They sat around the round table in a Chinese restaurant in a private room. They finally met after a whole year trying to avoid the discussion they were about to go through. The food they ordered came 10 minutes ago and now it sat, still warm, on the rotating glass plate. None of the five individuals reached out for the food. They all looked terrible like the past still haunting them. Nina, who was now a rainbow dyed hair freak with more piercings than one can imagine and she used to be the nerd of this group. Liam the scorer star now looks like a junkie. Mia just looks depressed and Nathaniel and Sam look like they are doing just fine since they are in suites at 10 at night. They had felt one seat empty for the one who just walked in. You can't see this person's face, neither can you tell if this person is a man or a woman since they decided to wear a creepy mask to mask their identity, but we shall call this person M. M, to exclude all judgments about this person and from stopping anyone from finding M’s before the right time.
M takes up the last seat
and passes a tablet to each individual. On M’s own tablet M writes a question
and sends it to Mia.
“Why are you all here?” Mia
reads the bold question.
M sends another message
this time to Liam who then reads out loud “Who’s fault do you it was that day.”
M sends out one final
question to everyone this time, all of them read it out loud, “Recall the
events. Why did it have to happen this way?”
After the last question M
closed the tablet and sat watching them, their expressions, their movements and
“This isn’t that big of a
deal. We are here because Ari died more than a year ago and we refused to talk
about it or let it go. We let that event affect our lives. It all happened
because I suggested playing that stupid game it’s my fault.” Sam spoke first,
finally admitting the guilt he had locked away.
“You can take the blame if
it makes you feel better but I was the one who insisted after half of you
refused to play. I wanted to act brave for once so it’s my fault.” Nina said,
elevating her voice just enough.
After that each of them
started to take the blame of that day and the events.
M fired up the tablets and
sent out another message. “Recall the events and you will find closure.” All of
them stared at M, into M’s dark hollow masked eyes that were filled with an
endless void. Neither of them approached M but did as M instructed. Mia started
(From Mia’s recollection)
It was the mid of October
and we all took an entire week off from work for our annual week together. We
skipped the previous year since we decided to spend it with my family and help
with my sister’s wedding. So we were at my parent’s place, they were out of
town and we could easily spend our week there. I came home on the day we were
going to meet and had everything set up, food, drinks and the rooms. Sam had
messaged the group that we were doing to play a new game.
Fast forward to the next
day, that was when everyone arrived and everyone had their excuse for being a
day late but it didn’t matter because they were here. Ari came in the end after
every one was settled, she looked different but a good kind of different, she
was happier. She had her hair drowned out and dyed black, she had started to
wear lenses and more feminine style clothes. She was finally comfortable to
show off her crescent shaped birthmark which was right below her right eye. For
the first two or three day we went around the town meeting some of the old town
folks and just hanging out. On the fourth day, it was Sam who introduced his
“It’s like truth and dare
but with only dare…” Sam started.
“That isn’t new we played
that before” I had interrupted.
“It’s different, ok. Before
we start the game we will all write one punishment we can think of on a piece
of paper and put it in this box…” Sam takes out a box “…then we spin a bottle
to pick the first person, that person has to do one dare the rest of us agree
on. If this said person is unable to dare he or she will pick a punishment and
will have to go through it.”
“That sounds a bit
dangerous, what if the punishment is more dangerous than the dare. Let’s not do
it” I pointed out and Liam, Ari and Nathaniel backed me on it.
“No! Let’s do this. It’s
going to be an adventure” Nina had chimed in.
With a bit more persuasion
from Nina everyone agreed and we all started to write punishments of sticky
notes and then placed them in a box. We spun one of the empty beer bottles and
it landed on me. Everyone huddled together to think of a dare for me. After a
few minutes Sam came forward and announced my dare.
“Mia we dare you to eat a
bunch of garlic and onion and then kiss a random person we pick for you, that
person could be a he or she. Do you accept it?” Sam announced.
“That’s easy,” I said. We
got our jackets and got into Nathaniel’s car. He drove until they could pick
someone for me. They picked for me a girl from what I could see was in her
emo-phase. I kissed her, we exchanged numbers and I came back. We all did our
dares and then in the end Ari was left.
“Ari your turn…” Sam had
said with a smirk “…Your dare is you have to walk on that bridge railing from
start to the end” Sam pointed at the old bridge “…Either this or the
punishment. Pick your dare.” We had cheered her on to take the dare and she
did. She got onto the railing but couldn’t take a step and came back down.
“I can’t. I’ll take the
punishment” she cried out.
Sam brought out the box and
Ari picked a paper. It said “DRIVE FROM THE OLD MAN JACK’S BRIDGE”. We were at
this bridge and now Ari had to jump.
“Ari this isn’t hard, we
all have jumped from here at least once. It isn’t dangerous or deep. Wait… I
have an idea. We will not let Ari jump…alone. Let's jump together. Like we did
in high school. Plus we will be her support” Nathaniel had added. Everyone
agreed on that and all of us including Ari got on top of the railing. Nina
counted till from 3 and on 1 we jumped. Minutes later we all resurfaced except
We spent hours looking for
her, in the water and on the banks until we found her. She was pale and still
and wasn’t moving, and was dead.
(Mia’s recollection over)
“That’s what happened,” Mia
said and everyone agreed.
M sent out another message
“Ari died after drowning. Was it your fault?” to everyone.
Everyone had their heads
down with tearful eyes. They still believed they had a hand in her death.
Another message was sent.
“Would it make a difference
if it was one of you instead of her?”
Everyone replied “NO”
Another message, “Why?”
Liam answered this one
“Because we would still think it was our fault for either coming up with the
game, or persuading her or jumping together. It would still be our fault.”
Another message “Maybe she
knew it was her last few days to be alive. She didn’t have any other family but
you. And if she knew her end was coming, maybe she wanted to spend it with her
only family. Maybe this was her last act of bravery.”
“If she knew why didn’t she
tell us?” Nina asked.
Another message “some
things can only be felt. So why torture her by torturing yourselves. Remember
her good memories and not her death. This will bring you peace of mind and
soul.” After the message M closed the tablet and waited for them to make a
“We should remember her in
good time and not her death. We need to move on, she would have wanted us to”
Everyone placed their
tablets on the table and got up from their seats. They could finally see eye to
eye after a year and could finally move on. They walked out the doors with
smiles on their faces. Once they were gone M took off the mask to reveal a
woman in her 30s.
The restaurant manager, an
old Chinese lady, walks in with the bill.
“You ordered so much for
just one person. Did your friends not show up?” She handed the woman the bill.
“They did and it was nice
to see them. They have finally moved on” the woman replied.
“By the way I noticed you
are quite pretty. I don’t get many pretty and young customers any more. They
are mostly old men and women from the neighborhood. And is that crescent below
your right eye real. If you don’t mind me asking”
“Yes it is. Goodbye ma’am”
the women walked out after paying the bill. Outside in the breeze the woman
stood looking at the few stars in the sky and remembering what had actually
(Flashback to the incident
a year ago)
After jumping I was able to
swim back to the bank. It was the most exhilarating experience of my life but I
was alone on the banks. No one else surfaced and it made me worried. Hours
later after calling the police and searching the river their bodies were discovered.
They had all drowned, I had lost them all in one night. But what was more
shocking came later when I started to see their ghosts all around me thinking
they were still alive and I was the one who died. After death their
memories got rewritten and I had to fix it.
It took a whole year to
create this façade to help them move on. And to help me move on.