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The white puffs of mist that exited my thin lips indicated just how cold and unforgiving the freezing night was. The cold’s wintry hands and dry tongue enveloped me in their essence, death grips while licking every inch of warmth from my insides. Despite the five layers of clothing and fur boots I had on, the chattering of my teeth was incessant and my fingers had gone so numb, they might as well have been non-existent. My lips were cracked, matching my burning throat which felt like it would shatter to a million pieces due to the frostbite. As I struggled with Fate’s cruel attempt to rob me of my consciousness, flashbacks of events I’d rather forget invaded my mind- wrongdoings that I’d greatly mourned over the time I’ve lived on this unforgiving Earth.
The year my family crumbled and burned to ashes- a year that came like any other. I think that my siblings and I always knew that there was something wrong, but chose to ignore the fact that our parents’ bickered non-stop over small, nonsensical stuff that they should have worked out together: their children’s attitudes, our financial state. My father had just lost his job along with his pride as a proud businessman in a company that he had been working for for 15 years. He started to shirk his responsibilities as a father, opting to go out on jolly trips with his friends rather than being there for his spouse and children in our dire times of need. I had never been a very boorish person, but I could not take it anymore. Openly admitting to my so-called ‘father’ that I absolutely despised him, that was the first and only time he had raised his hand at me. Remorse and guilt was completely out of the equation then. I became more problematic and stirred up trouble with dumb shenanigans just to pour some more oil into the raging fire. My mother was blamed for my change into a crude individual as everyone ignored the fact that I was a teenager with raging hormones that would put a sandstorm to shame. I could hear her frenetic sobbing every night behind closed doors, and that was the first time that I’d realized that sorry seems to be the hardest word to say.
The time when I spread the photo of my dear best friend and his equally cordial lover. I was sure that somewhere in my cold, dead heart was a tiny flicker of anguish for the boy and boy couple, but it never presented itself into my emotions. There was nothing astray about being in love, but I saw red at the thought of somebody that I cherished having something that I could not. Our coalition had been destroyed along with his relationship. I had ruined the life of my darling partner-in-crime, the one who kept up with my abhorrent attitude for years; just because I felt homophobic for a day. People started to bully him. I was one of them. I didn’t hate him. I didn’t feel anything toward him one way or the other. To me he was a tool to vent my frustrations on, have some fun with, feel superior to. When I teased him I got a surge of power I just couldn’t get another way. I really believed that it was just nature: the strong versus the weak, and if anywhere in this concrete hell is still a jungle it was the schoolyard. But whenever he looked at me with those beautiful orbs stained with a disappointed gleam, I could feel a piece of my heart wither away. I was a coward with a world of regrets shoved down his throat, disgusted with himself.
Then an image of one of the crown jewels in my hate-infested existence flashed behind my closed eyelids: basketball. Every living and breathing creature in town knew how much this sport meant to me, even more so than my own family and friends. But along with that came everyone’s awareness of how much I loathed being overshadowed and proven inferior in my own domain. I was the king of the court and no one had a say in it. However, despite the infamous temper I possessed, my beloved teammates had never been scolded- they cowered under the dome of protection I provided against anyone who wasn’t in the team. On a particularly awful day, my former best friend had decided to join us on the court. He didn’t bat an eyelash at the fact that no one wanted to be in his team, or that he would be up against none other than the captain, me. I recall admiring the gall he had, and the displeasure I felt when I heard my teammates labelling him horrid names in between quarters. My insuppressible temper led me to beat up said teammate as the gym broke out into a brawl. I remember a bat being brought out which was meant to bash my friend’s head in, and I foolishly rushed in to save him only to earn a belligerent blow to the knee. Merciless was the sound of my kneecaps caving in, the crunch mirroring that of snow under a man’s relentless boots. No words could describe how pathetically sorry I’d felt for myself in that moment of grief. A frenzied war was going on inside my head; should I have saved him or myself that day? Crutches had replaced my best friend, faithful by my side always.
The pain that had once burned like fire had faded away to an icy numbness.
Black filled the edges of my vision and the only thing I could feel was the thumping of my slow heartbeat. Just then, a beautiful voice seemed to lull me into a sleep, and it was right there and then that I longed for the sweet release of death and the feeling of being in the afterlife. Perhaps then I could be sorry for myself. My breath came in shallow gasps. If I could have, I would’ve laughed. I thought back to everything I had been through in the few years that I’d been living and breathing, and all the times I should have uttered my pitiful apologies. My magnificent mother wouldn’t have ended up a depressing wreck, the one and only person I’d called my best friend wouldn’t have taken his own life in a desperate attempt to escape the brutal reality which was his life had he known how much affection I’d locked away for him. A thousand and one ways to say sorry flitted through my jumbled thoughts and there was only one thing that they zeroed on- even when my human, fragile heart took its last beat, even though my last breath on this Earth was feeble, I realized- sorry seems to be the hardest word.
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