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Life & Death (Chapter 2)
A flicker of a candle awakens me. But wait; there are no candles, no light, no nothing. Only darkness lives here.
Slowly I stand, waiting for the flood of remorse to overcome me. Memories wash over me, reminding me of what I once had.
Gradually, the darkness fades, and brings with it light. It is seven years ago, March 16th, my birthday. I stand by watching, observing as if a complete stranger.
My family and friends fill a picnic table, heavy with foods of all kinds – delicious, plump, and red strawberries, corn on the cob; steaming and glistening with melted butter; sandwiches, oozing with peanut butter and jelly; baked beans, dripping with brown sugar sauce; and a huge birthday cake; frosted in snow white frosting with words iced in light pink reading, “Happy 7th Birthday Emily!”
They surround a seven year old girl. She wears her favorite shirt – the one with the flowers, and her dark brown hair is braided and tucked inside a large floppy hat that covers her baby blue eyes. She radiates happiness and contentment. She is me, before the reality of the world had set in. Her grin spreads from ear to ear and she stands before the huge birthday cake.
“Smile Emily!” my mother holds a camera up to her face, hiding her gorgeous sea green eyes filled with motherly affection for her daughter.
“Cheeeese!” both of her front teeth are missing, but it only adds to her charm. Click. A flash of light and the memory is saved forever in a picture.
“How old are you now…15?” My father asks, waiting for me to correct him in my sing song voice.
“No daddy! I’m sevennn!” I correct him, not even realizing he knew exactly how old I was turning.
“Oh, really now! Only seven?” He answers as he places seven candles in a perfect line, and begins to light them.
“One, two, three!” My grandfather chants as he waves his arms as if he leads a choir.
“Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Emily...” The words my family and friends sing slowly begin to repeat in my head. They are words of happiness, words of joy, words I will never hear again. An intake of breath, a whoosh, and the candles are blown out, along with the memory.
I am alone once again and darkness covers me like a blanket. My emotions bubble below the surface and threaten to explode. Screaming is the only option I have. It is the only way to block out my thoughts, because I cannot think now. I cannot think about what I’ve done and how the decisions I’ve made can never be reversed. I can only live with these decisions and take things as they come.
A memory like this, I should be thankful for. I should treasure it, remember it, and be happy that I had been given the opportunities that I had while I still was alive. But I’m not! I’m not because I will never make any more memories like these again. Any memories I make here will be gripped with sadness, regret, and guilt.
I want to stop thinking and remembering; I want to stop existing. I had escaped all the trepidations of living, but all those seemed miniscule compared to this. This was a whole new level of pain. A pain I have no way of escaping.
All I want to do is stay here, curl up in a ball, and pretend I am nothing. But I gave that ability up when I made the decision to end my life on earth. Now, I must endure memories excruciatingly painful to remember. And with a memory reminding me of the happiness my life once contained, comes a scene of utter sorrow.
As expected, the darkness I’ve come to count on begins to fade once again. I quickly stumbled to my feet, mentally preparing myself for the blows that are sure to proceed.
I see not a memory, but something happening now. Something that so many think about; even wish they could see for themselves. But believe me when I say this is not something anyone would wish to suffer through. I am at my funeral.
“Let us commend Emily Rose to the mercy of God.” A priest stands before a closed casket, speaking words of closure in a monotone.
I wonder how I look inside the casket. What am I wearing and did they even bother to make me look my best? Is my skin hard and cold as ice? Did they try to cover the gunshot wound in my head? So many thoughts run through my mind, but I know this is not what I should be watching. I am here for a purpose; to see my family.
I shift my attention to those who are attending my funeral. My father and grandfather stand beside one another, both stony faced and looking straight ahead. My mother and grandmother stand together. Their hands are held tightly together, as if that connection could fend off the pain they are enduring. My eyes focus on my mother.
I never imagined I’d see her this way. She stands beside the casket and she looks as disconsolate as the cemetery in which she stands. Her once beautiful hair is now nothing more than a knot; her empty eyes no longer hold the warmth they once contained; and her skin, as pale as ever, is pulled tight against her cheekbones.
“…A time to weep, and a time to laugh:
A time to mourn and a time to dance:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, “ the priest finishes a prayer and closes the bible he holds in his hands.
As I continue to watch my mother, her lip trembles and suddenly tears begin to slide down her cheeks. As I watch my mother cry for me, because of me, guilt settles deep inside my stomach. How could I have done this to her; to my whole family? It dawns on me that although the pain I suffer from the realization that I will never be part of life again, it is nothing compared to the pain I have inflicted upon my family.
“We therefore commit Emily Rose’s body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.” The priest’s voice slowly fades away, and the darkness begins to return.
Thump. The casket hits the bottom of the hole, where it will rest for eternity.
“What have I done!?” Only the darkness hears my cries. I slump down to the floor, and let my sobs overcome me.