Death of My Friends's Humanity - Part 1
Death of My Friends's Humanity - Part 1
The cursor on my screen was blinking. It seemed to be mocking me.
Mocking me and my washed out brain.
Writing a story these days has become such a difficult talk for me. I've been trying to write a story all day and I keep hitting blank walls – I'm at my wits' end.
As I look around my room, my eyes pass over every object without looking at them for more than a minute. But my eyes linger over the scar on my wrist. My white, almost-invisible but permanent scar. I drift back to that day.
It was a rainy day. I was on cloud nine because it was the day I had come to know that I was going to spend a few nights with my best friend, Aaliyah.
Bloop! I was brought back to Earth. It was a text notification.
"Bring your sleeping bag! We're going camping!" Aaliyah wrote.
I sent back a few thumbs up emoticons and giggled to myself.
Spending time with Aaliyah was something I always enjoyed doing. One; because she's my best friend. And two; because she needs me right now; much more than I need her.
She lost her whole family recently as they were deported to Africa due to certain visa violations. She was clearly not in a good place and she needed people around her. I planned to stay with her for a few days and provide moral support.
I was there for her. Always. And she was also always there for me.
I drifted back to consciousness and sighed as I remembered how things used to be. I also recalled how naive I used to be. I think growing up means realizing that a lot of your friends aren't really your friends.
I shut my laptop and stood up in a daze. My eyes focused on the scar again. It wasn't the physical pain that hurt. I don't think I ever even felt the physical pain. It was the emotional pain that stabbed me and broke me down. Recovery from that wound? It took more than a year just to realize what had happened.
Even after five years, I still force myself not to think about that day. I try to kill those painful memories by creating better ones.
"Look Nadia. We can keep postponing this okay? But the pain will never stop until you tell me what happened in your life," Sophia, my therapist said.
I still go to therapy. Healing from that trauma is hard. Five years of therapy, still no results. Sophia asks the same question, in the same tone, with the same concerned expression every single day. And I give the same answer every single day, "No Sophia. Not today. I can't."
And the memories trickle into my mind. But after all these years of practice, I had become good at suppressing those emotions. They say practice makes perfect. Well, they aren't wrong.
Sophia persisted today.
I remember the last time she tried to force me into talking about it. I had a mental breakdown. I know that talking about it will definitely make me feel better. But I could never bring myself to it. Some memories just won't die. Ever.
"Sophia, do you remember the last time you tried to force me to talk about this?"
"Yeah, I do. And believe it or not, I'm doing it again."
She continued, "Nadia, I want to know what happened. And I have all the time in the world. I want you to delve into that agonizing past. I want you to face it instead of running from it. I want you to be that girl. The girl who faces her problems head strong."
I remember that girl. I remember my fifteen year old self. I was bold, strong, opinionated, and I had a voice. If someone messed with me, then I messed back with them. Yeah. Sometimes I miss that girl.
"I'm not her anymore. I want to be but..." I trailed off. I hadn't been that girl in a long time. Now I was used to blending in with the crowds, agreeing to what they say, and doing it the way they wanted me to.
"I'm not ready give up on you. Nadia, I want you to look at me and tell me you've not given up on yourself."
Of course I haven't. If I had, then I wouldn't be at therapy.
"Of course I haven't Sophia. I still come here everyday, don't I?"
She smiled, "I'm ready to cancel all of my other appointments if you're ready to talk about it today. I'm sick of waiting for you to talk some other day. Tomorrow never comes. Live today."
"Live today" is something Sophia often says to me. And in my case, it suits perfectly. I am extremely lucky to be alive and physically healthy after what happened that day. I know that. But I'm not alive. I wake up every morning to go to bed every night. That isn't living and I know that. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe. Or the last time I smiled and it wasn't fake. Or the last time I said "I'm okay" and meant it.
"Let's start like everyday Nadia. But today, we will go further."
I said 'okay' and gulped down the cup of water that was kept on the table beside me.
"So, how are feeling today?"
"And that is?"
"You know how someone feels when they don't know how they feel? That's how I feel."
She nodded and continued, "Did you change anything in your life recently? It doesn't have to be major. Maybe like, your phone wallpaper?"
"What is your current phone wallpaper?"
"An image of the sea water lapping the shore."
"And why is that?"
"I don't know. I felt like it."
"And why do you think that is?"
"I don't know! What do you want me to say?"
"Nadia, I want you say whatever you want to say."
"Well okay. I have a wallpaper of the sea because it reminds me of what life can be. Vast, open, daunting, And I believe my life could surely use some of that positivity."
Sophia smiled. Like any therapist, she liked the fact that I had hope in life.
I am not suicidal. I want to live and enjoy life. Life is something that has it's ups and downs. But sometimes, people require some help to get over the "downs" of their life. I'm one of those people. Sophia helps me get over my past trauma.
"Talk about that day, Nadia. You can do it. I know you can!"
"I know you can!" Aaliyah screeched as I tried to gulp down the remaining liquid in the three litre water bottle.
We used to do this often. Compete in the "water drinking" competition. It was normal. Two 16 year old girls sitting on a bed of rocks and gulping down three litre water bottles just for the sake of it. Nothing weird in that at all.
"Okay Nad, would you rather reverse one decision you make every day or be able to stop time for 10 seconds every day?"
"Reverse one decision I make everyday, duh!"
"Because 10 seconds is nothing! What can you do in 10 seconds that's going to change your day?"
She shrugged and went back to gulping down large sips of water. I knew she agreed with me.
After a couple hours of roaming around the campsite and answering bizarre "would-you-rather" questions, we set up our tent and went to the lake.
"Can you skip a stone?" I asked.
"No, can you?"
"Yeah. It's pretty simple once you get the right technique. Here let me show you!"
I showed her how to skip a stone. The flat pebble that I picked perfectly bounced thrice over the surface of the water and soon, sunk in.
Half an hour later, after I managed to show her the correct wrist movement, she managed a poor imitation of my demonstration.
"That's great, Aaliyah! Some more practice, and you'll get it"
"Nah, I'm done. I don't see how learning this is going to be of any use."
I giggled. That was such an Aaliyah thing to say. She never wasted any time on learning unpractical skills. She used to say that sentence so many times, that every time someone says something close to that sentence, I still think of her.
But she didn't laugh. Her face turned serious and she turned.
She started walking towards the tent and I followed her. She put her hand into a rucksack and brought out two guns.
Yeah, you read that right. Two guns!
"Although, do you know something that will help us in the future?" she said.
"Aaliyah! What the hell?"
"First rule of shooting:- do not freak out."
"I AM NOT LEARNING TO SHOOT. NOT NOW, NOT EVER!"
My heart was racing as I saw her insert bullets into it skillfully. Before I knew it, tears were flowing down my face and I was begging her to cut out this non-sense.
"Aali, please...please just, put the guns down."
"Why? Are you scared?"
"Yes! Very! Please Aaliyah, what's wrong with you?"
I saw malice in her eyes as she turned to look at me. After studying my face closely, she said, "It's not your fault. You just didn't know."
"Didn't know what?"
"It's too late for me to tell. I considered you my best friend and I still do. But truth be told, you could've tried a little harder."
"What are you talking about, and where did you get the guns?"
She didn't hear me. She was too busy checking out her surroundings.
A stray dog happened to come and stand near our campsite.
Without a second thought, Aaliyah shot it. She shot it in cold blood without thinking twice. My ears were ringing. Hers were too. The deafening sound of the gun and the way the poor dog collapsed left me wounded.
And that's when I knew. She wasn't Aaliyah. Not anymore. Something had happened to her, which she clearly didn't tell me about.
I heard a thumping sound from everywhere around me. I then realized, that it was my heartbeat. My best friend shot a stray dog in cold blood with a gun right in front of me; without thinking twice about it. Things couldn't get more messed up.
Alas! I had no idea how worse things could get.
She turned and lifted her arm until the gun was pointed straight at my heart.