You came to me like a breath of fresh air. Liberating and free. Like you always did. While I waited for the rain to pass under that sheltered walkway, your kind offer echoes in my heart again.
"Would you like to share an umbrella with me?" I stared at you fondly. Your smile, gentle. Your words reflected a kindness not commonly found in passing strangers.
"Its okay. I'm waiting for someone or was it something... to fetch me?". The red man turned green. The deafening rain grew louder and the wind howled like there was no tomorrow.
"Okay," He casually nods at my response but suddenly shoved his umbrella into my hand. "Just in case, the someone or something doesn't turn up,"
Baffled, I stood there staring at him with his umbrella as he dashed across the road in the rain. Using only his thin outerwear as his shield, I watched him gracefully leap through puddles and heavy streams of water.
The splashes that came after his leaps were so satisfying. I watched in amazement. Upon reaching the other side, you continued on your path. This time, you never turned back.
I gazed at your figure for what seems to be a lifetime. Who am I kidding? It was probably a number of lifetimes. But this time, the nth time, you didn't look back at me.
You didn't hesitate. You didn't contemplate. You walked on like I wished you would. Finally, you didn't turn back time for me. Like it should have been.
What changed I wondered? It only took mere seconds. The scene played back in my mind and I braced myself for what was about to happen. As expected, it passed by in a flash.
A loud screeching siren pierced the air and a pair of blinding lights suddenly came into view. My eyes which were holding back tears the moment I met you silently trickled down.
I closed my eyes. This was meant to happen. I was supposed to be the one to go anyway. I don't want you to suffer in my place. Not again.
I knew I was always meant to die there and then. Called it pre-destined I guess. In that chaotic weather, my queer, sensitive ears picked up the whispers of death. Ah, a grim reaper is finally here for me.
Knowing this fate of mine, I tried living a life without regrets. An honest and colourful life. However, things don't always work out the way I wanted it to. I struggled, like many others.
I chased happiness, like many others. Except unlike others, I knew my deadline.
As my deadline crept near, I grew desperate. I wasn't satisfied enough to leave yet. No, not yet.
Those words were running through my head that rainy day as I awaited my death. I can't run. I can't change what was written. I can only wait for it to pass like it was meant to be.
Until you came.
You who offered to share the shade of your umbrella. Who would have known that you secretly possessed the power to change my fate?
Those magic words. "Would you like to share an umbrella with me?" Frantic to rid myself of my pre-destined death, I accepted it without a moment to waste. I gained control of my legs again.
Under the rain, your large umbrella protected the both of us under the horrid storm. As we crossed the road, the whispers of death slowly died down and became quiet. My eyes widened in shock.
Once we reached the other side, he brought the umbrella down and gave it a good shake.
"Thank you," I uttered gratefully as I encapsulate his hands in mine. Surprised by the sudden contact, he chuckled awkwardly. "No problem, I guess"
He can change my fate. I need to be with him. He will keep me safe. He will prevent me from hearing the whispers of death. My mind a flurry of activity.
That was how we first met. After what you did, I latched on to you like a piece of gum. Stubborn to leave your side and a pain in the ass to be honest.
You probably felt very annoyed but you were too kind. You tried to accommodate to my every request. Me, a mere stranger. You entertained me to the best of your ability.
What was once a stranger's encounter blossomed into a strange relationship of dependency. As time passed, we began to develop feelings for each other.
Just like that, I was able to avoid my tragic death. However, what I didn't know was that the whispers of death never did leave me.
As we embarked on a new journey together, I finally felt that I have attained the kind of happiness I was looking for. I felt complete. However, things slowly made a turn for the worse when I saw you change.
Not only you but the people around you seemed to change as well. Weak and suffering in pain. Your loved ones started falling ill and your health also deteriorated.
Work became irrelevant as you tried fighting for your life everyday. At first, I was confused. Why is this all happening now? Especially when I finally feel fulfilled with my life.
It suddenly dawned on me. Could it be that he took on the burden of my tragic death which I evaded? Could it be that he was the one hearing the whispers of death now?
The next day, I supported him into his seat for dinner. I placed his food before him and together we started to dig in. I painfully watched as he struggled to get the spoon between his fingers with much effort.
Holding back tears, I helped adjust the spoon and went back to staring at the bowl of soup in front of me. Flashing a grateful smile, he began to tuck into his dinner.
A young guy in his early 30s struggling to eat his dinner with a spoon. A man who is filled with so much potential is sitting in front of me, withering away. What a terrible joke. I can't take this anymore.
"Tell me, have you been hearing the whispers of death?" My question bounced off the quiet walls of our home. You stopped eating and stared at me.
Putting down your spoon, your eyes blinked and shifted as though trying to figure out what to say. "What is that? Whispers of death?"
He curiously looked at me. He doesn't know. Perhaps it was just me who could hear the whispers of death since my ears are special. But, I couldn't hear it for a while now.
So, what exactly is happening? Why does he look like his life is being drained from him? Why does he look like...he is dying a slow death?
I breathed out a heavy sigh and later helped him to bed. As I tucked him into the sheets, again, he flashed a gentle smile. "Thank you for being with me all this time,"
My heart clenched and my eyes glistened. "No, I should thank you. You did more than you can imagine," I whispered close to his ear as I kissed him tenderly on the cheek.
"Maybe we helped each other out in the long run," He chuckled in reply and it was not long before he drifted off to sleep. As he did, so did I as my eyes closed for the last time in that lifetime.
As my eyes fluttered open again, I was once again standing under the sheltered walkway waiting for the light to turn. It was raining heavily. What just happened?
It was as though I went back in time. Again, I can hear the whispers of death around me. I shivered in response. Its been awhile since I heard them. Why am I back here?
Did I not escape my tragic fate? I began to panic as I realised that I had lost control of my legs. No, not again. I struggled to get my feet off the ground but to no avail.
"Would you like to share an umbrella with me?" A familiar voice greeted me once more. I looked up in surprise. You were young again. Healthy and agile. Your eyes clear and your smile gentle.
However, you did not seem to recognise me. "Hey, don't you know me?" I cautiously asked you. Tilting his head in thought, he replied. "Have we met before? I don't think so,"
My heart sank. All those memories we shared. Gone and unremembered. I began to shake. "Hey, would you like to share an umbrella with me or not? The light changed already," Your voice filled my ears.
I was about to accept your offer like I did before but unlike last time, I hesitated. I recalled the possible consequences of me accepting your offer. You and your loved ones slowly falling ill and withering away.
This time, I'm going to fulfill my tragic fate. "No, its alright. Head on first," I replied back quietly. Shrugging, you made your way across. Once on the other side, you turned around to face me.
I watched him curiously. After a few moments staring, he made his way back to me. Without saying a word, he grabbed my hand and pulled me in his embrace under the umbrella. My legs were able to move again.
Confused, my mouth opened agape wanting to question his actions. But before I was able to, he answered. "A gut feeling. Something in me told me to come get you...no matter what,"
I gasped. Does he know my predicament? I gazed deeply into his eyes and clearly he doesn't actually know what was going on, right? So, I left it as it may and continued living my second lifetime with him.
Consequentially like the first, he eventually fell ill and again, I was transported back to that fateful walkway. I tried desperately breaking the vicious cycle of his death and suffering.
I tried disguising myself. I tried ignoring him. I tried being rude to him. I tried acting crazy. I tried hurting him.
But, he always came back to bring me to the other side under his umbrella. Until this time. The nth time, this current lifetime. He didn't turn back.
Instead, he passed his umbrella to me and crossed to the other side alone with nothing but a thin outerwear as his cover. Once across, you didn't turn back but I swear I caught a glimpse of a sorrowful smile.
As you walked further away from me, strangely the whispers of death died down and I began to have control of my legs again. My eyes widened in shock. How can it be?
I did not cross to the other side with him? So, what changed?
It finally dawned on me that the answer was in my hand all along. I tightened my grip on the handle. The umbrella!
In the distance, I suddenly heard the wailing of an ambulance in your direction disrupting my chain of thought. Suddenly the thought of you came to mind. I scrambled towards the sound.
Like you did, I leapt into the puddles and streams of water accumulated due to the downpour. Liberating and free. I can no longer feel the burden of my pre-destined fate weighing down on me.
My lips curled up into a smile. Excited to share the news, I ran as fast as I could towards you. Finally, we can live this lifetime without you suffering in my place. Although you did not admit it, I always blamed myself for your condition.
I ran and ran in your direction where you left but I can't even catch a glimpse of your silhouette. Dread started to fill inside me.
The ambulance siren grew louder. The flashing lights disorienting me. Apparently, there was a car accident. A crowd has formed around the injured person in question.
No, no it can't be. This cannot be true. I staggered towards the scene. My hand clutching the fabric close to my heart. My eyes were already tearing up.
It scared me that my body was already reacting this way before I actually know about anything. I gulped and made my way through the crowd.
There you were as I suspected. Laying down on the concrete floor, bleeding. Bleeding profusely from the head. I collapsed near your body and broke down wailing. The umbrella shielding the both of us under the rain again.
Did you take on the entirety of my tragic fate instead? I can't help but question as I fixated over your seemingly lifeless lifeform. Suddenly, your eyes seemed to shift and slowly flutter open.
I gasped. "Did you know about my fate this whole time? Did you know about our multiple lifetimes?" I muttered under my breath in between sobs. Again, you stared at me like you did during my first lifetime.
Again, your lips formed a gentle smile on your pale face. "I couldn't bear to leave you throughout those lifetimes. But, this time, I think I can finally let you go alone at least with my umbrella for company," He attempted to chuckle at the end.
What about me? Did you think that I want this to happen? Frustrated, my eyebrows furrowed and I felt the urge to gave him an earful. In response, he just...gazed at me for a long time.
His clear eyes tracing the features of my face and his mouth still fixed in a kind smile. "I'm sorry for leaving you like this. Regardless, I'm thankful that our paths crossed. Honestly, it was probably my fate to have met you at that walkway,"
I choked. How can it be that your fate is to die in my hands? How is it different from the other lifetimes? Honestly, what a joke.
The moment we shared seemed to last a lifetime. Probably our final one. It wasn't long before he spoke his final words and let out his dying breath.
No, its not I love you. As cliche as it sounds, we already know we loved each other and honestly those three overrated words cannot begin to describe the depth of our relationship.
No, instead, it was, "Finally, you can live freely in the unknown. Don't be afraid and continue seizing the day,"
Since his passing, I can no longer hear the whispers of death. Finally, I'm living fine and healthy today without knowing my deadline.
His umbrella became something I treasured with all my heart. However, the mystery of our repeated lifetimes became something I pondered often in my own time.
I had a feeling the umbrella was the key to the mystery all along. I inspected the umbrella and realised the motif under the handle.
It was a motif of a clock and it seemed to be a bit protruded in the center. Curious, I pressed it and it seemed to pop out a small note hidden within the space of the handle.
As I began to read the contents of the note, the mystery started to come full circle. Unlike me who knew my pre-determined death, it turned out that he was immortal and was fated to never know whether he would be able to die.
Finally passing the umbrella to me allowed him to take over my fate and grant him the possibility of eternal rest. Yet, the question of our many lifetimes and his continued suffering remained. I continued reading on.
All along, throughout those lifetimes, he skillfully kept hidden the fact that he already knew me from the first encounter. I guess he enjoyed reliving the supposedly many firsts we shared together. I guess I was a bit dense to not notice it all.
It also appeared that when he shared the umbrella with me and slowly took over the consequence of my fate, he started hearing the whispers of death. He was intrigued and strangely comforted by them.
Furthermore, the reason why we kept reliving all those lifetimes was because the effect of his previous actions failed to grant him eternal rest. Hence, he too tried different ways of getting me to cross to the other side.
You tried disguising yourself. You tried flirting with me. You tried being aggressive to me. You tried acting crazy. You tried threatening me.
Nevertheless, I think it was only later when both of us realised that the key was not getting to the other side together but providing the means for me to get to the other side.
What a strange thing to have crossed paths on that fateful day and place. Strangely on a rainy day, I find myself standing at the same sheltered walkway waiting for the light to turn again.
From where I was, I heard footsteps of someone running towards the sheltered walkway. Cursing under their breath, the person stared disappointingly at their drenched attire as they too waited for the light to turn.
Amused by the current situation, I casually asked with a kind smile. "Would you like to share an umbrella with me?"