I stood on stage with the phone in my hand, ready to deliver the dialogues from a script that had barely reached me, when the call came through. Instantly cutting it off, I apologized to the people sitting in front of me, watching with barely concealed anticipation of my failure. I got into stance once again, but yet another notification fell on top of the lines I was supposed to be delivering.
I froze in position, the words that hadn’t yet had a chance to come out already stuck in my throat. I swallowed them down as my mind grasped the text.
“I need you to take this call,” it said, and I knew.
My heart sank somewhere to the lowest of pits, the likes of which I hadn’t known existed until this very moment, despite the countless plot twists thrown my way by whoever was tasked with penning down my story. It must still be beating but I could barely feel it. Instead of the empty chair, I was facing, I turned to address the person who was watching me with an expectant gaze.
“I need to take this,” I told him, voice shaking with the effort of forcing it out.
“Sure.” He kept staring at me in that quiet, unnerving way but I didn’t have any time to think of it.
Skipping steps, and almost stumbling in the process I fled the scene like a fugitive on the run, and in a manner I was.
It was a crime for me to have been here when someone – this particular someone – might not be around much longer. Unlocking the phone, I wasted no time calling the person back. They took no time answering my call.
If I’d thought my heart couldn’t drown any further, I’d been wrong. I held the phone to my ear with one hand, pressing it almost painfully to my ear so I could hear through the half-ruined speakers of that shabby thing. The other clenched and unclenched at my chest in desperation, almost as if trying to locate the missing organ, massaging it to keep it beating so I could make it through this.
I processed the words as well as I could, having already asked for a repetition.
All wasn’t lost. Not yet.
It took another second for the heart to slowly emerge. We still had time, we could still help them.
“I need you to drop everything and go there. Whatever it is you’re doing leave it” – as if they had to tell me, there wasn’t a thing more important than this in the world right now – “and go talk her out of it when she’s out of there…”
There was more, but I was already in action, not giving into the sensation that threatened to paralyze my body. I went back into the room.
“I’m sorry I have to go, I can’t be here right now, I’m really sorry…” my trembling voice gushed out apologies, but didn’t regret it one bit. I had no place among these people anyways, and my people needed me at this moment.
I barely waited for them to acknowledge my statement before I was out of the room, and running full sprint towards where I knew she would be. It didn’t matter how many people were looking at me run like a madwoman, the point was to reach there before…
Refusing to let myself think of failing to be on time, I pushed my legs harder, despite the strain I was putting on them. The campus buildings faded away as the gardens came into sight. I slowed down until I was speed walking rather than sprinting, and moved towards where I knew she’d be.
The tree came into view just as she did, lying underneath the curved branches. Her face was hidden underneath the large blue hat she liked wearing so often. Relief spread into me, as I approached her. I fell to my knees and inhaled as deep as I could. However, I had missed something.
Her chest wasn’t moving up and down; as I noticed this, I noticed something lying by her left hand. It was a bottle of prescription pills.
I sat quietly as my heartbeat slowed down. I almost lie down next to her, wanting to be silent so she wouldn’t be disturbed. A deep melancholy settled over me as I realized there was no disturbing her anymore. I reached for my phone to deliver the news.
A white flower fell from the tree onto her still form.