Dying To Live

  • 18 Nov - 24 Nov, 2017
  • Annie Zahid
  • Fiction

"And then when it was finally my turn, y’all had to go and start a fight with the event manager.” Chad’s loud voice boomed in the living room.

Damian let out a loud laugh. “Man! They packed up so quick after that. He was so pissed!”

Three hours after Damian’s arrival, after respects to the late Ms Posey were paid, Chad was in the process of recalling the weirdest stories from their high school days.

Damian’s laughter faded a little as another wave of guilt crashed in. He was in the company of an extremely problematic person but God knew he was enjoying himself and having fun recalling the school days. He had avoided talking about their school days with Tanya because they usually spent those days trying to make each other miserable (only Tanya’s regular tries were ever successful), but now that Chad and him were talking so freely, he realised how much he missed those simpler times.

Oh! What he would do to return to the time where his only worry was getting slushed in the face! Now, he was worried about his sister’s death. As soon as that thought entered his mind again, any and all fun seemed to have been sucked out of the environment and he immediately sobered up. He cleared his throat.

“So, umm, what have you been up to these past years? How has your life been these past years? Health and all?” Most people usually ask how is your life and health? But Damian wasn’t ashamed of the fact that he was only interested in his past.

“Good, good. I’ve been good. Life was...” Chad paused for a bit, “life has been hectic, unexpected and surprising as always.”

“But you used to love the unexpected and surprising,” mused Damian.

“Used to? I still do,” was the short reply he got.

“Had any adventures lately?”

“Lots. Oh! Let me tell you about my trip to Japan...”

As soon as those words left Chad’s mouth, warning bells rang in Damian’s head. He tried to ask him about how his life has been inside the border of Coldbridge, but Chad doesn’t stop once he starts talking about something.

Sitting on the edge of his seat, Damian felt extremely uncomfortable. The conversation however, didn’t go as bad as he had initially expected. Chad was so excited about an adventure he had, that he didn’t make a lot of racist remarks in his description of Japan and Japanese life and culture.

Damian’s discomfort made him unable to pay enough attention to Chad’s obviously and painfully over-exaggerated version of his trip. He got the gist of the whole story though. It wasn’t a recreational trip. Chad had actually gone on behalf of his father’s company to strike a deal with a Japanese company and a pay order worth millions got stuck in the process. If it had happened to Damian with his pay order, he probably would’ve died of a heart attack… however, Chad didn’t have any near-death or ‘return from the land of the dead’ experience.

They kept on talking after that. Well, Chad talked and Damian pretended to listen while he tried to figure out a polite way to ask Chad why he wasn’t dead. Soon they ended up having dinner together. Damian was being as apolitical as he possibly could for his own benefit.

At dinner, Damian talked about Ms Posey again. He started talking about how unpredictable life is and how swiftly it can end.

“One minute you’re here, as a part of this universe. And the next, you’re gone; just like that,” Damian said wistfully, “And slowly, but surely, any and all remnants of your existence also fade away. Photographs, documents, will, house, money, property... everything. It doesn’t take long for the world to forget you and move on. Then you’re nothing but a name on the headstone of a grave – which, depending on how much nature loves you – may or may not be dulled and faded to the point of invisibility because of years’ worth of dust, or grass, or abandonment.”

Chad’s surprise showed on his face. He hadn’t expected Damian to talk so deeply. After a “yeah” from Damian, they both fell in an uncomfortable silence. Damian was waiting for Chad to say something but Chad was lost in his own thoughts. After a while, Chad broke the silence.

“Life is so weird, man! And I completely agree with what you said. We spend all our life being arrogant and thinking that we’re all that. We forget that this dirt is what made us and this dirt is what we’ll end up as.” Some more silence was followed by Chad speaking again, “You remember how I was like, right? Back in school? So self-righteous and bigoted. I’m sorry for that by the way. I remember you always tried to get me to correct my ways, but I never listened to you. I’m trying now to learn about social and political problems and be less trash than I used to be.”

He looked at Damian’s expression and chuckled. “I know! I was surprised at myself too.”

Damian asked, “What changed?”


“What made you want to change?” Damian reworded his question.

“I don’t know, man. I’m still trying to unlearn the problematic views which I was conditioned into adopting, but ever since I started recovering, I started looking at people and at the world differently. A lot of people like you helped me in understanding my wrongs and trying to make them rights.”

“Recovering? From what?” Damian asked curiously.

“Hemorrhagic stroke.”

Damian raised his eyebrows and whistled through his teeth. “How bad was it?”

“Pretty bad. Caused me to slip into a coma,” Chad said, unaware that Damian’s heart was hammering against his chest.

“Sounds rough. I’m sorry, man. That must have been so hard on you and your family.”

“It was. My parents were scared out of their minds. But it didn’t do any permanent damage. I’m perfectly fine now. Better than I ever was before, honestly. Not saying that going through something like that makes someone a better person, just that I most definitely needed a reality check.”

“Yeah! I’m not going to argue with you there. You weren’t my most favorite person in high school for a lot of reasons,” Damian said light-heartedly after calming himself down a little, to which they both laughed.

If it was hard for Damian to keep active in their conversation before this, now it was damn near impossible. His heart refused to beat at a normal rate, instead choosing to try to beat straight out of his chest. His palms and forehead were sweaty and he suddenly felt too hot. Chad had just confirmed that in order to save his sister’s life, he’ll have to bring her back to save her somehow. He should have been feeling worried about how he’ll do that seemingly impossible feat. Instead of worrying about that, however, his current state was because of a feeling he had in his chest. He knew how to save his sister, and for some reason, he felt like he wasn’t supposed to know that.