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Youth Short Story 2nd Prize! Blindly

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Blindly won joint 2nd Prize in ESRA Magazine's Youth Short Story Contest 2022  

Standing. I can feel the edge of the bridge underneath my feet. The rough concrete. My cane in my hand. I can feel the violent wind. I almost fall. A little part of me is afraid of what I'm doing. I hear the water, my mother always described the waves as calm and relaxing. It always sounded like that too, but now? Now they sound mad, angry. The moment I'll hit them, they'll do anything to crush my bones. Maybe I shouldn't do this... 'My mother wouldn't want me too.' I think for the millionth time 'No. no! I need to do this! I need to jump. Leave all of this pain behind me. I have to. What have I got to live for? It's been a month and it doesn't get better. She left. Mom left.'

"Hey!" I hear a distant voice yell.

'Damn it!' I didn't plan on anyone being here.

I turn around. "Hi?" I try to keep the quiver out of my voice 'Just go away and leave me be' I think, hoping he won't suspect anything and go on with his life. 'Can't he see I'm a little busy here?'

Apparently I failed, because the voice seems to be approaching when it asks "why?"

"I'm sorry?" I answer praying he'll buy the act and leave.

"Why?" he asks again even closer now.

I can feel my hands shaking when I answer again.

"Excuse me?" My voice is shaking and I think he can clearly see that I'm on the verge of tears.

"Why?" he asks now even closer. I realize how much power that small word can have.

I'm cracking, I let it all out, finally, I'm sobbing.
I've lost it all, my vision, my mother, my hopes.

'Everyone can see' a voice in my head says but I don't care, and even if I did I can't stop.

"I hate myself" I whine in between whimpers and gasps of air.

I expect him to answer with something along the lines of; 'There's good in everyone', 'I'm sure you're great' or any other vague, empty and meaningless cliche, and I know exactly what I'm going to shoot back at him.

But as if he read my mind I hear "Well, I don't know you. Tell me, what's so terrible about yourself? What made you hate a man so strongly? Why are you so determined to get rid of him?"

I stop dead in my tracks. I stop crying, stop thinking of a snobby comeback, stop breathing and finally for the first time in the past month I stop being so upset with the world.

'But it doesn't work like that, miracles don't exist, feelings don't just disappear' and just as suddenly as they went away, they all came rushing back.

I might have gotten a minute of rest from this horrible voice reminding me what a useless, pathetic, careless, worthless person I am, but there it is. Came right back, same volume, same phrases, same accusations.

'You're a disgrace. A failure. You'd be better off dead. No one's gonna miss you. Actually, they'll be glad you're gone. Seriously? You can't even succeed in this? wow' it continues yelling in my head.

'Shut it' I answer the same response. Again.

'So unoriginal' the voice continues.

I ignore him. 'What can I say? He's right.'

"Well", I start mumbling an answer.

"No" he stops me, "think about it, really think about it. Go home and meet me here tomorrow with all of the reasons you hate yourself."

I don't know what to answer. I haven't been given orders since my mum died. It feels odd but at the same time I have a feeling I should listen to him 'I'll jump tomorrow after answering him' I think to myself.

"Alright", I answer.

I don't hear a response but I feel he hasn't left just yet.

'He's waiting for me to go, to be sure I'll survive the night'. That thought made me feel warm inside, almost cared for.

Walking home is hard, letting go of the idea of being free from the pain I carry around. Although at the same time I feel relieved that I have a bit more time.

Even though the last time I walked back home from here was almost a year ago now, I still know the way like the back of my hand.

With every step my heart gets lighter but my thoughts heavier and darker. 'You made a mistake! Turn around, you fool.' it keeps screaming.

I don't dare turn around. I feel him waiting for me to make my next move. I have to stay true to my word.

'Go home now', I imagine my mum's voice whispering to me.

The thought gave me some peace of mind, but at the same time reminded me of her. It made me feel ashamed for what I almost did today. She would be so disappointed.

'I'm a disappointment' my brain jumps to the worst conclusion possible, as usual.

I get to my mother's, no, I get to my apartment's door, I'm hesitant to go inside.

When I finally do, I breathe in the familiar scent I thought I'd never smell again.

Standing there, at the entrance of my apartment, mother's perfume scent in the air, all the memories come flooding my brain. Unfortunately, with the memories come the emotions.

The sadness and emptiness of her house that no longer felt like home was amplified by a million.

I lay on my bed and I cannot get his voice out of my head, I keep replaying the conversation over and over in my mind.

I fall asleep as the voice fades in my imagination, the final words I hear are "Well, I don't know you" before it's quiet. I fall down. It seems like forever before I finally hit the ground, I open my mouth to cry out for help but-

"Awww, darling are you alright?" I stopped in disbelief 'It's her!'

"Mom?" I ask, she hadn't come to visit my dreams since her death.

"Yes baby, what's wrong? You're crying" she says in that same silly voice. The one that she used to make me laugh until my stomach was in more pain than the fall, last year it still made me smile.

Now it made me cry harder, so much harder.

"Mom!!" I scream, panicking, longing to be in her arms again, even if just in my mind, 'I don't want her to leave again'

"I'm here" her answer comes.

The dream changes. I'm on a swing. "Push mama!" I hear myself say and she does, again and again.

"Look at you. You're flying. You can do anything" mom said.

"Higher Mommy" I hear myself demanding. She obliges again and pushes me harder, I hear myself giggle, I hear her joining in.

'Oh, I was afraid I forgot how her laugh sounds' I thought to myself.

I feel mum's pushes getting stronger and stronger and as if they are connected, my smile gets bigger and bigger with each push.

My heart starts to beat faster and faster. My breathing is starting to speed up too.

One moment I feel the seat of the swing underneath me, my mother's hands pushing, I hear my mother's laugh, the wind ruffling through my clothes, the moment after it's all gone.

Am I falling? Am I flying? I don't know anymore. I feel so helpless.

"Mom?" I whimper in a panic, my voice barely making a sound, I continue falling.

"Mom!" my voice comes out a ghost of what it used to be.

My breathing, getting heavier, my ears, full of my heartbeats, 'It's all so loud'.

"Please", I try one last time "Mom".

Silence. Darkness. It's cold, so cold. "Hold on", I hear my mum's voice "for me".

I wake up. I break down, letting all of it out. The grief, the pain, the anger, the tears keep rolling on my face. Letting it all go.

"I promise, Mom", I say in a broken voice.

The morning after, I made my way back to the bridge. I stood there. I know there's still work to be done but I was undoubtedly on my way to being whole again.

And there was that familiar voice again "Do you believe mother now? Falling isn't the answer. You can do anything. You can fly."

The realization washed over me. I was never really alone. 

 

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Saturday, 13 July 2024

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