Chapter 7:

Without Us

My Three Dying Rules

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Doctor: It’s nice to see you again, Pandora. How are you? How do you feel?

Pandora: I’m alright.

Doctor: Did anything exciting happen since the last time you were here?

Pandora: Not really.

Doctor: Should I even try asking whether you’ve changed your mind about dying?

Pandora: There’s nothing wrong with trying. But I haven’t changed my mind.

Doctor: So, the last time we spoke, your boxing pillar crumbled. If you described it to me in such a detail, that must mean you were there, watching, right?

Setting: Boxing Stadium, National Championships finals / 18th June 2022

Pandora watches the empty ring. She wears saggy clothes, a face mask and a cap. Once Claressa is declared the winner and a national champion, Pandora heads for the exit. But a familiar female voice shouts at her from the back as she tries to exit the stadium.

Student Council President: Hey. It’s you, isn’t it?

Pandora: How did you figure me out?

Student Council President: Oh please, I’m not that dumb. Who would wear a face mask and a cap inside like this while trying to secretly bail?

Pandora: Ehh… no point in hiding it then, but let’s go somewhere else where the others can’t see.

Setting: Somewhere in a park / 18th June 2022

Pandora sits on a bench and President stands in front of her. Pandora’s phone starts ringing, she chooses to ignore it and it stops. It is revealed that her family, Coach, Alyssa and Vulcan all tried to call her already.

Student Council President: Are you trying to piss me off?

Pandora: I have no idea what you’re talking about~.

Student Council President: (Grabs Pandora by her collar) Don’t fuck with me, bitch!!!!

Pandora: Not this again…

Student Council President: I don’t care about your stupid music but this involves me!!

Pandora: You do realize that my life doesn’t involve you practically at all, right?

Student Council President: SHUT UP!! (She grabs her tighter and closes the distance between their faces.) You cannot stop being perfect, you understand?! (She accidentally spits saliva on Pandora's face.)

Pandora: I am not perfect, I told you. I was shitting my pants when I saw Claressa fight. I didn’t want to get destroyed like that so I rather forfeited the match!

Student Council President: That’s bullshit! You would have at least told your friends or Coach if that was true!

Pandora: But I am not lying. I simply didn’t want to fight her.

Student Council President: (She releases her from the grab, closes her eyes and turns around with her back facing Pandora.) Alright… so you lost. You lost and yet you remained undefeated. That is something I can get behind.

Pandora: Then what’s the problem?

Student Council President: You’re the problem. You beat me at every fucking sport at school. If you wanna stop being perfect, fine. But that means I need to beat you first. Come! (President assumes a boxing stance.)

Pandora: What are you trying to do, President?

Student Council President: If you don’t defend, I’m gonna beat you to a pulp! (She throws a jab at Pandora who dodges from the bench and stands up quickly.)

Pandora: Just stop, this doesn’t take us anywhere!

Student Council President: Shut your mouth already and fight! (President tries to punch Pandora but she blocks all of her attacks.)

Pandora: That stance and footwork… were you secretly training box so you could challenge me?

Student Council President: I need to actively try to get better than you!

Pandora: Then, if you defeat me, will you stop chasing me and thinking I am perfect?

Student Council President: W-what? (She stops attacking and looks quite surprised.)

Pandora: What do you mean by what? Are you trying to accomplish anything or not?

Student Council President: I … I don’t know actually…

Pandora: You don’t know?

Student Council President: I never thought about that. But beating you in a match like this won’t satisfy me… because there is no way for me to know you didn’t just let me win.

Pandora: President, let’s forget about this. I have always liked you, let’s just continue being good classmates.

Student Council President: But… but… (She starts to cry.) I just want you to be perfect! Stop doing these things! First your boyfriend, now your boxing, even your score on the tests gets gradually lower and lower… what will be next???

Pandora: I am overwhelmed. I cannot work like I used to before. You need to understand I am just a normal human being and I am at my limit.

Student Council President: It’s too late, Pandora… (She keeps crying.) I am so mad in love with you, it hurts me to see you’re actively trying to be less and less perfect… but at the very least, your beauty remains untouched and flawless!

Pandora: You do understand I don’t like girls though….

Student Council President: If it’s the gender that is a problem, I’ll become a boy for you!

Pandora: That’s a little overdoing it…

Pandora’s Coach sees the girls from the distance and he comes running towards her.

Coach: Pandora!!

Pandora: C-coach?

Coach: Why… why did you do this?

Student Council President: (She still sobs a little.) I better get going… (President leaves.)

Pandora: (Sits back on the bench.) So you found me… Coach, I didn’t feel like you took care of me enough … I didn’t feel like I could beat Claressa with your preparation.

Coach: I … didn’t take care of you…?

Pandora: Yeah…

Coach suddenly punches the bench next to Pandora’s head, much to her surpise.

Coach: Are you kidding me? I gave everything I had! I sacrificed my personal time just to train you! And you say I wasn’t enough?? I even took our family savings without my wife knowing and bet on you because I was so certain you would win!!

Pandora: Serves you right.

Coach: What..?

Pandora: You heard me. (She stands up and starts to walk away, she is seen only from behind.) You shouldn’t have brought hazard into this.

Coach: Pandora…!! (Shouting) I never want to see you at my gym ever again, understand?!?!

In the fantasy, the already crumbled statue of Pandora with boxing gloves cracks further to even tinier pieces.

Pandora: Don’t worry. (Inner monologue) Thank you for everything. (Out loud) I wasn’t planning to come to that sorry excuse of a gym anymore. (Inner monologue) Thank you for always taking care of me. (As she says this with a strong tone in her voice, she is revealed to be shedding tears while she walks away without looking back.)

Setting: At the psychologist / back to present

Doctor: That must have hurt him.

Pandora: Certainly… and my heart was beating like crazy. I felt so weird. Poor Coach truly did sacrifice everything just for me…

Doctor: On the other hand, the Student Council President seems like a tough one.

Pandora: Yeah, that’s why I told you it’s not her time to crumble yet. She evaded effectively my tries. Guess she really was in love with me. And she was somewhat... crazy. Her pillar just proved how difficult to handle my close ones would be.

Doctor: Naturally. So, two of your pillars were definitely destroyed. Which one was going to be next?

Pandora: My two friends, Marina and Chloe. We got to know each other during high school and quickly discovered we could talk about a lot of stuff. They were in a different school but we met quite often outside of school.

While explaining her next pillar, Pandora walks around between the statues in a fantasy. She stops at the one that is holding two mini figures in her hands. The statue is already damaged as there is a hole in Pandora’s chest where a heart should be.

Doctor: Tell me more about them.

Setting: At Pandora’s high school / 20th June 2022

The bell rang and the school day is over. Alyssa runs excited towards Pandora.

Alyssa: Pandora! Will you hit the mall with me? Are you free right now?

Pandora: (Evades a direct eye contact, coldly) No, I have plans with Marina and Chloe.

Alyssa: (Excitement wears off) Oh… well, okay, maybe next time then.

Pandora: Maybe.

Pandora takes her bag pack and heads out of the classroom.

Setting: At a café / 20th June 2022

Pandora waits at a reserved table at a certain café outside on a terrace. As she is studying menu, two girls appear right in front of her.

Chloe: Earlier than us, as usual.

Marina: Hmph, she gets it from never letting her boyfriend wait for her!

Pandora: Lovely seeing you as well, you hags~. (Playfully)

Chloe is shorter of the two. She has short brown hair, brown eyes and wears stylish glasses. She gives off the ‘cold princess’ vibe. Marina is usually more energetic but it is not hard to be the more energetic one in a group with a ladylike Pandora and cold Chloe. She has long blue hair, blue eyes and a piercing in her nose and right eyebrow. They sit right next to Pandora. A waiter comes asking for an order.

Waiter: What would the lovely ladies like to drink?

Marina: D-don’t say ‘lovely ladies’ so casually! But anyway, a glass of ice-cream for me.

Chloe: I’d like a cappuccino and draw a heart on top of it with some chocolate so I don’t feel so lonely.

Waiter: E-ehm, sure. And how about you, miss?

Pandora: I’ll just have some still water. I can’t afford gaining some more weight now that I stopped boxing or I’ll look like Marina.

Marina: W-what was that?

Chloe: She’s just teasing you.

Waiter: R-right away… (confused)

Chloe: So we heard about your concert… and about the championship. Just what the hell happened in these couple of weeks we haven’t seen each other?

Marina: Yeah, I was like, totally surprised when I found out! Don’t tell us… you decided to do it without us?

Setting: At the psychologist / back to present

Doctor: Without them?

Pandora: They were probably the easiest pillar to destroy. It was not that strong from the very beginning. Because there was only one thing we truly bonded over. A thought of a triple suicide.