The Dancer and the Spectator

It’s day 3 of the lookout now.

Seems like she’s doing fine. The girl actually smiled today- the first one I’ve seen since I was assigned to her.

It came quite unexpectedly, like a sudden gush of cooling wind during a hot summer’s day. However, not unlike a hot summer’s day, the wind succeeding it still continues to be hot, warm, and somehow oppressing.

She’s hunching over her desk right now, typing away as if her life depends on it; maybe in a way, it does. The little arrow on top of her head is still pointing south, a grim reminder of my duty once the time comes.

If you’d ask me, I’d say this job was not quite bad. It’s the equivalent of what you’d call a therapist, really.

Though instead of talking people into life, I talk them into death.

Tip, tap, tip, tap, the sound of her keyboard seem to magnify among the silence spell that was casted in the room. She has been writing profusely since dinner. Of course I can take a peek if I want to, but that would be too rude, even for me. Mind you, though without a body, my manners are still intact.

She is concentrating so hard that veins looked like they are going to pop out of her pale, fragile neck in any second now. I hope whatever she is writing is enough to channel her soul back to earth.
The arrow is going down in an alarming rate these past few days, and even with hours hunching over her computer, it’s barely lifted.

Left with too much free time on my hand, I start to glance around her room again. It is helpful to have your human’s background information at hand when the time comes. There is a beautiful art corner with a well-used wooden easel, and dusty art supplies, tucked away like an old well-loved toy once one’s grown up. It is pretty clear this corner was once her favorite part of the room. Once before. Before the illness came.

The little alarm clock on her study desk chimes, and her whole body jolts. It is interesting to see how a human can be so absorbed in an activity that they seem to have lost contact with time and space. I wish there were more moments like these- when people can be lifted from their worldly existence, even if just for a little while. Then maybe there wouldn’t be too many hopeless and lonely people. Then maybe I wouldn’t have to be here.

The rustling of covers bring me back to earth, and I realize she just tucked herself in. Apparently, she’s been setting sleep times.

10 sharp, a few sleeping pills and off to bed.

Really, it’s plain that she’s been trying. Trying to live out a normal existence. For god’s sake, the girl is regulating her sleep time with an alarm clock and sleeping pills. It is scary how one can acquire sleeping pills so easily in this country. My last human couldn’t get a hold of any pills unless there was an official prescription. I guess the law makers’ concern is well-founded after all as I eye the pill bottle suspiciously. It is an aid for now, but when will it turn into a foe?

Fifteen minutes in and she’s sleeping as soundly as a baby. I sit at the window ledge, looking out to the beautiful summer night from her first floor bedroom. There’s a streetlight a little left the balcony. Judging by the amount of toys and childish bits and bobs scattering around her bookshelf, she must have been living in this room for quite long, or maybe for her entire life even. It must have been a pretty sight, this window view at night for a kid with a mind like hers. The clash between the cold night and glowing, yellow lamplight must have once delighted her artistic heart.

Maybe she sat on this very same window ledge, thinking about her dreams and future.

I bet whatever her tiny mind could imagine did not involve being on suicide watch by a ghost at the age of 18.

Maybe the view was beautiful to her once, but now, all she wants to do is to drawn out the night and sleep.

Day 4 is pretty much the same.

You know, the thing about suicidal people is that their lives leading up to the critical moment are almost never out of the ordinary. You can pretty much see them living and think everything is going quite fine. They wake up, eat their meals, and go off to work or school. They pay their taxes, and say their thank you’s.

Really, if I hadn’t known any better, I’d have thought she was fine. The way she greets the homeless man at St. 51 every day on her way to school, or the way her head bobs gracefully to the music she always listens to during break. Really, she seems like a pretty normal girl until the mood strikes, and oh boy, do they strike often.

It is now day 6. She’s doing so fine that I think I will have to leave her be in a few days. That is… until her mom gives her yet another gift- a wooden clock this time. God, what is up with these people and their obsession with woods?

The round wooden clock with its hands going round and round and round seem to signify to her something larger than itself. She looks at the clock for a long moment, and her eyes shift to the nearby bed, and makeup stand, all made of black and red glistering wood. Contempt mixed with disgust are evident on her bunched up little face.

I know there are things, lots of things bothering her, or else I wouldn’t have to be here, but what exactly? Most of the cases I’ve encountered had an obvious cause- an unrequited love on a friend, abrupt financial ruins and debts, or the infamous heartbreak.

But this girl.

She’s not seeing anyone.

She’s not attracted to anyone.

And she’s living just fine, with money to spare to the homeless.

So what? What exactly is bothering her?

Gosh, I sometimes wish I could read minds. That would make the job way easier, but then again, nature has some pretty sick, twisted laws, and what can one do, but to learn and live with them?

If this keeps going, she will be able to see me soon. Without knowing why, I check my wings to make sure the feathers are in order. I hate being this self-conscious, or sprit-conscious, or whatever, but when your sole communication was with occasional humans you have to kill, you would also want to look presentable for the occasion.

Her laptop lays closed on her desk. It used to look like a wonderful silver-skinned animal with its own howl and rhythm when she typed it the nights before. Now, it resembles nothing but a dead rock, lifeless and bleak.

Instead of working on the laptop, her eyes stare fixedly at the collage of photos behind it. These people all look happy. There is this one photo with her in large goggles, and lab coat, grinning with only a few scattering teeth present. Then there are photos of her with people, most of whom I’ve never seen. They look happy in that moment, all smiling, posing for the camera, including her. As she is staring at the photos, her mood darkens. The arrow rapidly draws south.

What is happening exactly? Which one of these smiling flesh hurt her? Or did they all turned their backs on her?

“Who are you?” she suddenly asks out croakily. I am shocked, to say at least at the unexpected question.

So she can see me now after all.

“I said who are you?” she asks, slightly louder now. Maybe she is not just sad, but quite mad as well.

“Uhm… I’m your ghost guide.”

She looks skeptical, but the twitch at the right corner of her mouth gives away her curiosity.

“Are you going to kill me?” she asks. The level of calmness in her voice chilled me. The girl is staring at what she thinks is death, and her mind is as calm as the ocean.

“Uh… would you like me to?”

This question seems to have taken her by surprise. Maybe, she has been bracing for death, and is surprised at the chance to choose. After a long pause in which I continue twitching my right wing, and looking anywhere but at her, she finally utters, “Yes.”

You know, it would be so much easier to just kill her right then and there, but then again, that is not my job. You people get Grim Ripper all wrong. I’m the closest resemblance to The Grim and most of the time I just talk, awkwardly, I might add.

I turn to face her. Her brows are furrowed in concentration, and lips quivering. I can’t tell if they are chanting a prayer, or shaking out of fear.

“Why? If you don’t mind me asking?”

A hint of annoyance flashes across her face, and I instantly add, “You know, I have to ask these kinda questions before doing my job.”

“I just… I… This life I’m living…,” she pauses, seemingly lost for words, “it feels like death.”

Maybe sensing my confusion, or maybe she thinks I am just a figment of her imagination, she decides to continue, “This body,” she gestures to herself, “feels like it was borrowed. Every time I see myself in pictures, it feels like seeing a complete stranger who happens to look like my reflection.”

She has looked pass me now, eyes fixating on the streetlamp outside.

“You know, life is like a spectacular dance in which I, myself am a part of, but at the same time, I feel like I’m one of the spectators watching the scene from afar.”

I nod as if to confirm that I am still listening.

Silence fills the air; not even the occasional howls from the street below can break our oppressing spell of a moment.

She glances at the framed picture of her family on the desk, with her dad smiling. “Go on, darling,” he seems to be saying, “go on, kill yourself, my love.”

Tear has started to fall down, creating a wet trail across her hallow cheeks. It’s clear she’s not someone who likes to cry too often, and this tear seems to have been stored away, way past its expiration date.

Maybe knowing you will die in a minute makes it easier for you to let the tear flow, to let your guard down, to be true to yourself at last.

“So, just, just do it,” she continued, voice quivering as if uttering these words takes her a great deal of effort.

“No.”

She opens her eyes. I haven’t even noticed she’s held them shut. This is not the face of a willing warrior, embracing her fate. It is one of a foolish victim, expecting a death sentence.

“What do you mean no?”

“No, as in you’re not ready,” I speak slowly and deliberately while shuffling my feet a little. “I’ve been watching you for a while, and I think you just hate the life you’re living. Seems like you don’t hate life in general.”

She rolls her eyes to the upper right corner, a sign that she’s pondering something. Her brows furrow, signifying great concentration.

This is it. This is my chance. This is the tact or break moment! “You know, it seems like you don’t really like the life you’ve been handed, but I know you have a life in your head, a life you would be proud to call your own.”

She looks at me, unseeingly for a second.

I look at her empty eyes for a few moments and thinking this is it. I am not able to save this one. Yet, she stays silent, solemn in her own head until as if alarmed, she whips around the room, trying to locate something out of sight.

Tentatively, she questions, “Are you still here?”

After scanning the room for a few times, it seems like she’s decided to give up. She’s probably thinking I am a figment of her overly stimulated imagination after all, and who can blame her?

The alarm goes off.

10 sharp.

But instead of taking her oval white pills as usual, she turns on her computer. As if grateful for the chance to live, the machine roars and roars under her fingers as she types words after words, sentences after sentences into the night. I sit at the window ledge, not wanting to disturb her work, not that I can anyway.

Humans have a fascinating mind. One moment. One moment is all it takes for some of them to decide to live or to die. One moment. One night is all it takes to point the arrow north, and with that thought in mind, I ready myself for departure.
It’s now 6 in the morning. She’s still fast asleep- the first time I’ve seen her asleep with no chemical other than what her body produces.

She looks almost peaceful now with dim sunlight shining on her pale face, and rose-bud lips producing soft little humming snores. Something is telling me that I will never get to see this girl again. That she will live out her natural life with all the strength her small frame can muster. Well, in that case, maybe, a note won’t hurt.

Good bye, #34 and live well.

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itsmscheng

You can hardly mention anything I'm not curious about.

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