Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Difference Between Life and Death

            After careful consideration, Beth had decided that life was a rather perplexing concept, and after even more thought, she had decided it bored her. This thought was the result of quite a long Tuesday. On this Tuesday, much like any Tuesday, Beth woke up. In fact, Beth woke up fairly often. One might say that she did it at least once every morning, and now it had grown monotonous. Perhaps this was one reason why life had become such a bore to Beth. Waking up every morning grew rather tedious, and some mornings she wished she could skip the ritual all together.
           As of late, life had evolved into an enigma for Beth, one she had no ambition to solve. It simply did not concern her anymore. Perhaps, she felt pressure rather than boredom, and she had mistaken one for the other; nevertheless, there were things about life she did not understand. For instance, she did not understand theories or why they mattered, nor did she understand governments or countries or why they mattered. As history had taught her, they each would be gone in a heartbeat, so why bother? Ologies perplexed her. Philosophies left her bamboozled. With all this considered, Beth did understand three things, and three things alone:
1) She did not care.
2) Everything is temporary.
3) She was a nobody.

           Of course, Beth was only sixteen, so what did she know? Well, she knew that Brandon Gibbons was a rather attractive fellow both on and off the soccer field. She knew that gas prices were never stable. She knew that flying made her sick. She knew that pollen made her sneeze. She knew that her boyfriend was a nobody, a handsome nobody, but a nobody nonetheless. She knew that she also was a nobody and was born to a family of nobodies. She knew Cassie Yorke had the voice of an angel if she could be lured out of her bashful fortress. She knew that when Christy told her that she hated hypocrites, she was not differentiating herself from hypocrite lovers but rather wasting her breath. She knew that a home-cooked meal could top any fast food joint in the town, but that, if given the choice, she would still choose fast food. She knew which actors could act and which were mere screen candies. She knew her father was not coming back, and she knew that someday she would die. She knew these things, and she was only sixteen. However, she knew that none of these things mattered as well. In heaven or in hell, in nirvana or in an empty abyss, in the grave or spread across the ocean, did earthly status hold any meaning? Was God concerned with who was and who was not a nobody? Beth thought not.
          These things became clear on Tuesday because Tuesday was five days from Sunday, and on Sunday she would die. Thinking it over the following Monday, Beth did not know why she died on Sunday. Although she did remember that one Thursday morning, three days before D-Day, her grandmother had asked her, “Do you have yourself a little boyfriend?” To which she replied, “Yes.” Her grandmother then asked, “You two in love?” Beth then replied, “Love? I’m only sixteen, grandma. I mean, what’s love? Give me a few years, and I’ll tell you about love.” Although, that conversation had no meaning.
          She also remembered that on Wednesday, four days before she died, her mother had asked her to bake a cake for the company Christmas party, which she did. Beth’s mother was a plumber (An odd job for a woman but her job regardless), and since Beth’s mother was a plumber and a widow, they were all nobodies. Yet that had nothing to do with Sunday either.
          As stated earlier, it was five days before Beth died on a Sunday that she woke up that Tuesday morning. When she woke up that Tuesday morning, she just knew that she was going to die that day … not Sunday. All the signs were there. First, it was a Tuesday—the same day that took her father. Second, early that morning, she stubbed her toe on what may have been the hardest substance in existence. Third, she nearly drowned whilst taking a shower. Fourth, she narrowly avoided a speeding car. Finally, Mr. Banks told her that he would kill her if she did not pass a test which she promptly failed, so how could she not die on Tuesday? It was a prime day—ripe for dying, yet it did not come. Somehow, she felt that since she survived Tuesday she had survived death for sometime, but she supposed it was like her father told her four days after he departed. “Death just sorta creeped up on me,” and death may have crept up on Beth as well, but that simply was not sufficient. No, there must have been a reason, a sign, anything. Like on Saturday, one day before croaking, Beth had purchased a box that strangely resembled a casket, or on Tuesday when Beth walked into the school, she was immediately stricken in the head by a pencil. Perchance it was on Thursday night—the night Beth realized she was indeed in love. That night when her nobody boyfriend wiped the hair from her eyes and kissed her gently upon the cheek, letting his lips linger for a moment before moving west towards her lips—that was love. Maybe that love would not outlast high school, marriage, or (God forbid) children, but in that instant it was love definitely. She did not rule out Friday either. Friday, Beth was struck by a foul ball curving its way past first base and into her arm. Possibly Sunday, the day she actually died, possessed the sign of her impending demise.
          If there was no day to blame, then it must have been a person, an object even. It could have been the boy who told her she looked fat fourteen days prior. It could have been Mr. Banks for jinxing her life with idle threats. It could have been her mother’s doing for being a nobody. It could have been her boyfriend’s fault for introducing her to love. It could have been her father to blame for already being dead. It could have been the boy who shot her with his father’s revolver. It could have been that boy’s father’s revolver, or it could have even been that boy’s father. It could have been the drawer where the gun was kept. It could have been that graceful bullet that made her skull seem so weak. It could have been her skull for being so weak. It could have been her own burden for considering life so unimportant, which it was.
          It was a Tuesday, two days after she died, that her father told her that understanding did not matter, and it was on Wednesday, three days after being shot, that she finally believed him. No, she did not let it bother her; she was not even angry—not even at the boy who shot her. Beth figured there would be plenty of people angry at that poor boy, and why should he be bothered by her? On Friday, a work week after her last breath, Beth told her mother not to grieve, for it made her look weak. On Thursday, the day before she talked with her mother, Beth’s boyfriend asked, “Why did she have to die?” Beth replied, “Why not?” On Saturday, Beth attended the funeral and comforted her mother once more, but it was on Sunday, the day she died, that Beth discovered the difference between life and death existed only in the letters used to spell them, but it was inconsequential. Nope, life no longer mattered to Beth, for she was dead and there was no more.

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