It's Too Cold
I was married at age 23 and I've never felt so happy in my life. With the constant pestering of my parents about law school, it was certainly a welcome respite. Their eyes were beaming and their cheeks were sore from smiling all that day. They talked to me about the honeymoon and the news and we even told stories from way back when.
I felt free. Free from the constant bickering. Free from the threats that they made. They wanted to cut me off. Cut me off from funds, take me out of school. They even threatened to lock me up in a box and throw me into the ocean. It was brutal. But as soon as I announced my marriage, they've been nothing but courteous. It was weird, scary even that their attitudes could change so fast. They may have forgotten but I'll never forget the words they said.
I hated that word. It was thrown around in our fights from time to time. I thought I would get numb and not care but that word always gets me. When I heard that word I felt empty. It wasn't because I felt like I let them down. No. It's cause I felt like I could've done something else. If every choice you made in life led you to be locked up behind bars or held at gunpoint, were you making the right choices? That's what I felt. I felt like I took the wrong path. That word really got me. It really did.
Her eyes left me speechless and her lips got my heart racing. When I pulled the veil up, I was breathless. In my head, I thanked the heavens I met such a wonderful girl. She was a bit younger than me, a few years, and she only just entered college. She was a political science major. Who would've thought that such a girl was interested in a game like politics? Not me that's for sure. She was brilliant though. She was valedictorian and was number two in the whole country. I remember the look on her face when she saw the rankings at the website. She was so disappointed.
She felt devastated. Imagine working your ass off just to be number two. I think that's what she felt. She never really liked to talk about it much. She would try to shift the conversation whenever our friends talked about how smart she was. She tried to shift it in a way that they wouldn't talk about the nationwide test. I helped her. She was grateful for that.
We got married just a month ago and we're now living alone in our home. Just the two of us. It felt strange. Cohabiting. I learned new things of her I've never learned before. I learned that she showered at a certain time of the day. 7:00 p.m exactly. I could hear the water running at that time every single day. I learned that she had chronic snoring. Seriously this girl was louder than a bear poked by a sword in the ass. It was that loud. Not pleasant at all. I even learned that she kept her old teddy bear named Nise around to hug whenever I was off studying in the library at night. It was cute.
Living together this past month was great. It was a new experience. But weird things have been happening lately. Sometimes when I turn on the tv, I'd hear this loud banging sound from the bedroom. I run over there all the time but I only see Jurina studying. And sometimes when I enter the bedroom, the loud banging, instead, came from the kitchen. I run over there but I always see Jurina just eating at the dining table. The loud banging continued on and on and on. I felt crazy. I asked Jurina about it and she said she didn't hear any loud banging. She said I must be tired from studying. But no, I wasn't tired at all. I felt wide awake when I heard those things. It's like when I heard them, my adrenaline pumped up and I had the energy to fight some crime or something. I wasn't tired. Not at all.
I tried testing different things to see what could cause the loud banging to be heard. I tried entering and exiting the bedroom. I tried turning on and off the tv. I even tried staying up at night to see if there were any pranksters doing it. But that was an anomaly. Jurina would've heard it too if it was pranksters.
I was studying at library one night when I heard my phone rang. It was Jurina.
"Hey what's up?"
"When are you coming home?"
I looked at the clock. 2:43 a.m. It was late. Later than I usually do.
"I'm sorry. I lost track of time. I'll be there soon. Don't wait up. Remember you have an interview tomorrow at the Dean's office."
I felt her nod from her side. "Ok but the apartment feels scary."
I raised an eyebrow. "Why? Don't you have Nise there with you?"
There was a slight pause between her next words.
"I keep hearing water sloshing around. I never told you. I thought you heard it too."
It happened to her too!
"Stay there! Don't sleep. I'll be there."
"I'll explain later. Stay on the phone with me. I'll be there soon."
When I got to the apartment, I saw her sitting, her back resting against the headboard of the bed.
I kneeled beside the bed and took her hand.
"Are you sure you're hearing water?"
"Yeah it started about a week ago."
That's when mine started.
"Listen. I keep hearing stuff too." "Remember that loud banging I told you about? That's what I was hearing."
"D-Do you know where it's coming from?" She asked me, her voice quivering. It must be cold. Now that I think about it, the apartment was unusually cold today. You could even say it was freezing.
I took a glance at the thermometer by the light switches.
What the fuck?
"Are you cold right now?"
"It's twenty seven degrees right now. And you're wearing a tank top and shorts right now. How are you not freezing?"
"I feel really warm. The thermometer is at 78 right now. What are you talking about?"
I was in disbelief. Is what she was seeing and feeling different from what I'm seeing and feeling? I heard about this once. A man and his wife divorced because of it. Apparently he was seeing his old girlfriend as her and married her cause of it. But this case was different. I wasn't just seeing her as different but I was seeing the whole world around us as different. As if we were in different worlds.
"I-Its nothing. Forget what I said."
I kept holding her hand and it felt warm. Like it was actually seventh eight degrees.
"You're hands are cold. Really cold."
I gulped. We were in different worlds. We really were.
"Do you remember the nationwide test?"
She immediately looked down and pulled her hand away from mine. Her face contorted into a frown and an aura of murder permeated around her. I gulped again.
"I though we agreed."
"Agreements don't last long."
"What place did you get again?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"No I just...I just want to check something. I want to remember."
I looked at her hopefully.
Holy shit I knew it.
"I thought you were second?"
"I thought so too but..."
"T-They found me. They found my scores. They have influence. They have...everything. They even have you."
"W-What? My parents did that? They actually—"
"Don't act like you don't know. You were there. You watched them do it all. Watched them as they ruined my life. And then—"
"They forced me to marry you. I wanted to run away. But no...they wouldn't let me. Not after they took so much effort to ruin me. They just said I had a pretty face. I must have some use."
She started sobbing and buried her face into her hands. We were there for the longest time. Just me and her. Fire and Ice. Hot and Cold. We don't mix. We may never do. But soon enough, her cries started to die down and she looked into my eyes.
"I remember these eyes. They used to be beautiful. Your lips were soft and I remember the time when we kissed in front of that fountain at the quad...I remember...I remember those days. But now you're gone."
I titled my head slightly.
"What do you mean I'm gone?"
"What?! What do you mean I died!?"
"What are you talking about? You already know. You wouldn't be here as a ghost if you didn't."
I looked at my body and sure enough I was ephemeral. Now I was truly scared. If this was some sick dream, I wouldn't have any of it. I'm taking some counseling that's for sure. Aren't newlyweds supposed to be happy?!
"Tell me how I died."
"Y-You...You drowned. Your parents they..."
I let her catch her breath. She was crying too hard.
"They locked you in a box and threw you into the ocean. They said they warned you before that they would. I thought it was just a joke. I could hear the water even now! Gahhhhh!"
She started screaming and covering her ears with her hands. I tried comforting her and holding her but it didn't work. She didn't feel my warmth at all. And then I remembered.
"Calm down Jurina! Calm down! We'll get through this. Take deep breaths! H-Hey! Listen to me! T-Take deep breaths!"
Loud banging then resonated throughout the apartment. It didn't just come from one place. It was everywhere. It got louder until my eardrums were about to collapse. And then I felt a stinging pain in my hand. It was as if I was hitting something with my fist. The scenery around me then changed. Jurina was gone. The apartment was gone. It got colder and my body felt like it was floating in mid air. I blinked once and then it all changed.
I was banging on a clear glass box, blue all around me. And then I remembered, I was drowning.
Help! Help! I'm drowning! I was screaming in my head. If I yelled, I'd drown faster. I could hear screams coming from the outside. Jurina's voice.
"You bastards! Pull Rena up right now! She's dying!"
This was the past. I couldn't change it. I was dead. I didn't feel it. Death seems painless. It just hits you and you don't even know it. I didn't even know it and I've apparently been dead for over a month. What life was I living this past month? I've been living it with Jurina I think. Was she living with me knowing I was like this? God it must be awful. Seeing the one you love but never being able to touch them. Never able to hold them in your arms. Never kiss them ever again.
I saw a white light. I guessed it was the sun but it grew larger by the second. I felt lighter and lighter. The area around me wasn't blue anymore and it was warm—scathing hot even. There was a fountain beside me and I looked around at the scenery.
Young men and women were hanging out by the trees and the benches. They were having picnics and they seemed happy. As if life didn't notice them yet. Because if it did, they wouldn't be smiling so brightly as they are right now.
I looked behind me and it was Jurina holding two ice cream cones.
"I have the strawberry and you have the vanilla. Here you go."
I took the cone in my hands. It felt cold and I almost dropped it.
"Be more careful. It took me five minutes to get that!"
I raised my other hand to say sorry.
She made a look of satisfaction and started eating her own ice cream. Her eyes were inviting and she looked younger. Two, three years maybe?
"Hey Rena. How's college?"
I hesitated to answer. What was this? Why was I here? This was the quad at Jurina's high school and the last time I remember being here was when we were on a date right before she took her placement exam.
"Interesting? Are you meeting other girls besides me!?" She started pouting. It was cute. I decided to play along with this. I didn't know who this girl was. I don't even think she's real. She's playing with me. This world is playing with me.
I tussled her hair. "Of course not. There isn't anyone else."
"Better not be." She then took a hold of my arm and led me away from the fountain.
"Where are we going?"
"There's something I want to show you."
I let her whisk me away and before I knew it, I was standing in front of a giant building.
"This is where it's happening tomorrow."
"The exam! I'm going to place first and I'm gonna get that scholarship!" She was laughing as she was now hugging me from behind. I leaned back and met her head, resting myself against her.
"Jurina. Do you think you can do it?"
"I have to. Or else, I can't go to the same school as you."
"Even if you did, you won't. I'm going to law school next year."
"It's the same campus. I just want to be there with you okay? It feels lonely out here."
I sighed. It felt so long since I felt this sort of tranquility. This sort of peace that I never got to experience ever since my parents showed up. I felt like the time I have right now is what life is. And if the world was going to send me back, I'm going to live this life to the fullest. And who knows, I may be able to change my fate.
"I'm sure you'll do it. I'm sure you'll get first."
Please. You have to.
"Hmm. Your back is really soft Rena."
She was silent. I could only hear the sound of the cars passing beside us on the road. She was still hugging me and I felt tears fall out of my eyes at the warmth she gave me. I never felt so warm before. I love this warmth.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
We paused after we said those words but I chose to break it.
"I wanna tell you something."
The world is giving me a second chance. It's telling me to live again. It's giving me a choice right now. A choice that I'll probably regret for the rest of my life. It's telling me to drown in the ocean or live somewhere, someplace but the important part of that was that I could live. It was the best chance I was going to get and I don't know what to do.
If all my choices in life led me to die in a box in the ocean, what was point of making those choices?
I already know my fate. So I'm going to make the choice to change it.
I'm sorry Jurina.
"Let's break up."