February 20, 2010
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Twenty years.

Twenty bloody years had gone by since the day that curse began.

I could still remember that fateful day it happened. I woke up to a beautiful blue sky of no worries, no sorrow and no pain. The clouds were out of sight, just like my suspicions of any trouble to strike.

It was another date with Mandy at the park, and we were having fun as always. We swam in the pond under the shades of an oak tree. That was when it started.

I hiccupped.

Mandy chided me for not drinking enough water, causing the annoyance. So we went ashore to grab a bottle. I followed the good old “guaranteed” remedy of holding your breath before gulping seven mouthful of water. It did not work. Mandy suggested it might be taking a little longer to see the effect. I agreed, as I was eager to get back to the water to fool about with her.

But the hiccups were here to stay.

Back home, mom shrugged and gave me a lemon to suck. I thought my whole face shrunk into a tiny ball when my tongue first kissed that piece of sour hell. You would think after that ordeal I would be fine, but heck no.

The next morning I got up and the first thing I did was, yes, another hiccup. I was stomping down the stairs when something attacked me from behind. It was Jacob, my brother. He leached to me like I was going to be his breakfast. I yanked the monkey off me and threw him down the flight of stairs, where he landed perfectly on his feet.

“What the –hic- hell are you –hic- doing?”

“Trying to stop your hiccups.”

“What? –Hic- By killing me?”

“Ms Kelly said being scared stops hiccups.”

“Whatever. –Hic-”

Mom was chopping up garlic when I entered the kitchen. Next to her was a sight for sore eyes, my darling Mandy helping mom wash up the vegetables. The sunlight struck her from the window and her tiny beads of sweat were reflected to shine brightly, she looked like an angel scattered with glitter dust that I was awestruck for a few seconds, and the hiccups paused.

I returned back to Earth when another hiccup pushed through my throat. It was beginning to kill me, this hiccup. I already forgot how it felt to breathe normally. And Jacob was no help.

“Try to stand on your head.”

“Try to scream really long.”

“Try to cover your nose and mouth tight then breathe out.”

And being desperate, I did whatever he could suggest. Yet it still remained.

Mandy was concerned. She asked if I wanted to see a doctor. But I was a young man who thought badly of p*ssies that visited the doc over stupid reasons. So I declined.

And soon, my friends had an interesting game to play. It is called “Who-can-cure-JohnsonJackman” which they called CJJ in short. Everyone was amused. The first day of school with hiccups, no one paid much notice. But when a week passed with me still interrupted each time I speak and eat and drink, people began to ask questions.

Then everyone wanted to try something. I was like a guinea pig.

“Hey man, you’ve tried this yet?”

“I heard you should do that.”

“Maybe you could just have this?”

Blow on your thumbs, laugh, getting punched, fart, burp, don’t swallow, swallow, drink vinegar, have a popsicle, drink ten gazillion different beverages of differing quantities, you name it, and I most probably have done it. In fact, years later when Internet was popular, and I tried to search on it, I’ve tried more than ninety percent of all the suggested remedies.

By now, I’ve seen several doctors. None have been able to cure me of hiccups, or even tell me the cause of my discomfit. I must admit some of them managed to pause the hiccups. Some at greater length of time. There was this guy called Dr Gandy who managed to stop it for like a week.

So I was stuck with it. Later when I was searching for jobs, many found it intriguing, but decided that it was “distractive” for their workers if I was hiccupping the whole day. Some refused me because of my “medical condition”. I was angry, not at them, but at the hiccups. Why wouldn’t it just go away and leave me with my peace?

I might not be a Samaritan or anything, but I attended church regularly, I prayed, I tried not to sin as much as I could, in fact I would say I’m a good Christian. Then why the heck did God play such a trick on me?

Up till now, it is still plaguing me. Since I could not find a job anywhere, eventually I decided to run my own store, ironically named “Hickey Cup”. It’s a café that is famous for curing people’s hiccups. Our drinks are mainly sour, as most incretion remedies were of sour stuffs. We also have private rooms where the customers could try out the remedies that could be quite embarrassing like farting or burping and others. Many had thanked me for helping them with their hiccups.

Yet I alone remain a lone warrior battling against hiccups, and still losing grounds.

But my girl Jenny found it cute I am always hiccupping. In fact, she tried her best to keep all her hiccups, to accompany me, and cause she liked the feeling. It was because of her the hiccups were more bearable. Because she would come up to me, hug me tight, waiting for me to hiccup as it would “jolt my body as if there is electricity” she claimed.

And it made her giggle. Anything to make my baby smile I would be glad. She is my entire life. Mandy would tease me and says that she is jealous that I place Jennifer before her, but she too shares my affections for our girl. She is a perfect parcel full of laughter and sunshine.

But this day, Jenny comes home, tear-stains still on her little adorable cheeks. When I asked her what’s wrong, she sulks and runs to a corner. Chasing after her, I inquire again and again until she breaks down and tells me.

“Georgie was laughing at you. He said you’re a weird freak that won’t stop hiccupping. He even asked if you would be the parent to give a speech during graduation if I top the class this year.”

“Honey, he’s just jealous that you are beating him again.”

“I know. But I will top the class again this year! And the top student’s parents need to make a speech. You can’t talk properly without hiccupping! Everyone would laugh at me! Everyone would say I’m a freak’s daughter. Now I can’t top the class. I hate you! I hate you! I HATE YOU!”

With that, she runs to her room and locks the door. I could not chase after her. My heart is ripping to two. God, why are you doing this to me? Why are you screwing up my life over and over again? What have I done wrong to actually deserve this? If you will not answer to my prayers, then I might as well make a pact with the devil.

And with anguish numbing me, and without thinking straight, I fall to my knees and said aloud.

“Lucifer if you may, take anything you want. I offer anything i have in exchange to be rid of my hiccups forever. You hear me? Any bloody thing!”

At night, Jenny tiptoes to me, and kisses me softly on the cheek as I am reading the papers. She then stands there, staring down at her toes as she mumbles her apologies.

“I’m sorry Daddy. Mommy says you cannot help it. And I guess it must be horrible to have hiccups for so long.”

“Oh, Jenny baby, it’s alright. I rather the hiccups haunt me than having you to be upset with me.”

“Is there anything I could do to help you with the hiccups, Daddy? Is there anything I could do? I love you! I would do anything for you. You know, like how the prince would do anything to grant the princess' wish because he loves her.”

“Silly Jenny. Having you smiling at me is more than enough.”

She gives me the biggest smile ever. What I would do to retain that smile forever.

Next day, Jenny is late for school. So, instead of taking the bus, I am to take her there with the car. While clearing the car to get her a seating spot. I do not realise that Jenny has already began to run to school. So cursing under my breath, I chase after her, hoping to get to her before she reaches the busy junction right next to the school. But she is a fast sprinter. I catch a glimpse of her ahead me, approaching the junction. She stops at the lights, seeing a red man. I think to myself that I should be able to catch up with her in time.

Then Mr Green takes his turn to shine. Jenny begins to run across that short stretch of road, she is really anxious about reaching school before the late bell. I watch on as I streak past the blocks with increasingly large stripes. Something in me feels weird, and I finally notice the cause of my unease. My subconscious has heard it first: the screech of brakes of a running car on the road. My stomach does a few somersault and the next few seconds plays out in slow motion.

A flash of red shoots past the spot my girl was in. A short brief scream of terror. A long gasp of shock from witnesses. A siren going off in my head.

The next thing I know, I am holding Jenny in my arms. She is drenched in red. My head is just spinning, and I told myself that it is just the paint of the car on her. My daughter could not be bleeding to death. My baby girl is only six years old. She opens her eyes. She is not moaning, or shrieking in pain. Instead, she smiles at me weakly and whispers.

“Daddeeeeee… Your hics…gone… happy… love you…”

Even as she draws her last breath, she is thinking only about me.

Maybe she thought she's just falling to sleep? Maybe she really felt no pain? Maybe maybes. I do not cry. I do not answer when I am talk to. I just sit there woodenly, holding my bloody daughter. I am in shock, I guess, trying hard to digest the truth that I have just lost the most important thing in my life. God has not answered my prayers, and so I called out to Satan. He answered me, and now God is asking me to face the consequences.

My daughter’s death is in my hand.

“Any bloody thing.”

“Anything for you, Daddy.”

My daughter is not anything. Not anymore.

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