But then someone tipped us off: this was an American girl, too young to be that good, but the real deal. Everyone wanted to meet her.
That night, I arrive at Lucey’s, and in the back room already are my brother, Cam; his girlfriend, Paloma; and Zach Frat, who was Addison’s tool of a first boyfriend. And then I saw her. I was blown away, totally. This ghost-goth-punk-heartbreak girl. Black witch hair and hollow black eyes and when the light caught them, thin, pale-ridged scars up her wrists.
At first, it was all of us drinking quietly while Paloma was mouthing off. Paloma’s a sweetheart, but she’s got too many opinions, and she never comes up for air. I kept squinting at those scars down Addison’s arms.
“Bad day at the office?” I finally asked, pointing at them. I wasn’t letting the elephant leave the room. I needed the story.
She smiled. Addison’s smile was one of those ear-to-ear visual ka-bangs. Lit up her whole face, turned her from Miss Gorgeous into Miss Mischief.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “I don’t listen to everything Ida says. I only let her visit if she can bring us the right synchronicity.”
And then, like the way somebody else might describe a walk in the rain, she started telling me about Ida, who was also an artist, who lived up in Massachusetts, who one summer started following Addison around and wouldn’t leave her alone.
“Ida was hoping to study at the Sorbonne. She showed me how to draw portraits, how to use oils.”
“So you should let her visit you here in New York,” I said.
“Oh, no.” Addison started laughing, shaking her head. Like I was the crazy one. “Ida died of pneumonia a hundred years ago. That’s why she and I cut my wrists. She gets in these black moods, especially when she sees me doing everything she wanted to do. But I’ve got the best of her in me—look, look how she helps.”
Sketch of Ida by Addison Stone, courtesy of Dominick Lutz.
Next thing, Addison whips out a ballpoint, and in this very focused, almost trance-like way, she sketches Ida on a placemat. It was a great sketch: a wistful, sad, pretty girl in a downcast three-quarter profile, with her fingers holding a locket that’s on a chain around her neck—technically a difficult angle to draw, especially in a gloomy bar, with a ballpoint, on a placemat. Afterward, I took the drawing and slipped it inside a notebook in my backpack.
From that night on, I believed what Addison told me. It made sense, if you could take that leap—that Addison’s talent was touched by something extra, maybe even something otherworldly? Or at least I could believe in her absolute faith that this was true. Which makes it true, in a way, right?
DR. EVELYN TUTTNAUER: I was scheduled to see Addison in a week, after her return from her grandparents’ house. Three days before her suicide attempt, we’d exchanged a video call, perhaps forty minutes long. I was concerned about the hallucinations, but they’d stopped completely since she’d returned home. I spoke with her mother, who promised to look for any shifts in behavior.
So yes, I was shocked that Addison Stone had attempted to kill herself. This was no cry for help, either. Lacerations to both wrists, plus a dozen two-milligram tablets of diazepam. Often when the attempt is halfhearted, the lacerations are light and crossways. Addison’s wounds went deeper. Up and down. That young woman really wanted to leave this world. In every subsequent visit, when we spoke about the suicide, she never faltered, telling me that Ida had suggested it, and that they’d done it together, and that she hadn’t been afraid.
LUCY LIM: The minute I came back from Lake George, my mom sat me down and dumped it on me. That Addy’d swallowed pills and slit her wrists with razor blades. I’d hardly heard from Addy that summer—at first, she’d sent me fun snail mail, these teeny works of perfect postcard art, sketches and jokes and watercolors. But then she seemed to lose interest in all that. And she was never much for being online, but by mid-July her texts had totally dried up. She didn’t do Facebook either, so I couldn’t check in with her that way. She was like a balloon that had disappeared up into the sky.
The worst part of Mom’s news was, for a split second, how damn glad I felt. Addy hadn’t been writing me, but not because she didn’t want to be friends with me. Because she’d been going completely insane. Well, praise the Lord and pass the potato salad.
Then panic set in. Oh my God, no! Addy would rather be without me than with me? She would have left the planet, she would have slipped into death without a good-bye?! I told Mom I’d start a hunger strike if she didn’t get me a visit to Glencoe ASAP.