Chapter 1:

From the Darkness Up Above

From the Darkness Up Above

Have you ever been in a place so loud that all you hear is silence, or a place so quiet that all you hear is yourself?

It was one of those days. From early morning to late evening, the sun never showed. Instead, clouds covered my hometown, and the world seemed to lose its color. However, even with the pale atmosphere, my classroom was in a buzz because it was the holiday and a short day for all of them. I just sat at my desk, not as excited. I knew I would be here all day and could not share their excitement. The commotion and all other sounds were blocked out of my ears.

After a long day of studying, day turned into night, and it was time to walk home. The street lights and surrounding buildings dimly lit the pavement from the dark void up above. It was oddly quiet. I could hear my every breath. My footsteps, the rustling of my clothes, and my thoughts were louder than usual. I was reminded of a conversation I had many times.

“Isn’t the night so beautiful?”

After a short pause, I always sighed, “I think I have to disagree.”

“But just look at it. Doesn't it draw you in?”

I was almost ready to have that conversation again tonight with the same person. I could never understand how anyone could prefer the dark emptiness of the night over the vibrant colors of the world. She would even mention her god of death, and I could never make any sense of it.

All of this ended, though, when a deafening CRUNCH blipped into existence. I stopped breathing. It was so loud that I could no longer hear myself. Soon after, the color missing earlier today began to show itself as a brilliant red puddle glistened under the street lamps on the pavement where the sound rang. A few feet in front of my path, two bodies laid before me from the darkness up above.

Upon a second glance, I saw a boy a little older than me. His hair was matted down with blood and sweat. It hid his still expression, but hints of his flushed face slipped through his bangs. Next to him was a girl in a simple white dress. Although it was turning a rosy red as I stared at it. I dared not look at her face. I kept my eyes on the center of it all. Their hands were intertwined tightly, even after death.

I was gasping for air; it was hard to breathe. I was unable to move, so I just continued to stare. The once brilliant red slowly faded to a rusty brown. The boy’s hair dried up as the winds blew his bangs away to reveal a pale, expressionless face. Eventually, the ringing crunch sound in my mind faded along with the color of the two in front of me. Silence returned, and I could hear my breathing again.

After regaining control of my body, I walked around and towards the building that had become a tool for death. I took the stairs to the top level and walked to the end of the hall. My family's apartment door was open. There wasn't a robbery. The last person to leave just forgot to close the door. My parents were at work, and my sister walked out for the last time.

About one week later, I was sitting at my sister's and the boy's funeral. Mine and the boy's parents had a muffled argument. The boy's mom's eyes stared coldly into my parents while her voice escalated.

“He would… He would… still be here if it wasn't for your daughter.”

The already hushed auditorium froze to a dead halt at the loud cry. All eyes were directed to the two couples up front.

The mother of the boy who had died scolded my parents in a fit of rage through her tears. Soon, her family members pulled her away in an effort to keep the somber mood of the funeral from getting worse. Her husband bowed and apologized for his wife's outburst and walked away. An awkward silence followed.

“I’m sorry for your loss.”

Those were the words I heard all day. I didn't know how to respond, so I sat silently. Even if we didn't talk much, my sister and I were close. She and I always had fun whenever we were together. Now, there was an empty vacuum that sucked away the color out of everything. Those repeated words only kept reminding me of the vibrant colors there once were.

The boy's mother’s words lingered in my mind. She wasn't wrong. He was our neighbor when we moved to that apartment. My sister's dark, sad eyes drew him in like a magnet, and they started dating. After a few weeks, I looked up to him like an older brother. But he unexpectedly found himself saving my sister from time to time. We all knew something was wrong with her, but no one tried to help her except him. Why wouldn't someone be mad after finding out their child died because they were dating someone suicidal? Even I was angry at myself for not doing anything to help her. I just assumed the boy would become her savior.

But none of them saw what I saw. Instead of being my sister's savior, he was an accomplice. It wasn't an accident that the boy fell as well. They jumped together. I saw their hands held together. I heard no struggle from up above. They both jumped on their own will. He always tried to stop my sister. However, he lived alone, and something broke inside of him, too. No one was in the right. We were all at fault. No one did anything. We all just stood on the sideline. They were all dead because none of us helped them.

The end of the funeral came, and the coffins were escorted out and down the aisle. I got a glimpse of them in my peripheral. It felt as if a coffin of my own squeezed my heart. It looked so small. How could anyone fit in that? How could that be the end of all humans? How could anyone be comfortable in that tight space? The tightness around my chest strengthened as I envisioned everyone I knew enclosed in a dark coffin. Moments later, Everyone rose to walk out, but I couldn't hear them through my thoughts.

Everyone was gone, and my parents came to get me out of my seat. We stepped out into another melancholic cloudy day. It only reminded me of the day my sister passed. I looked over to my mother, and in her hand was a rose. The rose was the same color as the blood. After witnessing their deaths, red was the only color I saw.

Everything was gray from that day on. Red was the only color that showed any emotion. I constantly found myself on the roof of our apartment building, staring up into the night.

Eventually, I began to understand why my sister was obsessed with the endless void. I would still pretend to have the same conversation with her whenever I lay on the roof and looked up into the sky.

I imagined her voice, “Isn’t the night so beautiful?”

“I think I have to disagree,” I muttered softly.

“But just look at it. Doesn't it draw you in?”

But now, I would continue the conversation with myself and contemplate it further. Even if I began to be mesmerized by the darkness, I also remembered how brilliant and colorful the world used to be to me.

“The night has a beauty of its own, but so is the day. Even if I can no longer see the color the sun brings to my eyes, I know it exists.”

A few years later, that color returned to me. I started dating a beautiful girl who reminded me of the colorful world I once knew. She made me smile. She cared for me, and I cared for her. On cloudy, colorless days, she would be a beacon to my eyes. 

On the occasional early morning, we would lie down together on the roof of my apartment. Together, we watched the sunrise. Slowly, an orange and blue sky appeared, and the darkness faded away. I turned over to my right and saw her. I saw her tanned skin and her rich chocolate eyes. I lost my breath just looking at her.