That’s how long it takes to get to the hospital from South City Center Mall.
Three minutes is the difference between life and death.
Between breathing and not.
“Lin, you know you’re just an unnecessary waste of space in this world… Why don’t you just die?”
I wish Amy would just go away, even though she does make good points. It’s my birthday, I should be going out, with my friends.
“If only you had them.” Jule cackles.
She’s right though, if only...
I look at myself through the mirror and decide that I will go out today.
“Well, at least no more staring at your phone, hoping someone will call,” Shade says.
I smile, and whisper thank you.
For a while, Shade stopped talking to me. Not a word. Not an email. Nothing. I thought he was dead. And one day, he talked.
I was in the middle of the street. And he said hello. He said sorry.
And then everything went back to the same way it was before he disappeared.
I get my purse, already stuffed with things I need, wallet, coupons, car keys. I reach in for my keys and my hand touches cold metal. I jerk my hand out, breathing heavily. It’s okay… You were the one who put it in, Lin. Don’t worry.
I reach back in, finding my keys this time.
“Hello, this is The Cheesecake Factory. How may I help you?” A cheery voice comes from the phone.
“Oh, so you’re going to a restaurant now. Like you can afford that.” Amy laughs.
“Go away, Amy,” I say, my voice hardening and the laughing stops immediately, as if she did go away. But she didn’t. She never will, will she?
“Sorry, I didn’t get that,” The receptionist asks.
“Nothing,” I say quickly. “I would like to reserve a table for one please.”
“One? What about… me?” Jule gasps, her voice filled with fake hurt.
“Of course.” The factory’s representative says, sounding bored.
“I’ll be coming in 10 minutes.” I hang up. My eyes flit between the PDF pulled up on my phone, and the printer.
“Lin, don’t do this,” Shade says something for the first time in ten minutes. His voice is emotionless.
I don’t know what that means.
I click print.
- - -
“What would you like for this very fine evening, ma’am?” The waiter asks, handing me a menu.
“I would like the dessert menu please,” I say, my eyes boring into his.
“Oh, that poor thing! He’s just doing his job…” Jule trails off.
“Shut up,” I growl under my breath.
The waiter looks at me confused for a second. “Me?”
He nods, his eyes weirdly filled with fear. “Th-the dessert menu, of course. Give me a minute.”
“Lin… You scared him away!” Amy exclaims.
“Sad, I didn’t even scare you away, Amy.” I roll my eyes and take out the application forms I printed.
“Lin. Please. Lin, don’t do this.”
“Don’t do what?” Amy perks up at Shade’s worried voice. A wave of nausea hits me, and I swallow it down.
“I’ll show you later, Amy.” I close my eyes, hoping Amy won’t take over. She shouldn’t. She won’t.
Lin Ngo, I sign the papers.
“Here, Ma’am.” The waiter comes back with the menu.
“I would like... Linda’s Fudge Cake. Do you mind giving me a candle too?” I hand the menu back to him. He nods and rushes off to the kitchen again.
“But you don’t even like cake!” Amy pouts for some reason.
“Why are you mad?” I grumble and continue writing. I check every box on the page, hesitating above the one that says Kidneys. I flip to the next one, filled with more personal questions.
“Everything? Are you sure, Lin? I don’t understand why you’re doing this.”
Like I need them after today.
“Your dessert Ma’am. With the candle!” The waiter saves me, serving the cake on a beautiful platter.
“It’s my birthday, sorry for the odd request.” I smile.
“Well, you gave us no trouble! I wish you a very happy birthday,” His mocha eyes linger on mine for a second too long. “I better be going!”
“Can I have my bill?” I say before he can leave.
“Right now? Or should I wait until you finish?” He frowns, and I smile uneasily again.
“Right now, if you don’t mind.”
“... Of course.”
“Does anyone remember my blood group?” I ask as soon as the waiter leaves.
“Your blood group is the same as ours!” Jule informs me.
“Which is…” I ask, and they all stay silent.
“O+. But Lin, don’t do this. Not right now. Lily’s graduating next week.” I flinch at her name. But Shade is right. He’s right, no matter what I tell myself.
“Don’t you dare say her name. You know what you did to her.”
“Think of what this will do to her! She won’t be able to do anything. You may be only another person in the world, but to someone… You may be the world,” Shade quotes.
“I am not Lily’s world. You know, she’s embarrassed of me. She refuses to let me see her friends.”
“Maybe because she wants to keep you all to herself.” Shade’s voice softens. “If she is grieving before her Finals, what do you think will happen? You think she’ll be the top of her class?
“Because if she isn’t, everyone will know who’s fault that is.”
I take out my journal, trying to stop Shade’s words from getting into my head.
Today, I’m going to commit a crime. At least others’ will think that. But I know that this is the only solution to my problem.
For my last entry, I want to do something special. I know that this entry is the one that people will see.
I’m sorry, Shade. Sorry, Jule, Amy. I’m glad I don’t get to see the look on your face when you hit the floor.
And sorry, Lily. Thank god you didn’t pick up.
“Your bill,” The waiter comes back.
I take the bill folder, and look at the amount. $9.99
I get a check out, and write $1,000 only. I hand it to the waiter, “Do you mind if I stay here a bit later? And keep the change.”
His face goes through a series of emotions, landing on confusion at the end. “Well, of course! Thank you, Ma’am!” The waiter runs off.
“Yes, Amy?” I say, signing the last of the papers.
“Okay?” I frown, but take out my phone. I have an important call to make.
“Hello, this is the City Hospital, how may we help you?” An assistant says.
“Someone is going to die in three minutes. In SCC Mall. Call your ambulance so they can arrive in time,” I say seriously, my voice not wavering like the first time I rehearsed this.
“Sorry? Hello? Who is this? Call 911!” I hear the assistant yelling to the other people in the hospital. “Hello? Can you tell us-” I hang up before she could say anything.
I take out my gun. Lily, my poor dear sister. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
It can slip out of your hands before you know it. And I hope it does this time.
My alarm beeps, telling me two minutes and thirty seconds is over. The faint sirens of an ambulance are coming closer.
“Shade, what’s happening? Shade!” I hear Amy’s shrill scream.
“You’ll see, Amy.” Shade’s voice sounds hesitant. He’s never hesitant.
I get my gun out of my purse and aim towards my head.
“Mommy! Mommy, what’s she doing?” I hear a toddler scream.
A waitress notices.
She calls the staff. I whisper, “I am committing a mass murder. Sorry Lily. I am so, so sorry.”
The ambulance parks outside the cheesecake factory.
My thin lips curve upward, and I shoot.
- - -
“Breaking News. This just in! A young college student, Lin Ngo, commited suicide in the Cheesecake Factory in SCC Mall.
“She left a bundle of paper on the table she was dining in. It was an organ donation form, fully filled out. Someone named ‘Shade’ signed as witness, even though the camera’s show no one else with Lin at that point. We do know that she was talking to herself, talking to ‘Amy.’ She also apologized to Amy, Shade, Jule, and her step-sister, Lily Ngo.
“We have an assistant from the hospital telling us what she heard right before the death.” The camera shifts from the news anchor to the receptionist’s desk.
“Yes, I got a call telling me that someone would die in SCC and I immediately called the others and the caller hung up before I could get more information,” The receptionist informs the TV anchor.
“What did the caller sound like?”
“Well, the caller was definitely a female, I can’t say much else.”
“Thank you for your time, Linda, back to you.”
“Well, next up is…”
Lily shuts off the TV.
She wasn’t there. Lin called. She called.
And Lily didn’t pick up. Not even that, she declined.
Lin told Lily everything.
Lin told her how she got fired. She told her about how she couldn’t pay the rent. She told her how she couldn’t find another job.
Lily sobs, the tears falling on the paper she was clutching.
On the very bottom it wrote, State any disease (mental or physical) over here:
Multiple Personality Disorder