A Dance With Death

What it feels like to fall out of love with life.

‘It takes 60 seconds for an adult to drown. But when I try to do it something always pulls me out. Maybe it’s my muscle reflex which refuses to shut down. Or maybe it’s my soul which refuses to let me cross the barrier, to hold hands with the one thing I love most about this world. Death.’  ‘Every night he comes to me, in the big garden filled with lilies and roses, the sky  shine down upon him as he walks so elegantly in the darkness. His face hidden, he takes my hand and we dance. The lilies and roses sway with our moves, the wind hums and the moon shines on my smiling face. The only time it sees me smile is when I’m dancing soundlessly with him.

‘Then something pulls me out. A loud bang in my head, a heaviness in my lungs, the pain in my head and I sit up gasping for air, my body is cold and wet. The blurriness is still there, which means he’s still holding onto me, but we both knew it could not end because I’m awake, I’m breathing’. The water in the tub is cold now. ‘I felt his hand slips through mine and I wave him goodbye. It was over. I am alive.’  I stepped out of the tub, grabbed the towel and made my way to the room. The single bed in the motel was comfortable, especially after my date with him. I changed my clothes and fell on the bed, hugging my pillow, trying to relive the magical moment but it’s not the same. There is no ecstasy no fireworks in my heart. The only thing left to do is sleep. So I slept.

The sun wakes me up every morning. I always keep my curtains apart for him to kiss me and wake me up. ‘Sometimes, I hope he watch me sleep at night, so he could see how scared I get with all the monsters in my head.’  I’m stubborn. I don’t wake up when the first light shines on me but only when the heat slaps me. The first thought. The very first thought is always about him, and I smile a little with the thought that I will see him again tonight. I brushed my teeth and head out of the room for breakfast. California was as usual sunny, noisy and laughter. But nothing mattered to me. All I wanted was my tea and eggs. People choose to stay away from me and I like that, I like the loneliness and the peace.  I don’t need distraction. Distraction keeps me away from him. And when I miss him for one night, things change. I change. 

The one time I did not see him was when my parents took me to see a doctor. He was a gentleman, like death. But the similarities stopped there. The doctor asked me personal question and feelings. Death? Death said nothing, he didn’t have to. I fell for him on our first dance. The doctor talked and talked but I didn’t respond. Why would I spill my secrets to a stranger? It was preposterous. I kept looking at the clock waiting for the doctor to go but he didn’t. My feet moved up and down and my hands were clasped together. The panic started to build up. 7:57. ‘Please go away’ I heard him asking me if I was alright, my breathing became heavy. Suddenly the room felt small. 7:58. What if he’s waiting for me, what If he thinks I no longer want him? I looked down trying to keep the tears from falling. My throat ached. 7:59. I wanted to run away, I wanted to make him stop. I could hear my parents outside, arguing over the fact if this was the best decision. 8:00. I looked up at the clock. ‘He was gone’. He came, he waited and I betrayed him. Anger. That’s what I felt. Deep loathful rage towards the doctor. When I felt his hand on my knee I snapped.

I screamed so loud until my screams broke into cries. I remember pouncing on him like a lion and attacking his face with my nails. The screams brought my parents and two more people in the room. I could hear the doctor cries from the pain, the blood from my nails and I smiled. I smiled and laughed. The people grabbed me from behind and lifted me up from the doctor’s body. I wanted more. I wanted blood. I tried to escape again but something on my neck stung and I fell on the floor, unable to move. Oh he would’ve loved this. I miss him.

After breakfast I head towards the motel, taking the shortest route. I had to prepare present myself before meeting him. It’s not fun dancing in the same dress night after night. I reached my room and opened it. I felt light feeling the warmth and comfort of privacy. I smoked for about 2 hours, taking in long drags. The thinking and smoking passed the time. I went to the bathroom, filled the tub and dipped one toe. ‘Perfect’. I slowly lowered myself in the bathtub and taking in a deep breath i went under the water. Gradually my brain slept and I found myself again in my wonderland. There he was, tall and dark and walking towards me. This time the owls hooted and the fireflies gathered around to watch. It was beautiful. My red dress and his blackness made a perfect match. He offered his hand and I took it without hesitation.  We danced for hours and it’s a place where time is unknown. 

This time I felt it was longer than last times. When the bang pulled me out I noticed something I had never seen before. And it meant everything to me. My vision was blurred and I could see his hands slip away from mine but this time I looked up at him. And I saw him smile. It set something off inside me. Determination? Loyalty? I didn’t know but it was something magical. After I got out of the tub I pondered over the smile for a lot longer. This time I didn’t go to sleep. This time I inhaled my drugs. It made me feel lighter. It made me feel free. i knew if my vision blurred enough I could get to see him again. I laughed happily. If my heart slowed down just enough to see him one more time. This was everything I wanted.

Even after I took a packet of ecstasy he never came. Feeling down I lay down on the bed sniffling. I turned my head towards right and I was knocked out in 5 seconds. The next morning it was hard getting up. Even though the sun slapped me for 5 times I could not get up. My head was aching and my mouth was dry. I knew if I got up I would fall down. So for the whole day I lay on the bed and drank water until the pounding in my head disappeared. When it finally vanished I got up and head out for food. 

The moon brought me back inside. I took a little detour on my way home. To think a little. The memories came back all of a sudden and I could not go home with distraction so I had to shake it off and I remembered the time I ran away from home. My parents called that the devils work; the doctors called it mental breakdown. Me, I called it revenge. Revenge for not letting me see him. They were arguing again but this time as usual the topic was me and how dangerous I was getting day by day. I could hear the shouts from my room. It was too much. My sister used to sit with me and hold my hand to calm me down. It worked, but only sometimes. This time it didn’t. I stood up from the bed, I could hear her cute snores, and her hand had slipped away from mine while she was sleeping. I grabbed my bag, my medicines and my wallet and ran downstairs, turned right to the hallway and ran out the door. No one shouted my name, no on begged me to come back, and no one searched for me. How do I know? I live in a motel just 2 blocks away from my parents’ house. And I’ve never seen any posters or policemen taking me to the police station to reunite me with my worried parents. 

The thought brought back my dormant rage towards my family. I headed for my home as it was almost time. I opened the door and slammed it shut. I grabbed a handful of antidepressants and chugged it down with two glasses of water. With tears in my eyes I filled the tub with water and went inside without checking the temperature. The hot water burned on my skin but it didn’t matter. I wanted to feel pain. I wanted to hurt someone. Inhaling I lay down in the tub and closed my eyes. The headache came faster than usual my heart slowed down faster and the bang in my head was faster. In fact I didn’t get to see him and the bang pulled me out. But I didn’t budge. I’m not going to go anywhere without seeing him. My lungs were burning faster. My eyes opened. And there he was. Hovering over me. His face hidden in the darkness.  I was not expecting this meeting and it took me by surprise. I gasped loudly and mouthful of water went in my lungs. It felt heavy, like something was pushing me down. Asking me to wait a few more minutes. My legs thrashed and my vision was faded I could see his hand pushing me down. I went numb. I didn’t want to fight this anymore. 

With another deep inhale my body gave up. I felt my brain shutting down and my legs and arms felt heavy. My heart slowed to a moment that every beat took hours. I waited for him. Minutes passed by and I could see the scenery changed in front of me. The garden, the roses and lilies, the fireflies, the owls were back. The moon smiled on me, welcoming me home. i turned to my right and saw him standing there looking at me. All I could see was his smile. But I waited for the bang to pull me out of my wonderland but it never came. I counted the seconds and it went above 100, that’s when I knew. I offered him my hand and he took it gently and we danced. I forgot about the bang, I forgot about the California sun, I forgot about the hours and minutes I had to count. Most importantly, I forgot to wake up. 

My smile was back, my energy was back. My will to live was back. We danced longer than ever; we danced until we reached the edge of the garden. The moon came close to me, urging me to touch it, to feel the happiness. I stretched out my right hand, to touch the moon when I heard humming. Sirens. Ambulance? ‘No, they can’t wake me up, I can’t wake up. I’m at home, I’m with him” I thought. That’s when I heard him speak for the first time ever. His voice was nothing but cold, heavy and slow, “jump” that’s all he said. I looked down and all I saw was darkness. I looked at him and I looked back, to my life. 

My sister laughing parents arguing, my teacher applauding me for having the best assignment in class. Then I looked at him. My love. I had made my decision and I was going to stick to it. I looked down at the hollowness and I jumped.

Umama Izhar

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