Someone Before You

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The door shuts, sweeping through the arc about its axis. He slides down his leather backpack from the shoulders hunching down with burden. Worn out bed creaks against the backpack’s load, wrapped in moth-eaten sheet just like the pillows, soaked in every night’s tears. He shifts towards his study table and pulls out the drawer. A wave of dust escapes out, blending with the filtered sunlight. Floating specks of dust glitter in the sunlight coming from his window that still bears a fighter-jet sticker he had pasted on his 7th birthday. It is ragged but cannot come off easily unlike the Moroccan patterned wallpaper that once adorned his walls. His room seems to be falling apart but, to him, it does not matter anymore, nor the huge family photo hanging on the wall. The only thing that matters to him now is tiny bottle rolling towards him inside the drawer. He clutches this glass bottle in his fist, moving towards the bed, listening to the noise of tablets inside. They scream in the room’s silence upon colliding against thick brown glass walls. His fingertips twist open the cap, raking it against the thumb. Unleashing mouthful of tablets on his palm, he gasps. His eyes are shut now but the salty water is leaking through the corner, unsure of the cause. Perhaps it is the whispering around him as he crosses the hallway, his nails drilling marks on his book for clutching it too tightly. It can be his school mates leaning against rusty blue lockers, calling him murderer's son. He vaguely remembers shouldering through the crowd to his father's hideout and the strangers' scuffs fading in cigarette smokes and dark graffiti squirms; lights from beacon bulbs mounted on police cars circled within the radius of his father's hiding place. His father had shut himself from the world, in the guilt and fear of murder charges against him for assaulting his colleague. Reza fails to forget anything, the comments on his worn out clothes, the day his father was proven guilty, the night he was found dead in prison and his friends reverberating, "You're a total failure Reza". He lifts his palm up to his twitching lips and opens his eyes, preparing himself for the destiny he awaited for too long. He stretches his mouth open to inhale the burden all at once before his sight falls on something, before he hears a muffled cry. Surely, he has heard this voice before, when all the lights across the street had dozed off, a voice asking for help, pleading for mercy. He lets his heart unearth the soft shaky voice which he remembers burying, little by little with the things he never forgets, wild echoing laughter, circulating comments, police siren and slicked black bugs bursting out of that one horrific night. He whispers his eyes to let go of the blind fold once, accepting to see someone before him, deadly in pain. Thin streams of blood stretch out across his face like wild roots shrouding earth beneath. His bony fist thudding the glass, lips sealed, stitched together but he can sense him dimly shaking his head in disapproval, eyes welling up with pledge. Cuts on his body looks familiar as Reza traces the ones on his own, made with sharp metallic edge. He slips his eyes shut again as he hears his grandmother waking up upstairs. He quickly needs to end his life before she intercepts. Reza takes his palm much closer to his mouth before he decides to catch a glimpse of person before him. He opens his eyes to witness a blinding flash of light followed by lucid image of that person in a uniform he always fancied. A sense of high-spirit reflects on his stretched eyes and the smile deepening his dimple. His pride firmly holds metal badge high on his chest and the navy blue Air force cap on his head. Reza quickly closes his eyes , this time with pain. A bead of tear slips down but he is able to ignore it. His lips are twitching but he is able to bite it. "I have got no time for this. I need to do it just now". The tablets are just an inch away from his lips. however, wrinkles on his eyelids for shutting them too forcefully displays an unfinished business. "Why is it getting so hard?..". He looks up again to see the person fully grown into a man. Fitted coat creases with his hands being held up high but it does not matter as long as these hold a child smiling back. A feminine voice calls out his name, making him turn his head to whisper sweet melodies of care and love. In his gloomy room of circling thoughts, they talk and laugh mutely in delight. A hand, old but warm, gently presses on the man's shoulder, a support that looks familiar. Reza winces in despair, placing his fist on his forehead. His cheeks are involuntary slicked. He tightens his grip on weapon trapped in his hand, knowing that he is losing it, and gathers all the reasons to have things done but an eerie sound of spark and the static come in between. Reza witnesses the glitch in the view before him that mysteriously disfigures the delight, taking away the child first, then the flower in girl's hand and ultimately, leaving the man in a place unknown to him, blood all around him. Reza feels a torture piercing through his heart but somewhere in between, a knot unravels. He blinks his eyes to see the man changing into young person in uniform as if the clock has ticked in reverse. His smile is still wide, only to be faded by the violent glitches occurring with sparks. With the static and a sound of tape rewinding, the man disappears, leaving the silver badge and the Air force cap toppling over the ground. Each time Reza blinks his eyes to escape to reality, it serves as a camera shutter clicking followed by a flash of light depicting the stages of that person in backwards. Each stage leaves behind the residue of things he holds dear. Reza feels his grasp loosening but he manages to keep looking anyway until he sees the person already turned into a teenager, motionless. A lady cries hysterically beside him, mourning in disbelief, shaking his body. She desperately needs his shoulder today and forever. She does not know that her weak body would not be fully functional after years, that she would sleep thirsty all night if she forgets to put water jug at her bedside, that her breathing will make it harder for her to grab things dropped on the floor, and that her dinner would be as lonely as she had once feared. Had he known this earlier, he would have woken up. Behind them an airplane stays at the table right before crashing on the ground, broken into pieces. However, the tiny bottle beside him did not receive a scratch, the one sending glitches, unwanted sparks for disfiguring happiness, for making people disappear forever, stays at large. Reza stares blankly, not realizing when he has allowed himself to cry. His hot tears flow unceasingly as he is left again with the person thudding the glass wall. His lips aren’t stitched anymore, but he is still trapped, dripping in blood. Reza turns his hand to see tablets and the bottle, the murderers at large, never found guilty. He dashes the bottle upon the hard marbled-floor, scattering it into pieces and throws the tablets in the dirty dustbin beside him. Reza drops himself on the ground, slipping against the bed. He pinches his lock of hair between his fingers and cries, thumping his hand on forehead, remembering the person he has stopped listening to, the person before him. The vein running through his neck bulges and strain on his every cry and the emotional outburst he decides letting out after years. He cries there for several moments. His eyes are fixed on the ground, tears clogging the waterline, letting a tear drop slip through the lash. He is in disbelief, he is realizing, he is recovering. A crack forms on the glass wall making its way violently to the top even though the person before him has stopped thudding. The blood is disappearing from his face. Reza stands up, still staggering, but his worn out bed is enough to support him. The glass wall before him is seconds away from shattering. He feels all the knots unraveling upon realizing living is mandatory for what matters the most and who matters,
Someone stepping down the stairs, and, someone before him, the person in the mirror.





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