Pastel Colors, everything was made of pastel colors. A bright suburbia, matched the aesthetic of those in the 60s. a wonderfully united family, in their cute little cars for four, All their luggages filled the outside area. This deserted but small place was ours for vacation.
“Wow, I haven’t seen you in a while! You look just like your mom!” My auntie said. Which summoned my mother and they started their nonstop conversation. Walking around, my Brother And I found an abandoned area, the building was high, far too high, except it had no windows, a dark alley way of what held transients? The poor? We looked at each other but kept our distance from the people in the dark alley. We exchanged a few words and was curious. Walking around and thinking about what was next.
Were they allowed on private property? Well no one paid any attention to them. It was weird, my family was never united, never got along. It was more than family, family’s friends, friend’s friends. Some I didn’t even know, but none of mine were there. Our mother rushed to us, ’’you’re not supposed to be there. You’ll get sick.” we followed and she dragged us out of the alley, something felt off. I was supposed to feel good and happy to see all these people, to be anticipated to know what’s next, or who these people are.
Mother was dashing in excitement “aren’t you guys excited? We’re going to be on an island!” She squealed and jumped on father. He seemed to be happy too, bragging to his years-long friends that showed up. My Brother wandered off again. Until, all of a sudden, my family stared at me. They seemed all but content. Like they were staring at me with a temporary moment of pity and shame. Then they went back to speaking. Well that was weird. Oh well, when it came to family, I was the least sociable, just expressions I was used to, perhaps due to not seeing them in a while of the aura I got from them. We ate a night in our house of choice. A two story pastel yellow and green walled house. With old flower printed wallpaper.
Everything was on the second floor, bedrooms and the kitchen. The bottom was just a living room and a bathroom. Other family members rested in other houses. I’ve been seeing a lot of my cousins, being praised for things my Brother and I would be shunned for. Doing things, having advantages to do those things. A girl flaunting her lover, oh no. She was my age but everyone accepted the boy, they accepted her decision, because she made good choices and she got what she deserved. I didn’t feel jealousy for her, I was glad to see her shine, but it did acknowledge the unfairness. If I were to, I’d be too young, irresponsible, a man whore? Or is that how I’d feel people would perceive me. Was I just deeply judging her from my standards? I don’t know. I wasn’t any better, I hid my lover. well. She was less of a lover, more of a partner, I planned to be her husband one day. Now how would people respond to that? Young love is just play, they say. It is only for the sexual desire we get from our hormones, but this wasn’t the case. It was purely love, I know of it. She was nothing like that, and I’m assured that we’d never try to make stupid decisions. Though breaking the news to them now would be risky, I’d have to wait a few years beforehand, so when I tell them of my decision I’d at the very least seem mature enough to not be shamed.
Back outside, in front of the mini cars where people I didn’t know were full of. Ready to party. This island was a non-stop party. Well, trying to get into one of the cars, my mother stopped me. Her and my grandmother were holding my Brother from going as well. “Well what’s the matter mother?” Sheer worry on her face, “we need to find you a bottle of paint.”
she said in a shaky voice. My grandmother looked dead serious and unconcerned like she wanted to get over it and leave for the parties. My Brother looked awful, he only looked sad and down. Had he known something I hadn’t? Near the alley way my mother looked down at me. “Son, we need to get you a bottle of paint for you to drink, to get whatever you desire..when you die.” I was shocked. What the hell has she just said to me? “What?!” My Brother nodded in the back so wearily, and my grandmother just stood arms crossed.
“Well come on, we don’t have all day.” Mother seemed to be in a rush, to get over it and move on. She grabbed us by the hand and took us to the alley, an old woman who appeared to be “The Witch.” She had all sorts of remedies, oils, candles, and herbs. Though it was nothing of what we needed. We moved along. This was no alley of the less fortunate, this was a market. Which sold things of which many hadn’t seen before. It almost felt illegal. A black market? Underground exchange? I don’t know, but everyone was so discreet about everything they sold.
Back to the bright houses, everyone ate their dinner and my brother laid in bed. He was getting more and more sick by the second. As people partied I just watched him from outside his room. As people walked past me, they’d ever so often put their hand on my shoulder, telling me it was normal, talking about it like it has happened to them once. Though something told me that, it hasn’t. I could see it in their eyes, they seemed just as terrified and confused as me. They gave me a moment of their silence, glanced at my brother’s room and walked to the kitchen to get drunk with the others.
Was i, Really going to die? Is my brother dying? He laid there coughing in his sleep. I felt terrible for him, no one else seemed to have. He’s strong right? He’ll live. I stood there, thinking about how much I loved my sibling, no matter how much he got on my nerves, was it finally going to be all gone? If it weren’t for how terrible he seemed, I would’ve been convinced that this was all a prank. Was it? I’ve become self aware. “Why am I so gullible, why do I believe them?”
A family of ours, who hardly expresses their love to each other in words or physically, but through what we give in materialistic things.
Not even I let him know how much I cared, even like this. I just whispered “I love you.” as he slept, and I walked away. He knows we all love him right? Why couldn’t I bring myself to enter his room? It felt wrong, it felt like he was already dead, his presence was cold and lonely, but forbidden. Maybe this is how the others feel about it. Or is this what I told myself?
Days passed, my brother stayed behind, it was my mother, myself, and my grandmother. I wondered why mother didn’t seem to care about my brother, she was just so excited to get me my bottle. It appears my brother already got his and was peer pressured to drink it right away. Though I have a bad feeling, why did he only get sick after he drank the elixir? Was it the thing that rushed our deaths? Mother made it seem like we were running out of time. If I didn’t get that “Paint” I would suffer a painful, slow death of nothingness.
I started to become weary and concerned. Thinking about how we got here, who I was, what we were doing, and who my family really were. I don’t remember anything. I only knew the basics, why am I going to die? Where is this all coming from? Hours and what felt like days looking for the paint we found ourselves in circles. We never left the alley way, the more we walked down, the more we found, but it was like we were in the same spot, nothing moved, the giant building still stood, the alley way was forever going except I could see our start like it was only a couple steps away. Our surroundings moved, but we didn’t.
A dark sky filled with stars in clumps instead of scattered felt normal, like it was an everyday thing. Yet deep down I noticed everything was wrong. The more I tried to think of it. My mother pulled out the paints. She was ecstatic, she already wanted to rush me into drinking it. I refused to and held it. Every now and then she’d ask me if I drank it yet or asked if I wanted her to put it in my drink, “we don’t have forever. Just hurry up and drink it so we can go and party with the rest.” Them and their parties, those stupid parties. Can they stop for a second? My brother was dying for fucks sake. I felt like I was losing it and everyone just didn’t care. Nobody cared, only for those damn parties. I pretended to drink it and my mom smiled at me, my grandmother sighed in relief. Until I noticed a little paper on the one bottle she gave me. “Happiness and Family” was labeled. I quickly looked at all the other bottles and they all had their own titles. Career, Love, Lust, Money, happiness and family.
“What are these?” I asked the woman. “C’mon let’s go.” my mother interrupted. The old woman looked up at me, she was blind. Yet it was like she saw right through my soul, who I was, and what the situation was. “It causes a slow, painless death. You will be wiped of all that’s bad, and in your consciousness your idea of success will be all you have for eternity after death, while the rest of you rots.” I got chills. I’ve always found the dead to be eerie. Corpses and nothingness, what happens next, will I be alone?
It occurred to me that I was really going to die one day. If my family remains alive and I pass away.
Will they suffer? Are the people I’m enjoying in my dream world real? Will anything be real? Or will I not remember to make everything numb and live happily ever after? Would I rather burn In hell than live a lie with the people I’ve built history with? Why is this so sudden, will they come back to me when they pass away? Or choose different paths? I started to think of the people I love I was going to hurt, the people I wouldn’t get to spend the rest of my life with. My girl, how will she spend the rest of her life? Who will take my place? Will she be okay? The people I want to say goodbye to.
Mother granted my last wish, I went to my family to say goodbye, except no one cared. They treated it like a little field trip. No “I love you.” No hugs, no words of encouragement, nothing. I broke the news of my love, and how I hoped they’d tell her what was going on. They didn’t accept it, and they were more disappointed in me for even claiming a partner. Nobody was ever satisfied and if so, they never show that they care.
Is this how my brother felt? Wait- no- How is he actually? I told my mother I wanted to go back “For the party.” She happily took me back. On our way there I was paranoid, was I going to hurt? Is my brother suffering? How will we die? People around me made their predictions, far worse than what I imagined. “In an estimated amount of time, you will bump into someone and get stabbed.” or “you will get run over by a bus.” They’d switch up the amount of ways and time I’d die and after being cautious of every little thing I’d do and triple checking my surroundings, I gave up and accepted it. We got back into the house, standing by the staircase across from my brother’s room. I turned to look at him, I called his name but I got no response. The room did not have a stench, but it was abnormally colder and felt beyond frightening. As relatives walked in in suits casually, “Oh he’s dead.” They sat there for a good two minutes and left him there. My baby brother, gone. Was he okay? Where is he? Which bottle did he drink from? I felt so hurt that I couldn’t properly express it but only in questions and an overwhelming hyperventilation. People walk by from the kitchen to downstairs, a bigger space to continue the party. Some closer like my mother, father, and such remained in the kitchen. I turned to look at my deceased brother from the other side of the room and fell against the wall leading to the kitchen. Sitting there in my own grief I got up and walked up to him.
Well, I’d want to see him. Away from this madness, no one here seemed to care. I took the bottle from out of my pocket, and took it down like a shot. It tasted like warm water. Nothing happened. Soon people in hazmat suits picked up my brother wrapped in his white sheets then took him away. I went back to my spot. I sat there and stared at the empty room, an empty vessel once laid. A vessel owned by one I loved, and to think, I’d only be a corpse too. I felt the drink kick in, my muscles felt like liquid, my ability to feel went away, it felt like a chore keeping my eyes open. I sat there slumped over like a dead plant.
Then comes the little amount of family from the kitchen. I could only look at their legs, because my head wouldn’t lift up. I saw them just stand around me. They say a prayer, wait- what is going on. They know I’m not dead yet right? Did they do this to my brother? I heard my mother light a match. She dropped it on me. Yet I can’t move, can I die any faster? The fire is spreading from my feet up to my legs, any second it can get to my skin. Why can’t I die yet? My eyes are closed. I’m so tired, but I won’t die. The fire has reached my arms. No, I can’t feel the fire. I can’t feel it at all. Though I don’t want to look. My heart is beating fast in fear,
In fear of it stopping. Why don’t I just look at the mess made of me? I look down and regret what I see. Burnt flesh so black and cracked you can see my blood left in place, too hot for it to run or drip off of me, my clothes were burned off and some of my shoe material were attached to my melted skin. I’d have to wait for the fire to burn me internally to die. Though by that time, one kick and I’d be ashes. Despite being completely exposed my body was far too burned to be noticed nude.
My family? They walked back into the kitchen, and they partied.
I woke up, I was on the floor where I once laid to die. It was finally early in the morning in the pastel house. I remembered everything, I remember dying, I remember who I was and who everyone else was. Quickly running to my brother’s room. He was still in bed and I was sure he was dead. Until he looked up at me and asked, “Is breakfast ready? I just woke up.” I stumbled back and ran to the kitchen. My love, my parents, were eating. They accepted her, and my decision, they told me it was all a silly nightmare and that no one was going to die. I sat down, everyone was finally together, everyone finally acknowledged each other, expressed their love. Everything was perfect, I was happy. Hold on.. I was happy? That was no dream, no one is real, I’m dead.
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