Chapter 20:

Pandora Box

My Three Dying Rules

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: Would you have believed it?? That jerk cheated on me!

Doctor: To be fair, anybody would have cheated on you after you kept hurting and ignoring them like that.

Pandora: But I was the one to get hurt in the end!

In a fantasy, Pandora tries to touch the bride statue but she is electrocuted every time she does so.

Doctor: But doesn’t it play into your hands? You didn’t need to hurt him anymore, the pillar’s gone.

Pandora: No. I refused to believe that. I felt like shit. Why would he cheat on me? I mean. Yes, it was easier to sever the bond with Vulcan like this but I… I simply got jealous, all the female emotions started boiling within me, I didn’t want to lose to another woman like this! And so I blocked Vulcan everywhere and didn’t contact him after that.

Doctor: So the pillar is finished then. Only two left.

Pandora: No, in my mind, the pillar was still there, for some reason I felt that story was incomplete. I had much more planned to make him suffer. Turns out Iris was comforting him when I didn’t and she spent almost the whole summer with him. I didn’t attend his father’s funeral but apparently she did.

Doctor: You didn’t seem that surprised when he mentioned this Ivy girl. Did you pull the strings and let him fall in love with somebody else…?

Pandora: … Yes. Remember when I started dating Vulcan and Alyssa was really surprised because she thought he already had a girlfriend?

Doctor: Let’s say I do.

Pandora: I did some digging and turned out he had a best friend named Iris. They were always together until I appeared. So I sent Shinzo to meet her to tell her that Vulcan’s girlfriend wants to dump him. Iris didn’t waste any time to start chasing Vulcan. And I left him no choice but to be with her since I ignored him.

Doctor: Then why are you so worked up?

Pandora: Because cheating on me was not in the deal!! She should have been only a comfort person after we’d break up, not someone he would cheat on me with! That jerk, that idiot, that stupid moron!!!

Doctor: Such a little kid. But it is cute to see this girly side of you.

Pandora: I don’t feel like that anymore of course. That was the past me. A year and a half after he broke up with me…

Setting: Somewhere in the park / 4th June 2024

Pandora is walking in the park. She has slightly longer hair and looks much more mature but her eyes are completely empty, there is no more spark in them like before. She looks like she went through a lot of suffering and she is used to pain by now. She sits on a bench in the park, holding some bread that she throws on the ground where birds eat it. She notices somebody passing her in a hurry.

Pandora: (Tries to call out to him but her voice doesn’t make a sound) V-Vulcan...!

In the fantasy, Pandora tries to destroy the bride statue with her own hands but is sent flying by an electrical discharge. The Pandora in the fantasy still looks the same age, her hair is the same length as opposed to the real life Pandora.

Pandora: Where is he rushing so much?

A little further away, Vulcan is greeting with a certain girl. They look as a happy pair of lovers.

Pandora: Ah... I see... so they are still together. I guess he really did find somebody better than me. Shine, my old love. Shine like a bright star in this world. You have always talked about starting a happy family. But I could never fulfill that dream...

In the fantasy, Pandora burns down the bouquet with her touch and takes off the veil from the statue. As she does this, both the pillar and the statue start disintegrating.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Doctor: Did you seriously apply a year and a half time skip in your story?

Pandora: I mean, there was nothing important or interesting to say during that period. I just kept deceiving my family.

Doctor: I don’t like time skips in stories…

Pandora: Do I care? Anyway. When I saw Vulcan so happy after such a long time, I finally understood. Looks like I just needed a little push to be able to make the pillar crumble. Even though it crumbled in a different way than all the others.

Doctor: Vulcan’s pillar’s destruction took a long time indeed. And you handled it like a mature woman. No more tears like before?

Pandora: No more tears to cry. I was living in pain of hurting others constantly. I got used to it by then. However, the emptiness kept killing me inside. Now, there were only two pillars left. My family.

Doctor: But they were still clad in iron. Did it prove difficult to handle?

Pandora: I went to occasional trips on my own, telling my family I needed to go to the hospital for a few tests. But I promised 1.5 million to Shinzo, so I needed 500k more. The next surgery after the ‘failed one’ was coming up and my parents sold another flat to buy a smaller one. But it was still not enough money.

Setting: Pandora’s newest flat/ 8th July 2024

Pandora, Leon and her parents discuss the next steps. The flat they are living in right now is visibly much smaller than the previous one. The kitchen is connected to the living room and two other doors suggest that there are only two bedrooms, meaning that Pandora and Leon need to share one.

Father: So you say that this money is not enough… what should we do? I feel so powerless! I am not a Minister of Education anymore, my political opponents completely destroyed me after that one slip up with Pandora’s school… maybe my salary would have been enough to support us!

Father has visibly aged. His skin on face is covered by wrinkles and his once brown hair turned grey.

Mother: Well, you shouldn’t have said in the cameras that you would resign from the position…

Pandora: No, I shouldn’t have confirmed the speculations with that interview I gave, I am so sorry. (inner monologue) It was a part of the plan though.

Father: What’s done is done. Let’s focus on the future… on our… (tears flood his eyes) on our daughter’s future that we need to save!

Pandora: It’s okay, dad. I have already accepted my fate. I will never grow old. Death is awaiting me…

Father: Don’t say that!!

Pandora: I am just so happy to have spent my final time with you, with my beloved family… (she looks at Leon as if she expected something from him)

Mother: Pandora, we don’t accept such words here. You will live.

Pandora: But we don’t have any more money, we can’t sell anything else. Grandpa’s house sale is being blocked by your brother, by our uncle.

Mother: My brother has always been a jerk. But to think he wouldn’t listen even if my daughter’s life is at stake…

Pandora: Then we don’t have any other options. Please just let’s end it here, I don’t want to hurt this family anymore!

Mother: No, we can’t give up…

Pandora: If only there was something we could do… I can see how you’re suffering because of me, mom, dad…

Father: I refuse to give up, we can’t lose you…! (sobbing)

Leon: Dad, stop crying. I will do it.

Mother: You will do what?

Leon: I will sell my part of the ownership of our business to my partners. And we will use the money for Pandora’s surgery.

Pandora: But Leon, you have been building up your business for so many years, you are so close to reaching your goals! Don’t throw it away for my worthless life!

Leon: Pandora!! Your life is not worthless! Do you remember what I wrote on that note when you turned 17…?

Setting: At Pandora’s previous flat / 10th September 2022 (flashback)

As Pandora reads the letter she got from Leon, she walks towards her room. She notices another writing on her door, similar to what she had in their old villa: “Pandora Box”. She continues reading the letter and a tear rolls down her cheek. The letter says:

To my most beloved sister, Pandora.

I know I may have not been the best brother in the world but I want you to know that you are my Pandora Box. No, it’s not supposed to be the Pandora’s Box that led to a tragic incident which occurred in the mythology. To me, the ‘Pandora Box’ refers to my most precious treasure. The treasure chest. Like the one from that story about pirates and the chest of the dead man.

When you were born, our parents told me that you are going to be our family’s treasure and I should be the one to always protect you. I don’t want to lose you. I love you so much that I am always embarrassed whenever you look at me.

I am sorry I am not able to be with you on your birthday, but a terminal illness or not, this is NOT one of your last birthdays! You will have at least 70 more!

Happy Birthday from your big bro, Leon.

PS: As your birthday present, I gave our parents some money as my part of the payment for your upcoming surgery.

Setting: Pandora’s newest flat / 8th July 2024 (back from the flashback)

Pandora: I remember very well… but still, your biggest dream is to become independent and move out!

Leon: Lil’ sis. My biggest dream is for you to be happy and healthy.

Father: Pandora, your eyes got emptier and emptier every year… as a father, I cannot watch this. You became a different person, your enthusiasm and sense of humor is practically gone. I thank you, Leon, for this decision.

Mother: Then it’s settled. With Leon’s contribution, we should have enough money to cover the next bill…

Pandora: Thank you, big bro.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: After that, I gave the rest of the money to Shinzo and his father. It was the last installment needed for Shinzo’s sister to be treated properly.

Setting: At Shinzo’s father’s hospital / 15th July 2024

Shinzo’s dad is given another envelope with the money in it. Shinzo is present again as well.

Pandora: This will be your final task, Shinzo. The envelope I am giving you is not going to be as cheap as before.

Shinzo’s father: We will do anything!

Shinzo: What do you mean? (he frowns)

Pandora: Heh. The doggy is not cute at all. You will testify in front of the police and court that your father committed a crime of issuing fake medical records.

Shinzo: What?! You really are a crazy bitch!

Shinzo’s dad: No, son. If this will save your sister’s life, then that’s the least I can do. I did break the rules and the law.

Shinzo: No, dad, I refuse to do this! When she is healthy, who is gonna take care of us?!

Shinzo’s dad: Pandora, is this your final wish?

Pandora: Yes.

Shinzo’s dad: I understand.

Shinzo: But if we do this, it’s a lose-lose situation for you, too! Don’t you care??

Pandora: I truly don’t.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Doctor: What was the plan?

Pandora: Two reasons I needed to do this. Firstly, I didn’t believe that treating Shinzo like a dog would overweight the fact that I saved his sister’s life.

Doctor: Makes sense. He could have easily become another pillar.

Pandora: Yes. And secondly…

Setting: At Pandora’s newest flat / 20th July 2024

Pandora comes home and finds Mother and Father watching the TV.

Father: Pandora, my princess! What are you doing here??

Mother: Shouldn’t you be in the neighboring country getting the final surgery??

Pandora: A surgery? What are you talking about~? I am perfectly healthy, there never was any surgery needed!

Father: What? … Sweetie, aren’t you a little disoriented from the pills?

Pandora: Stop being naïve, Father. Thank you for the money, I enjoyed myself during all those weekends quite a lot~.

Mother: Pandora? What’s going on? Why are you saying this?

Pandora: Oh, you haven’t heard yet? Turn on the news.

Father takes the remote control and switches the TV station to the news. There is a reportage about a certain doctor who issued fake medical records for unknown reasons. He is being arrested.

Father: So the doctor diagnosed you incorrectly?? And you’re healthy?

Pandora: I am healthy. But he didn’t do a mistake. I asked him to do it. I just needed to get some cash from all of you~.

Leon shows up behind Pandora’s back, looking seriously pissed off. Pandora realizes he is there and smirks.

In a fantasy, Pandora watches her little statue and the pillar that is clad in iron. The iron melts away and many cracks are revealed under it. From behind her, a different pillar straight-up explodes.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: It may have looked like I was aiming at my parent’s pillar since I basically took all their money and property away. However, the real target has always been the ‘dead man’ to whom the Pandora Box belonged to.

In the fantasy, the pieces of rock and iron cut Pandora as the aftermath from the explosion. The head from the statue and the little treasure box come rolling towards Pandora’s feet.

Pandora: My brother.