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A cold shiver went down my spine and my breath could be seen in the air. I was sitting on a hillside covered in frost, wrapped in clothing my parents forced upon me earlier on.
The sky was heavy with smoke; you could taste the pollution that was nearly tangible in the air. I breathed it in, who would know that your one lifeline –oxygen –could be filled with such poison? I breathed in deeply once more, pulling my knees to myself. Taking it all in.
“Hey,” my friend was suddenly standing behind me, “why don’t you come back in? It’s freezing out here.” To illustrate her words, she shook violently, as if there was no sun in the sky. As if the world was in cold, empty darkness. Yet once again, only an exaggeration.
“I’ll live.” With those words, she gave a shrug and went back inside.
My friends have given up on me a while ago. They couldn’t comprehend why I would always seek refuge in my own world. They assumed that I would be like them: when in pain, the more the merrier.
My eyes wandered through the distance but inside I saw nothing. I saw only my own thoughts: heart shattered, relationships broken, hateful insults, dreams that will never be fulfilled.
How long will I go on like this?
It hurt more than a stab in the back, in the heart. Pain. Such a controversial topic. What is pain? Does it purely imply being physically hurt? Or is there more to that?
“How much trouble do you want to cause?” I turned automatically at the voice that spoke and when I saw him, I turned away. He was another friend, but one who retaliated my resistance towards the others. Unlike them, he didn’t pretend he understood, instead he questioned my behavior.
I ignored his inquiry.
“Seriously,” he sat himself down next to me and I edged away instantly. “You’re scaring everyone.” I disliked him. Long ago, he was one of my closest friends. Now, his words made me detest him. When we spoke, he made it seem like I was the enemy. Like I was the one causing the pain everywhere. “You don’t really care, do you?”
I pretended to be extremely fascinated by the array of houses down below.
He sighed in frustration, and inside, I sighed in relief. He probably would leave any second now, just like always.
“Listen, you don’t know how much every one of your friends cares about you, including me. And seeing you like this just kills us all. I know you’re going through a lot. What happened was terrible. But think about it. Think about how much grief you are inflicting upon others.” He then attempted to smile but failed miserably. With that note, he left.
His words stung.
I knew that it was my fault; I knew that I did not really detest him; I only despised what he had to say. And all along he was right.
My thoughts roamed back towards my torturing memories. What happened was terrible. And it left me with an emptiness so great and so deep. A hole cutting through me.
For the first time since it happened, I cried. I remembered my dear lost friend; how he would hold me, laugh with me, run with me. I wish we could run away together now.
And as if he could hear my reoccurring thoughts –wherever he was: He appeared before me. I saw his beautiful smile and his intent eyes gazing upwards to me from the bottom of the hill. His features were so distinct from afar and all the angles of his face were the same. They didn’t change since the last time I saw him. My teary eyes grew wide in shock. He smiled once more, reassuring me that all would end well. His mouth moved and even though I couldn’t hear the words, I read his lips.
“Smile, everything will be okay.” And then he was gone. I knew if I explained this to anyone, they would argue that he wasn’t really there. That he was merely a ghost of my memories, revisiting me that strange day.
But it my heart I will always know that he came to me as a reminder. A reminder of how I couldn’t continue living my life in fear. In sadness. In desolation. And instead, I must embrace the future and do as he said. Simply smile.