The moonlight was caressing my cheeks and the cold wind brought a deliciously fresh smell that helped calm me. Night time has always been soothing to me; day time simply reminded me of people and noisiness. My heart beat was finally stabilizing and it became easier to breathe by the second. I often get anxiety attacks when something, even slightly, reminds me of that day… that beautiful yet dreadful day. That day I lost everything, even my smile.
I will never forget how the sunlight warmed my body, as I sat below that weeping willow. I was sketching the river in front of me, which was mesmerizing me with it’s liquid melody. Everything appeared so perfect on paper, yet it had to be the worst day of my life. Too focused with the delightment my senses felt, I did not see my little sister fall into the river. It immediately felt like a stab to my heart. My eyes widened, my pulse accelerated, and my body reflexed; I jumped into the water to try and save her. But I could not reach her; I never felt warm again.
Nothing could ever stop me from feeling guilty. My parents refused to look me in the eyes. Their gaze became more dark and unfocused. Emotions had completely left their faces. Grief kissed them and started sucking their life away from their mouth. Soon, they became “living” corpses who were just waiting for the body to follow the path of their lost soul.
They had died, refusing to eat and drink water. Not even at the end, they dare look at me. My pain is still as strong as ever, and I wonder if I am only still alive because living is my punishment. The only moment I can really breathe is during night time; it makes my body feel lighter. The moonlight calls me. I need to leave everything behind. It is time. I need to kill that guilt. I need to poison my pain so I can be released. I must wash my sin away.
I feel even colder as my sweat rolls down my spine and sticky hands. The air is heavy as I open the door. I have the clarity to take the first step. My legs are trembling, I will fall any minute now. As a last resort I put all my strength into that step. Then I take another one and start walking as fast I can. In reality, it is as slow as the erosion of a mountain. But every step, I feel dizzy and nauseous every time I take a break. This path seems unbearable and my backpack is too heavy.
Two days later, after all that walk, meant that I could finally reach the weeping willow of my childhood. I sat at the place I used to, and started appreciating this nostalgic landscape. I burst out crying- it was almost morning when I was able to stop. I felt dizzier than ever. My head was being crushed by dehydration, nonetheless I kept going on with the plan. The plan of my redemption.
I needed to wash away my sin, so I put my backpack on and tied it well around my chest. Then I grabbed multiple branches of the willow in order to use it like a rope. I lifted my feet and mid air I let go. I was finally drowning. I took a deep breath underwater and immediately I was struck with pain. My body fought to survive on its own, but the bricks in my backpack were too heavy and my body too weak. I felt relieved, that physical pain was a bliss. It was tearing my emotional pain away. I was free. I actually felt alive in death.
For the first time in years, the sunlight warmed up my cold body and I was no longer guilty. I was in the same spot I sat when my sister died. I don’t know how I ended up there when I was drowning. Until I realised that I died with my sister, years ago. I thought all those years that I was a soulless body when in fact I was a bodiless soul. It was time for my departure.
Photos by Jack Wietman
With Michelle Macias Mendes