“When nothing goes right, go left.” Chelsea’s mantra I then applied to my life after her death. My best friend died in my arms and before she died, she uttered these words just like she always does. I could hear her faint breath and laughter after saying it seconds before she drew her last breath. “Jessica, remember this, when nothing ever goes right, go left.”
It was the first semester of my third year in college when a nerdy blonde sat beside me in my Arts class and started rambling about stuff I knew nothing of. “Do you know that the world has only a couple of billion years left to live?” she kept on saying as though the world is a living person about to die any minute. “Uhmmm… maybe.” I responded. I knew nothing about her let alone her ranting about the world but somehow, I looked forward to seeing her every Arts class. She talks of stuff I rarely understand and I just sit beside her, pretending to understand everything she rambles about. At first though, I got irritated and asked her to shut up. She did, but after a couple of minutes and a long awkward silence, “Alright, what was it you talked about earlier? I didn’t seem to catch it.” She beamed at the very line I’ve said. As though not being able to talk to someone gives her flu. She was about talk about a certain foreign director when I then cut her off – again. “Okay. Before you talk again, promise me one thing.” she nodded immediately. “Promise me you’d go to lunch with me every after Arts class so I can properly listen to youranting because believe it or not, I am going to listen to the professor’s discussion whether you like it or not.” She looked a bit pained at my frankness but then fell silent after a long pause. And that was how our weird friendship began.
“Jessica,” she suddenly said one afternoon as we were eating lunch. “Uh-uh”, I said in between burgers and fries. “When I die, I want you to laugh at my funeral, okay?” she grinned. “What in God’s name are you talking about? You are perfectly fine!” And that was when our constant bickering on her having such great acceptance for death and my constant denial to it blossomed. “Chelsea, you won’t die yet, right?” I asked her during our finals in Arts class. “Uh-uh” she replied. “Well, because if you die soon, I’d have no money to buy you a really gorgeous coffin you know!” I told her. She laughed her loudest laugh and it made our teacher look at us. Little did I know that it would be last laugh I’d hear from her.
It was late in September when her father called me.
Yes? Who is this?
This is Mr.Newlife, Chelsea’s father. Chelsea wants to see you.
I was just going to your house now Mr.Newlife.
No, go to St. Therese’s Hospital. She’s confined here. Her sickness is getting worse.
“Oh” I said, not knowing what to respond to such situation. “I’d be there in twenty minutes Mr.Newlife.”
“Mom! I need to go to the hospital! Chelsea’s there!”
As I rode the taxi, I kept denying stuff about her death.
Nothing’s going to happen. She’s fine. She’ll be okay. She’ll live. On and on, I kept on muttering these words until I reached her room on the fourth floor. Room 405. I knocked. A tall, sixth grader boy opened the door. “She’s sleeping”, the boy said. I went to her side and stroked her hair. “You’ll be fine, I’m right here.” And I slept with her through the night.
I felt her move and it awakened me. “Chelsea!” I blurted. She smiled and thanked me for coming. “I didn’t know. Sorry.” I tried to tell her but she stopped me midway and sighed. There was a knock on the door and the doctor came in. She looked at me and saw my pained expression.
“Are you a friend?”
“Yes. Is she going to be okay?”
The doctor looked me in the eyes and smiled a sad smile. “She’s pretty lucky to have someone like you.” And with that, she checked Chelsea’s stats and went out the door. Her relatives followed right after and we were left alone in the private room with the TV turned on.
She held my hand. I came from a broken family. My parents broke up when I was 10 and no one in my family accepted me. Not one of them chose to be with me. And so, I grew up lonely. My foster brother is all I have left and we rarely see each other nowadays. She sighed once again and thanked me for crossing her path. I had no idea! I wanted to help her but I know there’s nothing left I could do but pray. “Chelsea, I’ll be right here with you. I won’t go. I promise.” I tried not to listen to her story for fear of increasing my pity for her but now, I still remember her words as though she only said it yesterday. I grew up with my aunt. She was real nice but after her death, my uncle ran away with another woman and left me and my foster brother in our grandmother’s care. So yeah, I grew up partly with my aunt and with my grandma. In between, I get to spend time with my parents during summer or semestral breaks. At school, when the teacher tells us to bring our parents to the PTA meeting, I tell my teachers my grandma couldn’t come and that my parents and I do not live in one roof. And so, my elementary years went by with not one guardian or parent attending stuff for me. I became a laughing stock for the bullies and often became the star of their gossips. But I managed to keep my head held high and go through high school. Unfortunately, when I thought things would get better, it sure as hell did not. It was the first time I heard her speak of things not concerning the general world in particular, but I still listened. She continued after taking a deep breath. In high school, I became what you would call a loner. I always kept to myself and concerned myself with matters I knew were worse than my own bickering in life. I read stuff on climate change, inflation in the stock market, and matters people try so hard to understand and solve. I guess you noticed it when we first met. It has been my mantra since then, that no matter how bad you think your situation may be, there is always another way out of the problem. There is always another solution; when nothing goes right, go left. And with that, I uttered my first reply to her for what seemed like ages. “But, your mantra is a bit sarcastic don’t you think? It has been said that sarcasm is not wisdom after all.” I tried to tell her. She smiled once more and continued. That’s exactly my point. Sometimes, it takes sarcasm to make people understand. Say when you walk up the stairs and ahead you see the sign KEEP RIGHT and on the right side, there are people going down, what do you usually do? Do you wait for them to come down? I thought hard and realized her point. Whenever that happens, I realized, I walk up the stairs on the left side. She saw my face and knew I now understand her point. Jessica, life goes on even if we do not carry on with our lives. Time does not wait for people, and we in turn are not obligated to go chasing after it. Trials will always come our way, I guarantee it, but I tell you, when nothing goes right, go left. Find ways and means, my friend. There are a lot of solutions to one problem. I cried. I hadn’t realized it ‘til after her speech but I cried. She smiled and with that, she closed her eyes and left this mortal world to go to the beyond. Her brother’s screams were the saddest screams of loneliness I have ever heard and my heart’s loneliness couldn’t be fathomed since then.
“For us, weird doesn’t even begin to cover it.” A line from the first movie we watched together as friends, “Vampire Academy.” And since then, I became her Dhampir – willing to do everything for her best friend. I became her personal assistant at times her sickness bothers her and she can’t carry heavy stuff. We were best buddies. Our courses and schedules weren’t the same but we had time for each other – at least until before her death. God, I miss her. I miss her so much. No words can explain how her death had ruined me inside. Still, she will be, she always will be, my BEST FRIEND.
Jessica got up. She dusted her clothes and left the graveyard.