Swan Song (2)
In the bustling sidewalk, clashing lights and emotion-filled chattering people of whatever they are feeling tonight, talking to April makes Mariana feel lighter as she walks further alongside the crowd. She glances at the cars honking and beeping impatiently, waiting for the stoplight to turn green. Thanks to her best friend, the weight of the world on her shoulders lifted, even just a bit.
When it starts raining and thunder rumbling, her inflamed frustration returns to the surface. Great, just great! Can this night be any worse? She grumbles and stomps, splashing water everywhere. Some people she encounters scowl at her while saying, “watch it!”
Her buried malevolence looming, she mocks and rolls her menacing green eyes at them.
Raindrops fill her eyeglasses, and her sight becomes more blurry. So she removes them and puts them in her pocket. Her temper diminishing, she can no longer hold her tears and let them run down her face. She lets the pouring rain 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 to depression, she faces the ominous sky with her eyes closed. Feeling every cold drop of rain falling on her face, I envy those people I lost, no more pain, no more suffering, and I want to join them. She moans as if wounded.
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. Every step she takes is heavy again as she tries to calm her nerves. 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. She smiles a little.
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 with purpose.
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 her heart beating. Confused with this sensation, she looks up, and 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 everyone hated. But those kids had to pretend they liked her anyway, so they wouldn’t 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 coming 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 is hard to control.
From then on, Mariana seems to fade away in the background. She might be friends with the popular kids and have siblings who will never bore her, but she still feels alone, isolated, even. Her parents gave her everything she needed and wanted, and yet, they cut her wings before she had the chance to fly, and now she turned out to be a coward. Unaware of it all before, Mariana realises these as signs 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 honestly care about it, but looking back, it’s just — I think I was okay, not being in the spotlight.
She never admits it —
You know what? 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 lays, and some kids and women scream at what they just witnessed. Mariana tries to look around, terrified, 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 and nowhere. She hears someone calling her name.