The End of the World

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Waking

In the morning of Mom’s birthday, the beginning of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony greeted me like a slap on the face. It blasted in my right ear through my cell phone’s tiny speakers and promptly shook me awake. Where was I and when was I? I wondered for a brief moment, still close-eyed as I grabbed the phone and punched in a few buttons randomly without looking and hoped it would shut up. It didn’t.

The tune managed to ring for a few more musical bars before I successfully turned it off. I need to remind myself to change my ringtone into something less heart stopping…

…Wait a second. It feels like I’ve already reminded myself about the same thing before.

Maybe I wasn’t quite awake yet, I thought with a frown. I shook my head and tried to focus on the tiny digital clock on the phone’s screen. It proudly displayed in blazing red pixels: 10.00 AM. Underneath it was my digital organiser, reminding me that I had to get to that restaurant by 12.00 PM…but didn’t I wake up at 11.00 AM –

And suddenly everything that has happened on Mom’s birthday flooded into my mind. I recalled the memories like they were a fast-forwarded movie being played in front of me. The late awakening and taxi ride. Our lunch and my stupid insensitive taste buds. Our trip to the mall to buy her a present and the issue with my nose. The completely pointless Rainbow Troops performance – and did I really scream in public? Not to mention the hospital incident. Being blind. Literally losing my touch. Some nonsense about a sixth sense.

I was still alive and well, albeit stuck in a bed because I didn’t have the determination to wake up properly. I could still remember Mom’s relentless badgering over the most insignificant matters. Miki’s feeble replies to Mom’s comments. My own voice when I spoke to them. Above all, I could still remember the loss of my five senses, unexplainable even as I continuously pondered over the possible causes.

The revelation that it had all been a dream was, to put it frankly, an anticlimactic end.

Did I read one too many science fiction books? Did I burn someone’s dream catcher and let loose an onslaught of nightmares? Was the dream just one of those strange things that every person in the world has experienced once in a while?

Or was the ‘sixth sense nonsense’ actually true?

Maybe, just maybe, I had been shown the consequences of my actions in the future. I could still do the same things I did before, and everything would end up being the same. But now, because I already knew everything that would happen, I could change them all.

Maybe I’ll ride that bus after all. Or maybe I’ll storm out of the Chinese restaurant, demanding a less health-threatening lunch. Perhaps I’ll get Mom a silver brooch instead of yet another bottle of perfume. And I should really be calling Miki and telling him to not buy those tickets.

Above all, there shouldn’t be a place where I was afraid of Mom. I finally knew that there was no reason to fear her. There was no reason to listen and follow her every whim. There was no reason to be held back by her past – our pasts – or to be held back by my own insecurities and doubts.

There was no chance of me living in that world ever again. That world has ended, and I intend to personally make sure that it will never come back.

I peered at the clock on the adjacent white wall and supressed the urge to laugh like a madman. Today, James Warouw is going to be just fine.

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