You're Not Going To Read This Anyway
Dinner was served, but none of us was hungry.
Four plates were laid out in front of us. Four chairs beckoned us to sit and eat.
There were only three of us.
The empty chair beside me wasn’t tucked underneath the table, as if someone was sitting there. It just hit me—we haven’t moved it for over a month now. Nobody could. It just didn’t feel right.
Maybe Mum and Dad noticed it. Maybe they didn’t. But that plateful of spaghetti in front of the vacant seat? That was Dad’s breaking point.
He turned off the radio. The same old pop song disappeared, taking my source of comfort along with it.
“What is this?”
“Food,” Mum answered.
Quiet. His deep, assertive tone was met with nothing. Mum proceeded to stuff her meal down her throat, eyes as empty as the vacant seat next to me.
Gone were the days of “Dinner’s ready!” or “Let’s eat!”. Now, it’s just going through the motions. A blasé routine of a happy family.
I took Mum’s signal as a queue to start eating and ignore the drama. But before I could even pick up my fork, that extra plate of spaghetti shattered all over the floor, painting the carpet in a beautiful mess of red and orange.
“Stop this nonsense!” yelled the one who sent the plate flying. “Wake. Up. She’s g—”
“BECAUSE OF YOU!” Mum snapped. “You’d think she’d jump off a building with a stranger for no reason?! You’d think she was happy working at YOUR stupid company?! You—”
More incoherent shouting. Couldn’t say I wasn’t used to it. I started to see why Big Sis did what she did. It was hard to blame her for what she did. She just got her own apartment, but every weekend she had to come here and deal with this.
I got up from my seat.
Dad barked, “Where do you think you’re going?!”
“Toilet,” I lied. But there was nothing Mum and Dad could do about it. I refused to become another casualty in this pointless war between them. It has already claimed one life. Well, two if you counted the guy who jumped with her. Wouldn’t want it to be a crowd.
As I headed upstairs, part of me wanted to yell back at them. To tell them that it would do everyone a favour if they just got a divorce. I came back from overseas to help manage Big Sis’s funeral, not marriage counselling.
Every step I took was heavy, an indirect protest to the violence happening downstairs. I wasn’t just upset at Mum and Dad. I was upset at Big Sis as well. She took the easy way out, but she didn’t end the suffering.
She just passed it on to us.
Lost in my thoughts, I got lost upstairs as well. While reflecting on this pathetic turn of events, I suddenly caught myself staring at the nameplate on my sister’s door. Even though she moved out, she didn’t take it with her.
Every time Mum and Dad fought when we were little, we would hide inside the wardrobe in her room. All the clothes inside dampened the sound of crying really well, making it less likely for us to get caught by Dad, and the beatings that followed.
Damn it, I just miss her so much.
I entered her room. Her bed was made. Her plushies, arranged in a uniform line. Everything was eerily clean, nothing like the mess she’d usually leave this place in. The smell of her obnoxious perfume was long gone. I couldn’t stand it, but now it felt so much worse without it.
As if by instinct, I walked towards her wardrobe, the shelter from all the screaming below. Opening it was a mistake. Seeing all her old clothes trapezing on their hangers opened the floodgates in my eyes. Her shift in fashion sense throughout the years—each phase of her life could be captured by how her dresses were arranged. Memories, both good and bad, turned into lampposts in a night’s drive, quickly flashing past me.
I got down, looking at our hiding spot—the bottom compartment on the left. It could fit the two of us when we were children. It should be able to fit one adult me.
The bump as I tried to crawl inside said otherwise.
I replied with an “ouch.” Then a laugh. Ironic. It didn’t hurt. In fact, it made me think. Which was better?
To be a child abused by my father? Or to be an adult abused by society?
The fact that Big Sis only took her life as an adult and not a child was a hint.
As if she was teasing me, the bump caused a piece of paper to fall out of one of the spare work dresses she kept here. Words scribbled all over it in dried-up ink. I froze. I was afraid that if I picked it up, it would end up hurting me even more.
But even more than that, I wanted to hear her words again.
Even though we both cried inside here, she was the one who was always comforting me. Even though she was no longer here, it appeared that she’d fulfil her role as Big Sis one more time.
Flipping the paper over, I deciphered her semi-legible handwriting.
I’m really sorry. I tried to help, but it looks like whatever I do, it always ends up worse for you and Mum.
It wasn’t always this bad. When I moved out, I became friends with the neighbour next door. We actually started dating. But the more I fell in love, the more afraid I became.
It felt unfair to share this burden with him. Sora left to start a better life overseas. I couldn’t lose him too.
During my darkest moments, he was there for me. I thought he’d see how ugly I am and leave me. But he gave me warmth that I never felt in my entire life.
Nobody is to blame for this, except me. I know I’m being selfish. I want to be with him, but there’s no way we can have a happy ending because of how I am.
So tonight, I’m ending it all. Hopefully, he’d realise it, too.
This will be my fourth attempt. This time, I really feel Death calling for me. But if for some reason I fail again, and you happen to read this, please ignore this. Just please, take better care of Mum.
Actually, scratch that. You’re not going to read this anyway.
The piece of paper crumpled in my hand. It weighed almost nothing, yet I never felt heavier in my life. Seeing a glimpse of what was running through her mind crushed me.
If I wasn’t so selfish, if I chose to stay and share in her pain, maybe she would still be here.
At the very least, she died feeling loved. Not everyone was that lucky.
My hands were still shaking. My tears were starting to muddy the writing on the paper. I quickly stuffed it in my pocket.
The war in the dining room turned into a ceasefire. The shouting match was replaced by calls of my name. I was still struggling to process what I’d just read, but I got out of the wardrobe anyway.
Wiping away my tears, I hastily tried to remove any traces of my pitiful state. Probably failed miserably.
Time to put on a brave face.
That was what Big Sis usually told me.
As I opened the door, Mum and Dad were standing right in front of me. Each of us looked like a complete mess.
In my head, there were so many things I wanted to say to them. I wanted them to feel so badly what Big Sis was feeling. But at that very moment, I knew why she ended her suicide note that way.
The suffering that she passed on to us…it ends with me.
I won’t pass it on to others. Maybe this was my own way of being selfish.
With a smile on my face, I told the both of them, “It’s okay,” knowing full well that the hate and abuse would continue again.
There was no answer to this.
Then again, was there any answer to being alive in the first place?