I thought nothing beats personal control. But I failed to recognize it’s not me that holds control over my life, it’s these Tracers. They were the ones that lured away all meaning that life – and self-initiative – had held for me.
Though I wouldn’t recognize its power until, from the other side of life, I’d watched my daughter suffer through the same thing I did. We would both become lonelier, rather than fulfilled, following the use of these pencils.
I’m so sorry, Eden. The least I can do for you, if nothing else, is to draw for you an eternal guardian.
But first – let me at least write for you all the events that led me to drawing a set of Tracers for you, too. If anything else, I hope to at least settle with you some sort of understanding. Because I get it, too. They’re promising, elating, and especially alluring. They were the prettiest anti-depressants I’d ever set my eyes on.
You didn’t deserve to carry my dark load, especially on your own. At least I had him. But you were left utterly alone.
The key was that you could never evade loneliness. You either swallow it up, with all its thorny sides pricking at your throat, making your tongue bleed with the tears that cannot speak – or you impart it onto others.
Sadly, I’d done the latter first.
I should’ve learned from when my previous drawings – my brother Ethan and my best friend Joy – both requested to be erased after only a year and a half, because they didn’t feel quite human and therefore adept to live in this world. They’d had no history, no realistic grasp on how to survive in a world that they were just brought into at ages 25 and 23. It had been a lesson. I should’ve remembered how hard I broke and how their hugs didn’t matter as I erased their sketches on paper, reducing them to a pile of shedding as before me, their bodies and smiling faces disappeared. How having people leave was much harder than having no one there at all. I should’ve remembered how I thought these Tracers – color pencils that can make anyone and anything alive upon completion – was an utter curse than a gift.
I could’ve reflected more on how and why the company I drew for myself would always leave, rendering me even lonelier than before. As well as the warning I’d been taught early on regarding personality – that I could never be sure everyone would be “nice.”
But no. I wanted to try just one more time. I craved another turning point.
[This is an excerpt of a longer story in the works.]
Everyone had one question they could ask God. But no one thought of trying it out except her.
So Chrissa asked Him, through an angel hovering over her, if she can have one more chance. Thinking of James and the one thing he’d quietly begged her to do, this was what she did, instead of willfully dying like she’d planned to just a month ago.
“So you want a trial?” He asked (through the angel).
“Sure,” said Chrissa. She couldn’t exactly pinpoint where the voice was coming from, considering the whole world around her was a pure, undisturbed white. Though not exactly solid – it was a slight see-through, like a sheer curtain. She briefly wondered what lay beyond this waiting place.
We were all fueled by disappointment in ourselves. That’s what led us here.
“If Kizuki was here,” Naoko asked me, in her usual soft, hesitating way, “what would you tell him?”
I inhaled. “You mean before or after you committed suicide?” I asked.
Her sparkling doe eyes stared down at her see-through feet. “It doesn’t matter.”
A storm of memories swept by inside my head – it was so hard to focus on one, to reflect on what went wrong, where Naoko and I may have gone wrong, when Kizuki’s head could’ve possibly leaned towards suicide after that one time we ditched school to play pool.
Though one thing did stand out from the wreck – when Naoko told me, back when she was alive, that Kizuki kept calling her to join him.
Adam got visibly upset when he saw me laughing at something I was watching from my phone, despite incomplete homework still spread out before me. Apparently, it took me five minutes to notice he was there.
Which made sense, because I was always chasing after my assignments to get them done on time (sometimes unsuccessfully). Even his assignments. If anything, as a student, I should’ve known better. Following him out of the near empty library, I attempted to explain with, “It was only ten seconds. I was working the whole time in the library otherwise.”
He paused in his tracks. As we were now outside in an empty quad, we could finally talk freely to each other.
“Lilette,” he said, turning towards me, in his disciplinary voice reserved for students caught watching Instagram stories on their phones. I winched, realizing I probably shouldn’t stick out my tongue this time.
Despite the shell of protection around me, I would still slip out to be misled by a false sense of desire. My younger sister Kaitlyn, my mom, and Adam himself wouldn’t be able to prevent me from being foolish, as I apparently find something in him that I missed since landing in the U.S.
Gooey, cheese-ridden pretzels and vanilla/chocolate chip cookie dough milkshakes would’ve been good, except for the chilly polar bear roaming around in the room.
A.k.a., a past boyfriend that called for one last dinner while you were stressing over a manuscript due to your publisher in two weeks. It’d been cloudy then, the skies thick and pungent with an anger soon to take over in the form of pouring water. Musky and wet, the very air signaled rain, which had once alluded to spicy cinnamon hot chocolate with fragrant strawberry candles and all curtains drawn. With your Maltese teacup snoozing on your lap, fingertips would’ve tap-danced on your keyboard until intestines growled for some food, often in the form of ramen as your buzzed head would finally rest from all the radiation. That’d basically be the day.
But here’s a shift in routine – a jarring jump into the past that’d left you shaken, unsure of what to say or do. Though you’d crawled out of your studio cocoon for him, you weren’t even sure at this point if this was right. Letting go was letting go, and you thought you were sure.
And the skies too thought they would rain. It didn’t though, and neither had you stuck to your “break.”
I shouldn’t have expected her to run towards me. I should’ve made the first move – to tug on her arm even if it meant disfiguring her arm socket, or pushing her back so I’d be the one hit by the asshole drunk. But instead, this whole thing is incredibly ironic. And so, so haunting I could die myself.
In our case, not long after I pushed her to the brink, I’ve been hit with forced closure. Life did not, could not, wait to force-feed me the consequences of my actions that, currently, I can only choke on.
I still miss Alice. I should’ve been the one rushing across the street, never making it to the sidewalk in time.
I wish I took the responsibility for her brokenness, with the correct foresight.
We as spectators view the girl from an unknown camera, as she sits huddled in the lightless room. The lens attempt to capture the details surrounding her, but the lack of light renders the feat to be difficult. We are silent, crouched in a space where she won’t see us. We know her name is Hatty, and that her older sister is Hailey. 23 and 25.
What we don’t know is how she feels after what just transpired.
“It’s not my fault,” she mumbled, breaking her silence. “It’s not.”
Through the lens, we view her eyes flitting to her closed door – wondering if someone is beyond the doorway.