The Answer to Existence

Shortlisted for the 'More Than This' short story writing competition.

Marie has always been different.

To everyone else the world seems to be it; our life on Earth all there is, but Marie knows differently. Marie sees more.

Her classmates believe that what you see is what you get, and don't waste much time over pointless philosophical questions like: 'what is the meaning of life?'

But, as I said, Marie is an original. And, for some reason she can't explain, she has answers.

After so much time walled up in her own world can Marie knock down the block between her and the rest of society?

Can Marie really pass on her answers to a fellow teenager? And, can Marie hold a grasp on the answer before it consumes her?

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4. When Hope Is At A Loss

I really didn't even imagine Timothy Hughes to be the philosophic kind.

He was a sports jock, rapping fanatic, a slight geek, but never a philosopher.

I was the philosopher. I was the weird one.

Timothy wasn't meant to be like me.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. In the hours that followed Timothy's insight he confessed all his wonders and thoughts to me - shockingly deep thoughts, that, before then, I had only apprehended.

But Timothy wasn't at all like what I had judged him as. He was wise, he felt as though he never fitted in, and he had been in denial with who he was his entire life, and he reminded me of myself.

I discovered I liked Timothy too – we got on really well. Maybe The Answer had been right in choosing Timothy to be The One I was to confess to.

Timothy also took the whole answer to life situation really well. When I explained what was happening to him he didn't scream, didn't faint - he just asked a lot of questions.

I told Timothy how he would feel the answer urging him to pass on the message to another human and that, to finally understand everything, he would need to obey, and he finally apologised for treating me like trash a few days prior.

"I don't blame you", I said, after swallowing a particularly tangy Sour Patch Kid from the pack on the ground between us.

"Really, I feel bad. I'm sorry", he smiled a small, tentative smile.

I just returned the smile and popped another candy into my mouth.

See, I wouldn't admit this out loud but I was enjoying Timothy's company. I had never had any friends before, and though I'm hardly sure Timothy counted as one, I was savouring our topical chat and mindless jokes like I was a kid tasting chocolate for the first time.

"Marie," Timothy placed his hand over the near-empty candy packet at our feet and the mood changed dramatically, "am I going to go insane? Are you going to go insane too? 'Cause I mean, this is insane, right?"

I didn't answer straight away, for in that moment the answer spoke to me.

This boy has it bang on.

I met Timothy's eyes and I saw numbing fear swirling in their depths, like the whirlpool that was dragging me into the black ocean far, far away from the golden beach I usually chilled on. I didn't miss the way his hand gripped the packet he was holding like it was his lifeline, and I didn't miss the defeated bow of his head after I didn't speak up.

"So there's no hope."

There is no hope.

And as much as I didn't want to believe my two companions I found myself also abandoning all trace of hope from my mind. Then I answered Timothy.

"It's funny isn't it?" I laughed lifelessly, "you spend your entire life wondering what your purpose on Earth is, what Earth is itself, and then you get the answer and would do anything to give it all back! I mean, this is so messed up. I'm half-dead; you, for some reason that is beyond me, can see me while I'm invisible to the rest of the world and we're both heading down the same one-track road to non-existence! I've always thought I wanted this; I don't! I hate this. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it so, so much! And this thing is stopping me from being myself; stopping me for saying and doing what I want! I'm not even living anymore!"

Timothy stared. I heaved.

I heaved. Timothy stared.

"It talks to me. It tells me I'm going to die." I burst into tears.

You're going to die. You're going to die soon.

No!

Yes, you've completed your task. You need to die now. Your existence means nothing to me.

I cried even heavier as Timothy reached across and held me.

He's going to die too.

No, not Timothy! He never wanted this.

I pushed back, my crying ceased.

"You can't hurt us!" I screamed. Timothy shushed me and looked across to his closed door.

"She can't hear me anyways," I cried as I stood and pushed open Timothy's window.

"What're you doing?" He hissed and got up to close the shiny, plastic frame.

"No!" I pushed him away. "I'm going to jump."

"What?! Why would you do that? That’s insane! Come down and explain this to me!"

I stopped. I knew this was right, ending my life before the answer did. But I wasn't going to stall to try and convince Timothy to jump with me. He wasn't that far gone yet.

Wait! What if there's hope?

A small, broken voice cried from the back of my head; one I didn't recognise. It was neither mine nor the answer's.

There is no hope.

I took one last painful breath, ignored Timothy's pleas, and jumped.

 

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