In conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day, here’s a fictional story to give light to those who are struggling to find it.
Trigger Warning: The following depicts actions of suicide, read at your own discretion.
“Seek to be courteous, seek integrity, and both you shall find. And always choose light.”
They say a story loses something with each telling. If that’s the case, this story has lost nothing, for it’s the first time it’s been told.
It was a queer and sultry summer day. The car was speeding along the freeway and the windows were rolled down, as always. Charlie made us a playlist specifically for this day, from Taylor Swift’s ‘Cruel Summer’ to the usual Little Mix hits. Charlie likes spending time with me despite his hatred for my actions and I couldn’t care less that he’s always thinking about death ever since our parents left, though I’d probably beat him there first. They told me it was cancer… I think? All I know is that my entire body projected on the screen lit up like a Christmas tree during my CT scan. It’s the kind where they tell you you’ve only got about 6 months left and, at this point, people usually bury themselves into their parents’ arms with tears and snot. The only difference is I can’t afford that nor would I want to, not with my parents laying in the morgue next door.
When they died, my dad left us a fortune and my mum, well, left us with no more of her life lessons. Mum and her never-ending lessons on compassion and courtesy. Her departure affected Charlie the most that he wept so much that day. As for me, I’m known for being cold-hearted.
Anyways, where was I again? Oh yes, me in the car with Charlie’s reckless driving. He’s always going on and on about seeing Mum and Dad again, whatever that means. “I went to visit their grave this morning and they didn’t even invite me in,” he mumbled without taking his eyes off the road ahead. “Could you just stop with the nonsense?” I yelled. “Courtesy, Adelaide. It doesn’t hurt to be pleasant and listen once in a while. ”Suddenly, I heard a loud honk like there’s no tomorrow. The next thing I know, my feet were up on the dash when the airbag deployed.
The dead silence was detailed with the faintest whispers as I tried to gather my senses. The muddy canvas before me transformed into a white-tiled ceiling as my vision cleared. There was a blanket cocooning me in its warmth as I stretched my rock-solid body that felt as if it hadn’t moved in weeks. I examined my surroundings. There was an IV drip connected to the back of my hand, the nurse next to me realised my awakening, said with much delight, “Welcome back, love.” That’s when it dawned upon me, I’ve just awoken from a coma.
My doctor arrived not long after, summoned by his will to help the injured. I gave him the stink eye as he examined my blood pressure, “Where’s Charlie?” I asked him coldly as I didn’t care much for the doctor., I only wanted to see my brother. “He died in the crash two weeks ago, Adelaide.” Though I never cared much for him, a shiver and a sense of numbness crawled up my body, robbing me of my words. My eyes pooled with tears and for the first time in so long, I felt something I swore once upon a time to never encounter again. “He was your only family left and now he’s gone as well?”
Speechless I was when I yanked my arm back without another word, not even a mumble. My doctor must have realised this is the longest he’s seen me gone without a smart comeback because he stared right into my eyes and said “You could’ve treated him better y’know and been there for him when your parents passed, but you didn’t. You never respected nor cared for him with your botherless attitude. Courtesy costs nothing but buys everything — weren’t those your mother’s last words to you?” I couldn’t hear what he said when tears trickled down my face slowly, leaving a trail of what could have been in its wake. And all I could think about, could feel, was it should’ve been me. How do I move on from this?
I was informed I had to be bedridden for at least a month due to the impact. They placed me in a shared room with another girl. I'm not lying when I tell you I hated her for the first few days, she was the complete opposite of Charlie. I despised her and her need to engage me in her positive aura. I want to be left alone so I can grieve, or perhaps I had one more trick left up my sleeve, a dark realisation that there are sooner ways to see him again, painless and swift indeed.
But she never gave up, and she was the kindest and sweetest person to me. Courteous would be the right word, funny isn’t it? She’d talk for hours about how wonderful life could be if we gave it a chance while I laid there in silence with a smile, acknowledged as a secret between me and her. She was there for me when I was feeling my lowest and didn’t think I could go on. But she made me see the light mum was always going on about through her kindness and warmth in just the way she speaks to me. Now I want to live, and not just for Charlie, but for me.
Last week, she decided to roll me out for a stroll in my wheelchair, allowing me to feel the sun once more. Warmth spread in me, a heart that was cold and empty before. We were passing the streets when a car came swerving in our direction and for the first time, I was afraid. For a moment in time, everything froze and I caught a glimpse of her smile that was all too familiar before she pushed me out of the way and all I could do was sit there and scream.
She never told me her name. In fact, I’m not sure what was even her illness. Perhaps she was just meant to show me how to live in the light.
I got to learn that her name was Grace, how fitting. Grace was so full of life yet she gave away hers for me to live, and so I will. I’ll live and breathe and smile with the distant memory of Grace and Charlie far away, but never forgotten. Mother said courtesy costs nothing but buys everything, she was wrong.
It cost Grace’s life and it bought me a new beginning and a second chance to live. A dawn that came too late, my delayed zero o’clock. Maybe in another universe, in the upside-down, I’ll see them again.
This article is written by Wong En Qi from SMK Convent Bukit Nanas and she is currently writing under Taylor's Writing Apprenticeship Programme. She is also an avid reader of sci-fi books and has an unhealthy addiction to caffeine.
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