Entry Writchal #2
Tema: High School Romance
[There’s only a handful of fleeting memories you could remember in life.] [It came in many forms.] [Visions.] [Sounds.] [Feelings.] [And names.] [To remember all of it, is not an easy feat any person capable of doing.] [And if you could—] [You must be a happy person.]
“Accordingly, you only have one month.”
Short. Loud. And clear.
There’s no need for a whisper, nor any hesitation. The Doctor spoke, as if it is a fact written in some Q1 journal. With the facility this hospital provides, I have no doubt he could buy those paper with his pocket money alone.
But, not even here—not even this hospital could reach a meaningful conclusion on the nature of this disease.
“Your guardian is still uninformed in regards to this news. I believe you have the right to know this firsthand.”
The Doctor continued, sliding down the paper of what seems to be the result of his study. It’s tattered with signs of crumple all over. Lots of marks from black, red, and blue ink clashing across the neatly typed printout. From the strokes alone, you could sense the stress endured by whoever was holding the pen. Even more so, when you saw the strain on his face.
“That’s all I have to inform you.”
Though his voice denotes a matter-of-fact tone, his body shows otherwise. Clenched was his fist, wrinkled was his brow. A frown any child would consider scary, but all I could see is a thoughtful adult.
I’m sure he had taken some heavy consideration before this.
“Can I…have some time alone?”
“I will call back if I ever have anything else.”
The doctor abruptly walks out of my room and closed the door shut in the most ordinary way possible. Not a gentle minuscule slide, nor a slam in hurry. It’s the relaxing sound effect you could hear in every visual novel whenever a door closes.
I somberly relaxed my body after an eternity of five minutes sitting upright. The folded curtain let the sunlight paint the bedsheet in dreary orange. It’s warmth reminds me of the girl this hand once interlocked with.
It’s already established and well-known that the ‘mood’ human feels is simply a mixture of several neurotransmitters changing the composition of hormones inside your body.
Dopamine, histamine, serotonin, epinephrine, I couldn’t really name every one of it.
With its fluctuation, the cells in your body responded differently. The chemistry of feelings. A chaotic dance between the fleeting life of several molecule in accordance to the ephemeral moments in life.
Including moments of happiness.
…Do I have to define what happiness is?
Surely people have different views of what they consider as ‘happiness’.
Working late on an assignment in sunset-painted classroom.
Blue sky with summer haze on the off-chance unlocked rooftop.
Blooming lilies of varying colors during the entrance ceremony.
A closed space just the two of us, under the confinement of yellow, checker-patterned umbrella.
…Honestly, a slight hint of relief washed over me as I recall each of it. And the end of these dreamlike days, inching ever closer with each relief.
Satisfactory Downfall Immunity Disorder.
An abnormality where one’s own happiness reduce one’s very lifespan.
The kind of disease you can easily found on those sappy, high-school romance tragedy manga or novel.
I made up that name on the spot. SDID. Makes it sound cooler. Besides, it’s easier to remember than nothing.
I am the first and only case of it occurring.
Fluctuations of hormone triggered from an increase in several neurotransmitters. Just the right combination, and every human is capable of recognizing such emotion as happiness. It works slightly differently on me—this body. Rather, I’d call it an extra step.
That very same combination, disrupts the immune system inside this body. Surely it’d be alright if the Doctor could just figure out which part is dysfunctional. Unfortunately, there’s no pattern to its symptoms.
Several medical check and CT scans concluded with a vague result that might describe what was happening every time the symptoms appeared.
Signs of aging.
An incurable disease which led every living animal into its inevitable death—as far as I’m concerned.
At a glance, nothing much changes, and only I could feel it. The feeling of consciously approaching death’s embrace. Physical exertion becomes weaker. Terminally-ill and depressing thoughts encroaches your mental. Life as you know it, seems to be hurrying you to the finish line.
As time went on, the progression shows no sign of halting. No longer just something I could feel, but something that shows. My body begin to lose its red hue, increasingly pale with each passing day. Strands of hair turning white without me noticing.
The only surprising thing was I managed to retain my youthful look. Not that it matters, when the cells inside my body are dying.
Unironically, my favorite reads are fictions concerning thought experiment on immortality. The loneliness it brings, or the inherent suffering within. Altogether it pieces the what-if consequences stemming from limitless choice. Eventually alluding it into an illusion of having no choice. It has been so, way back before I realize something is wrong with my body. Perhaps a coincidence. Though I never take credit preferring such read as a consolation for SDID.
On the other hand, I disliked sappy stories concerning terminally-ill patient with limited deadline. Maybe I should call it deathline? Such stories’ context was reversed from immortality, it grants the person virtually limitless choice in expense of facing one absolute answer it couldn’t change. Hence why anytime the person in question survives, it felt as if denigrating the whole ordeal of the story. It just felt wrong for them to survive. Perhaps it’s an attempt of deluding myself from SDID, or I’m probably too narrow-minded.
I suppose deep down I’m simply trying to justify my own inevitable death.
A sigh escaped as I laid down my body, blanketed over the dim sunset.
At moments like these, usually the terminally-ill heroine’s monologue began to ramble. Recalling the happy memories and whatnot. Believe me, now I can relate to that way better than I used to. Only then, for me to realize I don’t even have such luxury.
A slight remembrance of my happier past could hasten the one-month lifespan I clutch ever so loosely.
I want to remember. I desperately want to be happy before I die.
But I want to live. I want to see her once more. I want to tell her a lot of things. I want her to be happy.
Tears began to stream their way to the bedsheet.
I couldn’t describe the internal conflict happening inside. Has anyone ever feels so much torment over deciding what to feel in their life? Could any human ever decide their own feelings?
If I was born normal I wouldn’t have spared a single thought on it.
This habit of mine appeared soon after I was diagnosed with SDID. Every time the sun sets, I wept. The thoughts of what I would feel next time sent shivers throughout my body. The memories from that day keeps coming back to remind me of how happy I once was. And once again, inflict me with the pain of suffering from happiness.
I guess without the SDID context, the previous line sounds quite sappy for a wholesome romance novel, right?
I let out a laugh, a momentary flash of happiness slips out of my mind.
“That’s another day off my life.”
And this habit is the reason why I have only a month left.
So, should we begin? The long exposition that is my past. A lot of people probably will be less than enthusiastic hearing this—most of them will be bored. But at least let me take rein in the pacing, all right? Let me savor and indulge in this fleeting happiness which costs my literal life.
I cried, I smiled, and I began to chant the first mantra.
“Where should I begin?”
It rained on that day.
Plum rain. The downpour happened arbitrarily despite the clear blue sky a few minutes ago. I had forgotten…no, I think I never brought an umbrella to school, so I had to take a shelter on a nearby gazebo. My house was still blocks away, there’s no way I could dash through the rain without getting drenched.
I had light clothing and my shoulders were wet. It’s cold, but I didn’t mind. Usually when it rain during these times, it lasted for hours on end. I wonder if I’m going to be trapped in this little gazebo until evening.
“I might end up with a cold by then.”
The first shiver went down my spine. Feeling restless, I decided to do some activity just to kill time. I ransacked through my bag searching for anything I could spend my time on. I found nothing of interest.
Schoolbooks, notebooks, pencil box.
To be completely honest, I was not the kid with many hobbies. I have certain fondness to writing, but that was it.
Do I really have to read the math book? I could have done the homework given, but somehow it felt inappropriate to do it before I reached home. That left me with social studies, which I clearly have no fond memories of.
It’s the sharpener I lost. I had bought the sharpener a few weeks ago when we went shopping to a fancy mall out of town. Why had I bought this? I seldom used pencil. The design was not even cute, but it’s simply eye-catching. A peculiar hexagonal prism with yellow outlining.
So it was not lost, after all.
Wonder if I got any pencil I could use this on. I reached inside my bag for my pencil box. During that slight window, I was unaware—
A slight ruffle followed with a loud thud. Someone sat beside me. Another kid, clad in drenched yellow opaque raincoat. It was so drenched, splashes of water sloppily dripped from every crease and edge. The immediate vicinity became slightly colder.
That person sat still for a few seconds, clouds of white emanating in quick succession from inside the hood. Perhaps tired. After it subsided, that person took the hood off. To my surprise, it was a girl. Her hair, messy with many curly protrusion. Though short-haired, her facial features was smooth-lined.
Droplets of sweat glisten her overall appearance, complementing the reflective, wet-raincoat.
Her face twitched and she turned over to look at me.
“What’s the point of using raincoat if you sweat that much?”
That question probably was not the best conversation starter.
Yet she answered anyway, “I like to run when it rains.” Her voice tone was childish, but she said as if my question was rhetorical.
Keeping the conversation going, “Won’t you get scolded if you got home like that?”, I asked.
“I should be the one asking that.”
For a moment, I saw her lips bent down into a suggestive frown. That probably was the sign to end the conversation, so I sealed my mouth shut. I was simply asking out of curiosity, but most often than not, people didn’t take it lightly.
Forgetting my initial objective, I sat in silence, occasionally examining the not-so-brand-new sharpener I was about to use. My seating partner, on the other hand, had taken out a book and a pencil and began sketching in earnest. ‘Isn’t it a bad idea to do it while raining?’, ‘Why is it your face have to be so close to the book?’, ‘Do you like drawing?’—questions began to pop one after another inside me. I had stared at her intensely for quite some time until she finally noticed my gaze.
“…Is there something you would like to ask?”
I began to arrange the order of questions I had in mind. My mouth stuttered as I couldn’t catch up with the events going on inside and outside. I was nonplussed by her question.
“Can I watch you draw?”
It was an outrageous question. She knitted her eyebrow for a while, perhaps baffled by my question just as much—if not more than I was. People have been looking at me this way for a while. Previously, I blamed my choice of questions during moments like these, which clearly was not the best I could come up with. Lately though, I have a vague idea perhaps they were baffled after looking at my expression, which definitely was not the best I could come up with.
After what seemed to be a long five seconds, she went back to drawing. I was left frozen and hanging.
Was what I had thought—
“I like drawing,” until she answered. “I cannot draw at school or at home, so I have to make use of the limited time I have in-between.”
It was sort of captivating for me listening to her sincere answer (?) using a childish—no, maybe it’s closer to boyish, tone. The downpour outside was terribly loud, but I could hear her voice just fine. Instead, it accentuate her voice as it reverberated throughout the little space we’re in.
I always considered myself as a poor communicator, hence my dislike of social studies. But in that short few hours with her, the conversation flowed naturally. Like a father and son playing catch. A pen pal exchanging letter side-by-side. We proceeded to talk about each other for quite a while, growing restless with each passing time as the rain gradually subside. Knowing the rain would eventually end, I did my best to keep her interest at bay.
Before it subsided, though, she ended the conversation first.
“I’m out of pencil.”
Turns out, she had been drawing with spare pencils. After one was no longer sharp, she took out another, already sharp and ready to sketch.
Bewildered, I was looking if there was any way to prolong our encounter. ‘What should I do?’, I could do nothing as she put away the book and pencils on her lap into the slightly damp shoulder bag.
Oh, the sharpener. I held onto this firmly all this time, haven’t I?
“Umm! It’s still raining outside, so, if you’d like!”, I declared abruptly as I hand out my sharpener.
Was that the right choice to make? Would she stay for longer? Wait, does she even willing to take it? Why am I handing it over to her if I could just lend it?
The response I received though, was neither a refusal nor acceptance. She took the sharpener, briskly pull the raincoat hood over her head, and said—
She ran away into the rain. Her dashing figure, quickly diminishing as she went further and further. Her raincoat was too wide and baggy on the underside with a checkered black and white pattern. You could easily mistook her as a floating traffic cone from afar.
“I don’t even know her name.”
And I easily spotted my biggest mistake right then. I was too absorbed talking with her, I have no idea about her identity nor how to contact her. All she left was an unforgettable memory, impression, and a lingering warmth on my left palm.
On the way home, I was stricken with regret. The whole night, I was contemplating the novice mistake I just did, swearing not to do it again.
It took an anxious night and the next day to find out that she was also a 4th-grade student in my school. I was struck with relief and elation, contrary to my expectations.
That was how I met Tsuyu, the person closest to me, and the most likely perpetrator of my inevitable death.
Tsuyu was a quiet, but vehement girl. I learnt that over the course of Grade School. Ever since that day, we have been meeting each other on the same spot after school. I was the one who proposed the idea, because seeing her sincerely answering while her hand sketched away in earnest gave a warmth feeling inside me no one else could give. Not even my family. It was Tsuyu alone who provided me with such warmth.
Tsuyu came from a well-off family. As expected, her parents were quite strict with the limits of activity she could do. At home, she was expected to be an obedient and capable kid, meanwhile our school was pushing her to befriend everyone while maintaining the status of an honor student.
It was to no one surprise, that the only time left for her, was the small window between home and school—which granted her the freedom of being herself. Apparently, the gazebo was her main base of operation for quite a while. At one point, I realized I have been taking her precious time alone.
‘No, it’s fine. I like it better with you here.’ That line caught me off-guard. I felt a tinge down my heart. If I learned anything during our time together under the gazebo, it was to voice my thoughts clearly and immediately instead of keeping it inside. Tsuyu had an expressionless look due to constantly maintaining it both at home and school. It must be tiring for her having to do it all the time, so I wholeheartedly smile in her stead. ‘Yeah, I like you too, Tsuyu.’
Oh, Tsuyu also liked drawing. In fact, all she did whenever we were together at that time was dutifully drawing with her face an inch away from the sketchbook. While it’s true I had more interest in observing and questioning Tsuyu, it’s not like the thought of looking at her drawing never crossed my mind.
To put it bluntly, it was abysmal. No, maybe avant-garde? One time, I saw her drawing an object similar to a mountain.
‘No, it’s a capybara.’ And I instantly knew why her parents had banned her from drawing.
While there was a momentary restlessness nearing the end of our 6th year, we had grown accustomed to each other and it gradually diminished. There was one talk at that time, it was raining too like when we first met. Tsuyu was acting unusual and I couldn’t really grasp her intention. She had asked a lot of question, as if reversing our everyday role—not that I mind, I was pleased, even. Turned out that was her attempt at parting with me at that moment. She planned to left things as it was without leaving a single goodbye.
To no avail, though, since coincidentally I entered the same Middle School as her. What she didn’t know, though, I had planned to do so from the get go, putting much effort in study which I never expected was capable of doing. Such is the power of love. I had no idea back then, though.
At our graduation, when I revealed the Middle School we’re getting in was the same all along, she broke down in tears. ‘I’m not…gonna cry. No, I mean…thank you.’ That was the first time I had seen Tsuyu genuinely smiled in front of me.
During our 1st-year of Middle School, Tsuyu still put up with the whole facade, albeit showing a bit restraint. Her time spent around me gradually increased. Instead of the limited hours inside the gazebo we used to sit, we had plenty of time walking home together after school.
‘You know, I never saw you doing anything whenever we’re together. Even right now.’ It was endearing to see her gradually opening up to me. What seemed to be a case of me interrogating her had mellowed out. Now I knew she was also interested in me. Although I had to admit her approach was so, so indirect, and with it confusion was bound to happen.
‘Come to think of it. I spent most of the time observing and talking with you.’ But that didn’t bother me. Not at all. It’s Tsuyu, after all. Her method of inquiring instead drove me to mull over several aspects I had never even considered previously.
‘It’s my inquisitive nature, I guess? I liked to know things, especially if someone is willing to answer.’ For one, I realized that it was not wrong of me to feel curious about a lot of things. Sure, in Grade School I might have had a case of social anxiety since not everyone was willing to answer like Tsuyu. I had blamed myself for being nosy, prying into every little detail that went deep into personal matters. Tsuyu helped me realize that it was okay to be curious, but not everyone was keen to answer so I need to be careful with my approach.
‘That’s not what I’m talking about.’ And most of the time, Tsuyu responded with a sidelong glance at me while pouting. It would take a fool to mistook her red cheek as an illusion painted over by the setting sun, and perhaps I was a fool at that time.
It didn’t matter that she was a bit reluctant to shower me with various questions, she probably never experienced showing interest to someone her age. I knew better though. Everyone kept her at a distance and instead showered her in praise and compliments. Exemplary honor student, I must say.
‘Don’t worry, it’s not you drawing that I only like, it’s watching you that I like, Tsuyu.’ Usually after then, Tsuyu would left her mouth gaping, as if trying to tell me something, but forcefully shut it close, as if stopping midway sentence. I told her it’s fine to blurt out anything on her mind without reservation, but she’d only shook her head, dismissing it with a disheartened expression.
‘I like to draw.’
‘I know. Seeing you drawing made me feel relieved, for some reason.’
‘I will draw you.’
‘…Well, I must say you have to improve on that department first, don’t you? I’m quite confident on my looks, even though not as charming as yours, Tsuyu.’
Yeah, I was truly a fool back then.
Still, small chatter like these, accompanied by orange glow from the west and occasional afternoon breeze remained as a precious memory within me. Looking at Tsuyu, listening to her activities for the day, the way she walked, and the effort she put at everything. You know. It just made me happy.
It hadn’t rained yet on that day.
The sun was already setting, it’s probably 4 to 5 PM in the afternoon. Basking under that afternoon glow, two shadow walked idly next to each other, rhythm matching and all.
Perhaps a leftover from PE class exercise, exhaustion was apparent on my face. Even mundane task such as breathing became taxing. I simply dismissed it as me neglecting my own physical health. Tsuyu had no PE class that day though, but her breathing was just as rough as mine.
Tsuyu had something to say after school. Considering we’re approaching end of term—it’s highly probable she meant to address graduation since it’s our 3rd-year. With graduation, came high school and its merry band of worry to be dealt with. But we addressed that problem much earlier. We’ve been discussing about our choice of high school. We didn’t want a repetition of what happened at Grade School, after all. At least not Tsuyu, who was fervent about it.
We decided to pursue a somewhat renowned public high school. As expected, Tsuyu’s parent was proven quite difficult to convince. They were adamant on enlisting Tsuyu to a prestigious private high school out of town. I had initially planned to do the same thing as previous, studying to the bone in order to get in the same high school as her, if there was no other choice. ‘No, let me handle this.’, Tsuyu replied with conviction, banishing my worry to the back of my mind.
Several days later, Tsuyu ran to me in exhilaration. She spread her arm open and hugged me on the spot. ‘My parents approved me going there!’ It was rare for Tsuyu to openly show her emotion, much less grinning from ear-to-ear. Of course I was happy. Overjoyed, even. Returning her embrace, despite somewhat embarrassed myself. After all, when will I ever get the chance of Tsuyu displaying physical affection again? Although that night I was suddenly hit by lethargy and had a fever for several days.
Up to this day, I still had no idea how Tsuyu managed to convince her parents, though. When questioned, she only answered ‘I have not put up with everything for years in vain.’, which, as someone who knew her better than most, I could validate and agree with.
Now, what did she have to say?
I had a hunch. Two hunches, apparently. One bad, one good, No, maybe both were good in a sense?
“I finished drawing you.”
Tsuyu halted in front of me, handing out a simple brown file easily passed off as important document.
…That was a surprise. So that’s what this was all about. I had thought Tsuyu died down on drawing, or at least pursuing it. It had been a while since I last saw her drawing too, apparently. The last thing I remembered was her drawing an odd ball of spherical apparatus and she said it was a doll’s face. That was long, long, months ago. Maybe during 2nd-year. I knew Tsuyu couldn’t draw at school and at home, so it had to be our pastime whenever she did, so whenever did she draw this?
I had set the expectation bar abysmally low, prepared to be disappointed at any moment. As it was, voicing it would only be disrespectful so I simply accepted the file she had given.
Depicted was a girl, from head-to-toe, top-to-bottom. Wearing a sailor uniform, matching those of our school. The overall image was…how should I put it. Remarkable. The paper had its fair share of erasure and redraw, too much, in fact. Even in a single glance I could tell this drawing had been thoroughly erased and redrawn, a lot. Traces of the previous drawing were overlapping with each other, giving the final result a shade of tremendous effort.
Her eyes, gentle as a caring mother, from what seemed to be a hollow uneven circle. Her hair, each strand delicately drawn flowing seamlessly, borne from a rough, simple geometric convex shape. Her hands, fingers drawn intricate after a shadow of stubby mushroom with five head. Uniform. Skirt. Legs. Everything was drawn after many trial and error.
It was me.
A surge of emotion well up inside me. Indescribable mix of joy, delight, and relief. Tsuyu had drawn me, this much, for how long? How many redraw had she done? What purpose did this drawing entail?
I had lowered the drawing, and my view was replaced by a figure of a lone girl. Standing upright, slightly trembling. Hair not as short as it was in 6th-Grade, but still you could pass it as pretty boyish. My eyes were completely enamored by the look on her face, and I could only bet she was completely enamored by mine too. I was not stupid enough to think of her blushing as mere tricks of the sunset.
“I remember you said you’d draw me a long time ago. It was two years ago.”
“Then this drawing—this paper had been drawn since then?”
“I never saw you draw this during our time together.”
“Because I’m not doing it in front of you.”
“…How did you manage to draw without looking at me?”
All my questions had been rhetorical. Downright nonsensical, even. I could infer the answer easily, but the fact remained that I needed confirmation from Tsuyu—I had to ask them. Perhaps as a result from an increase in my palpitations. The fast, beating-heart not only churn out blood flowing through my vein at a faster rate, carried with it also thoughts of varying degree.
“…I‘ve been watching you all this time. I ingrained your look, in my mind, everyday. When no one is watching, I tried to recall your image and draw it out on that canvas. I was struggling at first, even I considered to give up after the first try—knowing you were the one who said I need to improve my skills before I could even draw you. But I kept trying, drawing a different version of you each day better than the previous one.
As time flies, I realized my eyes followed you everywhere. I began to notice the minute details. Your actions, your voice, your words. I wasn’t simply looking at your appearance, and it helped me depict you even better in such an unexpected way. Yet, I could never bring myself to feel satisfied with the result. Because the very next day, I found something new from looking at you.
You are mesmerizing.
Every day you seem to dazzle even brighter than the previous day. I knew I had to redraw everything all over when I saw you. And I knew my eyes will be occupied by you for the next day. It never ceased, the cycle never stopped. For 1035 days.
That was the time it took for me to realize this feeling.”
Tears began trickling down my face without obstruction. Tsuyu uttered every sentence punctually, with window in-between just enough to confer the meaning and prepare for the next one.
Tsuyu was a quiet, but vehement girl. But to me, she was simply vehement and no longer quiet. At least, she tried not to. And that made me happy, more than anything else. This warmth, was it because I’m relieved Tsuyu have been paying attention to me? Did these tears bore the same emotion as Tsuyu during our Grade School graduation?
“I like you.”
An unfathomable amount of happiness. Too much. that I couldn’t contain. My heart beats even louder, almost seemingly painful. At one point, my vision blurred. Tsuyu was there, but I couldn’t see her. It’s painful. Perhaps the tears were blocking my vision. Well, no matter. I should give Tsuyu my reply. Immediately. If not, something bad would happen.
‘I like you too’, but before I could mutter those words, my legs gave out and I collapsed in front of Tsuyu.
High school was a bliss hidden in disguise, blanketed over death threat. Perhaps it’s more appropriate to call it hypocrisy.
Tsuyu had opened up to me, to say the least. She showered me with affection, and I replied in kind. It didn’t occur to me as a problem not knowing what our relationship was. Tsuyu must have noticed it too, but didn’t pursue it any further, As long as we conveyed our feelings mutually, happiness followed.
To tell the truth, I had a vague idea about SDID during early high school—that something wasn’t right with my body. The connection was simple. The more time I spent with Tsuyu, the weaker my constitution came to be. I suppose it was not an exaggeration that I fell into a comatose state for a few days because Tsuyu confessed to me back then.
But the connection was just absurd. For the first time I delve deep in thought, trying to find conjecture that fitted what was happening with the connection I made. Deep down, I understood my brain was simply averting the worst outcome—the one it had not desired, that’s why I kept using the alibi.
The happier I get, the weaker I am.
It sounded straight silly. Outrageous, even. Simple as I was, back then I stubbornly believed the only way out from this miserable line of thought was to become happy. Forget about the unnecessary worry, and instead bask myself in happiness while I still can.
Tsuyu would not be pleased either, if I told her about my conjecture. I had worried she would blame herself for putting my life on the line, just for her sake.
Eventually, the Doctor figured it out. The truth came to light one day. It wasn’t like flickering candle in a dark room as much as shining a 1000 lumen flashlight in front of me. The truth blinded me without any reservation, shoving reality onto my eyes despite my hardest attempt to avert my gaze.
To put it bluntly, it was an episode of depression.
Ironic how those days were the only way to prolong my lifespan. Thinking back on it only made me feel even worse, nauseating my stomach. I couldn’t eat, taste, nor feel. Hollowness enveloped my entire being. At that rate, I would die faster from malnutrition than the irrational disorder I exclusively suffer.
‘Let’s take a walk.’ It took only a moment for Tsuyu to drag me out of my depressive episode. I couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to be happy just from seeing her standing in my room. Relishing in guilt of feeling such emotion would mean we have less time together. I had cried in silence.
It…rained on that day. Drizzles of lightweight raindrops.
We took a walk. My first one after several days of shutting myself off from the outside world. ‘Use the other hand,’ I selfishly told Tsuyu, so her right hand would be available. She obeyed, without hesitation. I took hold of her right with my left, our fingers intertwining. The grip was very tight, it probably left a mark on her hand. Yet I couldn’t care less. I had one, and only one thought—that was to seek the warmth which only Tsuyu could ever provide. The warmth she left me with ever since our first meeting. I had light clothing and my right shoulder was damp.
But it’s not cold.
Tsuyu was warm.
Tsuyu brought me back to life. It might be an exaggeration, but I felt grateful for her all the same. To put it in layman terms, I would be willing to die for her. Meaning I chose happiness over sorrow. It wasn’t like I’m putting the SDID on back burner, but it definitely dropped down in my list of worries. If I have to choose between spending my life in eternal sorrow or a short-lived relationship with Tsuyu, I’ll choose the latter without a doubt.
And that was exactly what transpired for the past few weeks. Tsuyu suddenly became attentive and gentler than ever after the day we walked under the same umbrellla. Perhaps we were both worried the whole affair will happen again, so we refrained from confessing each other. This time, it might not just end with comatose. I might die. Tsuyu must have noticed this.
I decided not to tell Tsuyu about the disorder. Since I was a poor actor, Tsuyu probably already picked up everything from the moment she confessed. But she never pushed the matter, not even once.
During these melancholic days, we had spent more time together than ever, even in school. Such as wasting our lunch break on the rooftop, contemplating and exchanging whatever came to our mind while gazing at the sky. We kept at it, even if it’s Winter right now. I didn’t mind the cold, of course, because I wore the gloves Tsuyu gave me.
“The broadcast said it won’t snow for another week.”, Tsuyu said, the clouds above moving about. A small sigh escaped her mouth, forming a patch of white cloud as she breathe.
“Can I, be honest with you?”, Tsuyu knitted her brow, her face visibly shaken and unnerved. Truthfully, I wanted to tell Tsuyu about the disorder, but I couldn’t bear the pain of knowing she would blame herself for my death. It’s Tsuyu. I knew she would. The last thing I wanted was Tsuyu killing herself in order to follow me. The frightening thing was that she might do just that. If at all, I just wanted Tsuyu to live on happily in my stead, as someone who was not born to be happy.
“No, you can’t,” I replied curtly, “But, know that I also wanted to be honest with you all this time, okay?” After all, I was torn apart at the possible outcome. If Tsuyu was reluctant and decided to left me for good, that would torment me for eternity. Knowing Tsuyu though, she probably would accept the reality wholeheartedly and strive to be by my side until the end. I’m worried I’d be too happy hearing her reply and just die on the spot. It’s hilarious imagining Tsuyu’s response to my abrupt death, but I’d be dead before I even know it.
Huh, apparently I was already at the point where I could joke about my own demise. Maybe I was not as reluctant to die as I initially thought.
“Then, let’s end this.”
My heart skipped a beat. It felt like something plunged deep inside my heart. What did she meant by ‘end’?
“Something have been weighing on your mind, but you never tell me about it. No…I believe, you cannot tell me about it. In that case, the only thing I could do to help is to forget about it.”
Tsuyu stood up, her face strained into a forced smile.
“I know that, but I just can’t. I cannot simply forget about you. And all the scenarios that I envision didn’t help the lhe least bit.”
She was on the verge of tears.
“I’m scared. I don’t know what to do because I have no idea what you’re going through.”
It eventually builds up, and the dam overflowed.
I had no idea Tsuyu was in this much pain. I was being selfish all this time, and Tsuyu had to bear with the uncertainty and anxiety as a consequence. She might have fret that I turned out this way because of her. Everyday, ever since the day she confessed to me.
I never gave her an actual reply.
Not to say I didn’t have any. Closer to I couldn’t put it into words.
And her trepidation probably peaked when I went absent for days after I knew about the condition. I shut myself alone without considering Tsuyu’s feelings. It must have took her a considerable amount of courage to enter my room that day. I remember her hand trembled along the way when we walked under the umbrella.
Right, Tsuyu is also in pain.
And that’s because of me trying to avoid pain.
“December 25th,” I interjected, “I promise I will tell you everything on that day.”
I decided to tell Tsuyu everything. My condition. My feelings. And perhaps my end. But I need time to arrange my words carefully, so I had to postpone it until Christmas, when school is over.
If I tell her everything at that moment, I was afraid her determination would waver. She was already a step ahead by willing to forget about me. It was a step in the right direction, and I didn’t want to deter her conviction. My own determination might waver if I saw her broke down in tears right then and there, too.
“So let’s minimize contact until then, alright?” It was December 1st, so we had a considerable amount of time before the promised day. Honestly, it was probably my silly idea at work to choose December 25th, but I also didn’t want to bother Tsuyu with end-of-term exams and whatnot. She had a long life ahead, after all.
“…Then let me do one last thing.”
Hm? It was rare for Tsuyu to ask for permission. Come to think of it, Tsuyu never asked me for a favor, not even when she had to persuade her parents for letting her enter a public high school.
I was the one who wanted her to forget about me, either way. One last favor to entertain her might be okay. Free of charge. My farewell gift, since I won’t be able to give her anymore.
Tsuyu, startled at my response, briskly walked over to me. Her arms reached out and I prepared myself, probably a final embrace before we part. I needed to calm my heart and stay still, assuming the worst might happen at any time if I ever felt too much happy. Because whatever Tsuyu did, it will undoubtedly make me happy. Her hand landed on both my shoulder, as she pull her face close to mine—
—and kissed me.
My heart beats loudly. It struck a pain in my chest with each beat. The kiss went on for a long winding 30-seconds or so. At which point I had to remain still.
Oh, this is bad. I couldn’t contain how happy I am right now.
Tsuyu finally took a step back, and ran over to the school building. Leaving me alone, dazed at what just happened.
Good thing I didn’t fall unconscious this time.
My knees though, gave out either way. And I just realized I was grinning from ear-to-ear. Good grief. She just made it harder for me to continue living.
The very next day, I had a huge case of fever and was hospitalized. Then the Doctor told me I only have one month left to live.
How long has it been?
Honestly, there was not much point in counting it down. Even in the face of death, I still sought happiness by reminiscing what little memories I held dear—the short life I experienced.
I am bedridden.
All of my hair have turned completely white. My skin is pale as a corpse. Even moving an inch became an arduous task to overcome.
Lethargic. That’s what it boils down to. I am very, very tired. Maintaining my consciousness felt like a tiresome burden.
Terrified. My heart is not prepared. I couldn’t close my eyes despite desperately wanting to do so. I feared if I close my eyes, that would be the end of me. The last I saw life. Ended right then and there, alone.
I couldn’t keep the promise after all, Tsuyu.
I wished I had written down a letter. Anything that could convey this love I had to return. I want at least Tsuyu…I want Tsuyu to know how I feel. But I couldn’t move. let alone write.
I want to sleep. I don’t want to die. I wish Tsuyu was beside me.
The sunset…the afterglow. I wonder if Tsuyu is heading back home from school. How did she fare in school without me? She must be fine, though. She could put up a facade for a long time.
“Ah…”, now that I recall, “it’s the last day.”
Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is the promised day. I promised to explain everything and lay my feelings bare on that day. I defnitely have to tell her.
Perhaps the Doctor was being considerate. Perhaps one month was the best case scenario. Things just don’t go the way you expected. He told me it was according to my condition at that time, after all. Apparently the reaper had his scythe on my neck closer than I ever imagined.
“Then, let me grant your wish.”
A shadow of a person was casted on me. The sunset was very bright and I couldn’t make out whoever was standing next to me. How did he manage to enter the room in the first place? I must have noticed when the door was opened, because it was right at the other end of this person.
“Who…are you?”, I let out the faintest of voice, doubting the person could hear.
“An apparition. A spirit. Ghost. I have been called by a lot of terms, feel free to call me with whatever you like.”
“Why…”, are you here?
“You don’t have to voice it out loud. I can hear your inner voice just as fine.”
Ah, I see. That’s convenient.
“As for why am I here, truth be told, I have but a vague idea myself.”
A figment of my imagination, then?
“It might be closer to what your kin would consider as ‘supernatural’.”
Huh. I’m not particularly fond of the term myself. I won’t be satisfied with anything without any sort of plausible explanation.
“Even if your disease was a part of it?”
SDID have some plausible explanation which I could come to term with. I won’t go as far as supernatural, though I agree being the only person suffering from it is…unnatural.
“Then that just means your kin have not yet reached the capability to explain my existence as plausible.”
Heh…and I wouldn’t live to see the day.
“True, and that’s why I’m here.”
What are you, Santa?
“Sometimes, kids call me just that. I have but one purpose everytime I materialize, and that was to grant an offering of consolation to those nearing their end.”
Am I special, then?
“You can call it that way.”
Then you can grant any wish?
“With a corresponding value of setback, technically yes.”
Truly? Then what would be the consequence of me wishing the end of the world?
“…That’s something your kin better off not knowing.”
Haha, I’m joking. It’s just in my nature to be inquisitive, forgive me. If you can read my mind, then you have at least an idea what I wished for, right?
“True. I was simply guiding you to accept that wish.”
Then, I wish to fulfill my promise to Tsuyu. Let me live until tomorrow.
…I thought prolonging my life was out of question?
“There’s still uncertainty in your demise. But with your wish, that could be altered so your immediate future is certain.”
Which means I might die today, but this way I could certain I will not die today.
“If you prefer it that way.”
Then, what would the consequence be?
“Tsuyu will forget about you.”
…What a very convenient development. Wait, does that mean she would not appear tomorrow?
“That would depend on her answer.”
Ah. So Tsuyu also have a part in this, after all?
“As a consequence of your wish.”
…I see. May I entrust you to convey a message to her, then?
“I’m afraid I could not.”
Well. It won’t hurt to try. Would you please convey to her, ‘I like you too’, before she forgets me? If she would eventually forget about me, then there should be no problem.
“…No. That is something you have to convey yourself.”
No negotiation, then. Does this mean I could close my eyes without worry?
“Yes. Take a good sleep for now.”
Thanks. I’m tired myself. I just…want to end this, as soon as possible.
Ah. I can’t wait tomorrow to come. Wait, could I even move from the bed? Will I even be able to walk over to school? I should’ve wished for it before he left. Just as the questions emerged, exhaustion washed over me and my eyes closed shut naturally.