Life Beyond Destruction
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how things could be. How things used to be. Not a minute passes in which I don’t feel the sinking burden of the weight on my shoulders. Every second that I breathe air, I think despairingly, that we could be breathing it together. Breathing the same sweet air, sharing the same step, running through the same open ﬁeld, soaking in the same warm sunshine. The daily struggle of putting on a smile, hiding the desperately lost look in my eyes so that I’m not questioned, is almost unbearable.
Because honestly, it’s hard to open up to people. After pouring my heart and soul out to you, and losing it all. What’s the point in talking? Sharing my secrets, my fears, and despair? Not another soul deserves this. Not one. And to think that I brought the guilt upon myself. I brought the suffocating lack of freedom upon myself. And to realize, all I can do is face the blunt truth. My true love will never remember me-a fate worse than death. All because I made the wrong choice.
He was my best friend, for starters. His eyes were darker than the sea on a stormy night, and his smile brighter than the stars in the heavens. I remember the touch of his soft lips against my skin, and the perfect embrace of being with him. He always knew what to say, especially on the darkest of days when there was no hope left in me, and it was like my world was going to end. That was enough for me; the fact that he cared. It’s hard to ﬁnd people who actually do, to be honest. And I was ready to give up until I met him.
What I remember best though, was the way he used to kiss me on the forehead. I loved how the butterﬂies would erupt in my stomach, giving me a sweet sense of peace that I only found when I was around him. The day my father died, he leaned in and kissed me like he usually did. In that moment, it felt as if we were eternal, and he was all I needed. In that absolute and perfect second, no fear or depression could consume me, all because he was with me.
But a moment is stolen all too soon. It was weeks ago when the accident happened. As much as I try not to think about it, the memories keep ﬂooding back. These are the moments in which I need his help and his comfort. Getting sucked into his embrace was so warming, like a cold winter day keeping me wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket. Now I feel nothing but a harsh, deserted emptiness, like a deep black hole that I cannot come out of. Without him, it’s like half of my soul was ripped out and replaced with an arctic wind of winding darkness.
I was driving on the day it happened. Instead of paying attention to the road, I was on my phone, texting my mom back. I looked down only for a second, but when I looked back up a car was crashing into us from the side-from his side. The stop sign had come up so fast, I’d missed it. I will never forget the shattering of glass, and the crunching of his side of the car. Next thing I knew, emergency sirens were to be heard over my screams and the deafening silence that came so strongly from him. The screeching of the tires against the concrete was enough to drive anyone mad, and will forever be in my memory. It was so horriﬁc that I was hardly aware of the people in the other car, in which I heard later of the near-death of a child in the passenger seat.
And with that, I waited in the emergency room lobby, buried deep in sorrow while the doctors worked on him. The results came back negative a day later, when I went to see him. He had no idea who I was, or who anyone was, for that matter. The doctor said that there was a misconnection with his brain system, and they had to cut part of it out. It was the only way he’d survive. The only problem was, it took all of his memories with him.
This broke me beyond any physical or emotional pain I had ever felt. His parents came in a few minutes after me, and were absolutely horriﬁed. They had trusted me, and I let them down. Their own son didn’t even remember them. If I had just listened to him, and put down the phone, it would have been alright. But instead, I went with it, making the most ignorant and stupid decision I have ever, and probably will ever make.
His parents refused to let me see him anymore. There would be no way to restore his memory in the future, and I was stripped of the chance of ever falling in love with him again. He would never know who I was-his parents made sure of that. He would fall in love again, with someone new, and create his own set of happiness. I want him to be happy more than anything, but that does not stop the empty longing inside of me. He deserves a full life, whereas I deserve imminent suffering. The two do not mix well for relationships.
My own family stares at me like the monster that I am. My little sister, who used to be my best friend, hardly ever talks to me anymore. My parents barely acknowledge the fact that I am their child, and that I have to be fed and taken to school, now that my car is totaled. I am an outcast in the world. My school life isn’t any better than my home life. No one has reached out to me, and thought hey, maybe she feels like crap about this. Absolutely no one.
But that’s what I deserve, right? The dread and depression that has me sucked in so deeply that escape is not even an option? The pain is overwhelming to such an extent that I am ready to die. My family wouldn’t care. My old friends wouldn’t care. Not even his family-they especially wouldn’t care. I can almost see them dancing on my grave at this point. But I did it-I took their son’s memories away. I took away his childhood, his relationships and bonds, and his trust. They have to start over completely. He may not even know his left from his right at this point. I ruined him. And that pain, which haunts at me every moment of every day and night, is something I will never get over.
I will never love again.
I think about all of this upon my last visit to his hospital room, three weeks after the accident happened. It’s late in the night, and his family isn’t here to throw me out, which is a relief. I check in and walk down the long, dimly lit hallway, turning into his small room.
My heart seems to come up in my throat as I see him lying there, so helpless and lost. His eyes are closed, and his dark hair is rufﬂed. The white hospital blanket has fallen off of his bed, and his body is sprawled out as if he’s been sleeping restlessly. There is a monitor beside the bed, which is connected to him with long wires and suction cups all over his bare, pale chest. I notice that he is wearing his favorite pair of gray sweatpants. His parents must be trying to trigger his memory.
I walk toward him quietly, and he starts up against restlessly, breathing heavily. He’s always had bad nightmares, but they must have become unbearable since the accident. My heart breaks for him, and I once again feel the suffocating guilt upon my shoulders. Not even bothering to blink away the tears, I sit down in the chair beside his bed, and grab his hand like I used to do when he would panic.
His body immediately starts to calm itself, and I watch as his breathing slows once more into a peaceful rapping. His hand twitches, and I feel the tears streaming down harder and faster, practically clogging my vision. This is goodbye.
“Hey,” I start off slowly, even though he’s asleep, and it doesn’t really matter what I say to him. “Darlin’, if there was any way I could go back and take myself out of your life, I would. I would do anything to prevent the accident from happening, to give you the peace and happy life you deserve. I am so sorry. This is the best way, right? For you to get a fresh start. This is the only way. And this is my gift to you. Our goodbye. Thank you so much for making my life worth it. I will never forget you.”
Letting go of his hand for the last time is harder than anything I ever imagined. My heart gets caught in my throat again as my ﬁngers slip from his, and the realization that this is the last time I will ever be with him is overwhelming. It feels as if someone just ripped out my heart, shredded it into a million pieces, then dipped the bloody wound in lime juice and stuck it back in my chest. But he is going to have a better life now…a life he actually deserves. And that is all that matters.
I lean down to kiss his forehead, the same way he always did to me. My tear ﬂow gets worse, almost completely clouding my vision. I quickly pull away, spinning the ring on my ﬁnger that he gave me so long ago. Our promise. Unable to bear those thoughts, I quickly start off, ready to get out of here.
His hand suddenly clasps around mine, and I turn back, my heart leaping in my chest. He remembers, he remembers. He looks up at me with those gray, stormy eyes that I’ve always so greatly admired, and opens his mouth to speak.
“Will you get the nurse?” His once strong voice is quiet and raspy.
“Yeah, of course,” is all I can force myself to say. False hope is perhaps the greatest of suffering, when ﬁnally turned on. All this time, I’ve hoped deep down that there would still be a chance. But there is not. It’s over. He doesn’t remember me, and never will.
I walk over to the wall, clicking the button that calls the nurse, and run out of the room and down the hallway into the freezing, dark night. I can hardly hear anything over the sound of my own sorrow. Nothing else matters now.
Not even a week has passed by the time I make my decision. My last thoughts are of the weather, and the accident. This is the only way out. There’s no other option for me. The scars will always be there, if they even get to the point where they somewhat heal. I’ll never be able to move on-there’s no point in trying. The world hates me more than anything, but not more than I hate myself. And all I have to do is jump.
I step onto the other side of the railing, holding on with my hands behind me. The cold road under the bridge is busy with cars, but I see the gaping, welcoming jaws of death. Just one jump. It will be over within seconds.
My heart pounds in my chest so hard that it feels as if it might burst. I close my eyes and lean until my arms straighten, loosening my grip. I hear shouting sound in the distance, someone calling my name over and over again. No, they can’t stop me. This is the only way to freedom from this accursed life.
The voice grows louder as I get closer to letting go. It is screaming in urgency now, but the footsteps are drowned out by my thoughts. This is the only way. I cannot go back now, I’m too far. There is nothing left for me in this world.
And so, I let go. My hands slip from the railing, and I feel the air immediately rush around me. Suddenly, I feel strong arms wrap around my waist and hold me up like they have so often before. Opening my eyes, I allow everything to come back into my senses, including his frantic voice.
“I won’t let them take you away from me,” he whispers, his breath hot against my neck. “Never again.”
He pulls me back over the railing and clear away from the edge. My body is overwhelmed, and I can hardly feel myself against the shaking. He’s holding up most of my weight, and has turned me around to face him.
“I’m sorry,” I cry, my face buried in his shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”
“It was an accident and could have happened to anybody. I love you-I wasn’t going to let something like this get in between us,” his response melts my heart. I don’t deserve him, but he’s giving me another chance. And this time, I’m going to use it correctly.
“I almost-and you saved me-I don’t deserve you,” I mumble, despite the extreme relief of the guilt starting to fade.
“Sunshine, it was an accident. I’m just thankful I made it in time,” he replies. I pull back to look up into his foggy eyes, and he wipes the tears from my cheeks, leaning in to kiss me on the forehead like he always would. “I will never stop loving you.”
“I love you.” He is okay. We are okay. The relief ﬂooding through my veins is indescribable. Never would I have imagined that this situation could ever come to this, but I suppose sometimes things look worse before they look better. Over ﬂooded with joy, I take his hand. We walk down the street side by side, leaving the darkness behind us, and entering a fresh story together.
DEPRESSING ENDING INSTEAD
And I let go. My hands slip from the cool railing, and I feel the air rush around me. The last things I hear are his words, screaming how he remembers and never meant to let me go. As I fall toward the rushing ground below, I feel the regret outweigh any guilt or despair I had ever felt. Now he will suffer worse than he did from the accident. Now he will have the suffocating lack of freedom weighing on his shoulders, heavier than any burden. And regret overwhelms me before I even hit the ground, turning everything black as my cries are silenced.