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No Wings to Fly

My eyes dilated in the radiant surgical lights above me. I gasped for air. The room was

silent apart from my lungs fighting to breathe and the beep beep sound from the

electrocardiogram that often is heard in hospitals which indicates that you’re alive.

Tears rolled down my face, and my vision had become unclear. I squinted in

an attempt to sharpen the blurred images before me. Why am I still here? With a bang it

all hit me. The memories started to occupy my thoughts. My mind rolled back to my

high school days in Queens. My high school was located in the borough of New York

on Long Island, across the east river from Manhattan. It was always cloudy in Queens

or humid, depending on the season. I was in my senior year and had already been

excluded from countless other schools; this was my last chance to graduate otherwise,

I would have no hope of a stable future. I was a new student at Queens High. I had no

family. All that was left was my 4-year-old sister. We shared an apartment and

struggled to make ends meet. However, a beacon of hope was found when I first

encountered the most beautiful girl I had ever seen.

She had luscious blonde locks of hair that glowed in the summer's sun. Her eyes gleamed sapphire blue. Her soft skin and rosy cheeks were cast before my weakened eyes. It must have been love at first

sight. I spent restless nights with thoughts of her. She was in homeroom with me, a

table away. I had a significant urge to communicate with her, but my words became

a stutter. The spirit of love had cast its craft upon me. I loved reading, and I had a love

for literature. The Great Gatsby and Pride & Prejudice were the novels that inspired

me. Reading and transcribing books was my escape from reality. I used to earn a few

bucks by helping the kind lady in the central library. It was a particularly rainy day, and I

decided to head down to the library after school and perhaps engage my mind and

soul in some Shakespeare. As I delved into Romeo & Juliet, the bell above the

door rang. A cold air breeze rushed inside, making the hair on the back of my spine

stand up like military soldiers ready for battle. It was as if the sun had cast its

goodness in the library. She came. I was in awe of her beauty.

She sat opposite me whilst immersing herself in The Great Gatsby. I put in the effort to engage in a

conversation with her. Little did I know, she was a bookworm just like me. We shared

similar interests and the hours went by like seconds. The clock struck eight, and I realized

I had to go home in time for my sister. I really did not want to go. Her chauffeur

awaited her. Wow.

She was not of my standard. A wave of sadness swept across my

face but then, when she glanced back and smiled at me, her eyes glowing, I was

enlightened. Every day for several months, we would read behind the big shelves of

books in a secluded area. In the days leading up to my birthday, I saw lust in her eyes.

Was I ready for it? No. Maybe I should wait. Her lustful eyes made me uncontrollable. I

leaned in, caressing her heavenly skin and moving her hair behind her ears. I

adjusted my hands upon her waist and pulled her towards my direction. The tension

rose between us. As our lips met, her lips brushed softly and delicately like the wings

of a butterfly, just long enough so that I could inhale her breath, feel the warmth and

tenderness of her skin and the taste of her lipstick lingered as she moved back

blushing. This act of intimacy ignited my body from a candle to a blow torch. I wanted

more. I invited her to my apartment.

As we grasped hands walking along the streets, fire engines and helicopters blared and hovered above the buildings- What was happening? Flames shot up from my apartment. The only thing I could think of was my sister. Cries and shrieks of agony could be heard from the innocent victims inside.

The flames roared ever so fiercely that I was about to leap in until the firefighter held me

back. She said everything was going to be okay. I took her word for it. A burnt figure in

the arms of a firefighter appeared before my eyes. This couldn’t be her. A shock wave brushed past my face as I fell to the ground. NO. This could not be happening. I

couldn’t believe this. She wiped the tears off my face and tried to console me. She

expressed the story of how she lost her stepbrother and how she had been in the

same position as me. She smiled understandingly, much more than understandingly. It

was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you may

come across four or five times in life. It faced or seemed to face the whole eternal

world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your

favour. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you

as you would believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression

of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. She understood me.

It was time for her funeral. The casket was open. Her tiny face brought tears to my eyes. On each side of the casket sat two large candles. Above the casket were roses, red of colour brought

from Penny’s flower shop. Penny loved my sister very much. They shared a mother-and-daughter bond. In the background, faintly praying, was a Christmas song she

used to listen to every Wednesday. The casket was closed, and pallbearers carried it

on their shoulders to the hearse. As the casket was lowered down, tears were shed.

She was the reason I lived, and now she had left me. The smallest coffins are always

the heaviest. They bear the most pain and grief. Days of sorrow passed, and I started to go

to school and try to recover. It was as if my heart had been torn away from my chest.

It had been almost a week since I hadn’t gone to school, and I was missing her a lot. I

hadn’t received a text or call from her, which was strange. As I entered the gates, I saw

her face. It was pale. Something was not right. As I started to approach her, she

turned away. I was angered. I returned from the school gates and wandered the

streets of Queens. I entered a pub. I had never tried alcohol before. I’ve seen in movies

that it relieves one from pain. One shot. Two shots. Three shots.

My mind eased. It was addicting.

A glimmer of hope that life could be made tolerable flickered as I

learned to drink alcohol. It altered the way I felt at first, I ceased feeling lonely in a

crowd; given the next drink, I could be a part of a group and become the center of

attention, the star turn, the world would revolve around me. Alcohol became more

important to me than food, drink, air to breathe, anything, or anybody. I was loving this

intoxicating lifestyle. My perception of life gradually changed my understanding of

honesty and truthfulness was increasingly warped and distorted. I was a free man. My

apartment had been littered with shattered shards of glass. The significantly strong

stench wafted throughout the room. As I was in a horrendous state, I heard the door

knock. I got up with a bottle of Jack Daniels. I kicked the week-old pizza box out of the

way. It was her. What did she want now? I chuckled. The sort of chuckle a villain

chuckles when he is in agony. She held my face in her hands as she stared into my

soul, she was in shock of the monster I had become. She sat with me on the sofa

which had grubby stains. She placed my head on her lap and stroked my hair gently.

She calmed the monster inside of me. Therefore, I loved her. No one could

understand me like she could. She put me to bed and lay beside me, comforting me

as my eyes closed. She said she was going to stay with me for a few days. The days

passed like hours, and she left without notice.

As I woke up, I noticed the room cleaned and a note was left above the furnace: ‘Hi, I am leaving town. Well, this country, if I am being totally honest. I enjoyed meeting you; you’re a nice friend.

Hopefully, you will start a new life with your future family. I enjoyed spending time with

you, but the truth is we can’t do this. I have cancer. My chances of life are very low. I

could die. That’s why we are moving to London on the 19th of January, which is

tomorrow actually. Well, it’s been a tough ride, and I wish you the best. Goodbye. ’My

heart shattered. My fist clenched. My knees fell. Why was this happening to me? I

loved her. All this time, I was just a friend to her. My heart could not take this. I started

to drink more. This was killing me slowly. A few years of loneliness and intoxication

later, I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy which made it harder for my heart to pump

blood around my body. Doctors told me to rest and limit my consumption.

So, I stopped, remembering her words. I hadn’t paid a visit to the library after my sister’s

death, so I decided to become the old me. As the bell rang, the librarian’s eyes lit up.

She had not changed one bit apart from the emerging wrinkles upon her face. She

was delighted to see me. So, I smiled painfully. Behind the Shakespeare shelf were

the bean bags which I had always sat on and read. I turned around and saw her. Her

rosy cheeks and tender skin. She was still the beautiful young woman who I loved.

She was the solution to my problems. I sighed in relief. She had returned. Or hadn’t

she gone? All that didn’t matter, as long as she was before my eyes. Then, a child’s

voice cried, “Mummy,” and a small girl around the age of 3 appeared and hid behind

her. It was her daughter. She had a family. We shared a moment of painful silence. My

heart sank. I realized that true love is just an illusion. It never really exists. I learned it

later in life, but thanks to her, I learned it well. One-sided love does exist. My heart cried.

She said to me, “Not in this lifetime, perhaps in another.” It made me somewhat hopeful.

As I trembled along the sidewalk, my heart shut off. My system had gone blank. A few

hours later, I found myself holding onto life in a hospital. She had moved on. She was

happy. My chapter in her book was over, little did she know she was the title of mine.

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