Twenty to midnight, every decent creature was at rest, except me. Lately, sleep had become a luxury I could not afford. I carefully closed my friend’s front door and stepped down to my road of no return. The moon was bright and the sky was clear. A setting like so incompatible with what was about to happen.
On that quiet street, my heartbeats were the only sounds in my ears; in that lonely world, my shadow was my only companion. Will I be alone on this road to heaven? Will I go to heaven at all? Oh well, there is no heaven. I never believed in religion. I was brought up in a country that denounces God and all of its alternatives. I was told that religious people are gullible and uneducated. I was taught that I should rely solely on my own strength. Thus, when there was no way I could climb out of this grave on my own, I chose to bury myself.
I entered a much darker avenue after crossing the intersection. The fear of the night overwhelmed me. My thoughts found dangers behind every bush . . . Will someone jump out from behind the shadows? But thinking twice, I felt the irony. I am going to die. There is nothing that is more frightening than death. I wished that some devil would jump out at that moment, assault me and slaughter me. This might be my last chance to taste sex before death. And better yet, he might be my only chance of dying as a sorry victim instead of a pathetic suicide. The pain throbbing in my temples urged me to pick up my speed and fully embrace the darkness.
I heard a big noise coming from behind. I turned back and saw a bus. Even though I could see my condo from where I was, I decided to take that bus. As I stepped onto it, the driver blinked really hard as if confirming he wasn’t seeing a wandering ghost. I certainly was not the typical passenger at this time of the night, but the four drunken young men on board were. They were slouching in the front seats with their overstretched legs blocking the passageway. Their baggy denims intimidated me. One of them surveyed me from head to toe with his last bit of sobriety. I did not want to go near them. I remained standing beside the front door, continuously feeding the driver’s curiosity. He had no idea that he would be the last person to see me alive.
I got off the bus at the next stop. A small plaza was located at that intersection. There was a short cut to my building via the back of the plaza. I used to work as a cashier in the corner supermarket there. Memories flashed back, and I felt like I was walking home after work. Of course, it was the very last shift of my life. As I turned the corner, I immediately saw my building standing firm under the moonlight. Each balcony looked like a springboard hanging in the air, bouncing up and down to allure me. I wish I could go to the very top one and dive like an Olympian. My unit was on the eighth floor; about twenty-five meters above the grave, this should be high enough. “Hurry!” someone was commanding me, an extraterrestrial being that intruded into my consciousness not long ago. It had changed me into some sort of automaton. My only program was self-destruction.
Each step seemed part of the program. I found myself exiting the elevator running toward my unit not caring how much noise I made. I unlocked the front door and turned the knob abruptly. I had to reach the balcony before my parents could stir. Before they wake I would have already landed on the ground.
After I threw the balcony door open, I stretched out my arms and dangled most of my upper body over the railing. The scenery suddenly changed. I saw how far down the ground was. It would be a dive into a bottomless pit . . . I would die . . . an actualization of my worst nightmare. I don’t want to die; I am still scared of death. Instantly, I was human again.
I walked back to the living room and heard my mom’s voice trembling from their bedroom. “There . . . is . . . is . . . a thief . . . in . . . our home.” Then, I saw my dad’s head lurking behind the door. He had a quick peek toward my direction. He must have seen a monstrous shadow standing in the dark, a scene from a horror movie. He slammed the door and screamed, “Go away, we are calling 911!” His voice was so creepy, goose bumps poked out all across my skin. The very reason they were scared was because there was no telephone in their bedroom.
“Baba! Mama! It’s me!” My desire for death totally vanished.
“Xia Xi!” My parents ran to me and held me so tight as if they would never let go of me. They must have figured out why I came home.
“Baba, Mama, I still could not get any sleep. I did not sleep at all. I feel extremely suicidal! I cannot help it!”
“No, no, no, you cannot do this to us. We cannot live without you!” We tangled up into a howling ball.
My dad phoned my friend’s house. “Err . . . sorry to wake you up . . . Nancy walked home . . . Yes, she is home right now.” I could feel the shockwave penetrating the receiver from the other end. My dad continued, “Sorry about this . . . The truth is, she has been feeling very down lately, she really needs someone to comfort her. Nancy said being with her good friend makes her happy. We thought she would feel better boarding at your home for a while . . . No, she did not get any sleep. It is more serious than we thought . . . I am so sorry . . . Okay, thank you so much!” After he hung up, he immediately called his brother in China, “Brother, Xia Xi wants to commit suicide! The fortune-teller was right! I don’t know what to do now . . .” he wept bitterly.
I did not hear the rest of the conversation because my mom took me to my bed. She rocked me in her arms like I was a child again. I looked upward at her, her reddened eyes were begging for my compassion. She had not had a good night sleep since my insomnia started. I had been tormenting everyone, Mom and Dad and of course, myself. How could I stop this brutality? I began to feel drowsy. The warmth of her cradle brought me to a complete rest.