Hey everyone, I’ve been sick with the flu recently and was delayed from posting the ending of my short story, which you can read Part 1 and 2 here and here. I would also like to say a short thankyou for my followers who have stuck with me all the way. Thanks guys, you’re awesome! 🙂
The Colours Lead Me Here-Part 3
For days after, I tagged Nicholas. It’s creepy, I know, even stalkerish. But I got attached. Which was weird. I never got attached. To anything.
I knew that he liked cheerios more than ultra-bran, that he liked soccer more than tennis and even though he always said he didn’t have time to play with Ellie, at least once a week he ended up on the floor of her bedroom, helping her dress her dolls. Once, I even peeked into his notebook which he always seemed to be writing in and made an amazing discovery; it wasn’t a notebook. It was a drawing pad. And all the pages were filled with colours. Not really pictures but just colours. In pencil, pen, crayon, texta. Every colour of the rainbow. You name one and it was there. It was kind of like the world I saw now. I felt that he understood me, even though he would never know me.
What amazed me even more was that he was happy. Always simply happy. His colours were bright and unmasked. You have no idea how many times I’ve seen people wear themselves, pretty pinks and exuberant purples, but with a thin layer of poisonous black underneath, oozing like a slice of mouldy cheese hidden by fresh lettuce and tomatoes. The guy was happy with his life, content and satisfied. If anyone deserved to live, it was him.
I kept on thinking that the whole week I followed him. If anyone deserved to live, it was him. Not me. Not me, who was always just there, never reaching out, never actually living. Between me and him, he deserved to live more. And he did. He did live-is living-, while I’m here dead. But that didn’t bug me, not at all. I was glad actually. He could use his life to do more good than I will ever do. Besides, how could anyone resist those soft chestnut locks, those beautiful cinnamon eyes that lit up in the glow, and that quick, easy smile?
I found myself crushing on someone for the very first time. A simply crush on a simple guy. I wish my parents could see me now, the new Cinnamon, finally feeling something for someone other than lukewarm like or dislike. I wasn’t going to stop myself. I didn’t care if I got hurt, if nothing was ever going to happen, because I had never felt more alive now, giggling at his jokes, watching him play soccer with his friends, than when I had been alive, even though I was already dead. Yeah. Very strange, I know.
‘How are you, young Nick?’
‘I’m good, gramps. The real question is, how are you?’
‘Always cutting to the chase, people these days.’
Nick (I’ve rather happily taken to calling him that lately) and I were sitting in one of the mostly empty wards of the hospital. Well, he sat and I kind of floated next to him. Morning light flooded the room and there were plastic flowers on the desks, the only physical piece of colour in the room other than Nick’s eyes. His grandpa was resting in bed; face thin in his fat, white pillows with faint waves of fiery red rolling off him. I didn’t know why but I felt particularly restless in the hospital. Maybe it was because my soul remembered it or something.
‘I’m fine, fine. That kidney replacement is nothing compared to what I endured as a kid. Not a lot can shake my iron bones anymore.’
Now that I believed.
‘What we should be worrying for is that girl over there.’ He nodded to the bed next to him, where curtains where drawn around, preventing outside views. ‘Poor wisp of a thing. This is supposed to be a recovery ward but the nurses were forced to move her here since they needed the extra beds on the other levels. She’s a special case, Nick. Go ahead and open the curtains. No one minds. I sometimes do secretly, just to look at that angel face.’
Nick carefully drew open a curtain and peeked inside. I peeked inside too. I’ve done that a lot, recently, been interested at things that I would’ve never usually spared a glance at. But I wish I hadn’t this time. Because I knew that face. I knew those eyes, that slender nose and thin lips. They were mine. That face was mine. I was looking at myself.
My first thought was holy shit. Then But I’m dead. I have a secret twin.
‘Her name’s Cinnamon. I heard one of the nurses call her that.’
Okay then. Not a secret twin. Then what the hell? I was dead! But somehow, I was right in front of me. I drifted on top, so we-well really, me and I- were face to face. She was breathing. I was breathing. How could I be possibly alive and dead at the same time?
Nick sat back down. ‘What’s wrong with her?’
‘Coma. Has been in one since I came out of surgery. There was quite a commotion upon her arrival. You see, one of the paramedics at the scene was young and inexperienced and amongst all the other injured-it was a car crash, by the way, people have got to be more careful-the paramedic didn’t take a second glance at her and in the rush pronounced her dead! And nobody else bothered to check, so she was shipped off to the hospital, on her way to the morgue until a random doctor walked by and discovered that she was still breathing. You can imagine her family’s reaction. That poor girl, she was nearly buried alive.’
‘That’s quite the story,’ said Nick, glancing back at my body. His eyes rested for a second on my face before moving back to his grandpa. I felt a flush, and for the first time wished I was prettier so he’d keep on looking. My looks were rather average. I hadn’t really cared about them much back when I was alive, but I had liked my hazel eyes and nose. My mother told me I was beautiful but all mothers say that to their children anyways. I just wish I had said thank you.
I was alive. I felt a burst of joy once the shock faded. But there was one problem. I had no idea what to do. How could I make myself wake up? And did I really want to wake up? What if I woke up and all this was gone, these bright, sharp and new feelings, the crispness and clarity? What if I woke up and I was back in my shell, unable to break out and reduced to spending the rest of my life with everything muted and jaded? Would it just be better to stay here?
But then again, if I woke up, I would have a chance to meet Nick, wouldn’t I? But then I might stuff things up. He might hate me and then I’d never see him again. In my flurry of desperate thoughts, Nick had already stood, bid goodbye to his grandpa and was walking out. I hurried to catch up with him. On my way out, I heard the old man’s last words, directed to my sleeping body.
‘You should wake up soon, lovely girl. There are so many things waiting for you.’
Nick was walking quicker than usual, glancing at his watch every thirty seconds. That was right, I noted. He had a dentist appointment. In ten minutes. His mum was asking him if he was alright to make it there himself yesterday. If I woke up, I wouldn’t know these things anymore. I would be a complete stranger to his life. I couldn’t bear to think about it.
He stepped out into the car park then crossed the road. Unbeknownst to him, a truck was making its way up. I screamed but it was too late.
The truck driver only glimpsed Nick’s startled up-turned face before he was hit. The impact knocked him to the ground, where he lay unconscious. The truck screeched to a stop and the driver scrambled out. He started to shout and shake him but I heard none of it. My whole world was on the ground, surrounded by a small puddle of blood. I kept screamed and the golden glass cracked and all I could think was stop, stop this madness. Because this was wrong. It was so, so wrong. Nick couldn’t die. He didn’t deserve to die.
Oh my god. I started to gasp and thought I’m dying too now, but then realised I was crying. Sobbing, actually. Dry, heaved sobs, wracking and shaking. Then, at my first hysterical wail, the whole shell splintered, exploding and showering me with golden amber chips, and I could see everything clearly for the first time, all in its terrible, colourful and tragic beauty but I didn’t care, I didn’t care at all I could think was Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick. It was so utterly, alien; this feeling. I felt that I had been possessed; surely these feelings were somebody else’s, I could’ve never whirled up something up of such intensity. There was a fire in me and I was burning so bright, even I could see my own light as I blinded the astonished truck driver. I desperately tried to reach Nick but something was dragging me back. I fought against it-PLEASE BE OKAY, PLEASE BE OKAY, PLEASE BE OKAY-but the force was relentless. I finally gave in and let it suck me to gods know where, away from the scene, the dead, to a place where Nick was definitely alive, still happy, still smiling with those cinnamon eyes of his. I hid, huddled in the never-ending whirlpool of grief. Like a coward.
It was noon when I woke up. Actually woke up. My lids were heavy and I squinted. Everything seemed so blank and dull compared to the colours I had dreamt. I could hear the steady beating of a machine next to me. I wanted to lift my arms but something was pushing them down. It took me a moment to realise that I was being hugged.
‘Thank god, thank god,’ my mum repeated, crying as she clutched me. It was the end of the bad dream, the nightmare. I couldn’t exactly remember what was in it but I was so relieved to be out. I weakly hugged her back, while saying, ‘I love you, mum.’
She froze. I realised it was probably the first time I’d said the words since I was a baby. The words had just slipped out so naturally, it was like I’d been waiting forever to say them. ‘I love you, mum,’ I repeated. ‘I love you.’
She started to sob again and sad,’ I love you too, baby girl. You have no idea.’
I just clutched her harder and breathed into her jumper, her scent. ‘Where’s dad, Dylan and Brent?’
Mum leant back, wiping her eyes. ‘Oh! They’re in the cafeteria, getting a bite to eat. I should get them.’ But instead of leaving, she just sat there and looked at me and looked. I felt self-conscious. ‘Dad?’ I prompted.
‘Oh, right!’ She got up and I leaned back. There was something nagging me. Everything was so clear but I felt hollow. Nurses came and checked me over. I noticed an old man on the bed next to me, smiling.
‘It’s about time, lovely girl.’
It hit me then. Who this man was. Who his grandson was. ‘Oh my god, Nick!’
The old man’s brow furrowed. ‘Nick? You know my grandson?’
I struggled to sit up. It took several tries but eventually, I managed to scramble off my bed. The hospital gown showed flashes of skin whenever I moved but I didn’t care. I had to find Nick.
A nurse hurried over. ‘Wait a minute, miss, you’re not well enough to be up yet!’
‘Where’s Nick?’ I demanded. She looked bewildered. I waited. Waited for her pity, her sympathy and the soft words of, ‘Are you talking about the boy in the accident this morning?’
‘Nick? You mean the Nicholas down the hall? Hey! Where are you going?’
I ran as fast as I could out the door. Nick was alive. He was alive. I stumbled several times-I wasn’t used to having my body back yet and my limbs felt heavy and thick-but I kept on running. My feet made little pit pat noises as they slapped against the cold tiles. I passed my family, the faces of my still-tearful mum, shocked dad and excited brothers and yelled a quick, ‘I love you!’ before leaving them stranded behind me. I looked in windows as I went, desperate for any sign of those eyes or grin.
I saw his family first. His mum and dad at the foot of the bed, standing strong while Ellie bounced excitedly next to Nick. Nick. Nick, who looked fine save for a bandage on his head and a pale tint on his cheeks. My Nicholas Green, alive. I felt a surge of relief so great it made me sway and thanked whoever was above, whoever that was merciful and generous enough to give him a second chance, to give me a second chance.
And then I opened the door and stepped in. Just like that. Every head in the room turned to me. I knew I looked crazy, hair messy and frazzled, bright, glassy eyes, barefooted and in a paper gown that barely covered me. But I only looked at him. As on cue, he smiled at me, a great big dazzling smile before biting it back, confused.
‘Hi,’ he said.
I felt my own smile grow just as big and walked closer. Years later, I remembered this moment. My forever.