Everyone around me would probably think that fifteen years old was not the age to be having this kind of thought. But I couldn't help it. Sometimes I just wondered what death felt like. What would be waiting after this life?
Perhaps only 'they' would know because they took that option. And to whom I referred by 'they' here was those people who chose to commit suicide. I had heard the news about it before. At that time, I had thought, 'So it does happen in real life, teens committing suicide.'
I had once thought that it wasn't real. People were scared of death. That was an obvious fact because no one wanted to be hurt. So, why chose pain over a thousand possibilities that life could offer?
Something that would be less painful than a knife to your veins or a dozen pills in your system. Even more so with the most intense method of jumping from a five stories building.
Why not chose the other fifty percent of what if? What if I hadn't chosen to run away? What if I had chosen to stay because of that belief? The belief that maybe there was another outcome to whatever issue we were facing.
But then again, I had never been them. I had never been in their position, wearing their shoes, and looking at the world with their eyes.
My best friend, Xu Ting had once told me, "You would never understand how it feels like grasping on a lamppost in a storm, clinging to that one hope, only to be blown away and lost in the eye of the storm."
Xu Ting had looked me in the eyes and said, "Airi, sometimes even with all the strength in our body, it's not enough. It's like a cable. It may stretch hundreds of miles long but even then, the rolls of cable will end. And when you can't pull it again, that is the breaking point. That is the limit."
"But we're not cables," I had told her. "We're humans."
Xu Ting had only smiled at my comment. I had wondered at that time if I had said something wrong. The thing was, I had indeed been too naive. We wouldn't know until it was our turn.
One day, my classmate had entered the classroom in a hurry. His face had appeared pale. Beads of sweat had drenched his uniform. In his panic-stricken voice, he exclaimed, "Someone is trying to jump from the roof! Hurry!"
And then everyone, including me, had run towards the schoolyard. Everyone had shouted at the female student to stop. Some students and teachers had gone to the roof as well trying to yank her from the edge.
Yet still...it had been pointless...
It was like fighting against fate, a written history that had been decided a long time ago. That day, I had watched with my own eyes how someone died. My eyes had been fixed at the crimson sea of blood gathering under the student's deformed body. I had seen how her bones had jotted out of her skin and pieces of her were lying broken on the hard ground.
The gory scene had petrified my entire being. While everyone had moved back and screamed, I had remained unmoved. Not until Lian-ge came and grabbed me.
"Airi!" Lian Hua had called, continuously, my name rang in my ears. But everything had seemed to slow down. Lian Hua had to carry me away from the scene and only then had I been awakened from my daydream.
When my eyes had traced back to his, tears started to stream down my face. "Lian-ge..." my voice trailed off.
Lian Hua had smiled at that time. He had tried to pacify me. He knew firsthand what had been on my mind. He had always been the first to know.
So he had brought me to his arms and told me, "My choice is always you." He had stroked my cheek ever so tenderly as he promised, "I will never leave you."
'I will never leave you...'
[August 21st, 2020]
I coughed up blood as I looked at the direction of the car wreck three feet away from where I laid on the cold ground. It was supposed to be a summer trip. My family, Lian Hua, and Xu Ting.
But now, I was staring at my dad leaning on the cracked window with his eyes tightly shut. He seemed at peace in comparison to the emotions that were brewing inside my chest.
I tried to move to catch a glimpse of mom. But despite my effort, I could only cover half a foot before the pain shot to my head, rendering me motionless.
She was sitting on the other side, away from my sight. I tried to bite down the pain and the cry that threatened to escape. Holding on to my stained clothes where the color had bloomed scarlet like a cluster of amaryllis, my eyes searched for Lian Hua's presence.
As soon as I spotted him, my gaze trembled. There he was half-hanging outside the car with the support of the truck's metal that had struck his chest.
'Lian-ge...' I mouthed.
And as if he had heard the unsound plead, Lian Hua raised his head slowly. His eyes found me. I desperately dragged myself towards him. Even with the gnawing pain all over body. Even with the pounding inside my head. I only knew that I had to reach him before the cable snapped.
When I was finally close enough to reach his hand, I stopped and exhaled a long breath. But, another round of blood came pouring out of my mouth. I was chocked by the metallic scent that had gradually grown familiar.
"Lian-ge." My voice was a string of notes that had gone out of tune. Like a brittle branch that was crushed under someone's shoes. That was all that remained.
I finally knew now, what death felt like. It was like a candle on top of a birthday cake. Even if we refused to blow it out, the wax would eventually burnt out.
It was true that humans had a choice. But life wasn't only just a choice. Some things fell on our laps by chance, not by choice. We either faced it or ran away. Some ran and some fought it bravely.
Yet, when it came to fate, it was luck that beckoned. Indeed, like a cable that might stretch a dozen miles along. But there was always a limit. Once it was over, it was over.
I could feel it, my life burning away and the only thing I could do was to hold his hand. When I felt Lian Hua's icy cold hand and his weak smile, I knew right then what he wanted.
The corner of my lips curved upwards. I thought that this had to be the best smile I had ever given to anyone. I knew it was, because I saw the light in his eyes sparkling like the wave of stars coloring tonight's sky.
'I love you,' he mouthed.
I couldn't stop the tears from falling, neither could I stop our memories from rolling in.
Lian Hua chuckled and gently urged me, "Stop."
"Nope! Don't want to!" I giggled, flashing my white teeth as I continued to take his photos.
He shook his head helplessly. He pointed at the scattered Polaroids on the carpet and said, "You've already taken so many of them."
"Am I that handsome? Well, I'm your boyfriend after all."
I raised an eyebrow. "I'll take that as a compliment. Thank you. I do have a high standard."
He laughed and pinched my cheek. I pouted and slapped his hand away. He always did that. I knew my face was chubby, but I couldn't get over how he treated me like a kid because of that.
"You're always trying to take advantage of me!"
"I can't help it. You're too adorable!" With that, Lian Hua kissed me on the swollen cheek.
"Why do you like taking photos so much?" He asked.
"Because that way the memory can be eternal and I can re-live the moment how many times I want."
"Most of your photos are me."
"Exactly." I smiled and went to hug him. With all my heart, "I will always remember you."
"Hey Airi," he whispered.
"I love you."
'Yeah, me too...'
And then everything faded into a blank, a vision of darkness. It was like falling asleep. I wondered if we could meet in dream, at least.
[September 1st, 2020]
B...p .... be..p .... beep .... beep .... beep!
"Doctor!" The nurse called out from the open doorway.
A rush of footsteps were heard approaching and finally after a couple of steps, they stopped.
"It's a miracle..."