So, in the bustling sidewalk, clashing lights, and chattering people, Mariana walks further. Walking, just walking alongside the emotion-filled crowd of whatever they are feeling this night. She glances at the cars honking and beeping impatiently, waiting for the stoplight to turn green. The burden she was feeling earlier lessened thanks to April. But when it starts raining and thunder rumbling. “Great, just great! Can this night be any worse?”
Raindrops fill her eyeglasses, and her sight becomes more blurry. So she removes them and puts them in her pocket. She can no longer hold her tears and let them run down her face. She lets it drench her, soaking her from head to toe. The feeling of sadness drowns her, and she can’t push her way up. Doubts are floating inside her head about how miserable she is. As her mind dives deeper, “I envy those people I lost, no more pain, no more suffering, and I want to join them.”
The vibration of her mobile in her pocket breaks her train of suicidal thoughts. But she ignores it, of course, because she doesn’t want to add another failure if she checks it in the middle of the rain. But she has a hunch who is calling her; it is her mother. “Hell! NOT MY PARENTS. I know they love me, but even if I can’t see their faces full of disappointment, I will hear it in their voices. I already know I failed at this point. I don’t need another lecture about my flaws. I don’t want them to put more salt on these fresh wounds.”
She presses the button, and the vibrations stop, but no matter how many times she does it, her mobile keeps on vibrating. So, she pushes the button long and hard, and with one vibration, Mariana knows the mobile has shut down.
As she walks further, she miraculously recognises Park Avenue Christian Church on the other block. In the progressive city, this architectural landmark stands forever frozen in time. It always mesmerises Mariana how everything around it changes and is still the most beautiful thing she sees. So she decides to go in there, crossing the road.
But as she walks along Park Avenue, a peculiar juncture occurs as the noise and everything in between decreases as if the silence is overtaking; it is deafening. Mariana doesn’t even hear the rainfall hitting the asphalt. The only thing she can hear is her breathing, and as she looks up. The sudden approaching lights blind her strained vision.
Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
“Maybe this is my karma for being who I was, haunting me down like an angry ghost.
“You can’t blame them; they are just kids!” your parents would say whenever you did something wrong or out of hand. I’m not saying their parenting skills are, or were, biased! But sometimes, just sometimes, tolerating kids might leave a mark when they grow up. Thinking about it, you were still a kid. Right? So, I guess it was okay you didn’t care about the consequences of the actions you have taken because you do whatever the hell you want, and that marks them until they grow up.”
Since the estate Mr Greene inherited in Hamptons was in renovation, Mariana was living in London with their Nana Charlie when she was still in her younger days, and she was conscious about how nasty she was. Though she looked like an angel and innocent, she was a pure mean girl. She was the kind of kid that everyone hates but has to pretend they like them anyway, so they will not be the next target of mindless, childish banters and be anguished.
In other words: Mariana Greene was a bully.
“Yup, that was me.”
She did not care if she made someone cry or torment them with the stingy words that came out of her naturally pink lips. All she cared about was feeling amused because she thought it was okay.
But, when her family moved to Long Island at the start of her secondary school year, something inside her flipped. She wasn’t this mischievous kid anymore, and she doesn’t think she tormented anyone ever again; well, except for her parents because it’s unavoidable, and when her mood swings come by, it was hard to control.
From then on, Mariana seems to fade away in the background. Even if her parents give her everything she needs and wants, they cut her wings before she had the chance to fly, and now she turns out as a coward. Even if being friends with the popular kids and having siblings who will never bore her, Mariana still feels alone, isolated, even. Unaware of it before, this is when she realises it is the first sign of her karma.
She’s not jealous of April and Ros, per se, for being the total package: intellectual, beautiful, and at the same time, always the talk of everyone. In college, Lea, Beth and D are still the amiable, attractive, and popular ones.
Not so much.
The people her friends or family introduced her to are still acquaintances. No one gets promoted to friends because she shuts everyone out. Even Célina and Dion, her twin siblings, are in the cool crowd; it’s effortless to them.
“I mean, I don’t really care about it, but looking back, it’s just — I think I was okay, not being in the spotlight.
“You know what? Actually, I was just okay and was nowhere near out of the ordinary. People only knew me because they found my voice and my artwork beautiful. It’s hard not to think that it seems like I am just another name wilting away and forgotten.”
In the drenching Park Avenue and 85th Street, Mariana feels her whole body is giving in, but she still tries to stand up even though her knees wobble. She touches the back of her head, where the pain starts to throb, and she winces at the pressure. Her hair is wet because of the rain, but she smells something metallic, and she feels like vomiting.
Her eyesight becomes more blurry, and all she could see is white; nothing else, just white. She reaches out for something to support her weight, but she falls to the ground. In a matter of seconds, she hears ringing inside her ears. She tries to ignore the surfacing panic as she blinks hard, shutting and opening her eyes. But when she can’t feel a thing, she becomes frantic. Her heart is supposed to beat fast, but she can feel it slowing down. Even though the noises slowly come back to her and she can hear again, she still can’t feel anything.
The chattering people surround where she is lying, and some kids and women scream at what they just witnessed. Mariana tries to look around, but she sees nothing. Only the-should-be heart-throbbing white.
“Have I lost my sense of sight?”
And as if someone flips the switch, she becomes fully aware of who she was. Her life flashes right through her eyes in sequence, and she knew that she was going into the light. On the cold asphalt, she smirks, “Funny. I thought only the good die young.”
And as her consciousness fades, someone pulls her back. There’s a voice, distant, faint; it is everywhere. She hears someone calling her name.