Soaring through the air. Well, plummeting actually. The lush green canopies of the amazon were closing up quick. Even at about 100m off the ground, I could see birds of all colours perched in the treetops. But I could also see feral, vicious predators. Nearly hitting the first tree, my stomach lurched. The leaves rustled and tore away from their branches as I pushed through and hit a thick branch. My vision blurred, a warm fluid trickled down from my temple. The branch was just thick enough for me to lie on it without slipping. As black flashes took over, I saw a brilliant orange serpent slowly slither to me. It bared it’s fang, dripping with some black venom as it hissed. And then my world fell away.
A sleeve of inked artwork engulfed his arm. It was like a shadow, trying to take over, black ominous figures pranced across his muscular arm. I wondered why would someone get such sinister looking tattoos. The man himself was immaculate, crisp ironed shirt, tie, the whole salaryman façade. Yet, he had this mark of an immature man upon him. Tattoos were a young man’s game— this bloke would be about 50. He had no piercings or anything that would make one think he was blue collar. The most intriguing part of all the tattoos was not on his arm at all, it was the fact that a week ago— when he first came into the clinic to apply for the job, he had no tattoos. My eyes were fixated upon the inking.
Still ecstatic and warm from the wild teenage party, we walked out. It was getting crazy and we didn’t want to get caught up in any mess. Steven had been drinking, alcohol reeked from his breath. There was a questionable stain on his nautica shirt and drops of it on his grey shorts. I figured that he had puked his guts out in the toilet. Myself, on the other hand, was immaculate. Maybe a Dorito stain on the back of my black leathery jacket from when the bowl was dropped from upstairs, I had never tested before in my life— and I didn’t plan on starting any time soon. Steven’s mother had told me to keep him out of trouble, so far I had done my best to do so, whilst still being a friend. I cleaned him up and got him out early. The music was blazing. I could hear people singing along even though we were almost at the end of the street. I looked up, aside from the light pollution and street lamps, the evergreen trees of Hawthorn made the suburb look classy. We walked through the drips of moonlight between trees and the darkness under their canopies. Steven staggered along, half his weight slung on my shoulder. “Oi, watch where you’re staggerin mate” I snapped. He giggled and then tripped over a crack in the foot path. With a goofy smile and I scrape on his nose he slurred “Ahahaha sorry, I’ll try better. Gotta get sober before I get home.” We walked on, getting closer to his home. As we neared the entrance to our shortcut, Camberwell skate park, I shrugged him off. I bent down to my air Jordan’s and tied the shoe laces. I squinted to see if I was even close to grabbing my laces. Steven’s shadow was blocking all the light. “Hey, move a lil, you’re in the way man,” he moved. I heard a revving of an engine. “Hey drunk boy, get away from the road— some hoon seems to be comin.” The car engine got louder. In a deafening screeching of brakes I heard a thud and Steven’s voice. My eyes darted up. I wasn’t wearing my glasses but I saw a number plate TQR638. The tail lights and back of an fd rx7 were quite distinct. The sight of this was burned into my memory. I saw the car zoom away and Steven smashing the ground. Instantly, I knew he wasn’t going to make it. He was positioned awkwardly, must have had some bones broken somewhere. I bolted towards him. He coughed up some blood, I kneeled at his side. “You idiot” I was tearing up. He smiled back at me “don’t worry, you kept you promise.” I was frozen, his warm blood, forming a pool around him. My fingertips and air Jordan’s slowly turning red. “This is it for me man, I can feel it.” My eyes widened. The moon light shone over his tanned skin, his brown hair in all directions. I knew he was almost gone, I could see it in his gray-blue eyes. The metaphorical light was fading from them. “Hey, get your phone out, I want my family to get a vid of my last words” he said. The alcohol still reeked from his breath, but he wasn’t drunk anymore. The shock of getting hit by a car at about 100km/h must have sobered him up a little. I took out my phone, and turned it to video mode. He started with a gentle chuckle, “haha, I guess this is what I get for drinking ey? Don’t worry mom, he kept his promise.” Steven went on about his 14 years of life. He thanked his parents for every bit of it. Quoting stories, chuckling at the things he did wrong. He then went on to his siblings, his sisters and one brother, he grandparents. He started coughing a lot “are you sure you want to go on?” He nodded. I had felt his pulse, there was no way he would have gone further. It was dropping erratically. He said all his thanks to his family in about 1 minute. All this had happened so quickly. He was coughing up blood violently. Narrowly missing the camera. I fought back tears and held it steady as he talked. He thanked his friends for the great times. But, before he was done he wheezed ” no more, this is it.” A calm smile ran over his face. His head fell to the side, his body limp and motionless. I dropped the phone onto his body. I think it was on the vomit stain. I not sure. I couldn’t smell the blood, or the alcohol. I think I went into shock. My head fell back, and is lay on the road, knees tucked, just my upper body had become limp. I cried. After a few minutes I got up, I left him, the phone, I left it all on the road. I walked into the skate park and sat on the edge of a ramp. I sat there for an hour, looking up at the lights, the distant, but bright star. It reminded me of the lion king, how mufasa became a star after his death. I wondered if Steven was there now. I sat there for a good hour.
The sun shines radiantly through the hallway window. A gentle breeze blows through the window, ruffling the curtains. My eyes dart around, wary of anyone approaching. I hesitantly take out my hand and slowly open the door. As I come into the room, I see a girl beaming with such beauty, it seems as if she is a goddess from heaven. She sleeps peacefully and soundly. Her blonde hair is like streaks of gold. Her face is pale, but beautiful. Her body is both slim and frail. I sit down on a chair next to her, staring in awe at her beauty. Suddenly, she starts to move and emerges from her slumber. She sits up and looks at me with surprise. Her bright blue eyes stare at me, as if she is looking into me. I avert my gaze, being nervous and embarrassed. She starts to laugh at my reaction, knowing that I am shy around girls, then she gives me a comforting smile, as if to say that it’s alright. I stand silently, not knowing how to react. My face is flushed and my heart is beating rapidly.
“Hello, you came again,” she says with a cheery voice.
I stand still, unable to respond to the abrupt greeting. Scrambling around for something to say, I begin to panic.
“Hey,” I mutter, panicked.
I place the flowers I brought onto the bedside table and try to rush out, but she loosely grabs onto my arm, knowing that I have a tendency to run away when I am nervous. As I look at her, I see images of the past. I remember when I first met her. I was a young carefree six year old. I had no friends and was bullied. She was the only one who stood up for me. She was the only person who offered to be my friend. I remember that whilst everyone watched and laughed as I was bullied, only she defended me. I remember when she first told me her angelic name, which I will never forget. She told me that her name was Sarah.
I no longer desire to run, so Sarah loosens her grip on me. I look at her and see her white robe, a robe that only patients wear. Her heart is slowly failing her and she may die at any moment. I know that I should be supportive, but all I thought of was running away and leaving her alone. Her parents are busy at work and her friends have abandoned her. Most of her day is spent in solitude, yet she’s still smiling after all that she has been through.
For a while, I stand in silence speechless, shaking nervously. In a desperate attempt to break the awkward silence, I say the first thing that comes to my mind.
“How have you been,” I mutter nervously.
“Okay, I guess,” she responds whilst shrugging her shoulders.
“How have these past few years treated you,” she suddenly states, surprising me.
I guess she still remembers the day when we first met. Since that day, I had tried to befriend her, but was too nervous to approach her. Months and years had passed, but I had never faced my fears. Now it’s too late.
“I remember when you were a cute little kid,”she says, chuckling.
She starts to talk about what had happened in the past, whilst I just nod silently. Our conversation continues and time passes swiftly. Eventually, I feel that I have to leave. I look at the watch on my hand, seeing that it is already six thirty. Knowing that I need to get back home, I quickly run out of the door startling her.
In the distance I hear Sarah say “Thank you for the flowers.”
I rush out of the hospital, running as fast as I can. I need to get home and as soon as possible. When I finally arrive at the train station, I am panting heavily. My heart is beating rapidly. My arms and legs feel like lead. In the distance I hear the whirring of the train. The wheels are crashing rapidly against the tracks. I feel a sense of relief knowing that I may arrive home before my parents.
When I arrive home, I see that my parents haven’t come back home yet. I enter my room and lay on my bed. I think about the events which have transpired today. Everything seems like it was from a dream, as if it weren’t real. I close my eyes in thought, wondering what my parents would do if they knew about what I have just done. I never told them about Sarah, knowing that they wouldn’t allow me to visit her even if I had begged them. My parents would never let me do anything that would hinder my education. I was denied the right for a proper childhood. As a child, my parents never cared about me. They neglected me, only providing me with food and then left me to study. My parents never show affection towards me, always pushing me towards a goal that they chose for me. They want me to become a doctor and they don’t even care about what I want to become.
My eyes become weary and I fall asleep. I dream about the time I’ve spent with Sarah. I have visited her twice. I think about what she has experienced. I wonder how I would feel if I have experienced what she has. I would be frightened, fearing death. She acts cheerful, but I know deep inside, she must be crying. I know that I should support her, so I decide that now, during the last few weeks of her life, I will visit her and try to make her life easier.
During the next few weeks, I visit Sarah every school day. I become more confident and stop shaking. I begin to open up to her. Now, I am able to have a proper conversation with her. Everyday, I look forward to visiting her. Our relationship grows stronger, and we have become more that just acquaintances, we are now friends.
It has been five weeks since my first visit to Sarah. As I approach the door to Sarah’s room, I hear the faint sound of crying. I stop in my tracks, hesitating before I enter. I don’t know how to react to this. How would I comfort her through her time of struggle? I take a deep breath in and slowly open the door, barely making a sound. I see her Sarah’s, covered in tears. I sit on the chair next to her wondering what I should do.
“I’m going to die soon,” Sarah sobs softly.
I stand still, in shock, unable to react.
“As a last request, I want you to pursue your own dream. You don’t have to obey your parents’ every command,” she tells me.
“I wanted to have a simple life as a teacher, but I am unable to achieve my dream, so I want you to achieve yours,” she says, with tears trickling out of her eyes.
I sit next to her, holding her hand whilst she cries underneath her blanket, listening to her last wheezing breaths. I sit in silence relishing every last moment I have left with her.
By the time I leave, it is already eight thirty. I know my parents will be furious, but I no longer care. When I arrive home, my parents scold me, but I just ignore them. All I can think about is Sarah. Whilst I am lying on my bed, my phone suddenly rings.
“Hello…it’s Melbourne hospital. It’s Sarah…she’s dead,” I hear, instantly dropping the phone.
Time seems as if it has slowed down. My breath begins to fluctuate. My arms become numb. I fall on my bed and place my arms over my eyes. Tears begin trickling down my face. I punch my bed mattress, feeling both furious and sad. I begin to remember the moments I had with Sarah. They were the happiest moments of my life. Now I will never see her again. I remember her last request, in her dying moments, she selflessly told me to pursue my dream, when she was unable to pursue her goal. I remember, during the last moments of her life, she told me she wanted to be a teacher. To honour last request I’ll disobey my parents and pursue my own dream. I’ll pursue her goal to become a teacher, a dream that she didn’t have the opportunity to fulfil.
Ten years pass by since the day Sarah died. I’m standing in front of her gravestone with a bouquet of flowers, the same flowers I gave her on my visits. I kneel down, gently placing the flowers on her grave.
“I have fulfilled both our dreams,” I say quietly to Sarah.
By Matthew Ung
I am in a dark room, alone. I hear footsteps in the darkness approaching me. In the distance, I see the face of a monster, which is hideous beyond belief. I am unable to move. When the creature is in front of me, everything suddenly turns black. I wake up, sweating profusely. My heart is beating rapidly. I am panting heavily from the horrible nightmare. My throat is parched, but I am too frightened to move. I lay in my bed motionless, trying to calm myself. I conjure up the courage to get up and turn on the light. My room is filled with a dim, eerie glow.
As I leave my room, I see that the rest of my house is covered in darkness. I am trembling with fear. I am scared of what may lurk in the darkness. I hurriedly walk through the hallway to the kitchen. I quickly open the fridge and pour myself a glass of water. I breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I am safe.
Suddenly, I hear the wooden floorboard creaking. I hear footsteps approaching my direction. I am terrified. I stand motionless, paralysed by fear. My body is shaking with fear. I back myself against the wall. I see the beast approaching me. Its face is distorted and covered in blood. Its eyes are crimson red with malice. It comes closer and closer towards me. With adrenaline running through me, I grab a knife and stand firmly against the monster.
I charge at it, swinging arms fiercely. It evades my attacks and leaps at me, clinging onto my face. I fall over and collide with the ground. I swing my arms at it but I am unable to come into contact with the monster. It curls itself around me and I am no longer able to see.everything is in complete darkness.
Suddenly, I open my eyes and I am lying on the kitchen floor. I realise that the monster was merely a creation of my imagination. The monster was created by my own fear. I walk back into my room and fall asleep, relieved that everything was just a figment of my imagination.
By Matthew Ung