Love and death have a very intricate relationship. One cannot exist without the other. Being finite, and having a definitive end is the only reason that love exists. If we were all immortal, never aging, never changing, and never dying, love would be moot. “Here” and “Now” would be a meaningless phrase. You wouldn’t have to cherish anything, knowing that no matter what, it would always be there. It would never change. It would never be gone.
But we live in a different world. We live in a world where your days are numbered, no matter what. But nobody will ever be able to predict how long you have left. So the ones we truly love are cherished. Appreciated. And loved so that no distance could overcome it. No mountain too high, and no ocean too massive to overcome a love that is fuel by the fear of death. And when the day finally comes when you have to say goodbye, some never do. I too had to say goodbye to somebody. Somebody who, surprisingly, I’ve only known for a week. A person that has taught me more things in the comfort of my own home than I’ve learned in every academy I’ve ever attended.
And I met him on the worst day of my entire life.
And before I hit you with any more information, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Daniel Abadi, and I’m only 10 years old. And It wasn’t the fact that I met him on that day that made it ‘the worst day of my life’, but rather, I was in more pain that day than I was in my entire existence. I was in my bed with the flu. Before I begin, I’m going to have to explain a few things. For starters, my parents were very overprotective of me. And by that, I mean only my mom was. My mother, Jennifer Abadi, worked two jobs so that she could send me to a private school, and even then, she switched my schools 3 times for safety reasons before deciding that I could only be educated in the confines of my own home. My home being my Grandmother’s manor out near the northern part of Maine. It was an old house, built ages ago. There was a high stone wall surrounding the house, and there was only one gate to leave. The yard was nothing special, but it was seldom tended to. The manor itself was a large wooden home, the kind that a stereotypical haunted house would look like. The wood had stood the test of time, but it’s color had long since faded into grey. There were thickets of overgrowth on various parts of the exterior, and the shingles on the roof were bent, loose, and falling apart. Not to mention that even though we lived in the northernmost state of America, there wasn’t a speck of snow on the dried up, uncut grass. But for most of the fall, winter, and early spring months, the skies would remain a sheet of thick, overcast clouds, blocking out the sun. We only stayed there because we didn’t have our own home, and the only reason we stayed in that house was because it was sort of a generational thing. My mother grew up here, my grandmother grew up here, and now I was growing up here. It was going to be different, my mom told me, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. And my father had almost no say in it. It’s not like I could really complain either. The house had plenty of space, not to mention we didn’t have to pay a thing for it. My grandmother was still alive, and even though she lived in the same house, the entire upper floor was hers. She had her own master bedroom, kitchenette, and only came down unless she had to.
My mother was the only reason why I never went to a real school. She spent way too much time obsessing over my safety, but the way she went about it was so unconstructive. I remember one time I tripped over the tall grass in the front yard. You’d think she’d simply cut it, right? Wrong. She banned me from playing in the yard. And even before that, the back of the house was completely off limits. She never told me why, but I would never be able to get through to her, and the gates on both sides of the house only served to help her block my way there. Every conversation I ever have feels forced. I can never really relate to her any more than the fact that she was my mother.
My father was a different story. We actually used to own our own home, and were moderately wealthy. But my dad had a different vision. You see, my father was an entrepreneur. You know, people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, people who change the world. You hear about them all the time. But the thing is, you only ever hear about people like that who succeed. My father did not. He spent almost all of our savings on an invention he thought would change the world. What it was doesn’t matter, he never talks about it anymore. What does matter is that it landed us here. My father often hides himself away in the manor’s smoking room. It’s a dimly lit room, with bookshelves on the wall, Sometimes when he forgets to lock the door, I come inside and ask him why he’s always in there. He asks me to take a seat on the large chair replies with “What’s your Heaven?” And I respond with “I don’t know.” He asks me what my Hell is. And I say “I can’t say that word.” He doesn’t seem to care. It’s more of what he has to say to me. He then goes on with “My Heaven would be the day that my invention changes the world as we know it,” he paused before going on. “And my hell would have to be realizing that that day will never come.” He’d say. And he’d shoo me away. I don’t even think he’s told me his real name.
But on this particular day, everybody was focused on me. My mother especially. I was laying down in my bed, sick as a dog. My mother was panicking, and was even dialing some phone numbers. My father was just standing there, looking around the room as if the answer was written in the walls for him to find. More shockingly, though, was the fact that he was sobered up. Didn’t have a drink in his hand, or a cigar in his mouth. Even my grandmother showed up. I couldn’t concentrate on what they were saying or what they were doing. My head hurt too much. After what seemed like an eternity, I heard the front door open. The person who came in was an old, scraggly man dressed in a black coat, boots, and pants. I had no idea who he was, so naturally, I panicked. My mother explained to me that it was the doctor. I didn’t go to the doctor’s office that much, but he looked nothing like the doctors I’ve seen. I asked him why he dressed in all black. He replied in a deadpan voice “Absorbs the heat better.”
I also saw him carrying a bag, almost like a suitcase. He put it down on a nearby table and opened it up, revealing some medical tools and equipment. And instead of drilling a hole in my brain, or slicing me open, he just did some normal doctor stuff. Checked my temperature, stuck a popsicle stick in my mouth and told me to say “ahh”, and everything that happened in a regular checkup. After that though, I got a huge wave of pain in my head. I winced, moaning a bit. The doctor ignored it, and instead talked to my mother, who had stopped crying. I was in too much pain to hear the conversation. But I did notice my mother had started crying again. At that point, my parents and grandmother started leaving the room, as the doctor pulled out a needle from his bag, already filled with God-knows-what. And after he held me down and plunged the needle into my vein, I started feeling even more pain, before my eyelids started getting heavy, and just as I saw my parents leave, I caught my first glance… Of him. I started to go numb, and I blacked out, but not before I saw my very best friend. He was a young boy, just about as young as I was. He had short blonde hair, and a grey top on, with work pants and boots. He had dirt on his face, a mouth that for the entire time of knowing him refused to curl into a smile for anything other than malice. And stormy blue eyes that kept a visual record of all the things he’s been through. I always saw it in him.
And when I woke up, I felt good. The pain went away, and I felt like I had just as much energy as I did normally. I was cured. And when I went to our floor’s kitchen to get some food, I saw one person.
And it was him. Acting like he was a member of the house, he was eating a bowl of cereal, sitting at the table. I was confused. I didn’t even know his name. I stood there for what felt like an eternity before finally walking up to him and asking him what he was doing there.
“Oh, right. Yeah, I came with my grandfather. He was the one who performed on you. I’m sorry for what happened.” he said calmly.
“It’s alright, and… do you know where he went? Your grandfather, I mean.” I replied.
The kid looked me straight in the eyes and said “Oh, he left.”
I was confused. “He… left?” I asked.
“Yeah, he leaves after he operates. No reason for him to stay.” He said, not getting my point.
“No, no, I get that part, but why did he leave you here?” I implored.
He glanced down at his cereal, then looked back up at me, “Well… After he performs the operation, I stay here until the body of the patient is fully restored.” He said this nonchalantly, though the wording of it was a bit weird.
“So…” I said, breaking the awkward silence. “Why is it you who has to stay here?” I asked him.
“Well, my grandfather has to do a lot of work, all over the state. He doesn’t have time to stay with his patients. And even then, it’s sort of rare that these things happen. Usually I just ride along to get experience so that I’ll know the ropes when he dies, and I have to take up the business.” He said in a proud voice. “But I might as well make you feel comfortable with me being here. My name’s Joseph, by the way.” Finishing his bowl of cereal, he then started to make his way out of the kitchen.
“Daniel.” I said, following him.
At the time, I didn’t know what to feel about Joseph. So far, he seemed like he had already made himself feel at home. I didn’t want to question him though. There was no reason to be rude to someone who was trying to help me. But I did want to start questioning him the second he decided to head up the stairs to my grandmother’s section of the house.
“Joseph, you’re not allowed to go up there!” I exclaimed.
“Well then… Don’t tell anyone we did.” He said that last part in a stage-whisper voice.
And as much as I didn’t want to think about what would happen if I disobeyed my mother’s orders never to go up there and disturb my grandmother, I had never been up there. If we ever wanted to see her, she’d be the one who came down, and the only person who went up there was my mother, and even that was rare. So to have the chance of exploring this place… I couldn’t resist. We tiptoed up the steps, which were covered in a film of dust. And after we reached the top, I got my first look at the world of the unknown.
The room we were standing in was her kitchenette. It had a red and white checkerboard tablecloth on a small round table, with a single chair. There was a small mini-fridge, and a very packed assortment of kitchen appliances. The sink looked old, and was wedged in the corner of the room, with the upper and lower cupboards next to it. They were painted a color of a rotted and chipping red coat. Joseph didn’t seem to care, and was casually walking past the kitchen and dining room combo to a wood and frosted glass double door. He opened it, and we stepped outside, and onto the balcony which faced the front lawn. Joseph went over to the railing and looked at the grass down below. The air was windy, and made even colder by the fact that it was dark out.
“Wanna see something cool?” He said.
I nodded, and then he paused for a moment before saying a single word.
I looked at Joseph with a confused look on my face, and I asked him. “Sorry, what?”
And with the same deadpan voice as before, he said it again.
I was starting to get nervous. But Joseph looked determined to make me do it. And it only sealed the deal when he said, “Jump. Or I scream. Then your mother will find you up here.”
But I couldn’t do it. I started to breathe heavily. “Do it now!” he demanded. “NOW!”
And I still couldn’t jump. I had to escape, and I ran as fast as I could. I heard the scream, and I called out to my mom, who I knew would have come to me. I ran all throughout the house, hearing footsteps chasing after me, but I never saw him no matter how many times I looked back. I went into my dad’s smoking room, and he wasn’t there. Nobody in my house was there. I would’ve heard them, or seen them. So I did the only thing I could. I ran to my room, and locked the door behind me. I crawled in my bed in the center of the room, which was facing the door. I didn’t hear the footsteps anymore, but the silence was cut short by the door knob being shaken furiously. He was trying to open it. He was trying to get in. I looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was 9:30 at night. After 10 minutes of this, it finally stopped. I decided to stay in my room until my mother would eventually come in, looking for me. And it took hours, but I finally fell asleep.
When I woke up, I noticed something that sent a chill down my spine.
The door was open. Simple as that. The door had been opened. As far as I knew, Joseph was still in the house. But I was alright. I wasn’t hurt, and I didn’t see any bruises, cuts, or injuries. And very slowly, I made my way outside of my room, where I was greeted with a welcoming aroma. It was breakfast. Bacon and eggs. As scared as I was of Joseph, I cautiously, very cautiously made my way over to the table. And then I saw him. Doing the very same thing as he was when we first met. He was eating breakfast. He noticed me, and I knew he did. He looked me right in the eyes, only for a split second, but I knew that he saw me. I was already frozen in shock and terror. I knew what I had to do. I had to escape, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t bring myself to endure another round of Joseph’s little game of his. After some time of coaxing myself, I managed to stutter out one word. “W-Why?” I asked.
“Because. I needed to show you, Daniel.” He said, not looking up from his plate of food.
“What? Why? What are you showing me?” I asked. “Where’s Mom and Dad?”
“You’re parents? They went away. Don’t worry though, they’re completely safe. I made sure of it.” He said, a wicked smile forming on his lips.
“Where are they?” I asked, panicked. A bead of sweat ran down my forehead.
“They went away,” Joseph repeated. “But don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with them. They’re perfectly fine.” He raised his voice slightly.
I decided to stop arguing. I didn’t want him to get angry at me. “So what are you trying to show me?” I asked, sincerely.
“What they’ve done to you. You have no idea what your mother wanted. What she asked of my grandfather.” He said, almost in disgust.
“What did she-” I began, but I was cut off by Joseph.
“Let me show you. Come to the backyard.” He said. “Don’t worry about getting in, either. I’ll show you.”
Reluctantly, I followed him outside to the gate. The lock was broken. It was on the floor, shattered. He opened the gate, and I caught my first glance at the back yard. I realized then and there why my parents never wanted me back there.
The entire backyard was a family graveyard. I could tell. Every last name was Abadi. The same last name my parents and I had. But what terrified me the most was… Well… My parents. They were just sitting there. Tied up. in the corner. Unable to move, they were gagged with cloth. My entire body went tense, and I stopped moving. Joseph just kept moving past him. He went for a particular grave and thrust his fist into the soft dirt, pulling out a revolver. He then pointed it at me.
“Now, I can finally show you. Daniel... Are you ready?” He asked, pushing the words across his crooked smile.
“N-No!” I shouted.
He asked again. “Are you ready?”
“No!” I shouted again.
“One last time. Are. You. Ready?”
I couldn’t outrun a bullet. I had no other choice. It felt like an eternity, but I finally managed to say it. “Yes.”
Joseph fired it. Right into my forehead. But… I felt nothing. Nothing at all. Like it didn’t even hit. I felt my forehead, and I looked at my hand. It was covered in blood. I felt a bullet hole, but it slowly, ever so slowly, closed up on it’s own.
“What happened?! What did you do?!” I screamed.
“What did they do.” He replied. He shot me again, twice. Without hesitation.
“Agh!” I yelled. The same thing happening to the wounds as the first one. ”What the hell are you saying?! How did you do that?!” Answer me! What is going on?!” I shouted at him.
Joseph didn’t hesitate. He explained everything. “You were sick, Daniel. Too sick. You shouldn’t have survived. And in a way, you didn’t. Do you know what field of medicine my father practices?” He asked, finally putting the gun down.
“N-No. I don’t.” I told him.
“I expected that. Mostly because he doesn’t deal in medicine. Not in the traditional sense. He healed you. Your mother wanted you to last forever. So that nothing could hurt you again. No change could ever happen to you. That’s exactly what you did. And no matter what happens to you - Whether it’s a bullet to the head… or a drop from a balcony - You can’t get hurt. You can’t change. Do you know what that means?” He asked.
“I don’t.” I replied.
“You will never grow older. Your body will stay the same. Forever. You didn’t have a say in this. You don’t want this. And you can’t change it. And the only thing that could kill you is another one of you. Another person who can’t change. Who had either sought this out themself, or were forced into this curse. Now it’s so strange how good a life you could have… And still wish to die. Now. You had this fate thrust upon you, without your say in it by your parents.” He then aimed the gun at me again.
But this time, the handle was pointed towards me. He wanted me to take it. “I say it’s time you return the favor.” Joseph said. “Don’t you think so, Daniel?”
I looked at my parents. My mother was terrified. My father was, too. And I stared them down for a long, long time. But of all the emotions I saw, there was no genuine remorse to be found. None at all. I took the gun from Joseph’s hand, and stepped over to my mother.
I looked her in the eyes, and shot her.
I moved over to my father. And with even less hesitation, murdered him.
I then looked back at Joseph, and he was staring back at me. “There were six bullets in that gun. We used five. Daniel, don’t hesitate. I’m asking you. I’m not unchangeable. Not like you. But for all the trials and grievances of life… You’d be doing me a favor. Don’t give me a chance to be ruined. Shoot me, Daniel. Shoot me, now. I’m not doing it myself.”
I stared at him for what seemed like forever. But we both knew what my decision was going to be. I aimed the gun at Joseph, and fired.
And that was the end of him. In my long, long life, I never did meet his Grandfather again. Oh, the things I would have done if I did. I would have relished in his suffering. And in hindsight, my mother got her wish. Now, we were all free from death. Me, because I can’t. And her, because now all she is is just a memory.And Memories Never Die.