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The Grey Blanket
God is dead. I’ve come to that conclusion gradually throughout my life. Sure, I might be wrong; perhaps God isn’t dead. Then I guess God never existed in the first place. If God was real, then my mom would be here. But because God is dead, she’s in a hole in the ground and I am alone.
Everything is terrible. Seattle hasn’t seen sun since before my mother died, so every day I wake up in the grey gloom and go about my life in monochromatic dimness. The clouds haven’t moved in weeks and they just lay above me, like a thick, plush blanket smothering everyone beneath. The only benefit from these clouds is that it rains a lot. When it rains, no one can see me cry.
Every day my dad forces me to go to school, where I wander the halls like a zombie and stare out the window in all my classes. In a way, I like going to school. It helps me at least try to forget by focusing on something else. Unfortunately, I can never seem to focus on schoolwork, leaving it all pointless. My only comfort in all of this is Nadia. Nadia and I have been best friends since diapers. Whenever anything bad happened we have always been there for each other. When Mom died, Nadia wrapped me up in her arms and we sat like that until the rain slowed just enough for us to go home.
Sara Tray, my mother, died in late August after she was hit by a car on her way from work. The driver didn’t stop, so no one knows who did it. The police haven’t bothered to try to find for him or her. They said that it would be hopeless and a waste of time. The person that killed my mother just seems to have disappeared from the face of the earth.
Since my mother is gone, my dad and I live alone in the house. We only see each other once every few days, if we happen to cross paths. Both of us know what the other is going through and both of us know it would be better to leave the other alone.
~ ~ ~
Two months had passed since Mom died, when my father and I crossed paths one night at dinner. The air felt humid like a breeze before a storm. He looked beaten, with swollen eyes and a perpetual frown that would make anyone feel sorry for him. Something was wrong.
“Dad, something is wrong. What is it?”
He looked at me with sad eyes devoid of all life, “Asha, I have to tell you something that I don’t want you to hear.”
“What is it?”
“I’m dying. It’s cancer. Stage IV, pancreatic cancer.”
I felt my eyes glaze over. My dad had cancer? This isn’t possible. There’s no way this is true. He has to be playing some sick joke. I summoned the energy to croak, “what?”. He didn’t say anything. He just looked me dead in the eyes with an expression that said please don’t make me repeat it. This was impossible. My dad has always been someone who seemed indestructible, like nothing could ever bring him down. But now here he stood in front of me looking nothing like the man I used to know.
Why is this happening to me? Everything is going wrong with the people I care about the most. Is it me? Have I somehow cursed my parents? I feel awful. I am simultaneously to blame for my parents’ pain and am also a self-centered, entitled brat who is making everything about her. I don’t know what is going on. Everything in my head is in chaos and the only thing I can seem to focus on is that I am responsible for all of this.
~ ~ ~
I was walking home under the same grey sky after doing homework at the café when I passed Nadia’s house. There were police and medics in the house and driveway and I felt my heart stop. I felt something in my chest clench and the tightness in my throat as I walked up to the nearest officer and asked what was happening at my best friend’s house. He said he couldn’t tell me so I ran inside, looking for Nadia’s mother. I finally found her in the living room sobbing with her head in her hands and I immediately knew what was happening and why. It was Nadia. I felt my legs buckle and I fell to the floor and began to cry.
Nadia committed suicide that November evening by tying a noose around her neck and kicking the chair out from under her.
~ ~ ~
This is all because of me. It has to be. How else can you explain so much death in less than a year? I have to stop this before anyone else close to me gets hurt.
I am walking up stairs. So many stairs. I feel the breeze on my skin and taste its saltiness when I reach the roof. The clouds have rolled back just enough to reveal the sun, glinting and mocking me. I go to the edge. Do I want to do this? Absolutely. My heart beats quickly and I curse the animal instinct that fills my head with fear. Nadia did it, you can do it too. Jump.
I am falling. It is thrilling and terrifying as I close my eyes and feel the gap between life and death getting closer and closer. But just before I hit the ground, I have a sudden revelation that I am not to blame for all of this mess. All I am doing is bringing pain to the people I thought didn’t care about me. And I realized, I don’t want to die.
~ ~ ~
I woke up feeling sore all over, surrounded by white. I squinted my eyes at the sudden light and tried to shift until I realized that only made my pain exponentially worse. I groaned and tried to adjust my eyes to the new surroundings. I was in a hospital room which had a beeping monitor next to me and sunlight streaming through a large window. I looked around and saw no one else in the room, but only a couple minutes after I woke up, a nurse entered the room and smiled at me. “Good morning, Asha,” she said cheerily as she examined the monitor, “the doctor will be here soon.”
~ ~ ~
I have been in the hospital for five days. I woke up one day after I was rushed into the hospital, when I was barely breathing and had suffered severe damage to my head and other parts of my body. Miraculously, I did not suffer any brain damage and all my injuries were fixable. After I woke up, I met with a psychiatrist who introduced herself as Dr. Edwards. I have met with her everyday so far.
~ ~ ~
Life can be really awful, but it doesn’t pick and choose people to be specifically cruel to. I am not to blame for my mother’s death, my father’s disease, and Nadia’s suicide; no one is. Life has gotten better for me. I no longer struggle with the burden of my tragedies. Though they still affect me a lot, they don’t affect me in a way that I feel like I am responsible. Not everything is hopeless, and the sun shines after the rain.