Life Cycle

Entry Writchal #3
Tema: Hidup-Mati

I switch on my bedroom light. 

My vision is filled with a thick fog. I walk across the bedroom while rubbing my eyes. As  my consciousness grows, my vision becomes clearer. I look at the broken mirror in the bathroom.  My face appears on it, but it seems weird. I splash water on my face and rub my eyes again. Now  all I see is the normal me, the sad normal me with my work shirt on. 

Behind me, I can see my wife, Fidelia standing in front of our bed. Her flowing hair blocks  the morning sunlight from the window. Her smile shines brighter than the sun itself. She enters the  bathroom while bringing my tie. Her hand moves my head to look at the mirror, preventing me to  look at the bedroom’s cracked wall. I try to smile as much as I can while looking at her reflection.  She ties my tie and then rests her head on my shoulder. 

She holds my hand. “You look perfect, my love.” 

“I could never be as perfect as you, love. 

I’m not even kidding whenever I said that she’s perfect. She’s born to rich parents and  quickly become a model in her teens. She has a lot of money, yet somehow, she vowed to be my  wife. Every single aspect of her life is perfect, except for me and this run-downed apartment that  I can rent. Why did she even want to stay with me? 

She puts her head up. “You should smile more. Let’s eat breakfast. Don’t be late for your  job.” 

“What’s our breakfast today?” 

“Just a normal jam toast. We don’t have much food left until your next payment.” I turn around and look at her. “It doesn’t matter what we eat as long as you’re here with  me. I’ll work hard for both of us.” 

She smiles. “I know you will. Now, let’s eat.” 

We hold hands while walking out of the bathroom and through the bedroom. Fidelia had  already plate the toast on a small dining table that’s only fit for two people. A lone burner is placed next to it, located next to a cupboard that we use for storing anything. Everything here just feels  so crowded that it’s choking me. 

The toast Fidelia makes is still warm out of the toaster. It smells delicious but it doesn’t  excite me. All that I can think of is my life and the future. If I keep going like this, how am I  supposed to live my life.

The chair creaks as I pull it. I sit on the old chair, opposite of Fidelia. The jam tastes bitter  as I munch on it even though everyone says that it’s supposed to be sweet. Fidelia holds my hand. “Hey, you don’t smile when you eat today’s breakfast. Is there  something wrong with the toast?” 

“The toast is as good as it’s usually is. I’m just sad I’m not able to be as perfect as you. Why do you even want to be a person like me?” 

She grips my hand tight. “You’re already perfect the way you are. I know you work very  hard for the both of us and that’s enough reason for me to stay with you.” 

I look down. “I’m very sorry for our condition now. I’m so sorry for not being able to fulfill  any of your dreams, living in a house with a swimming pool, supply for food, or even a status to  be looked upon.” 

“Look at me.” 

I stay still. I can’t look at her after I have failed her multiple times. She’s perfect and I’m  not. I couldn’t let her live with me. 

She holds my chin and points it to her face. “I say look at me. Those are my past dreams,  dreams before I meet you. With time flowing, I realized that this is the life that I’ve always  wanted,” says her while extending her arm to the whole room. “I realized that the only thing that  I’ve been searching for this entire time is living a happy life with the person I trusted the most.  Nothing can change how I feel about you, no matter how much imperfection we have.” 

“Oh, my love Fidelia. What did I do to deserve a wife like you? You deserve a much better  life and I’ll work hard for that.” 

She smiles even brighter. “Stop being so hard on yourself. Sometimes you need to relax  and concentrate on living on the present. The future is unknown but we can face it together. If only  you could see yourself through my eyes.” 

A ringing starts from inside our bedroom. I instantly look at it. There’s no more time to  waste then. I must go to work now or I’ll be late. 

Fidelia releases my arm. “You should go now. I’ll handle the dishes.” 

The chair creaks as I stand up. I rush to the door and pick my coat from the rack. My hand  busily checks my pocket to make sure I didn’t forget anything. 

“Goodbye, my love. I’ll be patiently waiting here until you come back the evening,” says  her.

“I’ll see you too.” 

I close the door and look out of the apartment. The two-floored apartment I’m standing on  is old. All the paints are cracking and the pipes are rusting. Beyond the floor railing, opens a  parking lot with a single car on it, my work-car. That dusty machine reminds me of my past dreams,  forgotten and uncared for. 

I walk down the stairs, holding to the rusty railings. The farther I get away from my  apartment room, I feel worse about myself. Leaving Fidelia makes me remember the hardships of  my life. The constant cycle of waking up, working, and sleeping every day makes me feel dull. I  don’t feel anything beyond the warmth of Fidelia’s arms. I’m so tired of my life that I almost forget  that I’m still a living being and not a robot. But I shouldn’t think like that. I’m still alive, I must  stay alive for Fidelia’s happiness. 

I enter my car and start driving to the highway. The sun rises higher to the sky. Vehicles  starts to fill the highway, more than it usually is. I start to worry as cars in front of me slows down.  The highway is the quickest way to my workplace. Going to any other route will take much longer  time. This can’t be happening. I’ve always come on time my whole life. I can’t just break that  record. There has to be something that I can do to pass this traffic jam. 

I stomp the accelerator pedal but it was too late. Two cars have closed my path and slowed  down drastically. My fingers busily tapping on the driver wheel while I look at the time on my  car’s dashboard. No, there’s no way I’m getting there on time now. Why can’t I be perfect at  anything? 

Half an hour later I arrived at my workplace, the Microbiology Testing Center. With my  tired hands, I tidy my name tag with the title “Virologist” written on it. A dull grey building stands  behind a huge parking lot with lots of cars. Wall surrounds this place, expanding to the back of the  long building. Not even a single window in sight. I remember inside there, eternal hours of work  under artificial light. Not even a single plant is allowed inside that building. 

I step outside of my car. In front of the double-door, I can see my boss smoking his usual  cigarette. He must be waiting for me. 

I walk to him while looking down. “Good morning, Boss, I’m so sorry that I’m late.” He puffs a cloud of smoke. “I expected better from you. The corporate wants everything to  be perfect since we can’t make a single mistake here.” 

“I’m so sorry for failing you. I won’t do a mistake again.”

“You better be or else the corporate will force me to fire you,” he says while pointing a  finger at me. 

“I understand. I’ll go straight to work.” 

“Good. I’m just going to remind you once again. Make a single mistake and you’ll be fired.  I’ll head back to work or else they will fire me too.” 

Boss stumps his cigarette and goes inside. I walk right behind him. He enters his room,  right in the corner of the long main hallway. Before he closes his door, he nods at me. I head  straight to the lab I work at, passing multiple identical lab with huge glass window in front. When  I arrive, my lab partner, Treone is already inside, preparing the equipment for today’s observation. 

He smiles at me when I enter the lab. I take my lab coat and mask then step inside the air  chamber between the lab and the dressing room. I stare at the lab with no passion. I still remember  the first day I work here. I was really nervous and proud to be assigned in this lab. But working  with the same thing over and over again have eroded me. I no longer feel any passion left in my  work. 

“Good morning. You look as tired as always,” laughs him. “Do you want a coffee?” “No. Just head to work and finish this day.” 

He continues to prepare the equipment. “Work will be more enjoyable if you’re happy  about it. We can joke for a bit you know.” 

“No. This job is very important to me. I can’t just lose it because we joked while we work.  I expect you to be serious about this job too.” 

“I’m sorry then. I thought that since we’ve been lab partner for years, we might want to  know each other better,” he says while putting the last equipment in place. “We can talk another time, but for now we have a job to do. How’s our specimen condition  today?” 

Treone opens the cooler and pulls out a tray of virus specimens that I’ve been working for  years. This is my life work, if this fails, then I’m just a failure. The specimens must succeed.  Treone put the tray on the table while I’m checking the electron microscope. He walks away to  pick up our lab journal. I pick up one of the specimen vials. 

Treone touches my back. “Don’t forget to be careful.” 

I instantly push his hand away. “You almost made me drop the specimen. I’ve been doing  this for years; I know what I’m doing. There will be no more mistake.”

“Okay then. I’ll make sure I won’t bug you. I’ll observe from here.” 

I look away from him and focus on the vial. I open the lid and quickly put the specimen  under the microscope. I look at the computer and observe it’s RNA. There’s no change in this  specimen. Another day of failure. With this sample, I don’t think the other specimen is going to  change too. 

“False again,” I say to Treone. 

“That sucks. But we still have to check every single specimen. There may be a mutation in  one of the other specimens.” 

“I’ve lost hope for years of not finding anything. I’m just doing this observation for  payment. Have you written the observation yet?” 

“Oh yeah. I almost forgot,” he says then quickly write on the journal. 

I look back at the microscope. “I need you to be more serious.” 

I take the vial out of the electron microscope and put the lid back on. My hand moves  quickly, swapping the vial with the new one. I open the lid, observe the specimen, see more failure and close the lid again. I do the same thing over and over until my shift is over. No mutation is  seen today. 

I’ve been trying to find a virus mutation that can replicate DNA strands to produce selected  cells instead of making more virus bodies. With that kind of mutation, it will be a breakthrough in  the medical field. A lot of people can be healed. Another benefit that I can’t ignore is the income. With that breakthrough, I can finally have enough money to buy the house I and Fidelia have been  dreaming of. I can finally be happy. But it doesn’t seem that it’ll happen soon. It’s been years and  all I got is mutations that’s not what I’m searching for. My time is running too quickly. Maybe I  won’t find the mutation until I die. 

Treone touches my back. “Hey, our shift is already over. It’s the evening. We should clean  up now.” 

I keep observing each vial. “You can go home. I’ll stay here.” 

He walks closer. “We can continue tomorrow you know. You haven’t even taken a rest  today.” 

I brush his hand off my back. “Just go. I’ll clean up everything when I’m done.” “Are you sure you don’t need any help?” 

“No. Just go,” I say loudly at him.

“Okay then. Just be careful,” say him while closing the door to the air chamber.  The air chamber blows Treone’s outfit and then he hangs the lab coat and put down the  mask. He waves at me one last time before closing the lab door. I look back at the specimens, my  failures. 

“One of you must mutates. For my family, for the world.” 

I check another specimen, but there’s still no mutation. Why can’t I just get my happy  ending? 

I put back the vial to the rack then I slam the table. I’ve been doing the same thing for  hours, but to no avail. There’re only a few specimens left to check. I have to do check it now. I  can’t rest without knowing what could be inside one of those specimens. 

My shaking hand take a vial and open its lid. I put it inside the electron microscope with  no hope left in me. My eyes widen as I look at the monitor screen. There’s a mutation in it’s RNA. “Please let it be the mutation that I wanted.” 

I put some bacteria samples on a petri dish then I drop a few specimens on the same petri  dish. I put it on the electron microscope and I observe the screen. The virus starts to dig into  bacteria and get near its DNA. Something weird is happening. The virus is not attacking the DNA,  instead it’s copying the DNA substance. This is it. Now to test if it will give the DNA to another  cell. 

I take a cancer cell and put it in another petri dish and mix it with the virus with bacteria’s  DNA. Under the microscope I can observe everything. The virus digs through the cancer cell  membrane and meet with its DNA. But something bad happens. The cancer cell took over the  DNA and the virus die with it. 

I slam the table. “Why is this happening to me? I was so close to my breakthrough but it’s  another failure. Why am I so useless to everyone? What’s even the purpose of me living if I’m  going to fail for my entire life?” 

I quickly put the vials to the rack and put it inside the cooler again. I clean up every  equipment but suddenly my head starts to spin. A headache rushes into my head, slowing down  my movement. I’ve probably worked myself too much, I need to go home now. I quickly finish cleaning up and head out of the lab. On the front door, I see my boss leaning to the wall, smoking  another cigarette. 

“Another rough night shifts?” asks him while puffing a smoke cloud.

“Yeah. Still no progress on my project today.” 

“Don’t you worry. Your life will soon change for the better.” 

“I’ll leave now, boss. If you don’t mind.” 

He puffs another smoke cloud. “Call me Mort.” 

“Okay, Mort. I’ll head back now.” 

He nods. 

I head to my car with a growing headache. It feels like something is growing inside my  head. I try to ignore that pain and drive straight out of the building. The night fog has come again,  covering much of my view. I drive through an empty highway, but still, I have to focus on the  road. Pain surges come as I drive. I try to hold the pain back, but I fail. I lose focus a few times  before I get out of the highway. 

I slap myself on the face. “Focus on the road. I’m almost home.” 

The pain come again, even stronger this time. I hold my head in pain as my other hand try  to grip the steering wheel. Why is my head like this? 

I’m a few meters away from my apartment. A surge of pain strike my head and I lose  control of the steering wheel. I try to hold back the wheel while stomping the brake pedal. I manage  to stop but I hit something hard. I can’t see much beyond the night fog. All I can hear when the  collision happen is a woman screaming. 

I walk out of my car to check while still holding my head. 

“No, oh no” 

I come running to the victim. There lay my beloved wife, Fidelia in a pool of blood next to  the apartment building. 

I hold her head up. “Fidelia, my beloved wife. Talk to me. Please stay awake.” “Hello, my love. I thought I’ve lost you,” she says with her bloody mouth. “What are you doing out here?” I ask as I try to hold back my tears. 

Fidelia rubs her cold hand on my cheek. “I was searching for you. You said you’ll be here  by the evening.” 

I hold her hand tight. “Oh, Fidelia. I’m so sorry for everything. Sorry for not keeping my  promise. Please stay awake for me. I’ll call an ambulance.” 

“It’s too late now for that. I can feel my consciousness slowly losing its grip,” she says  while looking away from me.

I point her face at me. “Please, don’t leave me.” 

“Don’t blame yourself, my love. I will always love you forever.” 

Blood spew out of her mouth and her eyes close on me. I cry out a scream of pain as tears  pour down from my chin. I can’t feel her breath, her veins, nor even hear her heart beating. She’s  gone forever now.  

I scream. “Why am I like this? I can’t even fulfill my promise to my own wife. Why must  I be so useless to this world?” 

This is all my fault. I’m not ready to let her go. I still want to see her. I don’t want her to  go like this. I haven’t fulfilled her dreams. I haven’t been a good person. No matter what I do, I  always fail in the end. I’m tired of always failing over and over and over. There’s no more thing  that held me back from getting off this world. 

I let go of Fidelia’s bloody hands and walk upstairs, to my apartment room. Everything  feels empty. The air is cold, there’s no Fidelia’s warm hug to greet me, there’s no more joy in this  place. I walk to the cabinet, picking up a kitchen knife as I look at a cold dinner prepared for me.  My feet walk on itself to the bedroom that’s still the light still on. My headache strike again and I  accidentally bump the lit stove and an oil bottle fell on it. Fire starts to spread fast, but I was too  dead inside to care. 

I enter my bedroom. The bed sheet is clean and empty. I open up the window next to the  bed and look up at the foggy night sky. I can’t even see the beautiful stars on my death day. I’m  such a failure

My headache keeps growing until I can’t take it anymore. I hold up the knife in pain. The pain surges and I scream out all of my lungs. I can’t handle it anymore. 

“Fidelia, we will meet again.” 

I strike my throat with the knife, ending the endless sound of my scream. Blood gush out  of my throat as I fell to the floor. My vision is slowly fading. I start to lose everything in my  memory. 

The fire keeps burning through the apartment, entering the bedroom. I can vaguely see the  fire climbing up the wall, burning everything in its path. Soon it hits the lightbulb. The fire switch off the bedroom light.

Writer: P. C.

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