A final resolution. (for Sara. ××)

Submitted into Contest #25 in response to: Write a short story about someone reflecting on their previous year's resolutions.... view prompt

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Holiday

Last year, when the year was still new, I said it would all have changed before we ran out of another three sixty-five. I promised that it would all change for the better. I couldn't keep that promise, or the one I made before that on the same day, three hundred and sixty-five days prior. Or the many others that now lay at the bottoms of your hearts and mine like pennies tossed into a fountain, a fountain that spurts forth blood instead of water. A fountain that can barely stay in one piece now, because how can a heart entrusted with the pieces of so many broken promises stop itself from breaking too? How can it not be shredded to bloody strips of skin by the shards of each shattered dream it tries to pick up and put back together?

There's no answer to these questions, every heart breaks. The higher the hopes you have of not ever experiencing a heartbreak, the longer the fall when you do. The greater the pain, the more therapeutic the tears and, if you survive, you may be stronger for it. Or you may end up like I did for a while - cursed. Cursed not to love or live or die, cursed to struggle with the problem of paying back the numerous debts you've acquired, numerous debts with parasitic interest rates that are slowly draining your life force from your body, even though you're trapped in a life where you are unable to live or die. When you do end up like this, it's a miracle if you ever make it out. I believe in miracles.

I have a family, it's a considerably large one but that's no cause for alarm, since the family of which I speak happens to be the orphanage home I grew up in. My family grows and shrinks irregularly, I try to keep track. Every addition to the orphanage increases the debt I owe to it. I've always felt this way. It's an unspoken thing, and most of the people I'm indebted to hardly ever realize I owe them until I make an effort to pay. An old friend once told me I had a mental illness, she said it was wrong to try to pay off everyone I've ever gotten close to, she said it was sick and arrogant. That's not how I see it honestly. See, I've never been a people person, so the few bonds I've formed with people mostly depended entirely on the people I formed them with, I've never been one to try and maintain a relationship so I'm grateful to people who invest even a little of their time in nurturing a friendship with me but more than that I feel indebted to them.

I grew up with a lot of expectations riding on me, which is quite a lot to grow up on for an orphan. I had impossible academic prowess and it was ingrained in me from grade 1 till I got my college scholarship that I owed everything I would become to the nuns at St. Mary's orphanage and the family I'd formed and come to love that they took care of along with me. I have a weakness, it's an affirmation of belief in me. When someone, anyone, affirms that they believe in me and all that I would become, I take it upon myself to pay that person back for their faith, hence, my mountain of debt. 

The thing with spectator expectations, however, is that they're very linear. They have a path outlined in their minds which they expect you to follow. The route they have drawn out  doesn't factor in any checkpoints or red-lights or traffic jams or motor crashes. It doesn't consider that perhaps one day you'll have to watch your bestfriend die, because he cried and begged you not to turn away, begged you not to let go of his hand until the end. It doesn't care to know that by twenty years of age you had killed to people and now your hands never stopped shaking when you were alone. It doesn't care to know why you were afraid to let the first girl you ever loved spend the night in your room, that you were afraid to drag her into the physical altercations you had with your  demons every night once you closed your eyes, it doesn't care that she left angry and convinced that you were cheating on her. It doesn't care for what becomes of your mind and heart, all it sees is the person it expects you to be and the road that leads to it.

The year is 2020 there's a small notebook in my lap, my phone is in my hand and I'm looking through the old text messages I've sent them (my family) every new year, (I haven't come up with one yet this year and it's already twenty-three days old), the promises I've made to them since 2014 when I got my first cell phone. I keep the messages backed up to remind myself of what I live for, what I have to do before I try to bow out (I already tried once though, to take the short route out, eighteen tablets of aspirin all at once, then I smoked a joint and listened to Mac Miller's 2018 album, Swimming till I passed out. I still wonder how I woke up the next day.) The notebook holds the promises I've made to myself, my  new years resolutions for the years past, I smile at them because they weren't really about me at all. 

Anyway my life is nothing anyone would have expected now. I lost my scholarship in 2018, along with my best friend and I tried to lose my life as well. In 2019 I flunked out of engineering school and tried to get myself killed by taking on an armed robber, things got out of hand and I killed along with his accomplice. I was horrified at myself after that and I hid myself from the world. I expected to die, to will death to stretch forth his scythe and pick my soul from my body but before that could happen, music saved me. I don't know how but it did, it gave me a purpose, made me want to be a part of something again. Right now it's all my life is about. With the little money I had left at the time, I turned my one bedroom flat into a mini music studio and taught myself to make beats and record and produce songs. It was the first time I'd smiled in a long time when a neighbor knocked on my door to know the song I was playing. "It's beautiful" she'd said, she had never heard anything like it. I couldn't tell her I made the song, I don't know why, so l made up an artiste name. She came again two days later and asked if I made it. She couldn't find the artiste's name I'd given her anywhere so she guessed at it because, in her words, I'm a 'recluse'. She's changed everything now. She helps me sell my beats on the internet and she gets people to come and record and have me produce their songs in my home for a price. Although my music is kept strictly between the both of us. It's the first time I've been happy in a long time. 

I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to settle the debt I owe my family, (I donate 20 percent of my earnings to the orphanage at the end of every month but I no longer send any letters) in fact I don't think I will ever again. With the way my life had been going I had come to the conclusion that happiness was not written into my script. That I wasn't meant to be happy or live a happy life but I'm happy now, so it is not possible that my happiness was not meant to be because it already is, it exists and it is here, with me. And it didn't come from over the seas and across the deserts to find me. All it took was a knock on my door and some love from my next door neighbor. I may not have any promises to make or break anymore on behalf of my family, but I have one to make to myself. In the notebook on my lap, I write: "Stay alive."

                            For Sara. ××

January 24, 2020 22:28

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2 comments

Pamela Saunders
05:10 Jan 30, 2020

Critique circle - I was asked to read and comment on your story. I feel you got across most excellently well an understanding of the character, with a good gradual reveal of their innermost self. The imagery used was great, and the psychological understanding really nicely done. I, as the reader, was drawn into the sadness at the beginning, and relieved to find the belief in miracles. It was great to be able to let go and to accept the love of the neighbour who had given herself to showing me how to be happy. The ending couple of lines, s...

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Jindu James Ibe
07:37 Jan 31, 2020

Wow 9/10?.. Thank you so much. I'll take all your advice and put it to good use. Thanks again. 🌺

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