Stay

April 17th, 2012

Dedicated to December and January of 2011.


Stay

It feels like a lifetime has passed by the time I finally step out of the bus. Everything around me is alive and busy. The streets are jam-packed with people walking in a fast pace, as if the asphalt road would collapse any second and swallow them whole. The sound of cars blowing their horns fill my ear like an annoying song while several people are shouting and waving pamflets to no one.

Just another day in the Big Apple.

My apartment building is only a few feet away when I suddenly feel my phone vibrating. “Shoot!” I quickly rummage through my stuffs to find that blasted thing and shift to the less crowded side of the street so I won’t bump into anyone. The phone screen is blinking furiously when I finally pull it out of my bag. An unknown number is flashing on the screen.

The first thing I notice is the calling code. 353. It’s not from New York. Not even close. It takes a milisecond to realize where the call is coming from. And when I do, I can feel an invisible hand wringing my beating heart.

Hands shaking, I press the green button and place the phone on my ear. “Hello?”

“Hello. Is this Ms. Alana?”

A girl’s voice. An unfamiliar one.

“Yes, this is she.”

“Hi, Alana. I’m not sure if you know me, but my name is Pauline McCarthy..”

Just like that, my heart plummets to the ground. I can feel my face turns red, then pale.

McCarthy. After all that have happened in the course of nine months, I’ve never thought that name would come back to my life again.

The caller seems to notice that I am drowning in my own thoughts, because I can vaguely hear words such as, “Hello?”, “…still there?” and, “….hear me?”.

I close my eyes and massage the gap between my eyebrows with the tip of my fingers. “I’m still here.” I finally gain my voice back. I continue to walk to my apartment building, only now with a quicker pace. My apartment keys are jingling inside my shaking hand as I try to open the door. The second I get inside, I instantly feel nauseous as if the room were shrinking.

“Alana, I was wondering if I can talk to you about something. It’s really important.”

She sounds serious and anxious. I have to swallow before I can muster a single, “Okay.”

“Look, I know you must be surprised to get a call from the other side of the world like this, especially from someone you don’t even know…”

“I know who you are.” I take a deep breath and lean on the wall. The white ceiling is staring back at me. “You’re his sister.”

She heaves a sigh. A faint one, yet it echoes in my ear. “He tells you everything, does he?” . Somehow I can hear her gentle smile, if that’s even possible.

“…We both did.” I look away from the ceiling, to the window on the living room. The sky outside has turned gray and turns everything into gloom. I can’t delay the question any longer. There must be a reason why his sister, whom I’ve never even talked to before but have heard a lot about, suddenly decided to call me. All the way from Dublin. So I take a deep breath and brace myself.

“Is everything alright, Pauline?”

Another minute of silence. When she finally opens her mouth again, her words are filled with pain. “Nothing is alright.” She whispers. I can feel her every word scratching my lungs, my throat, my heart. “It’s Gary, Alana. He….he was in a car crash. God, it was horrible. His car was wrecked to pieces…”

Nothing Pauline’s saying is making any sense. Not a single thing. It’s as if my brain has stopped functioning the second she said ‘car crash’. My whole body feels numb, and my chest is burning. Breathing suddenly becomes a strange concept.

“Oh God…” is all that my mouth can pronounce. And I repeat it hundreds of times until it, too, starts making no sense. “Is he…is he…?”

“He’s in a coma ever since.” Pauline finishes it for me. “He’s been on life support for more than two months, Alana. And now the doctor’s talking to my parents about shutting it off and….and letting him go…”

I grab hold of the windowsill to prevent my body from hitting the cold wooden floor. Shaking like a leaf, I sit on the couch and cover my face with my free hand. In no time, my face is wet with tears.

The sound of our sniffles echoes in my quiet room, muffling the sound of the pouring rain. In the roaring silence, seconds feel like hours and blisters feel like bloody wounds. I have all the blisters in my heart, and my salty tears is brewing them slowly.

“I’m standing next…next to his body right now. I can still…I can hear his heartbeat from the monitor. It’s not fair…” Pauline tries to speak between her sob, which makes me fall apart even more. I press my palm against my eyelid until my head hurts and my ears ring.

“You have to help me, Alana. I can’t lose my own brother…”

“But…how?”

“Talk to him. Wake him up.”

I slowly lift my face from my palm, unsure. “I…I can’t…”

“I’ve seen the way he was when the two of you were still together. His face lit up whenever he mentioned your name or read a text from you. Please, Alana… I’ve tried everything else. You’re my only hope. His only hope.”

And just like that, everything Gary and I were nine months ago comes rushing back in a tidal wave. The way he whispered that he loved me when we were in the middle of casual conversations, the way our fingers intertwined when we danced in the rain, the way he smiled at my ridiculous jokes, and the way he teared up when I told him how much he meant to me. Everything we were, until distance took its toll.

I can’t lose him. Not again.

“You know what to do.” I finally whisper. As crazy as it may be, I can feel her nod through the phone.

There’s silence once again. I wait with my free hand clenched on my thigh. A few seconds later, I open my mouth.

“Gary…”

A simple name. But there’s nothing simple about the effect he has on me. And now, knowing that he is on the other end of this tiny phone, I can’t help but crumble into a million pieces.

“Remember when you got sick after New Year’s Eve, Gary? I was so worried about you, but you reassured me by saying that you were as strong as an ox, a fighter. Well, you are. I know you are…”

Tears are rolling down my cheeks for the hundredth times. My throat burns as if it was going to split into two, but I can’t stop. I will never stop.

“Gary, if you can hear me….please come back. Don’t let me go. Not again. Don’t go where I can’t find you.”

I take a deep breath. As deep as my wounded lungs can take.

“Stay with me. Please…”

****

“Stay with me. Please…”

Pauline stares at her cellphone that’s lying on the pillow right next to Gary’s head. She tries her best to keep her composure as she listens to her brother’s former girlfriend pours her heart out. She feels guilty for being a witness to what was supposed to be a personal moment for Gary and Alana, so she looks away, flusterred.

And that’s when her heart skips a beat.

Because there it is, faint, yet real.

A twitch from Gary’s right hand. As Alana keeps whispering the same word over and over again over the phone.

“Stay…”

****************************************************************

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. danniehill
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 01:42:23

    What a great story, Wulan. I felt the pain and need and love. You have a wonderful way of directing the readers attention in your descriptions while at the same time pressing against the readers heart for what is to come next.

    Beautiful

    Reply

    • si_ulil
      Apr 19, 2012 @ 14:11:08

      Thank you, Dannie. This is the first story I made after weeks and weeks of NOT writing, and boy, it was so liberating to be able to write again! This may sound dramatic, but I feel…alive again. I couldn’t decide why I’ve been so bitter, but now I know. I need to write again, for my sanity. Like an old cyclist trying to get back, I got nervous before and after I started writing. I even had second thoughts to publish this. But your comment really helped boost up my confidence again, so thank you, Dannie. Truly, TRULY appreciate it.

      Reply

      • danniehill
        Apr 20, 2012 @ 01:17:14

        You feel what many writer feel. My world seems so muddled and meaningless until a story find me and forces me to write. Write even if you don’t like what you’ve written– it’s a learning process. Many things you love may fall flat and things you hate, nbe a hit.

        I too have had this weight on me for several months. I look at my blog and often just turn away, but I must change that. I have missed your writing, so don’t stop!

      • Novroz
        Apr 25, 2012 @ 18:11:10

        Ow wow…I feel the same like you. I want to write but nothing came out. It was frustrating!! I am glad I can still write for my 2 blogs but no story coming out 😦

        I should have never started writing if I knew it will be this troublesome 😉

      • si_ulil
        Apr 26, 2012 @ 16:30:18

        I wonder if this happens to ALL aspiring writers? Let’s just say it does so we can justify ourselves and don’t have to feel bad about it 😛
        If Stephen King read your last sentence, he would slap you in the face for (almost) giving up! 😉

      • Novroz
        Apr 26, 2012 @ 16:53:49

        aspiring writers…I like the sound of that…better than amateur writer 😉

        Hahaha…sorry Mr. King

      • si_ulil
        Apr 26, 2012 @ 17:48:39

        hahaha, i’ve always called myself aspiring/future writer as a self-motivation technique.

  2. Novroz
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 18:15:32

    Lovely story Lan.
    I can feel the emotions running through these characters and somehow rejoice when Gary sort of woke up from his comma. I really want to know will he actually live or the twitch was just a twitch.
    Good job, dear 🙂

    Reply

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