Whenever I’m with you, I’m comfortable. I can’t help but fall in love with you more and more. I know exactly how you feel about me, and I suppose that it’s okay. I’ve been instituted as a friend of yours, and that’s better than nothing. I don’t need to tell you my troubles for you to lift the burdens, because when I’m with you, the laughter you give me is enough to erase the pain.
She woke up to a parade of tears.
“Wh- what?”, she stumbled. She was on her bed, which was on a float in the middle of a procession.
“Missus, it’s our annual celebration of sorrow”, answered the drummer boy, as he marched to the rhythm of the background chaos.
The only music to be heard was the melody of tears and the melancholy chimes of brass bells, bells that sounded like the tortured wails of the damned. It was a procession of sorrow, of the sufferings all of humanity experienced since the beginning of time. And within their sorrows, she felt like she finally belonged. She did not feel alone in her misery. And strangely enough, within the sorrows, she felt joy bubbling up from inside of her, from an intrinsic property that she owned but could not see; from the depths of her heart to the top of her spirit. And she laughed, a ringing laugh that rolled over and over, a joyous laugh that responded like golden bells. She was not alone! There were others that shared her pain!
“Missus, you’re not alone,” the drummer boy confirmed, almost as if he had read her mind.
“I know how you must feel. But within our sorrows, we all can find happiness. It is simply up to you to share the pain in finding joy.”
Halting his drumming for a split second to brush his hair out of his eyes, skipping only a beat, he shyly looked up at the girl. As their eyes met, they simultaneously felt awkward and out of place. Suddenly very self-conscious, she nervously stammered,
“And, and – why am I in the center of it all?
Staring at the floor, he softly whispered,
“Because you are the Queen of Sorrows.”
“I don’t understand, what do you mean?”
“Every year, those most heavily afflicted the by the sufferings of man are spirited away to the dream world to take place as the King or Queen of Sorrows. It us both an honour and an insult, as only the strongest survive in the ephemeral world long enough to retain your spirit to take place.”
“But that’s ridiculous!”, she replied. “This is all a dream?”
“Well… Yes and no. Your soul has merely been lifted to another astral plane, so in one sense you could call this a dream. I prefer to call this an “alternate universe”, as it reassures me of my existence,” he laughed with a sad smile.
And she realized with a shock that hit her hard, that she knew exactly why she was the Queen of Sorrows. Focusing hard on her physical being, she strained to bridge the gap between the two worlds. Through the film of mist that separated the astral plane from reality, she could see her limp body. She remembered. And she realized that as she had been eligible to come to this “alternate universe” as Drummer Boy called it, she had failed. She had failed to kill herself. Veins cut on her left wrist, in a pool of blood- she saw her limp body on her bathroom floor. She tried to listen through the chaos and wails of the tortured as she strained to hear what she dreaded to hear. And she heard it. Her heartbeat, faint but audible, desperately beating, trying to keep her alive. Angrily, she reached through the mist to finish what she could not properly do on the first try.
But a harsh grab kept her from tearing through the misty veil that separated the two worlds.
Furiously, the boy yelled at her.
“STOP! What are you trying to do?”, he asked, hands busy with restraining her but feet busy with keeping time, their small taps almost like a metronome.
His eyes, as soft as melted chocolate but still burning with a passion, bore into her soul- literally. She shook him off, and snapped back at him. Almost immediately, his hands returned to their rhythmical drumming.
“Let me die! Let me die!”, she wailed, broken at last. “You just met me! You don’t even know me! Who am I to you? Who am I to anyone? Let me go! Who are you? I don’t even know who you are!” she screamed.
Sorrowfully, staring into her eyes, he muttered,
“I’m the one who’s managed to keep you alive all this time.”
“Excuse me?” she stammered.
“That’s right”, he coolly stated. “Do you know how damn hard it’s been keeping you alive for this long? What, sixteen years? You think that your life’s worthless? You’re saying that to a guy whose purpose in life is to keep you alive. What, are you saying that I’m worthless too?”
Ashamed, she refused to return his cold stare. With great effort, she asked him, “How… How have you kept me alive?”
“I’m the keeper of your heartbeat,” he replied. Why do you think I’m obsessively tapping the rhythm all the time? And by the way, you suck at killing yourself,” he added with a sideways grin. “You know you didn’t cut hard enough to die right? You didn’t cut the right place, either. And you actually haven’t even bled out. You’re just out cold from the sight of your own blood. It was a good effort,” he laughed. Suddenly serious, he quickly added, “But please don’t ever do it again. Please don’t do it. I don’t mean to laugh, I just…” he trailed off, glancing back at the floor with his hands absentmindedly tapping to the beat, unconsciously speeding up.
“It’s my job,” he responded, setting his hands back down to speed. “And because I care enough about you to do my job,” he hastily added, sensing her indignance. “But no more time for chat. We’re here. This is the coronation. After this, I doubt we’ll get a chance to talk. Your time here is limited, you know. It was great to finally meet the gi-”
His farewells were interrupted by a swift kiss planted on his cheek. Losing balance, he stumbled into her as she jumped off the float.
“Do you WANT to die? He angrily stammered, blushing furiously. If I stop drumming for more than a couple of seconds, you’ll die! And I don’t care if the answer is still yes, I’m going to fight you on every ground to stop that!”
Through her tears, she laughed, giving him one last promise.
“No, no- meeting you has changed me. Thank you for doing your best to keep me alive. From now on, I’ll be doing my best to keep me alive, too.”