What death feels like?
Are we doomed to eternal sleep?
Or are we born again
Or are we risen up, into the sky, to be with everyone whoever was
With a god who never was
Or do we just disappear,
Our conscience eradicated from existence
“What are you doing?” Mr. Agnes, my guidance counselor asked me. He sat back in his recliner and folded his hands on his lap.
“Well, I don’t know. I’m sitting here. Being lectured.”
“You know what I mean.”
I didn’t respond for a while.
“I don’t know.”
Mr. Agnes let out a sigh.
“Well. You are here, in my office, because it’s your last year at this school. All I am asking of you is to put in a little more effort.”
Mr. Agnes grinned sadly. “You don’t know how many times I heard that from you.” He paused for a while, looking outside onto the quad. You could almost feel the warm summer’s heat through the thick window pane. “I think I’m going to miss it.”
I made empty promises with him, and then I got up and left for my math class. I slept until I heard the lunch bell.
She gave me her beautiful beaming smile and a kiss to the cheek. I loved it, but at the same time, it made me feel uncomfortable as hell. I mean, it shouldn’t happen, because she’s been my only friend for long as I can remember. But, I suddenly felt different about her.
“Do you have a light?” she asked.
“Yea.” I held my lighter to her cigarette and lit it. I then lit my own.
“C’mon, let’s go over to our spot.”
We did this every day at lunch, for the last four years. Other people would come occasionally, but we were alone most of the time. And even the gated community we smoked at pretty much disregarded our existence in their lives. And that was how we liked it.
Four thousand cigarettes aren’t too good for you, but neither is doing something you regret. I figure, if we are going to die anyways, why lengthen its misery? You could go with a bang. One big, painful bang.
I figure, you’re going to tell me to calm down, and tell me that I don’t know anything. That I’m only a teenager and it’s all my hormones going to hell. And yea, it’s all true. But it doesn’t give you the right to totally ignore what I think. Isn’t figuring out that I’m actually stupid as hell part of growing up?
“School’s almost over.” Lia said through her cigarette puffs.
“Been a long time hasn’t it?” I replied.
“No. Not really. It went by really quickly, if you think about it.”
We let the conversation drop.
“Remember when we were little and we would play our stupid little games ‘til dark?” She said after a while, and after the second cigarette.
“And we made up our own code to tap through the apartment walls.” I said.
She giggled. “It was…fun.” She took a drag of her cigarette and let the smoke slowly rise from her mouth. “I need to quit.”
“We’ve been saying that ever since we started.”
We laughed through the smoke.
I remember the first time we smoked. It was this same spot, but with more people. We were two cute little freshmen wanting to fit in high school. We got introduced to some seniors, who in turn introduced us to drugs. To be entirely honest, Lia and I have done many, many things we regret. Lia is okay, in that she is really good a quitting something she believes is bad. The problem with me is that I don’t know when to quit, I just keep on going without a care, until someone gets hurt.
I’ve been told from a young age that the speed of which time passes you by is relative to your age. I do not doubt it.
My life speeds ahead at 18 miles an hour. And it is only going to get faster. I only ask myself one question. Have I been driving along the right roads?
The voicemail said:
Sorry we can’t make it to your graduation
But we are so proud of you!
When we get back from this trip
We’ll go get a bite to eat,
Just you and me.
I deleted it. He was probably lying anyways. They always lied.
I figured I was alone like always.
I sat in my graduation gown at home, alone. I really didn’t want to go to graduation; because I would have to do all that stupid crap. Sitting in the sun for hours, listening to stupid speeches was not how I wanted to spend the last day of school.
I didn’t want to go mainly because I had pissed Lia off and I didn’t really want to see her. We went to prom together, we thought, as friends. We had fun at prom, though. We danced and had a good time, we really did. Towards the slow dance, her boyfriend Steven took her away, so I just sat at the tables watching. He was prom king, so he went with the prom queen or something like that.
We went to an after party her boyfriend was throwing. There was a lot of alcohol. I was drunk and somehow it felt like it was my last night on Earth, I had to make everything alright. Do you know that feeling? Where you feel like your whole life has led up to this one point, when you look into her eyes and the mind empties, lost for words. Where the chemistry and fate seems to be in your own favor?
I decided I would tell Lia that I was in love with her. Stupid mistake; we were drunk and it affected how things turned out. Her boyfriend saw me trying to kiss her, and she wasn’t resisting or anything, but told me to stop. Her boyfriend saw and hit me good in the eye, I ended up making a fool of myself and pissing the hell out of her. You know, I thought being honest was one thing women wanted from men. I told her everything, and I guess she didn’t feel the same.
They threw me out of the party, so I walked back home in the middle of the night. As I went into my house with my breath reeking of booze and a bulging black eye, my parents did not even take a look at me or welcome me home. I walked up into my room and slept.
We didn’t talk for the rest of the school year; she hung out with her boyfriend’s group of friends. I just gave myself company, smoking cigarettes alone. When I did have company, it was Steven’s group of friends harassing me. I didn’t really fight back, I just shut up and took everything was dealt at me. I figured if they got nothing from me they would get bored after a while.
It did work; they left me alone after a while. No one in school talked to me, because I hadn’t made many friends over the years. I don’t mind though, it was just how I liked it.
Anyways, I sat there watching TV not really wanting to do anything. I figured I convinced myself I had to go. Told myself, that granddad would have wanted me to go.
He would’ve told me to get off my lazy ass and go do what my heart told me to do.
So I went, because I loved her, and nothing would change that.
As much as we idolize change, deep down, we are afraid. We become comfortable with what we have, even when we tell ourselves we hate it. But in that moment of sheer terror, we have hope.
Hope of the enormous potential we possess in determining our journey to meet fate. But that hope is not easily found.
Fate determines what will happen during the course of our life. I believe we have the option to choose what happens in our life or take different routes, but we all eventually end up fulfilling it one way or another. The hardest part is finding out what the hell it may be.
In time, a major part of my young life will come to an end. What will happen is a mystery, and I am extremely terrified.
Lia took a long drag from her cigarette then tossed it down on the ground. It was the second week of the summer and the surreal absence of school was finally fading.
She waited in front of her house waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up, who was twenty minutes late. She was getting extremely irritated because they were supposed to talk about what their relationship had become. Sighing she took out another cigarette and lit it hastily. Ever since the incident with Jon they have been fighting more. To make matters worse she found out right after prom that he had been cheating on her for a couple of months.
She finished her cigarette and went inside to her room. She lay down on her bed, burying her face in the covers. She turned on the TV and started to flip through the channels, nothing specifically interesting her. There were all these stupid TV shows about doctors and the “life” of celebrities. She ended blindly watching them in the end.
Steven called her a couple times, which she diligently ignored. It was probably another excuse for him off fucking another one of the girls he managed to grab. She took her phone and angrily deleted his contact and blocked all his phone calls. She was done with him; she wouldn’t deal with his bullshit anymore.
Looking back, she realized that they never really were a good couple. Everyone said they would be a good match, star crossed lovers, when they were interested in each other. But just because she is a pretty blond and he is the captain of the football team, doesn’t mean they were a match made in heaven. In fact, starting the second third week they started to date, they never went a full week without fighting.
But no one knew that, they only see what they want to see.
After an hour or two, she turned off the TV and went into the living room. The house was eerily quiet, a sudden loneliness echoed throughout her mind. Her parents were out for a few days off camping with her younger sister, and had left a note with chores and favors they expected her to finish.
We trust you won’t trash the house while we are gone! Make sure after you eat, to do the dishes. If he comes over, ask Steven to mow the lawn for you. And don’t forget to walk Toby!
Mom and Dad
P.S – Your sister said not to eat all the ice cream and stay out of her room.
She guessed she was one good terms with her parents. She never really fought with them; it was not worth the effort. She got good grades and did not cause many problems, so her parents couldn’t be happier. Why shouldn’t they be? She was going to a well-respected university and a major that paid well with plenty of scholarships. Her family life could be summed up with a well-known saying: “Ignorance is bliss.” And boy, was it.
Next to the note she found a pile of letters and bills her parents hadn’t got to yet. She dug through the pile looking for anything addressed to her; realizing she had fallen behind on all the paperwork required for college. She sighed, more things she had to deal with. On the bottom of the pile she found a beat up black composition book with the words “Dear Lia” on the cover.
Curious, she opened the book and started to read and did not put it down until she finished the last page later that evening.
I walked through the empty school hallways one last time to beg for a grade I didn’t deserve. Mr. Agnes said I wouldn’t be able to go to the state school with a D in Math. Apparently, teachers were still in school making the final adjustments to grades. I would think after a full school year of dealing with kids like us, they would be out of here the second they could. Or I could be wrong.
I never really liked math, and I was never really good at it either. I would study for hours and get a terrible grade on a test. Eventually, I gave up, tired of trying so hard in something I obviously couldn’t. All those numbers and symbols, it frustrates me. See, with words, it’s different. Overthinking in math just screws you up, while overthinking with English is praised. School was just a bunch of conflicting set of regulations and guidelines.
To be honest, I don’t why I was even there. I didn’t even care much. Why do something you don’t want to do? I asked myself that as I swallowed my pride and walked up the stairs that would lead to the class I needed to be at.
When I reached my math class, I was slightly winded thanks to my smoking habit. The halls were dim as the sun set, throwing oranges and pinks across the horizon. The evening was warm and a slight breeze blew through the hallways.
On summer evenings like this, I liked to sit in my backyard with a cold glass of water and cigarettes, listening to music and enjoying the moment. People don’t realize that sitting still for hours is the most fun I ever have.
Huh. Maybe that’s why I don’t any friends.
Well, there’s Lia, but look what ended up happening.
I sucked up what remained of my pride, the root of all sin, and opened the heavy metal door.
I saw Life today, the beautiful mistress she is.
Two sparrows fought a crow twice their size, protecting their nest. It was with ferocity of the likes of which I have never seen.
A few hours later, I saw a nest on the floor of a parking lot. Ants swarmed over the carcasses of dead baby birds.
Funny how it works that way.
Lia called his number many times, but he wouldn’t respond. She had read his entire notebook, and wanted to see him. She wanted to apologize for everything, even if he had forgiven her long time ago. She grabbed her car keys and started for her car.
“Where are you going?” asked Steven, her boyfriend.
“I need to help him.”
“Why? He’s such a fucking loser.”
“He’s my best friend!”
Steven laughed and shook his head, “C’mon, let’s just stay here.” He moved closer to her, “I don’t want to see him.”
“Why did you even come? I didn’t ask for your help!”
“Hey, why are you so mad?” He said grabbing her arms and trying to kiss her.
She shoved him away, “Fuck off,” and went for the door.
“What’s the matter with you, bitch?” He yelled.
She flicked him off and walked out of the house.
Lia drove to Jon’s house only to find it empty. Frustrated, she sat on his porch trying to call him again and again, but after a few minutes of failed attempts at reaching him she gave up. She fumbled through her pockets looking for her pack of cigarettes and lighter. Before she could light one, an old lady across the street waved to her to come.
“Is there anything wrong?” The old lady asked innocently, “You seem very flustered.”
“No, nothing is wrong.” She paused, “Actually, do you know where Jon went?”
“You mean that nice young man who lives across the street? He walked in the direction of the school.”
“Thanks,” she smiled weakly, “Did he seem upset?”
“Oh, I couldn’t tell.” The old lady smiled, “He’s such a nice young man, helped me many times. Too bad his parents are never around to notice.”
Of all the years she had known Jon, she had seen his parents only a few times. Always off partying or on business trips, Jon was always left alone. He had to raise himself because they never took interest. They would even joke about how Jon was a mistake, a kid they never really wanted in the first place. She realized she had really wonderful parents who loved her unconditionally, even when they were so distant. Jon was always alone with his loneliness.
She thanked the old woman and drove to the school.
It was seven thirty when she reached the school and the sun was setting. She turned into the staff parking lot and parked hastily. Not knowing where to go first, she ran to Mr. Agnes’s office, in the counseling wing.
“Do you know where Jon is?” She asked through labored breathing.
Mr. Agnes surprised look on his face, “Uh…He went to the math building? Why? Is something wrong?”
Lia had tears in her eyes, “I think…I think he might do something, rash, stupid.”
Mr. Agnes stood up with a worried look on his face, “What makes you think so?”
“He sent me his…collection of writing to me.” She said quietly, tears started to fall from her eyes which she wiped with her arms. “Why am I crying?”
“Well, let’s just calm down here.” He paused putting his hand on her shoulder, “Tell me exactly what they said.”
“They…It. I don’t know…I just need to talk to him.”
She left his room quickly, not wanting to talk anymore and headed toward the math wing of the school. The tears dried in the warm air of the evening.
I'm standing at the top of this town. I see the bright lights of the City of Angels off in the hazy summer night. The air is cool, a break from the sweltering heat of the day.
I smell my breath stinking of cigarettes.
Why am I standing up here deep into the night, alone?
I don't know.
They say you don't really know yourself until you are completely by yourself.
It's eerie up here. It is so quiet and calm. It really is something different. The city at night is a beautiful place. I walk the empty sidewalks and there are mo people, no loud noises. Just the crickets singing their calypso. I think I like this better.
It's funny, there's seven billion people on this dying planet and one can still feel very...
Where are you?
I was in love with the idea that one day, when the dying warmth of summer feels good against our bodies and the breeze is cool against our faces as we sit on your faded white porch, when we would know each other’s love.
Ah, the porch.
I remember the hours we would waste on that porch, overlooking the town. I remember the hard wooden stairs I would sit on, and the railing you lounged on. Always the nimble one, your hair falling over your shoulders, you seemed to defy gravity.
It's funny. I'm here, talking about myself, and all that’s comes to mind is you. I feel I know you more than myself. What am I to do?
This is my last entry to you, Lia.
Lia. Your name, it means "one who brings gospel or fire." Salvation. But you don’t know that, do you?
Save my soul.
My math teacher wasn’t even there. There was a note on her wall saying, she was on vacation to someplace and wouldn’t be back until later in the week. I didn’t really care. I lit a cigarette and sat down on the floor. I let out a deep sigh and closed my eyes. It was quiet.
I heard fluttering and chirping. I knew it was a bird, but it didn’t sound normal. I opened my eyes and walked to where the sound came from and found a little sparrow stuck inside the building. With all the windows closed it couldn’t leave the building, desperately flying against the thick windowpane trying to escape. It would then flop down to rest, only to try again. I figured I had admired the little bird.
I managed to corner the bird, and scooped it up with my hands. It was warm; I could feel the little bird’s heartbeat through its soft feathers. It chirped loudly in fear as I took it to the roof of the math building.
It was windier on the roof of the building than I thought it would be. I stood on the edge of the roof, looking out to the dim lights of the town I loved so much.
It was peaceful, standing up there, with the little bird chirping in the hand. I don’t know what I was thinking but I was going to do it. With all my mental capacity, I took a step forward taking a deep breath. But at the last second, I heard a familiar voice/
“Jon.” It whispered.
I slowly turned to see Lia standing behind me. Tears filled her green eyes flowing down the side of her flushed face, streaks of faint red across her pale face. Her golden hair patted against her face, tossed by the wind. She wore a blue sundress; he could see the freckles on her shoulders, brown against the pale of her skin. She was beautiful.
I don’t know what happened next but I was falling. It felt like an eternity, I felt myself closing my eyes. In the darkness, all I could think of was Lia. She said something to me and suddenly it all made sense. I knew what my life was all about; I knew the reason why I had been so unmotivated. I don’t know how to explain, I just felt that I knew. All I thought was of Lia. Lia, dearest Lia.
Lia walked quietly not to disturb the patients who had fallen asleep and the others who enjoyed the quiet. Her shoes in her hands, she walked slowly through the pure white room of the hospital, illuminated by the sun. She had flowers in her hand, little yellow and red wildflowers she had picked from her back yard.
She made her way to room 2TR slowly, and passed a happy family reunited in the returning health of a member. She smiled at them, and they returned with smiles full of love and joy. She continued on, her chest warm and her mind clear and light.
She opened the door to the room gently since he was asleep. There were casts around his legs, torso, and left arm; his bandaged head was on a pillow. He looked peaceful. She replaced the flowers in the vase next to his bed and sat down on the chair next to the bed. She sat, looking at his face, taking in every detail of his face.
They said he would be okay. His fall was high enough to be fatal, and he should not have survived at the angle he fell. But he did survive, barely. He broke enough bones and damaged enough organs to of died. They say he clung on to life so hard, that the doctors decided to try. He spent almost a year in bed; she had been at his side waiting for him to get better. Only a few weeks ago did he regain his conscious, and they accessed his mental state for damage and anomalies. They said he was okay, a miracle. But he would never walk again.
Everyone asked her what happened that day. She didn’t tell them. She didn’t know why she couldn’t, but she was sure they wouldn’t understand as much as she did. She knew him more than she knew herself, and he probably knew her more than himself. The only part they really understood about themselves was the loneliness that plagued their lives. It’s funny how things work that way.
They said the first word he said was her name. He asked for her every day until the doctors said he was able to have visitors. His parents came many days after the news reached them, and they were terrible. They stood far away from him, not sitting down on the chairs provided. It was as if they were afraid, but how could they be afraid of a living part of themselves?
They don’t know what happened, and they don’t even care. She saw him fall, she saw him hit the ground. She held his broken and bloody body as she wept, tears clearing the blood from his face. She carried and drove him to the hospital. She spent the time waiting for news on his operations. She loved him.
When he fell, he let the bird go from his hand. He tumbled off the edge, but the bird hovered there for a second, and flew into the dying light of the sun.