The first thing that came to mind was the bitter wind. I finally arrived to England after ten years: my home country. But England was as unwelcoming as ever; with the wind hurting my face at every step I took outside the airport. Great, now I suddenly missed the hot California sun and surfing on the tidal waves.
I climbed in a black taxi and gave him directions to my dad’s old place. I settled back on the leather seats, the heater whirred irritably as the heat blasted on my face. Better fire than snow at least. I was a sunshine kind of guy. I craved the warmth under my feet, leaving my imprints on the sand. I whistled tunelessly as I looked out the window. Grey, ugly buildings whizzed past. Sometimes there were occasional fields with sheep grazing on the greenery. I’d missed playing in the old farm before everything went to Hell and I went off to live with my current adoptive parents. I remembered there was a huge apple tree with a swing tied from one of its thick branches. I used to swing on it. With her.
That’s right. I came here to look for my sister. After years of silence, I finally found out where she was. My adopted brother finally dug out some shit that could lead me to her. My memory was hazy before Hell happened; it felt like a half-remembered dream. But in the midst of fading memories, there was one face that I could never forget. I could trace every single of her features with my mind: My baby sister. I had no idea how she looked like now or how happy she currently was, I only cared for one thing: I was going to take her with me.
It was dusk by the time I reached my dad’s house. I paid the driver and dragged my suitcases into the gate. Pressing the doorbell, I waited for the familiar footsteps. Sure enough, I heard the house creaked as the heavy drums of footsteps approached closer. I smiled as the door leaped open.
“Cal! Finally you’re here, man! I was planning a party!” Jonathan held the door open as I clambered inside.
“You’re already plan to alert the neighbours of your nocturnal habits?” I grunted as I heaved the suitcases towards the stairs.
“It’s all part of the rebellious phase, bro! Although the chicks here are less welcoming. They aren’t as wild or busty like in California. And they wear more clothes. Haven’t they heard of skin?” Jonathan complained as he followed me to the living room.
I plonked myself on the leather couch and propped my legs on the coffee table. The table was full of old magazines, Yellow Pages, and catalogs.
“News flash: you’re no longer in California. Look at this weather, it’s too cold to dress in scantily-clad attire.” I waved my hands towards the ceiling.
“No wonder. The women are grumpier here too. It’s what they say, sun is the heart of happiness,” Jonathan said as he joined me on the couch.
I looked at my adopted brother. He was two years older than me. His hair tumbled in messy waves and from the look of his crumpled pajamas, I didn’t think he showered today. I wrinkled my nose slightly. Jonathan arrived to England six months before me to investigate my sister’s whereabouts. After months, he finally landed on some good news and I immediately flew from California. My dad had an international branch in London and I was going to work in the I.T division whilst living here.
“So, let me see your find. What did you find about her? Have you got her photos? Let me see them,” I said eagerly, waiting for him to dish out a manila envelope containing my sister’s information.
“Easy, brother. One question at a time.” Jonathan held his hands out. “I haven’t print them yet. I’ll show you everything tomorrow. Right now, just chill for the night, savvy?”
I frowned at his words. Didn’t he realise how important this was to me? It felt so close now to finding my lost sister. He didn’t understand. I needed to see her like I needed to breathe. She was my shadow to the sun that followed me everyday of my life. I wanted to pull her out of darkness and let her walk beside me.
“Jon, why can’t I just see it now? Print them tomorrow, let me take a look at your computer.”
Jonathan tsked and shook his finger at me.
“No can do, brother. I know you too well. If I show her to you, you will want to immediately find her. It’s night time. Get something to eat and rest. We’ll work on it tomorrow. Come on, didn’t dad say to listen to everything I say? I’m the eldest.”
I rolled my eyes and grunted.
“That’s because he didn’t know you were the one who introduced me to girls and offered me cigarettes when I was fourteen.”
Jonathan slapped my back.
“Whatever you say will not change my mind. Now go and do something useful for tonight.”
I stood up and stretched out the aching joints that gone stiff during the flight. I shuffled towards the door, my hands slid inside my jean pockets.
“Hey, where you’re going, Cal?” Jonathan yelled from the couch.
“Going to eat. I remember there’s a fish and chips shop down the corner,” I replied.
“Good. Buy me some.”
I snorted and shook my head. “Lazy assballs.”
I left the house and followed the grey path. I remembered going down this road before I left to California with my family. But somehow, I ended up going on one of the big roads with streaming lines of cars. I frowned. I didn’t see any chip shops. Great, it seemed my memory wasn’t that trusting. The orange fluorescent light bathed me as I walked on the bridge, with dark canal lurking underneath. I wished I’d worn my turtleneck sweater instead of just plain old sleeveless shirt. The wind was freezing my ass.
I lifted my head and my footsteps immediately faltered. My mouth dropped as I witnessed a girl standing on the other side of the rail, facing towards the canal. Her hands held the railings, her face was covered by her hair. It didn’t take a genius to know what she planned to do.
I ran as fast as I could just as her fingers started to slip away from the railings. I lurched forward and grabbed her before she fell.
“Ooof,” she gasped in surprise.
She swivelled her head towards me, her golden hair whipped backwards and I saw her for the first time. She was beautiful. Her face was delicate, with sharp nose and creamy skin, decorated with large, blue eyes. They were red as tears spilled from those lovely eyes.
“What are you doing? Let me go!” She tried to remove my hands from her waist but I only held on to her tighter. I carried her over the rails before setting her feet on the ground.
“What are you doing?” She screamed at me.
“Saving your life,” I yelled back. “Don’t ever do that again.”
I was suddenly breathless. I was angry and I didn’t know why.
“Mind your own business,” she hissed at me before turning away. I pulled her shoulders and turned her towards me.
“It becomes my business when you tried to kill yourself in public! I wouldn’t be able to sleep after seeing you plunging into the canal below. I would get nightmares if I didn’t save you. If you wanted to die desperately, you should’ve killed yourself at home where no one could see you die,” I said to her face, my tone harsh with anger.
She stood there and looked at me with unwavering eyes. I could see them now. Her expression was full of torment. I would’ve pegged her to be sixteen years old but her eyes made her look older. As if they witnessed something that they shouldn’t have. I suddenly became afraid. For her.
“I tried. And I had fail. I lived despite everything.”
My eyes involuntarily turned downwards and noticed the cross-stitch scars on her wrists beneath the jade bangles. I was too absorbed seeing the ridges of scars staring sullenly at me that I almost missed out her next words.
“Will you kill me?”