Very few citizens occupied the streets after 23:00 hours, and even fewer lurked on the docks. Among those few was Swain hastily walking down the boardwalk with camera in clutch. A snap there and here. He approached the edge of the pier and peered into the sea. Swain aimed his scope at the waters. A barrage of flashes of light pierced the inky atmosphere.
"Beautiful," he said. “Glad to finally meet you.”
He stepped off the ledge of the pier then descended to the body floating in the waters. He wrapped his arms around the torso of the stranger and pulled back. “Heave-ho! Heave-ho!” A transparent blob of blue slowly emerged from the flesh. “Heave-ho! Let it go!” His muscles strained against the pull of gravity, inching the blob out until it was yanked free. Swain was sent flying back, but tightly held on the blue spirit. He stabilised himself then released his catch. He wiped beads of sweat from his face, and said “This never gets easier.”
The blue globule kneaded, twisted, and shaped itself like spinning clay. He took pictures of the process through to the end-product: a girl. Her eyes were unblinking before the continuous brightness of the camera light. She squinted at the body drifting away from them.
“I’m dead,” she said.
He paused the photo-shoot, and readjusted his tokin hat.
“Yeah,” he said. He scrolled through the camera’s digital gallery. “You’re so beautiful.”
“What are we doing?”
“Returning back to earth,” he said. He grabbed her wrist. “You’ll love this.”
The surroundings zoomed into a singularity. Her legs stretched behind them like the tail of a falling star. She tightly shut her eyes as they were pulled thin across St. Amar’s sky. She tried moving her limbs, but her body refused to respond. She could hear a voice calling out to her through the sound of rushing wind.
“Get up, bum,” it said. The darkness was replaced with a rush of brilliance flooding through her irises. She recoiled from the
light -- hissing then retreating back underneath the covers.
“You have to get up,” the voice said.
“Please leave me alone.”
“Please leave me alone.” The bed was stripped of its coverings, leaving behind a whimpering teenager. “That doesn’t work anymore. You have half an hour to go catch the bus,” it said as it faded out of the bedroom.
She listened for the door to close. Robotically, she rolled out of bed, greeted her cat, checked her phone’s notifications, and swallowed her prescribed tablets. She stepped out of the room and headed to the bathroom. In the mirror, she stared at the weary-eyed reflection scrubbing its teeth clean. After dressing herself, she debated whether or not to eat breakfast, and finally exited her home. Outside, she found Tyrone curled up in a pile of leaves her uncle gathered the other day. She took a photo of the sleeping feline.
Colorful leaves crackled, like burning tinder, underneath rubber soles. The bare trees and restless squirrels prepared to start anew. She wished she was a tree -- to be able to die and be revived again in spring. She wondered if passing away would be like hibernation. She pulled out her phone and opened a Notes entry titled Ways to commit suicide. She typed in a bullet-point list. A pair of arms slithered around her midsection, and compressed her organs.
“NyQuil overdose?” Zoe said. “Please stop making these lists, my darling Darilyn.”
“Please stop suffocating me,” said Darilyn. “Zoe, my foe.” She squirmed in Zoe’s embrace.
“It’s too early to be sour.” Zoe tightened her squeeze.
“Let me go before someone sees us,” Darilyn said.
“German suplex!” Zoe squatted down then pushed her heels off of the concrete. The girls dropped onto a pile of bagged leaves with an audible oof, followed by bubbly laughter.
Darilyn pried her friend’s arms off her. She shot up to her feet after spotting the school bus approaching them. “Get up, you idiot,” she said.
They flashed their student IDs to the leering driver. Together they boarded the faint-yellow-coloured transportation en route to the intuition.