Luke2 保庆 190110201
“Swimming with the sharks, trapping when it’s dark.”
Leonard never thought that the last song he would hear would be a rap. And the singer’s name is weird: Offset.
“Better be smart, Money make a homie change, make him lose his heart.” Leonard hates shuffle play. It’s just like life; it gives you a lot of things you don’t want.
“Hum, rap music.” Leonard used to be a proud and dumb boy, like other kids, dreaming to be rap stars with fancy cars and beauties. But now he is in no mood to listen.
The autumn wind in September is a little chilly, especially on the beach at five in the morning; the slim moon doesn’t seem to have moved but just grows dim. Leonard pulls out his earphones and rubs his face, which feels somewhat feverish. He realizes that he is sobering up now, and the sound of the tide gradually becomes clear.
“It’s time to go now,” Leonard thinks. He is alone on the beach as no one would come here at 5a.m. He staggers on his feet, pats the sand off of his suit pants, then heads straight to the sea. He notices a crumpled suit and a leather shoe not far away, soaked in the wet sand and being washed by tidewater over and over again. Leonard realizes then that he has only one shoe on.
This absurd scene makes him want to laugh, and it occurs to him that he had threw that shoe at his girlfriend, that stupid woman with an ugly, crying face.
“I’m not going to regret or retrieve anything anymore.” Leonard goes out to the tide. “I just need to step into this warm…”
The coldness of saltwater interrupts his thoughts.
“Freaking cold!” Leonard can’t help shivering. But he keeps walking with a serious and solemn attitude.
It’s a very strange experience for a non-swimmer like Leonard. The flow of sea water caused by the moon’s gravity keeps pushing him forward and back, while the buoyancy lifts his body, which gives him a sense of weightlessness. Leonard has always been afraid of the sea and swimming pools, but now he is calm when he feels the hug of the icy water. In just a little while, he becomes a floating head on the sea as the water submerges his shoulders.
“Let’s end it here.”
Leonard relaxes his muscles and no longer resists the coldness of sea water penetrating his bones and veins. He holds his breath in spite of himself and falls backward.
Visions of Gideon. Rainwater as the sea. 25 years of life.
Everything is sinking.
“Hey! What the heck are you doing! Are you swimming or not!” “Hey weirdo, answer me!”
Leonard doesn’t understand why voices before death can be so unpleasant. “Curse me, curse me, whatever…”
“You freaking idiot! What are you freaking doing! Can you hear me, little douchebag?” Constant cursing from a shrill, young voice drives Leonard so mad that he can’t help retorting in the water: “Shut up!”
Cold water fills into Leonard’s mouth and nose furiously. The sea finally tears off his mask of hypocrisy, and lashes this poor man’s insides wantonly. Cold water fills into Leonard’s lung and stomach brutally; he falls into unconsciousness with huge sense of suffocation.
“Papa, where did mama go?”
“Far away, my son, a far-away place.”
“Dad, I wanna be a taxi driver just like you.”
“No! You remember this, be a stock broker, a surgeon, or…or a university professor…Never be a taxi driver. you understand? Be a successful person, much more successful than me.”
“It’s difficult to announce the result of the layoff decision but…”
“Jeff.” “Leonard.” “Leone.” “Ivan.” …
“Shut up Leonard, you need to calm down.”
“You shut up, you stupid cow! Who are you texting?”
“It’s our anniversary! Why do you have to call me that!”
“Who is he?!”
“He’s just…just a friend.”
“Go away Jenny I don’t wanna see you anymore.”
“No Leonard… No…. Listen to me Leonard….”
“Back off, Jenny! Get out of my face!”
Light orange sunlight, a pure white wall, and red digital heart rate on a screen.
Leonard wakes up.
He coughs like a dying mule; every part of his stomach is aching.
Leonard suddenly recalls this voice. It’s the curse of the sea! He turns his head with difficulty, and sees a face: a cute, young, and round face with a slight scowl. “How can a teenager like her issue out such wicked words!”
“How old are you? I don’t think you’re grown up…” Leonard discovers that this girl is a little fat, but her body still looks nimble. She is draped in a large cotton blanket, and her short hair is a little wet.
“Shouldn’t you thank me first, Mr. Cold-Blood?” This round-faced girl is obviously mad. “I fought like hell to get you out of the sea! Don’t you know how heavy you are?” She just becomes a little stimulated hedgehog and starts complaining like crazy. “I thought when you woke up, you would be moved to tears of gratitude, or just cry like a baby and apologize to your mother! Don’t you know how cold it was in the sea? Don’t you know how many times I shouted to you, without a freaking response? Do you know how many times I had to give you mouth-to-mouth recitation? Oh god, your mouth smelled just like an old dirty pig! And I still did it for you! And all you care about is my age? What an ungrateful soul you are? Can’t you just feel a little bit shame in your heart?”
Leonard is scolded like a dog in a trance. “I’m so…”
“What’s wrong with you? What kind of person would choose a lovely Sunday to jump into the sea?” Her tone grows more and more agitated as her face becomes even redder. “What’s wrong with you? Tell me? What kind of coward… not blind, not mute, or disabled… would try drown himself in the sea! You tell me! What if I hadn’t been there? What if I hadn’t been jogging by the sea at five o’clock this bloody morning? What if I couldn’t swim? You tell me? What if I hadn’t found your phone to call the ambulance and done the freaking CPR?” The more she speaks, the sadder she becomes, until she chokes up and can’t speak anymore; she throws herself down on Leonard’s quilt and begins to sob. It is like she was the dumbass who decided to commit suicide.
A lump comes into Leonard’s throat. He can’t help reddening his eyes as well when he was listening to this emotional girl’s scolding, and he is almost made to shed tears by this kind of feeling that he has never experienced; such a sorrowful, aggrieved, and self-condemned feeling. He is moved by her sad voice; it sounds like a mother burying her child. He tries hard not to cry and looks at the trembling and crying girl.
“I’m sorry.” Leonard whispers sincerely. “Thank you very much.” He speaks in a soft tone, hangs down his head. “You are so nice and kind…but you shouldn’t have saved a jerk like me…People like me should die unnoticed.”
“What the hell do you mean?” The round-faced girl raises her tearstained head, and she is even angrier now. “What a jerk…I should drag you back into the sea and drown…” She suddenly corrects herself. “No! How dare you die again! You owe your life to me; you can’t die without my permission.”
Leonard is speechless; his mind goes back to his past. Somehow, he remembers that his girlfriend, the woman who used to support and love him unconditionally, is just as lovely and kind as this girl. Then Leonard’s face changes to a wry smile and he sighs in frustration. “I’m sorry, but what am I living for now, and what reason have I to live? My benefactor, I had no choice but to end my life…and I still have no choice.”
“Coward!” The round-faced girl snaps up her head, and stares directly at Leonard’s eyes, her eyes clouded by tears. “You coward! You are just a poor coward!” Her expression changes hard into a wanton smile. “You are broke? You have urologic disease? Your parents are divorced? Or your gay friend left you? Your favorite youtuber was arrested? You…”
“Please don’t say that,” Leonard interrupts her wild guesses. “You just know nothing about me. Kids like you just can’t imagine how ridiculous life can be.” He stares back at her eyes. “I am 25 years old now. And I’m still nothing…. I have accomplished nothing; all my dreams are jokes…” Leonard lowers his voice. “I have never seen my mother, and my father died two years ago…. He told me not to be a loser like him…. So, I worked hard all the time, and I entered a big company with excellent grades, but they bossed me around like a dog and always pressured me. and then they swept me out like I was dust. My girlfriend, my girlfriend and I have been together for five years, and she just cheated on me when I was hopeless,” Leonard speaks slowly with a grimace, “My life is a mess. Everybody I love have left me.” “So, tell me, my benefactor, what means can I use to end this nightmare instead of death. I am exhausted.”
Both of them become silent. Only that cold instrument is beeping in the ward; that’s Leonard’s heartbeat. Leonard feels his tear glands are too tired to shed another tear, and his heart turns into a handful of rotten cotton wool.
It takes a while for round-faced girl open her mouth again; she speaks with a calm look. “My name…is Lillian. And I’m 17 now.” She sits still, her eyes and nose remain red, looking at Leonard with a maturity that doesn’t match to her age.
“Do you know why I go jogging at five? Your survival is attributed to my little brother.” She pauses and takes a deep breath. “He was diagnosed with chronic liver failure earlier this summer. And the doctor told me I had to lose weight so I could transplant a part of my healthy liver to him. I have lost 5 kilos, but that’s not enough, so I go jogging every morning,” Lilian smiles.
“My little brother is just 9, and he is way more mature than you. He tells me: Sister, I don’t wanna die. I wanna live for many years.”
Leonard can hardly speak a word; he is just listening like a little puppy that did something wrong. He is aware of the fact that he is listening to a lamentable joke. The boy who should have lived happily was dying, and the man who had lived well was trying to die.
“And do you know what is my brother lives for? He just wants to have a piece of honey cake every weekend. He just wants to sit in that stupid cake shop and enjoy a goddamned honey cake. What did he do wrong?”
Lillian tries not to cry again and keeps asking: “Why do we have to live for a big mirage? Chase money? Chase success? Why can’t anyone just be an ordinary dumbass? Why do people become so unreasonable after they have grown up? Why are you still not satisfied? Where did your spirit go?” She stands up and puts her arms around Leonard’s head tenderly.
“Better be smart, Money make a homie change, make him lose his heart.” Leonard seems to hear Offset singing in his ear again.
“Why don’t you start again; be like you used to be? Let your past go to hell…and just live for yourself.”
They fall into silence again.
Not knowing how long after, Leonard hears his heartbeat in the machine; it’s beating normally and energetically. He hears his father laughing. He sees Jenny’s adorable smile. He feels his own presence. He knows he is alive.
Leonard hugs Lillian tightly for a long, long time, long enough to bring a dead soul back to life.
Two weeks later. Leonard’s life is back on track. He went to see his father’s grave and placed a bunch of camellias in front of it. He beat sup the jerk who had harassed Jenny. He visited Lilian’s homeand bought her little brother, Liam, a trunk of honey cakes. Leonard started running with Lilian and playing with Liam every day. Leonard and Jenny got back together, and he proposed to her. Leonard became a fan of Offset. Leonard started to learn how to be a taxi driver and how to be an amateur rapper.
Two weeks later. A sunny Sunday. Liam dies of cardiopulmonary failure after surgery.
Leonard kneels at the door of the operating room, covers his head and burst into tears. He cries all afternoon. Like a beached whale. Like a born-again baby.