“Hey Aaron, what would you do on your last day on earth?”
“Hmm, rob a bunch of people, probably.”
“That’s what you’re going to do on your last day?”
“Sure, the police can’t catch me anyways because I’ll be gone.”
“Why is your first instinct to hurt people?”
“What? I’m not going to hurt them. I’ll be the nice robber and take things when they’re not looking.”
“So, you’ll become a pickpocket?”
“Nope. I think I will just stay at home. Spend some time with my loved ones. Maybe finally succeed in making a pizza. Maybe create a mystery around my disappearance; ‘Where did Aaron go? Solve the puzzle to find out.’ Would definitely not go to school on that day. But if the canteen is serving brownies, then I might pop over.”
The dried leaves rustled. The cold wind howled. Some mocking crickets chirped. Lily sat in silence as she placed another bottle in her mouth and let the liquid flowed steadily into her.
“What about you?”
“What would you do on your last day on earth?”
Lily took a big sigh and stared blankly ahead. It took a second for her to process the question before she forced a small smile with her quivering lips.
“I… I will go to the mall. Watch a movie. Go out for dinner. Maybe order a plate of smoked duck Aglio olio and get some milk ice cream for dessert.”
“That’s it? That is what you are going to do for your last day? That sounds boring.”
“That isn’t boring. That is more activities than I have ever done for the last year.”
“What have you done this past year?”
“Wake up, go to school, go home. You know, the same old routine.”
“Oh wow, you really are… boring. You should find someone spontaneous, and they can drag you along to whatever they do. Make you realise that there is more to life than wake up, go to school, go home".
Lily started blinking rapidly, and her throat tightened. She hung her head low and chuckled behind her sniffs. One tear escaped and fell to the ground.
“I did actually; I found someone who is exciting. Always full of life, full of adrenaline, always looking for things to do. Always running around like a dog in a park. Always full of energy.”
“What happened? Did you bore them away?”
“No. Actually, he showed me life is more than wake up, go to school, go home. He always brought me to new places, showed me new experiences, and he adored cooking up recipes he saw online. They all tasted terrible, but I think he took pride in that. Always going on and on about how it takes a genius to make new flavours from the same ingredients.”
“He sounds like fun. No offence, but you need a little ‘fun’ in you. Is he still around?”
“No, he left me.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, why did h-“
“He didn’t leave me out of his own volition if that was what you wanted to ask.”
Lily cracked open another bottle and gulped down the drink in a matter of seconds.
“He left me because some idiot thought it was a good idea to drive after finishing 2 bottles of pinot noir. He left me because some idiot thought he only had 3 blocks to drive, and nothing bad would happen. He left me because some selfish idiot decided to bet on his life and the life of a sweet, caring, happy-go-lucky guy who brings joy to everyone he meets.”
Lily screamed out into the graveyard and buried her head between her knees. Her fists turned white, and her nails dug into her palms. She was gasping for air as if she was drowning underwater. Every time feels as though her pain had gone away, it comes crashing again, and she gets dragged down again.
“Fuck, I can’t even drown my sorrows in alcohol because...”
It was a whirlwind of a year for Lily. She has never been good at making friends or having much fun outside of her academic life. Her whole life, she has been stuck in a loop, doing well in school and then revising 24/7 for it. She has big goals in life; to graduate; to enter into one of the world top colleges. Get a degree, maybe even a masters, and then get a high-paying job where she will have a corner office. Her whole life, she has been working hard, dreaming, waiting for the day her life will finally begin, so much so that she had forgotten she is currently living her life. Her life can be so much more fulfilling besides academic validation. And Aaron made sure of that. He taught her how to live in the moment. To forget about the future and just live in the now. He always went on about how there’s no time like the present.
“Lil, you can’t just keep hoping for the best years of your life to come. You are in the best years of your life. Youth isn’t finite, so just go out and have fun. And then when you’re old and wrinkly, you can start complaining about the bland food or the annoying teenagers or the government.”
And just as her life became brighter, her world disappeared.
The moonlight shone on Aaron’s headstone. His carefree energy still radiated from his tiny photo. It's funny how someone so full of life didn’t get to live out his life. Fate is a cruel mistress. So is irony.
“I’m so sorry Aaron, it shouldn’t be you. I should’ve invited you into my house that night. I should’ve asked you to stay over that night. I should’ve asked you to stay with me.”
Her trembling hands lightly grazed his photo, and from her aching, tired body, she breathed out,
“I’m so sorry.”