Two became one
I put up my umbrella before I even dare go out that damn door. It's a trusty blue umbrella, with little cartoon dogs all over it. It's kept me alive for a few weeks now, and I´m hoping it will stay that way a bit longer. Of course, I have two extra umbrella's in my bag, just in case. Wouldn't want to catch some poisonous rain now would I. So, safely under my trusty umbrella, I step out into the rain. The worst thing is not knowing whether that rain could be your death, or if it is just ordinary rain. There are people who've taken to playing roulette in the rain. Stand outside, wait to see if you die, or not. Whoever survives longest, who is luckiest, gets the money of his dead friends. When I first heard of the roulette, I was angry, angry with those who made a game out of this terrible situation. Now I envy them, their ability to turn it into something funny, something worth their time. If I didn't have someone to take care for, I would have joined them a long time ago. But I have someone left at home, my girlfriend, and she's sick. I'm not sure what she has, exactly; she’d been feeling strange long before this begun, but by the time we realized that she was in serious trouble, all doctors were gone or too expensive. Money has lost all its value, and people have begun trading goods. It’s the only reason I’m out, in the almost continuous rain. I’m a scavenger, like the others who are out here right now. Roaming the streets for food and other valuables, saving so that I can bring my girlfriend to a doctor.
We’ve lost everybody else. She’d fallen sick the day the first rains came, and I was with her. Her parents were out, and apparently, so were mine. The first rain was poisonous; everybody who had felt only a single droplet, was dead within a day. My brother had been out for football, and I assumed he had died, too. I hadn’t heard from him since, and I doubted he would have ran inside when the rains started. He’d always loved the rain.
There might be some friends remaining in the city, but they are probably smart enough not to come outside. I wouldn’t either, but I had no choice. She was looking worse every day. She complained of headaches, and sometimes she just passed out like that. I had no idea what disease was torturing her. It could be cancer, for all I knew. Painkillers barely ever helped her, but I still handed them to her, every day, hoping to give her some relief.
I’d walked into a street that seemed empty, no scavengers around. I vaguely remembered this street, but it was as if I’d passed it in another life. That other life could not be more than a few months back; I’d taken it to school every day. But I hadn’t been scavenging here yet, so it seemed new to me. I looked at everything with new eyes: if the windows were broken or doors were open, someone had beaten me to it. If the doors and windows were carefully shut; people were living inside, and I would leave them alone. I walked through one of those already emptied houses, checking for stuff on routine, but it had been ripped even from the smaller furniture. A dining table stood in the middle of a room, but there was only one chair left where at least six could have fit. There was a bookshelf, but all books had been taken; except the manual the government had sent us after the first rains. Everybody had it, but nobody used it; it had grown useless within days. Nobody could have expected this to happen, but it hurt, knowing that the government and all their families and friends were safe inside the White Palace. They had predicted this long ago, but never made it public; and so, only the elite of this damned country had survived the first rains. The elite, and the lucky.
I left the house through the garden, and saw a shed in the garden. It looked unharmed. Could it be?
I hurried towards it, and found the door closed, but not locked. I stepped inside, and I felt as if I’d stepped into heaven. It looked like an ordinary shed from the outside, but it was heaven to me.
There were cans with food, there was chocolate, bottled drinks, medication, blankets, torches, batteries… Everything someone needed to survive. The best was the amount of umbrellas in the corner. This had obviously belonged to someone who’d known what was coming, the elite. Whoever had roamed the house had probably found so much goodies, that they didn’t think the shed could have any more; and everyone who had passed the house since had judged it as empty, like I had.
I took my bag, and quickly took the chocolate, water and the medicine, along with a blanket. That was everything I needed to convince her the journey here would be worth it. Finally, I’d found hope. Maybe we would live this through, after all.
Filled with joy I ran back, and almost forgot that I had to shield myself from the rain. I entered her house, where we’d been staying since the first day. Happily, I called her name as I shut the door beside me. There was no response. I ran towards the living room, where I’d left her. She might have passed out again, I thought, but she wasn’t there. There was a paper, lying on the couch where she’d been lying. I picked it up. My mind wasn’t realizing yet what my body had already realized, and so I found myself shaking but innocently reading her letter.
I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. But the pain is unbearable, I can hardly write the letter. It’s worse than you think, than I let you believe. It’s become worse the last few days, worse and worse. I can’t let you take care for someone who’s dying. I won’t let you risk your life for me. I’m sorry for doing it like this, I really am. I love you. Thank you, for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you, for liking me on that first day of school. I really really love you.
The paper fell from my hand, and I ran outside. She was on the ground, on her side, and without realizing that drops fell on my bare skin, I shook her, trying to wake her up. There had to be a way!
I shook her again and again, waiting for her to wake up. Finally I realized that I wasn’t holding her, but that I was holding her body. And with that realization came the burning feel of my skin, and I realized that it wasn’t me holding her body. It was my body holding hers.When two days later a scavenger found their home, he happily took the chocolate, the water and the medicine. He read the note, looked outside, and saw two bodies on the ground, one clutching another. It was like they had melted into each other, like the two had become one. They were still dead, though. He shook his head and went on. There was no time to grief for his brother.