Empty Corridor

April 24, 2010
Mother once told me, pain and sorrow was like cancer. If it wasn’t treated, it can spread. It can kill you. Not only does it take away hope from its host, it darkens the days of the people around it.
“Bill,” she had warned me, “Stay away from the broken, they will bring you nothing but sadness, and in the end, you will be affected to.” It never stopped me from trying though. I soon realized, I should have taken her words more seriously, I should I listened to her; in the end, she was right. Whenever I look at her, my mother’s words came back to me, and I could see, she was sick.
I thought that I couldn’t fix her, I couldn’t make her see the truth. Little did I know, I was wrong. I didn’t even think about what she had to say about it. I just jumped to conclusions, I never once asked her. And I regret it. I wished I knew. But time was still ticking, and the world was still spinning, and eventually everyone forgot about Hela Winters. Time will make people forget, they, in the end, only think of themselves. At the end of the tunnel, when a loved one is gone, pain only lingers before it is forgotten. One would do anything to put the memory in the back of their head, and they don’t want to think about it, they only want to be happy. But they forget that without pain, there is not such thing as bliss.

It wasn’t until about a week ago when my past came up to catch up to me. It was a day of- well, many things. So many things, and about it was shock. I had asked myself it so many times, how could I have let her go? But all it took was one conversation, to break me. What was it like? To realize that I had make a horrible mistake, but unable to fix it? To There were no words to describe it. It was all she had ever asked of me, to at least be there and just be a friend, she didn’t care if I was pretending, and she would have been fine.

Was it so bad that she had to lie to herself? I wanted to ask her why. Why would I have to pretend when I was sure I loved her? We were grown adults of twenty five, not seventeen, so why did I have to pretend? I would have stayed even if she didn’t ask, I longed to see her smile at me, trust me, and believe that I wouldn’t leave her for the world.

But that was a dream, a dream I wanted, one I yearned to wake up in. In reality she was scared. She wanted to, but I could see the indecision. She wanted me to stay, but she didn’t want to get close. Though the many times I promised her I wouldn’t, she, as always, was right. I left.

I started at midnight. I remembered that night more then I remembered most, nights alone without her that is. In the apartment, all was quiet. The bed sheets rustled as I moved. The soft hum of the air conditioner was on. I stared at the window, watching the full moon in all of its glory. I turned my head away from the window after a while to look at the clock, the blaring red numbers cutting the darkness of the room, the brightest light at the moment. 12:03. I had remembered closing my eyes for a moment, before snapping them open and nearly falling off the bed in surprise.

My cell was ringing.

Who could that be? Sighing, I rolled out of bed, the floor creaking from the shift of weight; and sauntered over to the dresser, blindly opening and closing random drawers, trying to find the one where I had put my phone in earlier today. It didn’t take me long, my room was small .It wasn’t exactly for someone who had a lot of money, far from it. I wasn’t poor, but I didn’t want to spend my money on material things, as long as I had a place to sleep at night and a place I can go to when I’m stressed then I would get along fine

But now it was just a nightmare, every dark corner lurks a memory, good and bad.

Finally, my hand reached out and snatched the device, snapping open. “Hallo?” my voice sounding worn. But became become more alert when the crisp voice replied, his first words already had me captured, but it wasn’t a good type of attention.

“Hello is this Bill Schwartz?” he asked, pronouncing my name wrong. Americans. “This is Officer Benedict, and you, knew Hela…Winters, right? She had you as an emergency contact.” I froze. She still had his number?
“Ja,” I replied, my voice unusually higher then normal. There could be a number of things that can happen. She was kidnapped, murdered, dying, needed my help. “Is she alright?” That was a stupid question. “I-I mean she isn’t hurt, right? Traumatized? What happened to her?” I rambled out possibilities, not even noticing that I was no longer making sense.

Once again, the man interrupted. “I am sorry to be the barer of bad news, Miss Winters had overdosed, she died a few hours ago.” He said, and I couldn’t help but think how strange it was, how he was saying he was sorry, but he didn’t sound like it.

“I- what?!” I stuttered, able to think of anything to say. I dropped the phone and stared blankly ahead. She was gone. I couldn’t even being to think of what to say, or how to deal with the emotion that flowed through me. But there weren’t words to explain it. Distinctly, I could hear the officer still on the phone, his American accent kept calling my name wrong. I blinked and bent down, picking up the phone, snapping it shut.

I shook my head and after a while, I moved back to the bed, unable to do much more than that. It took me forever to fall asleep. The hum of the air conditioner was too loud, the sound of traffic outside my building was distracting me, the blaring red numbers, counting the minutes I was alive was making me nervous. Death was close, I could feel it. It was like cancer, spreading, I was dying. I couldn’t breathe, my thoughts was caught up in my once happy and memory-filled thoughts of my life with her. Though she didn’t think it was very good, as long as I was with her, making her smile and laugh, however weak it was, made my day; it was in fact the highlight of the week.

It took me days to bother to get out of the flat, no, it took me a week to motivate myself get me out (so it seemed), it took me several days to get out of bed. But it was only because Shawn had found out and came up to check on me, using a spare key I had given him.

Shawn was a good friend; we had known each other since we were kids. He took a very different road from the one I did, but somehow we managed to get along and never really fought about much.

He was a police officer, and things got around fast, since he was one of the few that went to her home to look around. He had confirmed that it was suicide and the case was closed. It was no longer about her anymore, no one noticed her leave, except the police and myself, but the other have lives, they moved on, but I couldn’t.

I sighed as he kicked my door open (it was locked, but it didn’t stop him), giving me a glare as he took me by the arm and yanked me out of bed, pushing me all the way to the kitchen, where he had ordered to go. I stared at the food then looked at him, but I refused to touch it. I didn’t want to eat. I wanted to jump back in time and fix what I have done wrong. But I couldn’t help feeling annoyed that I always did everything everyone wanted. It was how I was, a pushover. She said leave, I did. He said it was my fault, and I agreed. I didn’t want to follow orders all my life anymore. So feeling foolishly rebellious,with one hand, pushed the plate away.
Shawn rolled his eyes, but didn’t comment. He then started to speak. “I’m sorry. I knew how much she meant to you,” he started. I snorted. I’ve been hearing that a lot on my voicemail lately. He continued anyways. “But while you were here, wallowing in self pity and drowning in depression, I went back to her apartment, searching more closely. I remembered you said something about her writing in a journal and how you always wondered what she wrote.” He pulled out a small bound notebook, throwing it carelessly on the table. I stared, “I asked if I could give this to you, and they approved.” He said, leaning back and eating his food, nodding at the book as he spoke. “There it is; the answers to all of your questions.”
I stared at it, reaching out to stroke the binding, running my hand over the front. Shawn was right, the answers to all of my questions, but did I want to read it? No. “I cannot read something that she had written down, from her head to paper. That is like intruding on something that I shouldn’t,” I finally uttered.
“For some reason, I knew you would say that,” he mused, reaching into his bag to slap something else on the table. Once again my eyes looked at it. It was a black folder, nothing new. It was worn around the edges, and there were multiple handwritings on it, but all scratched out. I turned to stare at him as if he had lost his mind; but he simply nodded to the object, telling me to open it.
So I did.
Inside were copies of the journal, I recognized the writing from anywhere. “Thanks,” I muttered, picking up the folder carefully and flipping through the pages absently.
“I only copied from some of the part you wanted to know about, not the whole thing, but if you are ready, if ever,” he slid the book closer, the words hung in the air, but I knew what he meant. If I was ready, I could read the rest of the book. I just nodded. I couldn’t believe my friend was doing this. So far he stopped by everyday to drag me out of bed to try (and fail) to get me to eat something, but he didn’t complain, not at all. Why wasn’t I a good friend like him?
It gave me something to do, and after he left, I sat on the couch and started to read, taking in every word. As she recounted the moments we had together I remembered the exact thing. The hours seemed to merge together as I became engrossed in her writing. One I started, I couldn’t stop until the end.
It’s been about a few days, and I shifted though her entries, taking in her words. She did love me in the end, but as I got to the last few pages, I wondered if they would tell me the answers that I still seek. Time just merged together and I no longer noticed light from dark. It was all about her world; it was all about her life. I had to understand her, but my hope was starting to diminish when I came to the last copied entry.

September 14
Today, I asked Bill to leave. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love him. But he was holding me back. I had to push myself to be better, and maybe I would be good enough for her. Maybe, for once, I would feel like I deserve his presence.
But I never do. He was always so perfect, he reminded me much of Tom, but he was more than my brother was. He always knew what to say, everything he did was so smooth. I was jealous; he was someone who looked for love. He was one of big dreams, and he was the one to run after it and chase it himself. He loved me, as he constantly reminded me, but that was the problem. If knew, if I ever fell, I would fall into his arms, and again and again I found myself unable to hold myself up, it was frustrating.
But I realized my mistake. I was falling down a hole, walking down a dark road that Bill shouldn’t be on. I couldn’t pull myself back because he was there, and I would rather be in a dark place with him rather then on a lively road without him. So if he left, I had no choice but to either keep falling or pull myself up. I know he wouldn’t be there for sure, and I would have to choose between one or the other.
I frowned, confused. Her journal had suddenly ended with me leaving as her last post.
Running to the bedroom, I snatched her real journal and flipped to the last page, frowning. Why did she stop?
Sighing I closed the book. I was about to look up when I saw something flutter to the ground. It was a piece of paper. Cocking a brow, I picked it up.. Was it supposed to be there? Why would she write on a loose left piece of paper? I opened up the letter and began to read.
It was raining. The sun was gone, and the world was dark. A lone figure stood at the cemetery. He had gone from New York to Leipzig to visit the love of his life, the only one that had a true affect on him. She wanted to be with her family, and she was buried next to them.
The rain was cold, much like his heart at the moment upon seeing her name engraved on the stone, next to her twin and her mother and father. He smiled sadly, his eyes glazed as he stared quietly at it. She was gone. But he was keeping to his promise, or trying to, just like she tried to keep her promise to her brother, who had given up everything to see that she lived.
I don’t want to die, knowing you grieved for me.
The wind picked up, but the man didn’t move, his formal black clothes he had donned to see her was getting soaked, but he paid no mind. Remembering the letter he had read a few weeks prior.

There are so many things I want to tell you, but none that I can think of at the moment. But there is a list that I must let out, if my life means nothing to anyone, at least I got a chance to say it.
For the first, I love you. I always have, and I wanted you. I wanted to keep you and let no one touch you, like the lucky girl that you love. But you’re too good for me. I don’t want to leave this world, miserable, alone, and broken, but I am, and as much as I ask that you pretend to love me, in the end, it was just that. Pretend, nothing more.
Maybe when I go to sleep at night, I wished I wouldn’t wake up and have to see you suffer another day with me. You don’t deserve it. You are special, someone who mattered to me, and what makes me care is that no matter how much I put you through, you still come back. What more can I ask of you besides that? Everything. I’m selfish that way. I asked one thing, and you ended up doing everything, I wanted, the ones asked and the ones that was left unsaid.
The second his why I left, I can’t let you fight for me. I have to be alone for this. I told you to go because I thought that after you left, I would have no choice but to hold myself up. I was, at first, right. I stopped taking the pills, I stopped everything. But it didn’t last long. The things I used were used to help me get through the day without you. And without them I wouldn’t make it. When I came to see you, you seemed happy though, I watched as you talked and laughed with your friends on the way out of your building, and I was going to it. I saw that I have done the right thing.
As long as you were happy.
But I’m miserable, I’ve been clean for a while now, but each day gets harder and harder, and darker. There is no light at the end of the tunnel as I suspected. So, in the end, I kept walking down that dark road, unable to turn back.
Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do, suicide was said to leave this unsolved. But no one cared as you did. I never started drama, I never became known to anyone. It was as if I disappeared off the Earth the day of the accident. So what strings would be left untied? Nothing.
The third is why I’m doing this. Shortly before the crash, my family, including mother and father and Tom were on the bus; Tom had pulled me aside and confronted me about the medications I was taking. He made me promise that I wouldn’t kill myself over this, and that I would get help. And then the crash, the drunk driver hitting out truck, my brother jumping over me as an attempt to save me, his last words echoed in my ear.“Don’t cry, I don’t want to see you cry.” He had whispered his voice quiet as he was pulled out of the wreckage I thought I was hallucinating. But I couldn’t stop the tears. That was the last time I saw him.
I did almost everything he asked of me. I was clean. But life isn’t worth it anymore. I had once asked myself what would happen if I died. Would I just fade away? The answer was yes, we all would. Time would simply just take up away from the mind until we are nothing but a name. My family’s friends have their pictures, but they don’t talk about them anymore. They had forgotten about the people who made a difference in their life. And in the end, I would be the same.
And last. It didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what we do, without evil there is no good. But we cannot spend forever happy, but we can spend forever being alone .It wouldn’t have mattered if I was still here tomorrow or a week from now, it wouldn’t matter my if my life was gone, no one would cry over me. I’m just shadow, an empty body that was long gone. It never did in the end.
I honestly don’t know if I’m going to send this. Maybe it would make me feel like I have done something right for once. Or maybe because you had to know, even if you didn’t care, I had to know at least you have read this letter and understood. Or I could just leave it here, in my notebook, and the next person who would pick it up and read it, understand that I did exist. That I lived and died. That I was someone. Someone that loved you very much.
There are only a few things I ask from you, Bill one is that you never cry for me. I don’t want to die knowing I made you unhappy. Two is that you smile when you think of me. I want you to remember for the good memories we shared, however rare it may be. And the last request is something that I want you to go through with it, think if it as my parting words, my last favor; after I’m gone, I want you to live on. To don’t look back at your mistakes, but move on, each step counts. Everything you do, do it for a reason. Just live on, keep breathing, and everything would be better. You, of all the people, deserve it.

The man left the bouquet leaning against the stone. He backed up a few steps and turned around, walking back to his car. She asked, and as always, he listened.
But she was wrong. It did matter to him. He loved her. It made all the difference in the word.
Death took her away. She never got the chance to stand up and dust away the dirt on her wings and fly. She said there was no light at the end of the tunnel, but if there is no such thing as light, then there is no such thing as darkness. She needed time to feel all the pain before she could feel freedom. She was almost there, but she didn’t make it.
Death wasn’t the answer. Suicide didn’t solve the problem in the least. She just needed someone to be there. She needed to trust, she needed to fall, let go of the past. She needed to let down that wall she had around her, and open her eyes to a world that brought her up, to the world that stayed by her side. She just needed to get ready to heal, to feel, to love once more. It was, in the end, a matter of hope. Though she didn’t know it, there was a light, she just didn’t see it, and from her lack of trust, it led her to believe that I was never there.
Maybe it would have turned out differently. If she had lived she would be happy. She could have gone far, maybe have all of her dreams achieved. But she was gone, and with it the potential she had inside. There would never be another person like her. And as much as she convinced herself that she would be forgotten, the man knew that she would be with him. He wouldn’t forget the girl that did so little and yet held such a startling impact on his life.
He opened the door to his car and got inside, turning on the engine and turning up the heat before driving away.
Somewhere in the distance, the wind howled, and a pair of broken and dirty wings lay trampled on the ground, forgotten. Its owner, gone, lost somewhere. The location, unknown, but hopefully it was a good place, a place where she could live how she wanted to, a place where she didn’t need wings to fly. A place where she could be free.

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