Metanoia

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A writer for the New York Times interviewed a series of people who had survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Every person she interviewed admitted that about two third of the way down, they realized that every seemingly meaningless problem that caused them to jump was fixable.
Every single one.

Submitted: June 24, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 24, 2014

A A A

A A A


Metanoia

By

S.L. Pam

 

A writer for the New York Times interviewed a series of people who had survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Every person she interviewed admitted that about two third of the way down, they realized that every seemingly meaningless problem that caused them to jump was fixable.

Every single one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I woke up with a jolt.

It was cold. And bright. Very bright.

I squeezed my eyes and opened them again, trying to adjust to the brightness of the room.

This is weird. Where am I?

I stood up and looked around.

It was a room. It was a completely white room, straight up from the floor to the ceiling. There was nothing else inside. Only me. 

The ceiling was high. I could not even see it. And the floor. It was cold and hard. Like it was made up of some kind of high-quality marble or something.

I looked around the room. Where am I? Why am I here? Why can’t remember anything. Is it possible that I have been kidnapped?

I must be dreaming.

I suddenly felt a dull pain at the left side of my chest. I cringed in pain. It was slight, but it was painful. Like someone took the end of a knife and stabbed it repeatedly at the base of my heart. But it was gone as soon as it came.

I heaved a sigh of relief as I rubbed the affected area. I shook my head, trying to remember.

Nothing. I can remember nothing.

Out of the corner of my eyes, I caught a glimpse of a door, appearing on the wall. I quickly straightened up. Maybe that is the exit. I can get out of here.

I walked as fast as I could towards the door, but stopped just a few steps in front of it.

Suddenly I was scared. Something told me that I am better off staying in here. Safer. No more dull pain.

I disregarded the thought and walked slowly towards the door. I held out my hand and touched the handle. It felt cool in my grasp.

I took a deep breath and braced myself before opening the door and walked to the other side, closing the door behind me.

I came into a place that looks like a garden. Grasses, flowers, and trees. Well, that’s what makes up a garden isn’t it? But there was just something different about this garden, something is missing. I knew it. But I just couldn’t put my finger on what it is. I stayed still and listened but was greeted with nothing but silence.

Silence.

Garden. Trees. Birds.

That’s when I knew what was so different about this garden. It was too silent. Like a deathly silence. Like when you go to a library alone at night and no one was around that kind of deathly silence.

I looked around. The garden was just a small square, surrounded by thick hedges. A single tree loomed at one corner of the garden. It was the only lively thing that I could recognize.

The tree looked like it has a secret to tell me. I walked closer and saw that it was familiar. I put one of my hands on the tree and felt a slight beating inside it. Like a heartbeat. It was soothing, and yet at the same time disturbing. A living thing without a heartbeat. A living thing fighting for a heartbeat.

The tree looked strong and sturdy. The root was big and covered almost the whole space in the garden. There was no source of water inside the garden, and yet the tree looked so healthy and alive. Maybe the root was working very hard underneath, finding and reaching out for water. 

The trunk twisted and turned in various places. Making it looked so painful for the tree. Like it has been through some tough times in its younger years of trying to live but obviously it fought. Hard. And became the tree I am seeing now.

The tree opened up into glorious, magnificent branches, carrying lush, green leaves, creating a shade beneath the tree; just cool enough for anyone to take a rest underneath.  I smiled. There was something about the tree. Something inspiring. Something soothing.

Something alive.  

I was interrupted by a slight rustling sound coming from behind me. I turned around sharply to see three gates appearing on the hedges.

I looked at the first gate. It was golden and perfectly polished. Over the gate I could see a garden. The garden was well kept and filled with various types of flowers. There were butterflies dancing around the garden, inviting me to join them in a game of hide-and-seek. I took a deep breath and decided to go through it. It was so inviting that every step I took towards the gate made me happier inside, like a little bubble of joy simply trying to burst into laughter and song. I opened the gate and let myself in. Two steps through the lane and suddenly I realized I wasn’t in the garden anymore.

I was in a bedroom. Sitting on the bottom bunk of a double decker. I heard someone knocking and felt someone shifted on top. The bedroom door opened and I saw a very familiar person coming into the room and woke up the person that was sleeping on the top bunk of the bed. It was my dad. He was smiling. Like there’s a pleasant surprise waiting for the sleeping person.

I jumped down from where I was sitting and tried to figure out who was the sleeping person and gaped. It seemed like my dad can’t see me. I strained my neck to see the sleeping person.

I gaped. It was me.

I looked sick and annoyed. I heard myself complaining under my breath about being asked to do something when I was sick. I gasped. I remember this! This was one of my fondest memories where I first met my dog, Hiro!

Sure enough, I saw myself jumped down from the top bunk and walked lazily outside to where my dad’s car was parked. In a few minutes, I saw myself shrieking and hugging my dad while holding a box. I could see the small, black head of a puppy looking up to its new master. I smiled. The memory became clear again to me. It was sweet. I remembered how happy I was.

A dull pain attacked my heart once more. Just like before, it went as soon as it came. Rubbing the pain off my chest, I eventually noticed that I am in a different place. I stood up and looked around.

I was on a beach with a few other familiar faces around me. I saw my brother and sister laughing and running. I smiled when I saw a black dog chasing after them in excitement.

It was Hiro. Big, strong and healthy. I reached my hands out fondly to him. The bubble of joy inside me found its way out of my system into a string of giggles from my mouth. I felt so happy. This was one of the many family outings that I remember the most. It was fun because everyone was around, including the dogs.

I laughed when I saw my dad chasing after Hiro. My mom was standing by the side holding Brownie, a recently added female dog, on a leash. The ghost of a smile played on my lips. I still remember coming home from the outing, tired and happy; our family bond stronger than before.

I closed my eyes and took a breath of ocean air. This is nostalgic. I love it. When I opened my eyes, the surroundings have changed. This time it was a crowded bus. I frowned. How can a crowded bus be included in my sweet memory?

I got my answer immediately when I spotted myself sitting in front, wearing a green blouse and black jeans, with earphones on. I chuckled. This was my first year in the university, and I already looked so stressed.

I waited, smiling. The reason why this is a memory worth keeping will appear soon.

Sure enough, a petite girl with hair tied up into a bun, showing off her wide forehead, wearing a brown dress walked into the bus, but there was no seat left. She suddenly saw me and proceeds to stand beside me. I saw her exchanged a few words with me and I saw myself obviously trying to avoid her eyes. I laughed to myself. This was when I first started to get close with Ariel, she became my close friend until now.

The bus started to move and I saw myself trying to point out to her that I do not want to talk, but she kept on carrying a conversation with me. I laughed and looked fondly at the two of us. Honestly, I thought she was very annoying at that time.

The bus stopped suddenly and I found myself reaching out to hold myself up only to fall on a pavement road.

I quickly sat up, afraid that a car might run over me, but instead I saw myself walking down the road, hand in hand with a guy.

That’s weird. His face was all blurry. As if I told myself over and over again to forget this particular person. Maybe this guy hurt me before, but the fact that he made it into one of my good memories might make him a person I used to treasure so much.

I felt a dull pain in my heart again. When I opened my eyes, I saw Ariel and me decorating a room together. I was laughing too much because we were playing with the paint and it got to our faces and made us look funny.

The flashback suddenly became faster. I saw myself holding a certificate of excellence, standing on a stage singing, jumping into a river with my friends cheering for me, but everything stopped when I saw myself holding a ring. Suddenly everything went into a blur and I found myself standing inside the garden once more at the other side of the golden gate, facing the second gate to the left.

The gate hung sadly on one hinge. It was old and rusty, as if it was corroded with salt water and was neglected. The lane over the gate was dark and thorny. I can’t figure out what was at the end of the lane since it was really dark. Gathering up all my courage, I walked slowly towards the gate. Every step towards the gate filled me with dread and agony. I was almost in tears when my hands reached out for the rickety old gate and swung it open. Cautiously, I let myself in.

I was in a basketball court. There were children running around in sports attire.

In the middle of the basketball court was a high jump mattress, complete with standards and cross bar. A group of students was standing at the other side of the equipment. They looked like they have done their jump and was waiting for the next person to jump. I turned my attention towards the next jumper and gasped.

No. This can’t be real. This isn’t happening.

I saw how the little girl took a deep breath, and ran with all her might towards the bar and jumped but failed to pass the bar cleanly and it dropped from the stands. The clanging sound of the bar hitting the cement court rang clearly in the atmosphere. I ran to the little girl at once, but the laughter of the other kids fills the air. The girl was crying, but no one cared.

“What a loser!” I heard one of the boys said.

“Yeah, it wasn’t even that high.” Another chimed in.

“She must have pig legs!” One cried, followed by a string of laughter from the other kids.

The little girl cried more. The now familiar dull pain jabbed mercilessly at the bottom of my heart. I tried to touch the little girl, trying to soothe her. But my hands went straight through her. She curled herself into a ball and sobbed as I watched her helplessly from the side. The taunting and laughter rang through the court clearly as they chanted “Pig Legs” again and again.

“Stop!” I yelled, trying to stop them.

One of the boys pushed her head.

“Stop!” I slapped his hands, but my hands went right through.

“You’re hurting her!” I looked around to see if there’s anyone around who would help. But none of the teachers paid attention to what was happening. I reached out to the girl helplessly, feeling myself drowning in sorrow, wishing everything would just end. My vision was blurred by tears. I covered my face, feeling the dull pain attacking me relentlessly. It was horrible. I felt so useless, so helpless. In the end, I gave up and curled myself into a ball, trying to occupy less space. Their chant was loud, it was deafening. I cried. I felt so alone.

Suddenly everything was silent.

When I opened my eyes, I was in the backyard of a house. It was one of the houses my family used to rent.

A cat suddenly jumped out of nowhere and meowed. The door behind me opened as soon as it did. I saw myself coming out. I looked a little bit older than I was in my previous memory.

Chubbier and sadder.

I saw myself smiling a little sad smile. The cat ran towards me as I squatted down holding a red ribbon in one hand.

“I’m sorry.” I heard myself said.

“Mom is going to throw you away.”

I felt the dull pain again stinging at the base of my heart. This time, it stays. I saw myself crying as I carefully took the cat into my arms.

“You’re the only friend that I have.” Instinctively, I reached out a hand to myself, but just like before, my hand went straight through. I knew at that time, what I need most is a hug. No one was there to give it to me. My childhood was all about abandonment. My dad was seldom around, my mom was always busy. My siblings? They just have their life to live.

No one wants a depressed and sad little girl like me.

It is not until I realized my surroundings changed that I noticed myself crying. I rubbed the tears off my eyes and looked around.

This time it was a classroom. I saw myself sitting in my seat, writing diligently inside a math exercise book. Behind me was a group of boys talking loudly enough to interrupt me studying. I was obviously ignoring all of them but the leader of the group seems to find that disturbing. Suddenly I saw him kicked my chair, I turned around sharply. I looked so angry but the boy was not intimidated.

The pain at the base of my heart became stronger as I watched the memory unfolded in front of me. The boy looked straight into my eyes and said to me in a cold voice. “I hate you. You are a disgrace to this world. This place will be better off without you.”

Tears started to flow endlessly from my eyes as I saw myself standing up, smiling and walked away without saying anything. I closed my eyes. I don’t have to follow myself. I knew where I was going. I was running to the toilet to cry the hurt off my heart.

I opened my eyes and saw myself walking with Hiro heeling beside me. The dull pain at the base of my heart became sharper. I remember this as clear like it just happened yesterday. It was just an innocent walk with Hiro, but a drunk driver put a black mark in my memory.

The car was heading towards my direction but Hiro jumped in front of me, getting killed, instead of me. In a few minutes, I saw myself hugging Hiro’s lifeless body and crying my eyes out. It was depressing. Blood stained my shirt at that time, and I wouldn’t stop crying. I was still sobbing when I saw myself walking into a café with Ariel.

I saw Ariel suddenly stopped and pulled me away from the café. I saw how I was laughing and asking Ariel if she saw her stalker inside the café. I saw myself frozen as I fixed my gaze on a couple who was sitting at the far end of the café. I saw how I angrily approached the blurry couple. I saw how I trashed their little luncheon.

Flashbacks of memories flooded through my mind. I saw the fake smile. The betrayal. The blade. The cuts. The blood. Suddenly I found myself standing in front of the lopsided gate. Tears streaming down from my eyes.

The last gate was different from the other two. It was shut firmly with a “Do Not Enter” sign pasted in front. It was clear that the person who built this gate doesn’t want anyone to trespass. I shrugged, still crying silently.

I have seen the worst of my life. What can be worse than any of it?

With trembling footsteps, I walked towards the gate. This time, I felt like I was being repelled as I stubbornly put one foot forward after another. With the last strength in my body, I pushed the gate open and immediately I wasn’t in the garden anymore.

It was the room in my rented apartment. I saw my sketches strewn all over my bed, and books piled up at random corners of my room. I looked at my drawings one by one. I saw an old drawing of Ariel and me. I saw a photo of Hiro, looking at me with a twinkle in his eye. I saw our family picture at the beach, and also the living room, the room that Ariel and I decorated after we decided to rent an apartment together.

One particular drawing caught my eyes. It was the drawing of the tree in the garden. Every detail of the tree was the same. The way the roots spread out in search of water. The way the trunk twisted around at the base and also how the branches grew out to be glorious and magnificent with lush, green leaves, creating a shade for tired passer-by to rest beneath was all identical.

It was soothing. It was inspiring. I smiled.

A loud knock made me turn around. That was when I noticed a girl laying her head on the table with a pen in her hand. She looked like she was sleeping.

The knock grew louder and suddenly I heard the jingling of the keys. The door opened, and a frantic looking Ariel and another friend, Lisa, rushes in.

“Kim!” She cried, as she shook the sleeping girl urgently. “Oh my gosh, she’s not breathing.” Ariel looked around the table and found an empty bottle of sleeping pills. “Darn! Lisa! Call the ambulance!” She instructed immediately.

I felt bad looking at them. “Ariel!” I called out. She didn’t respond. What’s wrong? She’s looking for me right? Why is she trying to wake that girl up? What’s the big deal? “I’m here Ariel. Look at me.” I called out louder.

No response.

I waved at her, but she was too distraught to see me. What is happening?

A few paramedics rushed in and carried the sleeping girl into an ambulance. I followed Ariel and Lisa into the ambulance. They looked so worried. I tried to talk to them but they wouldn’t listen. They kept on looking at the sleeping girl worriedly.

It was then that I turned my attention towards the girl on the bed. I was surprised to see another girl just like me on the bed. What’s the meaning of this? If I am there, unconscious, then what am I doing here?

Suddenly everything hits me. I remembered the white room, the memories, and now. They said that when you are dying; flashes of memories will come back to you.

Was it what I was experiencing just now? Am I really going to die? I shook my head. No. I can’t be dying. There’s still so much for me to live for. I can’t die just yet. I still have a masterpiece to create. I just adopted a new dog and I promised him I will take care of him, just like how I took care of Hiro. I even gave it a name, Crimson. I promised Ariel to travel the world together. I promised her that I would be the first to buy her published book. I promised my mom that I will buy her a new sofa, and my dad a new car. I promised my sister that I will design the best clinic for her in town, and I promised my brother that I will play the guitar as good as him. I can’t die just yet.

Why was I even considering death before? Why did I even try to end everything before my life even started? How can I be so stupid? Break ups are just another phase in life to go through. I see it now. It’s not something that is worth dying for. I… I can’t die now! No! I regret it! I’m sorry! I regret it!

I’m sorry…

If I can somehow live through this… I promise myself that I will live. I promise! I will live and fight through every twisted path in my life. I will stand tall! I won’t give up!

I… I… I want to live.

The ambulance stopped. I saw myself being rushed out of the ambulance and into the emergency room. The metal door clanked close, and I decided that I must fight.

And live.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Metanoia – The journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life

 


© Copyright 2017 SL Pam. All rights reserved.

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