Her hand was shaking as she pinched the steel tighter between her fingers. Her tears dripped down her cheeks faster than her palms could catch-- that is, if she even bothered to try to catch them. She liked the sensation of crying. She’d been told it was because she liked the attention that came with it. But this time, that statement was false. Tonight, no one else was home to give her that attention. She had perfectly selected a time when she knew everyone would be out.
Her breaths were uneven as she continued to stare, unmoving, at herself in the mirror: the person in which she had shared the same view with for all of her life. She loved that person; she hated that person. Right now, she did not want to part with that person. Yet, the girl did not know herself without Him. And because He was gone now, it were as if her strength had left before she.
If she thought too much, she was afraid she would become too greedy to move forward with her plan. When one were to act this way, it was best to do it spontaneously without reminiscing all that you once loved and dreamt of.
The girl dug the tip of her razor into her wrist. She could feel the blade break the seal that was her raw flesh. Like ripping a shirt, she cried out with every thread of her skin snapping apart one by one. As if it wanted to be the glue that stuck the crevice back together, blood flooded past her blade and down the girth of her arm.
It was unbearable.
Her whole body and mind begged her to stop. She gasped out a broken sob and screamed out in pain. She rocked back and forth on her knees and clutched her wrists to her chest. Her frightened cries leaked into the hallway and echoed throughout the house. But she told herself she had to. This was what she wanted. If pain were to try to stop her, then it would be her strongest opponent.
She clenched her eyes tightly. The girl forced her fingers to drag the razor even deeper and farther down her arm kindred to unzipping a reluctant zipper, until the pain won over. It grasped her muscles and pushed her away.
The girl couldn’t believe what she had done. She raised her hand slowly above her eyes. The red crimson lurked down toward her like an approaching monster creeping out of the depths of water.
Her body began to jolt violently both from the torment of her gash and shock. Clawing at the meat of her throat, she found it hard to breathe as her chest constricted rigidly. The pain that had been gnawing her left breast seemed to finally bite. Its punch was firm against her. She doubled over, falling to her side. She could see herself in the reflection. Her lips were parted, tongue poking out, as she desperately tried to breathe. She was trying.
Her eyes felt heavier as much time began to pass. Her feet and tips of her fingers felt cold- like a frostbite. She urged the remains of her energy to curl into a ball and bring her broken wrist to her chest. Red paint touched and spread across the white canvas of her t-shirt. It matted the fabric to her chest.
Numbly, in this desperate moment, she wanted to cry out to her mother whose embraces were always warm. She imagined that her mother would kneel beside her limp body and pull the girl onto her lap. Her mother would cry, digging her face into the girl’s neck, and ask the girl why she chose that route. Her mother would tell her that she loved her.
Her last tears slid across her nose bridge before slapping against the cold floor. She gave into the weight of her eyelids and fell asleep with clenched fists still trembling.
After a dozen minutes, when the air and space stood frozen, winter ultimately claimed the rest of her limbs. Her ankles were deprived of any heat. The ivory ink in her skin seeped out her wrist in arrays of dark and light cherry reds.
Her chest made its final move and a finalizing breath broke through her stale lips. Until the end, there was no light or flashes of memories. Pain rode her back through her life and ended it as well.
It was unexplainable but when the girl awoken, she just understood that she was no longer in the realm of the living. It wasn’t the cold ground or darkness that whispered in her ear. Could it be the sense of missing something, a hunger per say?
The girl pushed off where she had been laying on the floor in a hurry. A hard pain shot up the length of her arm. She recalled the past events-- a chill ran down her spine at the thought of herself dead. Though frightened, she looked down at her wrist. Much to her appreciation, her eyes didn’t meet open, rotten flesh. But a closed wound did dot her skin like a 3D tattoo. She didn’t want to try to open her tattoo.
She fully pushed herself to stand. Her body felt sore and stiff. Her joints cracked as she moved. The girl circled around the unfamiliar room, tracing the pad of her finger along the walls. She was not in her home. Everything about the room was made of wood, save for the oddly placed table that stood out like a sore thumb. The stench smelled like… chemicals. It was once that she went with her father, whom was a hunter, to a taxidermy shop. The room smelt of preservatives to be precise. It stung her nose.
When the door that aligned the far right wall squealed to an open, the girl snapped her head toward the direction. Her dead heart felt like it was beating, for her frozen blood felt like it had begun to race. She stood planted to her spot when two men emerged from behind the door.
Of the two men, one was adorned in long, graying hair that fell past his fingers. He looked old and fragile. Dark bags droop from underneath his red-rimmed eyes. His skin sagged and was decorated by deep wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. Despite his tall stature, his shoulders were slouched forward as if he were carrying the heaviest burden.
The second man was shorter and timid. He shook as he walked forward and hid behind the older man. In stark contrast to the other, his hair were only a few inches and ebony. It was slicked to the back of his head by a hand of gel. A suit, like a company worker’s, hung off the smaller man’s slender frame. But what made bile climb up the girl’s throat was the mask that covered the man’s eyes. The texture of it looked like muscle-- or as if his face was carved into. Five thick, silver staples dug into the man’s skull to pin down the mask. It stretched the man’s skin painfully and dark, thick scabs had curled around the metal.
Frightened eyes watched the pair approach her. She wanted to move but her mind couldn’t will her feet to listen.
The gray man walked right in front of her face. Before she even knew what was happening, his hand came down upon her cheek. The sound off the slap bounced off the walls in the room and echoed into her ear. She heard it before she felt it.
His face contorted with a mix of anger and disappointment.
The girl dropped to his feet and balled his ankle in her palms. Her wide eyes could not hold still, trembling from one spot on the ground to another.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to but--”
She had wanted her suffering to end, but in truth, her suffering wasn’t too bad. It was only because her strength had left first that her pain became unbearable. And she wanted to be with her strength again, so she followed it.
The girl had not wanted to say it aloud, embarrassed, but it was good that the men seemed to already know the reason why she lived and died.
The gray man sighed deeply and gently shook his head.
“I am willing to overlook your foolishness this once due to our past relations. I am sending you back.”
“No!” She threw her head up, locking round eyes with the man. “Do not send me back. I don’t want it. I don’t want it at all!”
“Why?” the man roared. The veins on his neck stood up. His body swayed from anger and because he was angry, the world around them exploded. The girl quivered on her knees as distant sounds pounded against the empty abyss outside the room. The wooden walls vibrated.
Her voice was weak when she replied, “I love Him…”
The man made a sound in the back of his throat. “Don’t lie to me. Do not confuse your feelings with love when you have only watched Him from afar.”
“W-why? Is He not a good man?”
“He is a good man. However, just because He is a good man, it doesn’t mean you must love Him.” He bent down to the girl’s eyes and held onto her shoulders. “Go back and live the life you were meant to live-- the life you promised me you would live. You have passed by each other, child. No matter how you will fight, you will not be able to grasp onto a hand that has always been too far from your reach. This is what we call fate.”
The girl bit down hard on her lip to resist tremoring. She refused to listen. She had long lived her life nodding along politely and ripping off her skin to appease everyone else. Yet this one thing… she wouldn’t give up.
For once, she wanted to bend the earth for Him. She wanted to bend for Him. He, who too must have been selfless, will be someone’s priority for the first time.
“I don’t want to.” Her eyes fluttered shut and brows knotted. “Please don’t make me. With my whole heart, I don’t want to be alive any second longer without Him.”
“If you send me back,” she continued. “I will beg for sickness to rot my body. I will carve out each vein in my vessel until I am nothing left but scars. I will pound my heart until it hurts to beat and hold my breath until it aches to breathe.”
“When you walked down from the clouds, your big eyes were filled with light. You shined the brightest like Sirius. To pluck you from Earth would be endless darkness. You are not meant to pass by. Trust me when I tell you that you will grow out of this infatuation for a dead man. You will use this as strength, and by the time three sunrises have passed, you too will have forgotten everything.”
The girl made an incoherent whimper as she violently knocked her head from side to side, whipping the strands of her hair like her only weapon.
In the gray man’s head, he thought she was throwing a tantrum like a child who lost their favorite toy. He waited silently for her to calm, but when she did not even with time, he quickly grew annoyed.
He snapped. “Do not add to my load when it was you who promised to relieve it! You are in a fantasy land! Everything that you love about this man is made up in your head, can you not see that? Now return to the real world where you have things left undone!”
“I will kill myself!” She shouted. “I will kill myself over and over again. I do not care how many times you send me back. I do not want to and will not fulfill this fate that you have laid for me. I already found the one I want to follow instead.”
The gray man balled his hand out of anger and raised it above his head. Only able to barely stop his fist, the man looked down at the girl whom he considered his own daughter and a dear friend.
“Fine,” he gritted out of clenched teeth. “Today marks the day the sky will crumble for 12 days, and 18 nights. Rain, snow, hail, fire will fall upon the clouds. The nights will become the darkest it has ever been. And when the world dies, remember who caused it. And when people come beg me for mercy on them, remember who once promised to be my messenger but now is throwing in the towel.
“I will show you exactly who you killed the world for. And when you have grown tired of Him, repent,” he growled.
The gray man stepped away from the girl. He looked down at her pathetic form one last time as if perhaps she would change her mind. His own heart was hurting for he knew that he would have to sever the bond that they once kindled. Truly, he had really wanted to watch her grow old and morph the world. He knew now that the days where he dreamt of the heaven she would manifest was over.
Turning his back on her and walking out the door was the hardest decision he had ever made.
The girl jumped slightly to hear a voice in the room that she had thought to be empty. She had forgotten the man with the scary mask. She was hesitant to turn face him. The joints in her neck almost let out a soundly groan as she haltingly shifted her gaze to him.
He was sat at the table, choosing the chair that made him face her. Because she was knelt on the floor, she could see that under the table, his fingers fiddled against his bouncing knees.
The man with the scary, red mask lacked absolutely all and any form of confidence. The teenager looked down at the floor momentarily, wondering why he would be wearing such a scary mask if he seemed so harmless. In fact, the girl was sure that if she just pushed him with her pinky, he would dance like a sheet of paper in the wind.
He wasn’t anything like she had expected.
She pushed herself to a stand and numbly walked over to the table. Quietly sliding out her chair, she joined him.
They stared at one another for a long time, though the girl opted to look at his chin rather than the fleshy, twitching mask, and he opted to look at her chin rather than her beautiful, warm eyes that he knew would scare him.
“Hi… Loser,” the red man finally broke the silence. He was good at sensing emotions but he had to admit that at this moment, too many were passing through the girl for him to read her.
“Hey… Loser,” the girl replied with a small voice.
The red man felt relief guiding down his figure to see such a broad and bright, yet bashful beam light up her face. Her eyes crinkled with her smile, forming half-moons that caused her hiding tears to peek out of their hiding spots.
He said her name- the sound of it was so tender. It was said like a trophy that was dusted every twilight before the man went to sleep. “D-do you want to see Him?”
She looked up, big eyes meeting his. She nodded eagerly, looking at her friend with a pleading gaze at the realization that he had the power to bring him to her.
He said her name- the sound of it was so tender. It was said like how a mother would to her miracle baby. “Do you want to be with Him?”
The girl had thought that after her last breath, she would meet her end. But to see Him before she left? Heaven must be real.
He said her name- the sound of it was so tender. It was said like how a child who wanted attention would to his mother. “He [referring to the gray man] said that if this happens, I can bring Him to you. He knew you would choose this route even before we entered. You can be with the man you love again. I can even bring him back to life for you.”
“You would do that for me?” the girl nearly sobbed out.
“Of course, that is very easy to do. But I am only allowed to raise one of you back.”
Her chest clenched but for long, she had loved Him more than herself. She had placed Him higher than herself. So when it came down to it, the girl agreed to whatever the red man fed her without looking back. “Him.”
The red man thrusted his hand out to the open air behind her ear. He repeated some phrases before the ceiling above that space ripped open. The girl stood up and twirled around at the commotion. She watched with wonder eyes when she saw grey, woven fabric fall through the abyss. Then, a body- first a back, arms and legs, and finally a head- fell through the black hole. It was floating down, a breeze blowing the body’s clothes and hair to and fro.
She finally snapped out of her amazement and rushed to it, sliding on her knees to catch His body before it touched the ground.
Since entering this room, she actually allowed herself to weep.
She could feel her dead heart pinch.
As He laid lifeless against her knees, she raised her clenched fists in the air just as she had dreamt of for so long, and slammed them against His hard chest while she cried through her lashes. “Why did you have to leave? You stupid! I loved you so much! I loved you. Wake up! Please wake up!”
When the explosive rage in her own chest simmered, she cradled Him in her embrace, nimble fingers cupping his thin cheek in her palm. She crushed her face tightly and threw her head to the hidden sky, tears slipping down both sides of her face.
“Stupid,” she repeated. She finally looked down at his face clearly, dragging the pad of her thumb along his cheek bone. “I love you so much.”
The girl opened her eyes to the wooden ceiling when she heard the red man call out to her again. Slowly the room came back into vision when she tilted back. She looked to him.
“Get on his back.”
“What?” The girl whipped her neck around to see Him standing straight up. Although it was clear that He was not awake nor alive, he was propelled upright by the red man’s powers. She pushed her knees to help her unsteadily follow suit. She was unsure when her hands balled the cloth of His shirt on both shoulders. It felt almost forbidden for her to touch Him. Timidly, she raised both her knees and found it effortless to ride his back.
The girl craned her neck but found the room to be empty save for them.