A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY ANUSHRI KULKARNI
I struggled. Thrashing at the ropes, I attempted to get up, but every bruise on my broken body was throbbing with pain. It had been two days. Two days, four hours and eight minutes. It had been so long that my wounds had begun to heal. So much time had passed, yet no one had come to check up on me. I was starting to give in to what it wanted. But no, this was not the right time. I had resisted it for so long. Was I about to throw away my life’s work for something that existed only in my mind? It had been in my life through everything I remembered but had never shown itself until this moment. This is when I heard it enter.
In the immeasurable darkness that enveloped me, all I could do was sense its presence. Its intimidating, shadowy presence tugged at every corner of my heart, and my only option was to try not to give in to its demand. And so I did. I heard nothing, for I was oblivious to the truth. I saw nothing, for the darkness coveted every part of me. I felt nothing, for I had been broken so badly even I couldn’t save myself. It was the only thing that I could sense. It was as if it was knocking at my mind’s door, disguised as the answer to all my miseries while underneath it was just another curse waiting to bring me down. With every passing second, the ropes got tighter. Every breath became painful, every second, daunting. And it kept inching closer.
Its presence was all it took for me to hit my breaking point. My body was free, yet constricted under its presence. I could get up and leave, and continue with my life, pretending like everything was fine. I could nod and smile at all the people who bothered to talk to me. I could walk down the street and around the corner and past the trees, yet no one would know about it. I could spend the rest of my time ignoring the truth that it would always be here, pounding at my conscience, demanding for an end. Or, I could stay here, facing its threatening presence, and fight it. But I had never been much of a fighter. So, I did what I had to.
It was closer than ever. I could feel its musty breath, its bloodstained hands, its imminent threats, its hungry eyes, looming in the shadows waiting for me to make my decision. Immediately it knew what I was going to choose. Somehow, it knew me better than I knew myself. From the darkness, my eyes caught a shine. It had put the answer right before me. The abstract concept, which I never thought I could carry out, was now a solid reality. If that is what my life had come to, I might as well take my chances. So, with a heavy heart, I accepted the bottle. My fingers held the cold, hard glass as I took a whiff, knowing exactly what the contents of that bottle were capable of. This liquid could defeat the mightiest of armies. I raised the bottle to my lips and took my final sip.
After a brief moment of blankness, I could imagine the brown liquid traveling down my throat, ready to help me end my struggles. I didn’t know if I was still there in the darkness. Was my blood still flowing through my veins? Was my heart still pounding in my unfeeling chest? Had the liquid infected every cell in my body? Had it torn apart my liver, strangled my lungs, stabbed my intestines and drowned my soul? Was I dead yet?
After that, I do not know what happened. The one and the only thing I remember is how unreal it seemed. My limbs were no longer tied, my bruises were gone, and my memory seemed to have disappeared. I did not recognize where I was, but the place still seemed oddly familiar. I was so overwhelmed that tears would not flow despite my efforts to cry. I had a new sort of energy in my limbs; it was something I had never experienced before. I could feel my pulse increasing. Every passing moment told me one thing- I was alive. The bottle was empty. I had won.
Anushri Kulkarni is 15 and lives in Exton, PA where she attends Henderson High School. She originally wrote this piece for a flash fiction contest at school. She’s always enjoyed writing. It does for her what music and art do for musicians and artists. It helps her clear her mind and focus.