Chapter 26:

What's Real?

Second Chances

She glared at me. “Did you just slap God of Fate herself?”Bookmark here

“Well, you shouldn’t make yourself vulnerable like that, Moira.”Bookmark here

“Enough,” she said. “After everything that I told you, you still refused to believe the truth. Every single thing that ‘Reaper’ told you was a lie, a lie that you fed through him to yourself. You choose to believe his sweet lies rather than the bitter truth. That’s pathetic.”Bookmark here

“There was nothing sweet about what he said,” I said. “If I could have made a world where I’m happy, there was no need for me to go through all those deaths over and over again. Is there?”Bookmark here

“Those weren’t real, you just used it to justify—”Bookmark here

“ARGH, tsk, tsk, tsk. I haven’t finished.”Bookmark here

I stood beside me in the patient bed. “Assuming that those weren’t real, then I couldn’t find any reason that I myself would put myself under those dreadful situations. I defied fate, I detested second chances my whole life, but if I can save the people that I love, I would put that principle behind. I would save them, in a blink.”Bookmark here

I put my hand on me sleeping on the patient's bed. “I wouldn’t let myself suffer. That’s what I’ve promised myself, that I would have no more regrets.”Bookmark here

“ARGH,” Moira said. “You’re just impossible to deal with.”Bookmark here

“What do you need me to do to prove that those were all illusions, to get you back on THIS timeline and THIS body.”Bookmark here

“Nothing. Chiaki’s hiccups, Hideki’s red eyes when he walked out of my toilet, Yui’s sad smile when she told us her story, my mother’s unique cooking, my father’s love of our family—they were all real, and irreplaceable. They happened. To me. I was there, embracing their feelings.”Bookmark here

“So,” I walked to the mechanical ventilator beside my bed.Bookmark here

“Don’t do it, you’ll kill yourself!”Bookmark here

I took a deep breath. “I believe in them, and myself.”Bookmark here

I pulled the plug of the machine out.Bookmark here

Beep.Bookmark here

Beep.Bookmark here

Beep.Bookmark here

“It’s time for me to use this second chance, and move on.”Bookmark here

The scene around us changed to where we were standing, in the kitchen. The only thing different was that my dead body was gone. The clock started to move again.Bookmark here

“Unbelievable,” Moira said. “You literally defied fate herself.”Bookmark here

She looked at me. “Reaper was right. You are a pain to deal with.”Bookmark here

She sighed, “So much for the last trial.”Bookmark here

I chuckled.Bookmark here

“Hey,” she stomped her feet. “No laughing!”Bookmark here

I patted her head, “Ok. Ok.”Bookmark here

She slapped my hand away, “Don’t get so friendly with me!”Bookmark here

I chuckled again. “Can I go back now?”Bookmark here

She let out another heavy sigh. “Fine, you can go back to them.”Bookmark here

“However,” she said. “I have one final question.”Bookmark here

“Did you ever believe in fate, or destiny?”Bookmark here

I smiled. “For the last question, that was definitely lame.”Bookmark here

She pouted at me. “Just answer the question.”Bookmark here

“I’d say I’m not much of a believer myself, and caused some troubles for you and Reaper it seems.”Bookmark here

I coughed. “But without fate that those thugs happened to attack Chiaki and I when we were small, Chiaki might not have grown up to become so reliable, caring and strong.”Bookmark here

“Without Hideki’s encounter with Yui, same as hers with him, Hideki wouldn’t have changed to sympathize and learn to empathize with people, while Yui wouldn’t have learned to support herself and her family in their farm.”Bookmark here

“Without death entangling my father and mother, I wouldn’t have known how deeply they cared for each other, and my love for them.”Bookmark here

“Fate brought Reaper and I together, brought back the bond we share that I’ve long forgotten, that I wasn’t supposed to remember. It united us back then, in that moment, and relieved him for his long wait in centuries. But it was my choice to embrace these fates, making them my destiny,”Bookmark here

“So,” she asked. “Do you or do you not?”Bookmark here

“Does it matter? If the only fate in front of me is death, then I’ll slap that fate.”Bookmark here

She covered her face with both her hands.Bookmark here

“As hard as I can, again and again.”Bookmark here

She glared at me.Bookmark here

“But if all that fate brings is happiness, challenges, and hardship, then I’ll embrace and accept them.”Bookmark here

“That’s just selfish,” she said. “You’re just selfish.”Bookmark here

“Humans are selfish, that’s why we are afraid of losing others, and why we try to cherish precious moments in our life. You of all, should know this, Moira.”Bookmark here

She pouted. “This is why I can’t stand humans.”Bookmark here

“Fine, fine,” she said. “I’ll let you go but there’s one thing you need to do.”Bookmark here

She snapped her finger, as I slowly lost my consciousness.Bookmark here

The last thing she said to me was, “It’s not over yet, Shin.”Bookmark here

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… What?Bookmark here

“Shin.”Bookmark here

I opened my eyes.Bookmark here

My whole body froze, and got chills seeing what’s in front of me.Bookmark here

No. This can’t be happening.Bookmark here

“Patient’s name?” the doctor flashed his small flashlight at my eyes.Bookmark here

“Shin,” the nurse beside him replied, holding a patient record. “He’s been in a coma for five years, drug overdose.”Bookmark here

“What’s going on?” I tried to move my mouth but I could say anything. No. I wasn’t supposed to be here.Bookmark here

“His vitals are stable,” the doctor said. “It’s a miracle.”Bookmark here

I don’t want this miracle.Bookmark here

Send me back, Moira.Bookmark here

“Call his caretakers,” the doctor said. “Tell them we have good news.”Bookmark here

No. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Get me out, get me out, MOIRA! We had a deal!Bookmark here

I struggled to move my body but to no avail, the muscles in my body won’t respond to me. They had not been used for too long that they might as well be cramped already. I might need to spend my whole life in this body, not being able to say, or do anything.Bookmark here

I don’t want to accept this.Bookmark here

Let me out. LET ME OUT!Bookmark here

“Doctor, his heart beat rate is suddenly spiking.”Bookmark here

“Shin, shin, do you hear me? I know this must have been confusing, but you must calm down, you heart cannot—”Bookmark here

MOIRA!Bookmark here

“Sedative, now!”Bookmark here

Don’t you dare insert that into me! Hey, hey!Bookmark here

I blacked out.Bookmark here

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“Shin, you’re finally awake.”Bookmark here

I opened my eyes to see both Chiaki’s parents over my bed, they looked older than I remembered. Don’t tell me—I’m in a patient bed.Bookmark here

No. I can’t. Not this again.Bookmark here

The monitor beside my bed started to beep.Bookmark here

Why? Why do I need to go through this?Bookmark here

The monitor beeped louder.Bookmark here

“Shin, calm down first,” Chiaki’s dad said.Bookmark here

I started to imagine myself kicking the bed. Moira, why do you have to torture me like this? MOIRA!Bookmark here

The nurse barged in, and one of them quickly gave me sedative again.Bookmark here

I blacked out.Bookmark here

I will do this, as many times as I need to do, Moira. Again, and again, until I’m back to my real body.Bookmark here

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After a while, I opened my eyes again.Bookmark here

“Shin, please,” Chiaki’s mom held my hand. “Please don’t do this to us.”Bookmark here

She’s all alone in the room with me.Bookmark here

“I know you can’t respond, but you have to stop doing this to yourself.”Bookmark here

I looked at her hand on top of mine, but I didn't feel any warmth from it at all. I have lost all my senses; I could only move my eyes around, and blink.Bookmark here

What use is it if I stay here? You hear me, MOIRA?Bookmark here

The monitor started to beep again.Bookmark here

“Please, Shin,” Chiaki’s mom hugged my head in her arms. “Chiaki wouldn’t want this.”Bookmark here

I started to feel tears rolling in my eyes.Bookmark here

“Chiaki would have wanted you to live.”Bookmark here

I felt my throat closing up.Bookmark here

“Please,” she said. “For the sake of your parents, and your friend, Hideki. Please live. Please don’t give up.”Bookmark here

I took a deep, sharp breath.Bookmark here

Is this how it’s going to end?Bookmark here

I don’t want this, please. Please let me go back.Bookmark here

Let me have the second chance.Bookmark here

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