Breaking the Cycle
The darkness almost felt like home. The sinister arms of death almost felt like a person, coaxing me to accept it. The eternal sleep felt inevitable and I couldn't fight it. But not because it was impossible, because I kept thinking I shouldn't fight it. Death sounded like the perfect option. It's not like my family wants me back. I can't trust my mother to stay forever; she might realize how much of a mess I am. It's not like my friends can't just find someone else to take my place; there are a million people out there. And it's not like Riley would forgive me once I wake up. She deserves someone who wouldn't plunge her into trouble. Her life was so much better before she met me. And the death felt so comforting, like the only thing I rely on.
Look at the horrible life I live. Do I really want that back? My friends are better off without me. Maybe all I need to do is stop fighting and close my eyes; let the death seep through me. Maybe I could be happier this way. And what if God planned me to go out this way? It's not like I could change the world if I keep on living. I'm not essential to humankind like other people. At least death doesn't sound so painful like the life I already live. Who says that a magic wand fixed my life and I get to wake up to a happy home? Maybe this realm of death is the home I'm meant to live in.
Just close your eyes, I tell myself. You could be happy.
But no matter how hard I try, I couldn't bring myself to accept death. There was still a spark of hope in me that life was the better choice. I don't know why I couldn't pick the logical decision and just give up. I just couldn't.
I open my eyes to see something I haven't seen in a long time. It hurt my eyes but it warmed my cold, stiff body.
I saw light.
I've been visiting the hospital so many times that I now know all the staff by name and memorized the hospital's hallways. And every single time I come, the hospital feels more like home. Dark thoughts cloud my mind every time I open the door to Lucas's room. Lucas could be stuck like this for a long time. It's almost been three months. March is around the corner and I can already see the dandelions poking through the icy grass. I had to spend Valentine's Day praying that Lucas would wake up. Everyone is already forgetting him. What if months turn into years and years turn into decades? What if Lucas dies? What will Charlotte do; she came all this way just for him, fought her husband and settled many court arguments just to get back her house, her son. What will Maya, Brandon, and Zay do with only three people in the gang? What will I do?
Lucas looked more dead this time. His skin was turning bluish. His hair was matted and almost resembled a mannequin's wig. It was like this was no longer Lucas, but a plastic replica of him. I missed his green, reassuring eyes. I touched his hand and felt nothing but cold. The warmth disappeared from his skin. The light faded from his unmoving eyes. His heart monitor was still active, all the machines told me he was alive, but it didn't look like he was.
I tried to keep hopeful as I opened my book. I read aloud a poem:
"My breath disappeared into smoke/skin turns into paper/blood stills into molasses/heart takes final beat/I accepted the darkness surrounding me," I recited.
I shut the book firmly and close my eyes. I didn't want to read anymore.
I look at Lucas, still asleep. I wonder if it hurts in there, like the death was painful. Or maybe it's softer, more subtle, perhaps even soothing. Or maybe Lucas is not even in there, maybe he's ascending to the great beyond.
I touch the lucky clover pin I clipped to him earlier. Even that looked dull and tarnished. I wanted to take it off of him but I decided otherwise. I stood up and began talking to him.
"Lucas," my voice cracks a bit. "How many times do I have to say it? I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry I put you into this situation and that I can't get you out of it. If you can see me, don't be mad. I know that I don't always know best, that I'm not always right. It's just that when you talked to me that night; it felt like my opinion didn't matter to you. You lived your life not accepting help from others, thinking you could do things by yourself, but that's just not true. Why do you think we're here for you? We want to help; we care about your well-being. You're not a burden or a charity case because we really want you to be happy, to be safe. All of us: Maya, Zay, Brandon, Farkle, your mother, me especially; we all wanted to keep you safe because we love you and we want you here. I don't know what I would do without you."
My speech became riddled with tears as I kept talking.
"Can't you see that you made a difference to my life? You made me feel like myself, more real than other people made me feel. You think you're protecting us by keeping all these secrets but you keep hurting yourself and that doesn't make us feel better. You can't protect us from everything because ignorance isn't always bliss. If I never met you, I would be so different and not in a good way."
I couldn't bear to look at him any longer. I turn away and stare out the window.
"Please come back," my voice quivers. "I did everything I could do. We want you back."
Time stopped for a moment. It was like the clock stopped ticking just so I could cry like a baby. How could everything go so wrong? I wanted to go back in time so I could keep Lucas from making that big mistake. But time kept moving, even when I didn't want it to.
A hoarse whisper breaks the silence of the room. "Riley?"
I open my eyes just to make sure it wasn't a dream. I was facing Lucas, who was moving, waking up, alive. His eyes were half-open, revealing the dark green of his irises. I stare at him like he grew another head. He was confused, shifting his arms to see the wires connecting him to robotic machines.
"You're awake?" I whisper.
"I was asleep?" Lucas replies confusedly.
My lucky clover pin gleamed on his hospital gown. All the dust and tarnish disappeared. It was saving all its luck for this.
"I think this is yours," Lucas tells me once he saw the gold pin on his chest.
I couldn't speak. He came back for me. I open my mouth to say something. Laughter spilled out of my throat.
"Why are you laughing?" Lucas asks.
More tears splashed onto my cheeks.
"Why are you crying?" Lucas asks.
I finally stop laughing and say to him, "It's just that you're here."
"I was gone?" he asks.
"It doesn't matter anymore," I say as I wrap my arms around him. "As long as you're still here, everything's okay."