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Decisions: Part Two

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I am in a cloud of white once again. I reach up, because I know it isn’t a cloud, but a hospital bed. The sheet pushes away, and I see that I am on an operating table, and there is a tray of knives and scalpels. My hand twitches toward the tray, wanting the pain, wanting the end. But Devin is suddenly bursting in, and he’s wearing a suit. He looks very spiffy, I think.

“Dagger,” he says, out of breath, “Stop! You don’t need to die! I love—!” and then he stops, and interrupts himself. “Dagger! Dagger!” And then even stranger—“Wake up! Dagger!” My shoulder shakes, and I whip around and nothings there. “Dagger!” Devin calls, coming closer. He reaches out and touches my face and he’s cold, so cold, and then he’s rotting like a zombie, and...

“Dagger!”

My eyes fly open. I’m in my bed and I’m safe. Devin (who is not rotting or in a suit) is bending over me, worry written on his face, one hand on my shoulder, one on my cheek. I smile weakly. “Hi, Devin.”

He breathes a sigh of relief. “I thought you were going to die without me.” We both chuckle nervously, then I think of something else.

“You’re...in my room, Devin.”

He blushes. “Yes, I suppose...but I wanted to take you somewhere.”

I pull my blanket over my chest, suddenly self-conscious. He notices the gesture and quickly looks away. “Like where?”

“It’s a special place,” he says, “A place that I used to escape to so I wasn’t so depressed. Obviously it didn’t work, but it’s still...it’s still mine. I hoped you’d like it, too.” He gives a hopeful, dry laugh. “Well, I’d ask you if you’d like to go, but since you aren’t ready and I don’t want to wait any longer, I suppose I should kidnap you.” He stands; grinning down at me, then seizes my hand and hauls me up.

“I’m not—dressed!” I protest, but I know it doesn’t make a difference, and besides; there is some part of me that wants to go with Devin in only my nightgown and slippers. I pull the cushioned shoes on, try to lengthen my short nightgown, then take Devin’s outstretched hand.

“Can you believe it’s only been a week?” He asks as he drags me down the hallway; “Can you believe it? I feel like—I feel like I’ve known you all my life!”

I agree with him; in just one week, Devin and I have come to know one another more than anyone else in the world does. But I do not say this—I am distracted by his bounding enthusiasm. Where did all of this energy come from?

Then it hits me. As soon as our faces hit the cool morning air, I skid to a halt and glare at Devin. He, too, bounces to his own stop and looks back.

“Are you cold already, Dagger?”

“Devin,” I say, still glaring, “You are not allowed to die.”

His happy smile falters. “Dagger?”

“You aren’t allowed to die...without me,” I finish, because suddenly it feels so right. If I was going to die, it’d be with him, I decide suddenly. He smiles a sad smile and brushes a stray hair from my face.

“I would be honored to die with you.”

Then I am choked up, thinking about all of those times I was huddled in the bathroom, stabbing myself with needles, knives, and anything sharp. Three- a knife. Nine—a pen. I was so desperate; so desperate to die. Maybe I won’t fail, I think, if I’m with Devin.

Only when he’s bushing away a tear do I realize that I am crying. Devin presses me to his chest as I sob, and his shoulders shake, I know he is crying, too.

“The living are a gate,” he murmurs, and I sniffle and look up.

“Life is a gate,” I answer.

“A gate to sorrow.”

“A gate to suffering.”

“Hope is a path,” he continues, pulling me close again.

“A path to happiness.”

“A path to love.”

“Such a path,” I comment, “Is difficult to find.”

“And yet it is in plain view.”

A tear slides down my cheek as I imagine it—pushing open a gate, vines twined around the latch, thorns jutting out and ready to strike. I slide in and I am in an overgrown garden, but it has lost its beauty many years ago. Devin is in tattered clothes, and he’s seated on a cracked stone bench. He looks at me as I sit down; a look of despair, it is such a sad look. But I take his hand and, together, we push through the brambles until we find a path with a fork. One has a waterfall immediately after it, the other into a lovely garden. Devin looks at me, and I at him, and we make our decision.

Then, I have it. I trace the words in the snow.
Fear is a garden
A garden of death
And a hair away
From his own cold breath
He glides along ashes,
Gravestones, and tombs;
And only the bravest
Can escape from his loom
He ties us together
With strings from our hearts
And nothing can break
The connection apart
You can scream all you like
Or whimper, or cry
But the only escape
Is a cruel way to die
And wandering in gardens
Of darkness and snow
Pushing the thorns is
The one way to go
But if you do find
A new place to smile
Step on that path
And stay there a while
It is your escape
From his reaching hands
A pathway to lead you
From the garden’s cruel brands

When I am done, I step back, imagining it in my head again, and all is silent until Devin speaks.

“Aren’t you a writer,” he says. And we stare at each other, wide-eyed. The moment is so perfect. I could forget all about death and pain, if I wanted to. But I do not, because I still see the pain in his eyes.

Then in one quick minute he’s pulling me towards him, and I think that he’s going to kiss me but find myself wrapped in a tight embrace. He looks at me and presses his lips to my forehead.

“As soon as it started, I promised myself that I would never be involved with anybody. But, Dagger—if I didn’t want to die, I’d still choose you.”

It is a lie—if he didn’t want to die, we wouldn’t have the connection we do now. But I nod and hug him and tell myself that if I did get involved with him, then I wouldn’t want to die. And the pain would continue on.

“So... Dagger: are you ready to leave yet?” His eyes are questioning and hopeful. In response, I pull out my phone and take a picture of my words, then turn it around and snap another picture, capturing the moment forever.

“For the people that care,” I say, “If they’re out there.”

“No,” he replies, “For us.” He points to the words in the snow, then sweeps them away so that only a few lines are left.
He ties us together
With strings from our hearts
And nothing can break
The connection apart

“For us,” I echo, and take his hand in mine. “For both of us.”

“Until the end.”

We trudge through the snow, silent, because nothing else is needed to be said.




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