Chapter 1:

An Answer from Eros

An Answer from Eros

The heat is getting to me.

Not understanding my heart is delayed asphyxiation. It drives me mad to hold these thoughts like a knife to my throat. I take a deep breath, I feel a sharp jab in my chest.

A fish in a terrarium lives a better life than I do.

Inside this obstinate white room, I've relived countless August 15ths. I look outside the window, the glaring summer sun imposes on everyone, drying out the mouths of the people walking outside. Living vicariously through strangers I see from the fifth floor of my hospital room, the ink of my pen dries and I continue to write with my creaky pianist hand.

You only have a few weeks left. That's what they said last summer and the three summers before that.

I have gone past the point of being pitiful. Keeping me alive has burned through both my savings and my inheritance, but the hospital has not kicked me out just yet. I am what you call a burden, in every sense of the word. My parents and friends, at least those who are still around, already went on with their lives. Visitations became less and less frequent after last year.

The nurses and their unimportant chatter often keep me company as I compose piano pieces, just as I had before my admission. My illness dulled my motor skills, but it did not hinder my ability to write music. This limbo was yet to take me whole. It eats a fraction of my soul at every tick-tock of the clock, and I stubbornly stretch myself out with every note.

My only companion is the Doctor who frequents my room. He carries himself with a professional gait, wearing a clean look with his glasses on. His family owns this hospital, but he never brought it up himself.

By afternoon, he comes in and closes the curtains I open in the mornings. He sits by my side, farthest from the window. He was assigned to me a year ago and replaced the visitors who had forgotten I existed. We solidified our friendship last Christmas when he let me leech off his Spotify account.

Out of the many things I have listened to with my deluge of free time, our conversations etched themselves into my memory deeper than anything else. He comes to me like a worn soldier from war about to confess his transgressions. I listen to him and I assure him he will be in my prayers, even though we both knew I did not pray.

Speaking of the devil, the Doctor opens the door to my room, earlier than he usually would. The sun is at its peak. "You tied your hair up today," he says observantly, taking a seat by my bedside.

"You keep leaving the curtains open,” he points out.

"You keep closing them," I retort.

Although, he doesn’t close them today.

There were days when he would just stay here without a word as if to simply remind me he exists. He reminds me I exist. He's like a bubble where I am not a burden; instead, I unburden him.

The Doctor’s gaze transfixes on me, pretending to buy himself time when it seems he already prepared what to say. "If I could give you my life, I already would have."

Only in these moments does he meet my gaze directly. Otherwise, his eyes shy away from mine, drawn by an apparition only visible to him. It makes me uneasy.

"What a drab thing to hear from a Doctor,” I shoot him a look. “Aren't you supposed to cheer me up?"

He hides his intentions with practiced words, but for me, who is bound to a lifeline, they were as clear as a summer's day.

He longs for death.

It is said there are two types of people:

     those ruled by the desire for life— Eros

     and those ruled by the desire for death—Thanatos.

Most of the people in the world are the former, but the Doctor is unquestionably the latter. I knew Thanatos ruled him the moment he asked me after witnessing firsthand my waltz with death, Aren’t you tired?

The Doctor melts into the chair as the heat outside penetrates the window. Looking up at the empty ceiling, he spares no detail about the patients who died under his care today. "The machine kept his heart beating, but he gave out anyway." His dispassionate detachment beguiled me at first, but he only articulated himself when it was about death.

"Will I be next?" I wonder.

If his patients are all lined up on death’s doorstep, maybe my turn was around the corner?

"You want to live, don't you?” he said. “Maybe your stubbornness is contagious, and I will catch it."

It is a lie, I'm actually tired.

I have thought about giving up countless times. Nobody would blame me if I did. I am tired of living just for the sake of it. I have been in this hospital for so long that if I ever get discharged, I would not even know what to do with myself.

My lungs are no longer made of sacs and blood vessels, they have been replaced by tubes and wires. Every breath is a rebellion, and I am a weary machine oiled by daydreams.

Yet the Doctor appears more tired than I am. He prepares to drop his arms in a battle that is not even his while he sutures mine into my hands. I live through his stories and he attempts to die in mine.

"If I tell you I want to die, will you kill me, my Angel of Death?"

A prolonged silence fills in the blanks as if this is the first time my words ever managed to reach him. Deep down I knew there was a reason why he would visit me every day. I have written symphonies; I know how to read between the lines, even in moments of rest.

The Doctor shifts from his seat, his whole body facing me like his entire being wants to respond.

At that moment, I ceased to be a Patient.

I have become the moral abyss he longed for.

He was waiting for me to withdraw my words, but I was waiting for him to receive them.

The creases on his brows deepen in contemplation. He left confessions on my doorstep because he believed in my impermanence— was I wrong? I open my mouth to speak, but then he reaches for my hand and utters. "I will."

It was a simple agreement, but it was all I needed to understand.

You have consigned to break your oath.

And I have become your Thanatos.

"I want to end it all.”

The words finally break out of me.

And for once, I made you smile.

Strangers in white flock around me as if they have been praying for this hour. The summer sun imposes on everyone, thinning the fragile thread I hang upon. There was no rhyme or reason to the incessant beeping of the machine. I have never known a summer this dark. The shadows around me grow thicker with every shallow breath. The infallible tethers attached to my body become arbitrary.

You reach for the defibrillator with such urgency breaking your usual calm. Your glasses perch precariously on your nose, threatening to fall as your hands become preoccupied with pressing the paddles down on my chest.

All I can think about is your lonely gaze.

How could you go on your own? You don't get to leave when you've just agreed to do this together. I'm your Angel of Death, remember?! — It is written all over your face, the premature grieving of loss.

Not of my death, but yours.

In the never-changing days when I cried

You seduce me with your tenderness towards the end.

The reflection of you in my eyes is truly beautiful

I catch a glimpse of the window behind you. You left the curtains open. The sun was about to set. I extend my hand towards your face, feeling the sensation of hot tears where cold sweat should have been.

Just when I feel we finally understood each other, I push you off the cliff.

What of this did you relish so much that you pine for it, just as a moth chases a flame?

Death was just a word until you happened. It comes to us just as how songs end. Now I feel it in my flesh, soaked in your longing; the forthcoming dread as you desperately attempt to pull me away from It.

You keep searching for my eyes.

Maybe this is what I hoped for all along.

Inside this obstinate white room, I finally live a different 15th of August.

I laugh.

"I get to see your God first."

You race against the night.

My thoughts sprawl like limbs in free fall.

We reach our climax on a flatline.

An Answer from Eros

An Answer from Eros