Chapter 1:

Embrace of a new sky

Farewell to Yesterday

It was a day in early fall—a chilly night quenching my usually so seething thoughts like breaking into the ice of a frozen lake. My heart didn’t shiver from the cold, as she was with me.

“The stars are really beautiful,” I said, not moving as we lay hand in hand on the roof of our apartment building.

No answer. The sounds from waves of rustling trees and humming of a highway mixed with the roaring of a plane, blinking high above our heads.

As every night, the never-sleeping skyscrapers pulsed in the city’s heartbeat, its life bleeding into the sky above. A flock of birds cut into the backdrop with their silhouettes—ravens as I recognized from their call. The world kept moving, as we were standing still.

I turned to look at her. Long hair wafted in the wind, her skin was barely illuminated by the weak, solitary lightbulb shining through the door of the staircase, left slightly ajar.

She looked up, her eyes detached from the world. “Countless of these stars already found their ends thousands of years ago and it’s only because their fading echo takes so long to reach us, we won’t ever know about their demise until they are long gone.”

“That sounds … tragic.”

She smiled wistfully. “That is actually beautiful.”

It had been just a week, since the two of us started dating. We didn’t meet on the easiest terms. I was on my lowest point at that time, without a job, without friends or family to help me—an outcast lost in the blinding lightspeed of the city.

I first met her carrying moving boxes through the staircase. She rented an apartment on the ninth floor. Something in her eyes always seemed so deeply sad and hopeless, her curious looks more familiar than they should have. Of course, I didn’t dare talk to someone as gorgeous at first. We only ever exchanged gazes from a distance.

Still lying on the roof, she let go of my hand and lifted her body with the elegant grace of a feline. Her silhouette covered me in shadows. “It’s time to go.”

I only saw her occasionally on my way to the station or when buying groceries. One day she was waiting at a traffic light in front of me. She was lost in thought and mindlessly stepped on the street. The passing traffic would have caught her, hadn’t I pulled her back. This way we came to talk.

“I thought about ending it all,” she said on our first date.

I did too, but the icy cold hands of fear choked the words in my throat. The smile on her face told me that she understood them, nonetheless.

“Let’s do it together!” Her eyes had been filled with determination. “Together it’s not as scary.”

Of course, I agreed. How could I not? At that time, I still secretly believed that I would be able to change her mind. I asked her to spend one last week together with me and have a few dates, to leave this world without regrets. It was naïve to think she would understand me.

Now, nothing was holding me here anymore. The last entry on our list of date activities was crossed out and the only thing I could do was to go with the girl I loved.

The thin sheet of paper fluttered in the wind like a fragile confession. “Where do I best put this? I mean—”

“Let me take care of that.” She took it out of my hands and kneeled next to me.

A few well-placed folds. The paper, documenting our last week on earth, slowly turned into a paper plane. She proudly presented it to me. I swallowed, stood up.

Did I go wrong somewhere? Was it my fault to end up like this? Was something wrong with me that left everyone else indifferent about my existence—not even worthy of a reaction or notice on my melody that always seemed to chime slightly out of tune with the world surrounding me?

With a strong throw, I sent the paper plane on a flight above the fence of the roof. There it went … my last week tossed away, sailing lonely into the night. The feeling pushed tears into my eyes. I didn’t even know if I was sad anymore. I didn’t care.

She took my hand and we walked towards the railing. I helped her to get over it and followed myself.

My hands clenched into the wire mesh of the fence behind me. Only a step separated us from death. The wind colliding with the building created strong gusts of an updraft. It howled and pulled at my clothes, like the souls of the abyss were already reaching out for me. I started shaking.

“Are you ready?” she asked, her hair thrown around.

The city in the distance looked unshaken. It was so far away, yet so close. The world would not take notice about me, or care what I would do to myself. It would keep turning the same way, making the night follow the day.

I only had to be brave enough for once … and bravery was what ignited inside me—one that dispelled even my indifference. “Thank you!” I said, towards her.

She replied with a quizzical gaze.

“That you were there for me.” I smiled bitterly. “My whole life I felt like holding my breath, drifting on a current. When I met you, I was able to draw fresh air for the first time. I was not alone anymore.”

She looked at me—really looked at me—for what seemed like the first time. There was uncertainty in her eyes—her big, rounded eyes. Her mouth opened and suddenly tears overcame them as well. She started crying, weeping right as we stood behind the fence. “But …!”

“I’ve fallen in love with you. So deeply, that I would give everything to stay by your side … but I can’t.” I grabbed her hand. “You gave me the condolence I needed … the reassurance that I’m not powerless: At least living is still my own decision.”

“But the suffering won’t ever stop! There is only one way to stop it and that is when you come with me!” She cried out, her breathing got unsteady. “I only want to save you—to help you!”

“I know that!” I stroked the back of her hand with my thumb.

Her jaw started shaking at my words.

Nobody in this world would take notice about the courage I mustered this night. The next day I would still wake up the same person with the same problems, ignored by the same people. I would again need to hold my breath, hoping that things would turn around. There was no guarantee they ever would.

“Thank you for being there for me, when nobody else was.”

“Can’t you hear the calling anymore?” She tried to smile at me, crying, powerless. “Thanatos’ call—the call from the god of death? You told me you heard it!”

“I do still hear them.” I turned my gaze at the city. “I think it won’t ever leave me, but it feels like something is out there, beyond the horizon where I can’t see it yet. Like I’m just sitting in a small pool, not knowing about the ocean ahead of me.”

She didn’t reply. Again, there was just the wind that brushed through the trees. I closed my eyes at the scenery and inhaled the chilly air. My heart was freezing, but despite all my sorrows and all the hurtful disappointments it would cause me again and again, I couldn’t bring myself to go with her.

Maybe I was deemed to be pushed to the ground for the rest of my life, but deep inside my heart, I couldn’t hold myself back, looking out for eyes in the crowds that looked sadly back at mine.

Finally, for a long time, I felt at peace with all the hurt—accepting it as the beautiful tragedy it was. My mouth shaped into a shaky smile, as I opened my eyes.

She had already left me alone, submerged in the sea of life.

There was just a paper plane in my hand that had never let go of hers. With scribbly letters, a new point on the list read:

Whenever you look at the stars, remember the time with me, as one day we will inevitably fall in love again.

Farewell to Yesterday Cover Image

Farewell to Yesterday