Chapter 23:

The Platform

My Three Dying Rules

Setting: Village, Benimaru’s flat, living room / 25th July 2024

Pandora has her bag pack ready and she is about to leave. She opens the door and Benimaru rushes after her. He grabs her arm but Pandora immediately retaliates with a hook to his left cheek. The force of the punch makes him hit the wall. He falls down, bleeding from his forehead and mouth.

Benimaru: Ahahaha, I have a déjà vu. So I take it you never intended to sleep with me?

Pandora: (walking away and not looking back) Get a life, freaking pervert.

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Pandora: I heard that my parents got divorced recently. Which is quite nice. This way they wouldn’t lean on each other. I take it that Mother, Father and also Leon now wanna lead their own lives and don’t want to look back at our failed family. Father started to have issues with high blood pressure, which is why I stopped doing anything else to him. I needed to forget about saying at least a silent goodbye to him… And Mother… Mom was a difficult obstacle but I attacked more than just her feelings. I attacked her comfort, her morale, her… ability to digest dog meat. Hihi.

Doctor: I’m… utterly disgusted.

Pandora: You might be right. The only effective way to fight the final antagonist was to make her feel utterly disgusted. By both my actions and quite literally in her stomach. But don’t worry…

Setting: Village forest / 25th July 2024

In the forest, Pandora pulls out the knife and makes a move on the dog.

Pandora: Sorry, boy. This is for the future…

She cuts his collar and sets him free.

Pandora: I hope that somebody finds you soon and adopts you. Until then, please be strong, Lucky…

Setting: At the psychologist / present

Doctor: Why did you bait me into thinking you killed it and cooked it to your Mother? Eh, nevermind. But that doesn’t make you a saint. You left the poor animal on its own.

Pandora: I know… But I didn’t have a choice. The owner of the flat said to us we couldn’t have a dog and he wanted us to get rid of it. So I took Lucky with me but knowing I was gonna die, I didn’t want to leave him with Benimaru either.

Doctor: You have defeated the final antagonist of the story and succeeded in destroying all the pillars. But that was back in July, now it’s November. Was there anything else you needed to do before taking your life?

Pandora: No. Well, actually, yes. I needed to wait.

Doctor: Wait?

Pandora: What do you think would happen if after all that transpired I just suddenly committed suicide?

Doctor: They would all think you had planned this all along and it would invalidate all of your efforts.

Pandora: Exactly. So I chose to wait at least a couple of months, so that I made sure none of those people would want to reappear in my life. But I didn’t want to wait longer, I waited enough already. And since nobody appeared till this day, I am free to finally do it.

Doctor: So I take it that the story is over, huh?

Pandora: Yes. I have nothing else to say to you about how I prepared for my demise. Was it fun?

Doctor: That’s really not a good word to describe a story about a young girl that wants to die.

Pandora: Yeah, it was only fun when I got hit or beaten up.

Doctor: Let’s be professional here. Contrary to popular belief, I did listen carefully to you. And at first I thought you were just a spoiled brat looking for attention. You did say you felt “empowered, like you could do anything” when you had your concert. But I realized that was just you being genuine and having fun.

Pandora: I really loved music and I loved sharing my emotions with other people through it.

Doctor: So your fandom or ‘music career’ really couldn’t have been the catalyst for your insecurities about future which led to your ultimate decision. Being a raw talent and winning basically all boxing matches while leaving the arena undefeated couldn’t have been it either.

Pandora: I even met my true love there. And I was able to self-defend against the likes of Benimaru.

Doctor: Your two friends, ehm …

Pandora: Chloe and Marina.

Doctor: They weren’t the best friends one could have but you did have a lot in common. At first I thought they corrupted you with their own suicidal thoughts but if that were the case, it would have been different. Maybe if they were as close to you as Ashley, it would actually have some effect on you.

Pandora: No, as you said. We were just regular friends, they never said a bad word to me and the suicide was just a joke until their lives started to crumble down, while mine was almost perfect.

Doctor: The blind boy is out of question because by the time you met him again, you had already decided to end your life. But I thought, maybe the trauma of losing him when you moved out of the Village?

Pandora: No way. I was too young to think that deeply about it.

Doctor: The Student Council President did, however, give you a run for your money. An individual like that could cause mental problems to any weak person.

Pandora: Except, I was no way near a weak person. I wanted to be friend with Nessa. If anything, she made me feel more confident since she fell in love in me.

Doctor: Yeah and let’s totally forget she tried to rape you and kill you.

Pandora: Hah, but that was also only after my decision.

Doctor: I had multiple theories along the way. I understand that the biggest influence in your young life was your best friend.

Pandora: Alyssa.

Doctor: You spent so much time together. I thought that maybe her unfortunate past has caused you to feel inner sorrow for her. It’s not that uncommon for a person to feel their loved one’s pain. Your psyche could have been damaged without you knowing.

Pandora: I’ll admit that it does make sense but… that’s not what I felt. Quite the opposite, I tried to share my happy memories with her, I tried to make her forget about all of that. I tried to show her that she has a better future ahead of her.

Doctor: Hmmm. Your boyfriend has cheated on you.

Pandora: That was rather inconvenient indeed. I seriously wanted to let him feel the pain of my death, hah. But I truly believe that was just a human slip-up. That’s not who Vulcan is. He was really sweet. Basically… I made him do it. I made him hurt me.

Doctor: On top of that, don’t take it wrongly, but relationships in teenage years never last. And feeling suicidal about break-ups in that period of life is quite normal.

Pandora: Hey, don’t degrade my relationship with Vulcan!

Doctor: Now we get to the juicy stuff. Your older brother never showed you any affection. He might have been a cause of your emptiness.

Pandora: Impossible. He was just being a tsundere. He loved me. He would show it with his actions even though his words said the opposite. And in the end he did confess to me being his most precious treasure.

Doctor: Your father was never a candidate for this but upon realizing he needed to work a lot, he might have stripped you from the attention a young growing girl needed from her male role model. Also, being an important public figure, you as his daughter were always a potential tool for his haters.

Pandora: But my dad was good at his job and he spent time with us whenever he could. No, I didn’t have any daddy issues. He managed to maintain his work-life balance.

Doctor: Even your temporary pillar, your Grandpa, has done nothing but the best for your family. And the death of your Grandma occurred too soon in your life. The latest theory was that you never felt the love from your Mother properly due to her condition.

Pandora: But that was not the case. My Mom was physically and mentally unable to give me the feeling of love and yet she gave me everything a daughter could have asked for. It may not have been pure motherly love but it was something strong and valuable to me.

Doctor: I agree. I have had patients who had completely normal parents unable to give them the feeling of love and safety. So the condition didn’t make her a bad parent.

Pandora: The best example would be Chloe and her cold mother.

Doctor: I realized that compared to all your pillars, your life was as you said literally perfect. Each and every one of the people you met has had some kind of darkness inside of them. But not you. (Pandora smiles) So the question remains … why, Pandora? Why do you want to take your life?

Pandora: I thought I already told you this. I feel absolutely empty. I can’t imagine myself growing old. It’s just unnatural to me. I could see vividly my future, in bright colors. I could see myself graduating from high school. But I couldn’t see any future beyond a certain point in my life. There is nothing but emptiness, darkness, nothingness. I can’t imagine getting married, having children or attending my parents’ funerals. It’s as if I am destined to die on that particular day.

Doctor: Pandora. There is no destiny. It’s what you do with your life with your own two hands that creates the path you can walk on. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary predicament.

Pandora: Yup, that’s a well-known sentence among psychologists.

Doctor: Don’t downplay it like that. Don’t you understand? If you choose death, it’s over. There’s always chance your emptiness disappears one day. But it will never disappear if you don’t fight it. Isn’t there anything you would like to see? Anywhere you would like to go? Maybe there’s something good coming to you in a year but if you die, it will never reach you. It will feel like… your young life will be unfinished for no reason. As if your words are cut halfway through your sentence… you’re not even listening to me.

Pandora: Whether I die or not, you cannot do anything about it. You are bound by the confidentiality.

Doctor: Wrong.

Pandora: What?

Doctor: If there is a real chance that a patient can hurt themselves or anybody else, the doctors can break the confidentiality rule.

Pandora: Hey, but that’s-

Doctor: It’s written in the papers you signed when you first came here. This is a general rule of all the psychologists across the world. I thought you were studying to become one and yet you didn’t know something so basic?

Pandora: Damn, this completely bypassed me. But no matter, you still can’t stop me. I don’t own a mobile phone anymore. I never gave you my latest home address. I am not working, going to school or using a credit card. There is absolutely no way you or the police could track me down after I leave this room for good.

Doctor: Today is 24th November 2024, our third meeting. We first met on 10th November 2024. Is there a reason why you looked for me after the endgame?

Pandora: (smiles) Severing the bonds and hurting the people close to me was one thing. The pillars were indeed gone. But there was still one last structure in my head…

Doctor: I am pretty certain that I couldn’t have and also didn’t become another pillar. You were very clear and consistent about it with your behavior. But you didn’t need to be so annoying. I never develop feelings towards my patients and you are no exception. I am a professional.

Pandora: Heh, but I am not talking about a pillar.

In a fantasy, Pandora is walking around on the stone platform. Even though the statues have all been unchained and they fell one by one and even though the pillars have been destroyed, the platform that Pandora walks on is floating as if it was still supported by the pillars.

Doctor: Then…?

Pandora: Your role is special.

In the fantasy, the Pandora in a white dress that has been stuck in this space since the beginning without aging comes across another Pandora in a black dress, older one that reflects the current Pandora from reality. The black dress Pandora pats the white dress Pandora who is visibly confused on the head and smiles.

Pandora: You are the platform that will forever keep my soul alive.

In the fantasy, the Pandora in the black dress turns her back on the Pandora in the white dress. She makes a couple of steps. The Pandora in the white tries to reach out to her with her hand but the black Pandora disappears.

Pandora: Maybe I won’t end my life so soon after all~.

Doctor: I don’t understand…?

Pandora: My dying rule number two: I shall not die before becoming a perfect test subject for further psychology studies.


Author’s note: The second rule is finally revealed! Has Pandora been scheming something the whole time? Find out next time in the last chapter of Her Three Dying Rules!