The Way Out?!
I was standing there, in the middle of the forest, watching them getting killed. My whole body was shaking, sweat trickling down the side of my face. Then everything blacked out.
When I opened my eyes, a soft voice told me it was all not true. That it was just a dream, just my imagination. That they didn't die, you see, they just both had identical twins, and those were the ones who died. I couldn't wrap my head round it first, but then I felt relief gush through my body. They were alive. Nothing had happened to them. It was just their twins. Thank God.
'Air… Air… Air… Air, wake up…'
I shuddered and opened my eyes. Looking around myself, I felt my heart sink. It was a dream. One of those dreams that you believe. One of those dreams that you crave to be true… And it turns out that you were lied to.
'How are you' he asked softly.
Sitting by my bed, was Silver. Good old Silver, who I knew would always be there for me. I didn't know how he did it, but he always seemed to understand me. He knew what to say, and most importantly he knew when to shut up. I felt my lips pull into a tiny, feeble smile. He would never ask such a stupid question like: are you alright? or, I can feel you're upset, let's talk about. God, I could kill anyone who asked me that. What do you think? Do you really think I'm okay? And those, I'm sorrys were driving me mad. Why are you sorry? Why the hell are you sorry? Did you kill them? Or what? Well if no, then why're you sorry? What are you sorry about? And plus, do you really think sorry is going to help me? Do you really think that saying how much everyone loved them, what good friends they were, how they will be missed, do you really think it's nice for me to listen to that? If you're going to miss them, think how I feel.
I took a frustrated breath, and realised I hadn't answered him yet. I didn't want to talk. With anyone else, I'd feel obliged to answer, but this was Silver. He knew me; he knew every single part of me. I didn't have to act or try being something else in front of him. I could scream and kick the wall, and he would still understand.
And he did understand. It was like magic. He didn't repeat the question just handed me a cup. I wrapped my hands around this warm cup. All I wanted was to sit there and never let go of it; never move, so that the thought that it was only their twins could come back and stay.
They were not their twins, though. They were not their twins or their clones. They didn't think of having those, so there would be something left. I wish they had twins. I wish that those twins would have been killed. Who was I kidding? Nobody. It's been a months. Everyone knows they are dead. They had no twins that would die instead of them.
I set the cup down on the nightstand, and pulled the sleeves of my coat down. This was an old coat. It was Silver's in fact, from when he was nine or ten. He gave it to me then, and it was too big. I still wore it. It became a part of me. I was always cold, so I never took it off. It was always there, and I could still smell the scent of forest and lake, coming from it.
He sat down next to me, and gave me a hug.
'Air, I'm not going to say that I… understand or know how you feel, because that's not true - I've never been through what you have been. They were like parents for me too, but… It's not the same. It's much worse for you…'
I shook my head.
'No. They were our parents. You grew up with me Silver. I would feel the same if something happened to Anna and Max. You are probably the only person, who knows how I feel.'
'You have to start coming back to life again. It's hard, I realise that. But you can't spend your time, lying in this room or wondering around the forest.' He looked at me, 'Come back,' he said quietly, 'I miss you. We all miss you. Timer, Bear, Tracy…. Everyone. I know it's never going to be the same anymore… But, you have to make some effort. You are, I know. I know you are laughing and joking and running around, but once you come home, it's as if it's you again on that first week after they died.' Another thing I loved about him. No all of that stupid stuff like after… it happened. Face it man, THEY DIED!
He was right of course. When we were in school, I held myself together. I laughed, and felt my old self rule in my body. It felt good. And then, when we came home, I felt all the laughter drain from my heart. Ann and Max did everything they could. They thought they could never replace my real parents, and they were wrong. They were my parents. I loved them, like I loved my parents, it was the same love… but they still weren't the same people. I knew Silver was hurting just as much as me; we grew up together and were brought up by the same four people. But he was holding on for my sake, not letting his emotions take over.
We were neighbours. My house was at one end of the road and his was about two
hundred metres further down. My parents and his were the bestest of friends. He was a year older than me, but we were in the same class in school, because when it was time for him to start school, he said he wouldn't go without me. We were always together, except when in year seven we had a massive fight and stopped talking to each other for two years. After two years, we realised it was pointless fighting, and were together again. This year, my parents died. They were in a car crush. They died instantly. There was no way to save them.
His parents sorted out all the papers, and now I was living with them. I didn't even remember the first couple of days. Just bits of the funeral. My brain woke up when I was already here. It's been a month.
I knew it worried Anna that I didn't cry. Or at least no one saw me crying. I accidently overheard her telling Max that it would have been better if I cried when there was someone sitting next to me. They all gave me that opportunity, but I could never cry in front of them.
I spend hours, crying in my room, crying my eyes out in the school toilets. Silver knew, but he left me alone. I was glad he did. I would never want to cry in front of anyone. The last time I cried with an audience was in school, in year 7. I cried in front of the whole class, and ever since then, I decided I would never let my emotions spill out anymore. Ever.
I got up and walked over to the window. The last month went by in a daze, and I hadn't noticed that it was already spring. The trees were already covered in green leaves. But the sky was strangely grey, as if reflecting everything that had happened this winter. I squeezed my face against the cold glass, which sent shivers down my body. I turned around to face him.
'Silver,' I said quietly, 'I want you to come with me, to my house.'
He looked at me, as if trying to look right into my soul.
'Are you sure?' he whispered finally.
'Well, I can't just leave all my things there…. And… I'll have to go there one day, anyway.'
I slowly pushed the key into the keyhole, turned it and thrust the door open. It was silent. It's been a month, and I could already smell the abandonment and emptiness in the air.
Silver stood behind me. I took his hand and walked upstairs. The door into my room was closed. I quickly went into it and grabbed all the things I needed. Then we stood in front of the door to their bedroom. It was half open and you could see a little piece of the room through the gap. I pushed it and the rest of the room came into view. I walked in quietly.
We spent hours looking through their photos. We sat on the floor, while I played with her jewellery. I wasn't fond of jewellery. I never wore any, except the small ring that Silver gave me after we made up. But for some reason, I spent ages looking at hers. We looked at her drawings and sketches, and at the short stories my dad used to write. When we went through the photos, something stabbed me in the heart. One after another, their happy faces appeared in front of me, the photographs mixing with images from my own imagination. I could see Silver was hurting too, but I couldn't stop. It was terrible, but I couldn't stop.
The evening came, and we left. Before leaving, I peered into my room again and saw a photo, standing on the bookshelf. It was taken last year. I and Silver sat laughing on a fallen tree, our arms wrapped around each other. Our parents stood behind us, their hands on our shoulders. In the distance you could see the clear, blue lake and the forest. I picked it up, and ran my fingers across the glossy faces. A lump rose in my throat, and I held back tears. I was not going to cry.
Silver wrapped his arms around me. We stood silently together. Then he took my hand and we went away.
When we returned, Anna, Max and a boy I didn't know were sitting in the kitchen. We sat with them, with fake smiles plastered on our faces.
'Air,' Silver said, 'this is my cousin James. J, this is Air.'
The guy looked at me, as if I was a mad girl, coming straight from the mad house.
'Air is living with us,' Silver explained, and I could hear a tinge of dislike in his voice as he spoke to his cousin.
James nodded. I knew he found my name weird. But this was what Silver called me, and I loved it. My real name was Ilma. I once found out that it meant air in Finnish, and ever since then Silver called me that.
I was too tired to speak. I hated the fact that this guy had just turned up suddenly.
We sat together, having dinner. I was smiling and nodding absently. At one point my eyes met Silver's and I knew he could see how terrible I felt.
'Mum, dad,' I said suddenly. Anna and Max turned to me, and I knew they wanted to do everything they could to help and comfort me. 'Thank you,' I whispered, 'but I'm really tired. I'll go to bed.'
'Okay sweetheart,' Anna said quietly.
The lump in my throat rose again, and I ran out of the kitchen. I shut the door to my room and tears welled down my cheeks. The door opened and Silver wrapped his arms around me.
'I can't do this,' I sobbed, 'this can't be true. Up until now, I just had the feeling they were still there. Somewhere far away, but still there. And now…. seeing all these photos and everything… It hit me… That they are…' a cry broke my voice, 'dead.'
'I know.' He whispered, 'but it's going to be alright.'
And then I realised.
I realised that it was never going to be alright. That I would never get over it. That I would never be able to laugh again. That every day of my life, I would think of my parents, and that they are not there. There was no escape. Anywhere I looked, I saw darkness. As these thoughts broke into my mind, I cried, without being to stop. Cried for real now; out loud. He tried to wipe my tears of my cheeks, but more and more came as wordless sobs left my mouth. I would never see them again. I would never talk to them again. I would never go for long walks with dad, or sit with mum in the garden, painting.
There was no escape. It was all pitch black. I cried. And then, I suddenly had no more strength to cry. Tears just rolled down my cheeks, without making any sound. Silver held me tight against his chest. My gaze suddenly fell on the open window, the warm, evening, spring breeze strolling through it. Maybe that was the escape.
As I thought about it again, about this cycle of miserableness that would go on and on, without stopping, I began crying again, my whole body shaking. As tears streamed down my face, my cries turned into hysteric laughter. Silver shook me by the shoulders, saying something, but all I could hear was light whispers:
'Air… Air… Air…
I looked up, my eyes meeting his. I could see the pain in them, echoed the one in my heart. I trembled as the sobs and the laughter took over my mind. He shook me, but I just laughed and cried, unable to stop.
'Silver!' I screamed at him, 'please… Where is THE WAY OUT?!!'