Thanatopsis

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

"What are you going to do if I die?"


Terrifying, but sometimes you just have to ask.

“What are you going to do if I die?”

 

I asked her. Knowing very well how she’ll respond, I can already see it happening in my head. But I wanted to hear it from her. I’d like to scoff at her sadly vacuous way of thinking. I’m actually just looking for a way to pass time – by making her mad.

 

It’s quite funny, really. And sad.

 

“Stop thinking nonsense.”  She dismissed the topic abruptly.

 

“Just work with me here. Come on.”

 

Everybody thinks I’m weird. Sometimes they use other terms to make it less offending; words like different and unique. If I do something really good, they’ll say special – but rather odd.

 

She is a strong woman. Courageous, firm, fearless; almost like a lioness. For a cherry on top, she’s religious too. And she likes gigantic stuffed teddy bears – that’s for sparkles.

 

I’ve always adored her, looked up to her, and respect her. I used to not question a word she says and do her bidding as quick as an involuntary eye movement; now, I guess it’s safe to say it’s just for plain, simple love.

 

Or maybe because I’ve got nothing else. It’s all I ever know and it has sunk so deep in me that I got used to walking around, half my heart gone.

 

“Come on, please? I just want to know.” I pleaded once more.

 

“I’m going to die before you.”

 

“You can never tell.”

 

I don’t really understand why people don’t want to talk about death. Is it because it’s sad? Scary? Painful? Because it’s real? Because you can’t do anything about it? Because it’s an end? Is it because you can’t help but think of yours – your death, your end – and it’s real and you can’t do anything about it so it haunts you knowing you haven’t really done anything yet, you’re not ready because you haven’t really lived which is really sad, and you know that no matter which way you die, there will always be pain because you will always act upon your instinct which tells you to desperately cling on to life – losing oxygen, gasping for air, choking on your last few loud but slow, fading heartbeats?

 

“Of course I’m going to be sad.”

 

She probably will be. I’m the golden babe – the one with plenty of potentials. And without me, the queen has one less subject to rule.

 

I can tell she’s already getting annoyed. Her eyebrows furrowed – one raised a bit higher than the other – she started to press and swipe on her phone with more force. Sitting in the bed next to me, I’ve grown numb to her dragon aura a long time ago.

 

“That’s it?” I’m not yet satisfied. I can’t be bored again too soon.

 

There was complete silence.

 

I was on the verge of giving up. I can feel parts of my heart cringing.

 

“Will you remarry?”

 

“No. I’m old. I just want a companion. Someone to be with.”

 

“I want you to be happy.”

 

“That alone wouldn’t determine my happiness.”

 

“I know. I’m just saying. I truly want you to be happy. I always pray for your happiness.”

 

Another silence filled the room. It didn’t worry me like it did before because now we’re getting to the interesting part. I can feel a smile form on my lips.

 

“Do you want to know what I’ll do if you die?”

 

“What?” Curious, it didn’t took long.

 

“I’m going to drop out of college.”

 

She was shaken.

 

“And I’m going to do whatever I want with my life.”

 

But she was smiling, sarcastically.

 

“If there’s going to be money,”

 

She continued playing on her phone.

 

“I’ll use it to build the café I’ve been planning to.”

 

Her heart is breaking.

 

“I’ll have a chance to be free and happy.”

 

Whatever’s left of my heart – pulverized.

 

“But I’m going to be really sad.”

 

It took a lot of courage to say all these.

 

“Because you’re all I know.”

 

It has been so long.

 

“And you might not believe me,”

 

I have already forgotten

 

“As you have the past couple of years”

 

How it’s like

 

“But I love you more than anything and everything in the world.”

 

To really feel.

 

This is why I started this conversation, why I asked that question. Because I was thinking about it. And I don’t want to be the only one feeling terrible.

 

She has been miserable and very difficult. She has been too bossy and controlling. She’s suddenly being a newsmonger. She’s too proud, too self-righteous.

 

I don’t know how, but it got really, really awful.

 

And I’m tired.

 

I looked at the sky, thinking that’s one way our conversation could go. It could actually be something completely different. I could think of ninety-one more ways it could go.

 

I went inside the house and saw her sitting in the couch. I sat down beside her and asked,

 

“Hey, mom, what are you going to do if I die?”


Submitted: June 25, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Jonah Lui. All rights reserved.

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Comments

berktree

Whoa, hell of a twist ending! I love this, especially because I can relate to it so well. Mothers can be quite overbearing, can't they? I think my favorite part of this was when you wrote a line of dialogue and then a line of internal thinking, a line of dialogue then a line of thought. Excellent job, I look forward to reading more of your writing!

Thu, June 25th, 2015 2:05pm

Jonah Lui

Thanks a bunch, berkleyrenefreund! To be honest, I felt really awful but I just had to write it!

Sat, June 27th, 2015 3:16am

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