In Your Voice Student Productions

Immortality – A Curse

By Bob Park

“Immortality is the indefinite continuation of a person’s existence, even after death.”

I watched, agitated, as they died around me. Family after family, loved one after loved one, it didn’t matter. They would grow old, get sick. Always the same. Always by myself at the end. Their deaths lingered in my mind. I wouldn’t forget them; I couldn’t forget them. I sat beside their beds as they calmly entered the void. Grasped their ruined frames in the middle of the street. Spent hours pushing upon their chests in a futile attempt to get them breathing again. With each small victory, a surfeit of failure was never far away. Always the same. I could save some but what was the point? At the end of the day, and as years passed, they would perish, and I would be left with nothing. I had buried enough children, wives, husbands. It was too much to bear any longer, no more. It was crucial; I had to get away. I spent years of my life isolated in an old, abandoned temple In the Himalayas, but it was no Shangri La. I didn’t need to eat, sleep or shit. I exhausted my time staring blindly into nothing. It was just me and the darkness, with only my cruel memories to keep me company, never again would I get hurt.

It was chance to blame when the woman came stumbling through my door, collapsing to the ground. The sight of her prone body freezing on the stone floor brought tears to my eyes. It’s happening again. Quickly I ran to the door, shutting it nearly all the way, leaving only a small crack ajar. The sight of the snow and the harsh glare of the sun was an insufferable blur of light, but I would need some of it. She was bundled tightly in climbing gear, a puffy jacket, thick pants, large boots, and gloves on both hands. Yet even wearing all her equipment the complication was noticeably brutal. You broke your leg I thought. Wickedly her right limb jutted outward from her, my tentative prodding causing her to cry out in pain. Her face was red and weather-beaten; evidence of frostbite was on her fleshy cheeks.

“Please,” her voice was strained and weak. “Help…”

I had nothing for her. No supplies to wrap the bone and no way to stop the bleeding. There was a bitter truth to her injury — she was better off being dead upon impact. Now she lay doomed on an old and lonely man’s floor. Her blood continued to welter from her leg and spread along the cracks in the stone floor. Kneeling beside the woman, my knees soon became saturated by the essence of her dwindling life.

“Stay awake — I’m going to find you some help,” I said, though I knew it fruitless. The shine from outside was nauseating; the cold wind enough to kill any other man. I trampled throughout the desolate landscape for hours upon hours without finding any other sign of life.

Pushing open the door to my secluded home, I had long prepared for what was awaiting. She had long since lost the battle for life; her eyes open and directed toward the doorway. Horrible, dark, and accusing. “You left me to die,” they silently screamed. And she was right. I had left her for dead. The determination to search for help was fueled by the need to get away — I would not get attached to another, especially one as ill-fated as her. Even so, I wept. Wept as I had so many times before. I wept both for her and for myself. I had known her for only a few short minutes but, as I looked at her body, I knew that I had loved her.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered.

I wanted to join her. I wished for the relief of death. So many years, so much despair, so many people I wanted to see again. As gently as possible, I reached down and grasped both of her arms; as I pulled her body along the floor, a thin trail of red followed. I left her outside to be at the mercy of the elements. I propped her body up into a sitting position and directed her head in the direction of the sun. She had died in darkness, but I would leave her in the light.

Inside the cabin, I barred the door by pushing my dilapidated bed against it. She would not be the last to discover my hidden temple of purgatory. But to them I kept my door shut, my ears plugged. No matter the amount they begged, I would not answer. Without failure, the babbling of their pleas would dissipate. I tried my best to imagine them discovering sanctuary elsewhere. Isolated in my long-forgotten home, I celebrated every year that passed without another frantic cry outside my door. Some force refused my death, but — alone in my bed — I couldn’t help but smile, for I had discovered an immortal’s suicide.

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