She can’t wait to get on what will be the wildest ride of her life. She didn’t even have to prove she was terminally ill. Just paid the fee so she could swirl through the seven loops and find the answers to her all consuming questions. The spiritual masters say if you let go of attachment then death will take you into the pure light of knowing. She really wants that to be true. Can see it. Soft, golden, glowing.
Nobody will miss her or even notice that she’s gone. Not now.
‘You shouldn’t get on.’ A gravelly voice from behind says.
He’s red raw from whatever treatment has failed to cure him, like he’s been burned. Gazing up at her from a wheelchair through shining eyes that don’t match his failing body.
‘You know nothing about me.’ She turns away.
‘I know I wish I didn’t have to do this. Why are you?’ he says.
She wants to ignore him. To not let him ruin this moment, the anticipation. But she can’t. She turns back. ‘That’s none of your business.’
He shifts in his chair and blistered skin peels away from his leg, sticks to the seat. ‘Last year I got ill, something they’d never seen before. Nothing helps.’
She sighs, a mix of frustration and pity. ‘Well, I’m sorry that you got sick. But that’s nothing to do with me, my decision.’
His scorched lips smile. It transforms him. Somehow his raddled face becomes one with his lively eyes. She can’t help but grin back.
‘I want to stay to see the beauty of the world and the incredible things that humans do,’ he says.
Her grin fades. ‘What like fighting wars and polluting the oceans?’
His smile widens and as it does, patches of unblemished skin appear on his cheeks. ‘We save animals and rehome them. We dedicate our lives to helping others.” More burns fade away.
Before she can reply he carries on, ‘We dance. We sing. We paint. We write. We are endlessly creative and inventive.’
She shakes her head. ‘It’s not enough.’ But the memories, the ones she always pushes away because they hurt too much, are crowding in.
His cheeks glow with health now as he says, ‘We love.’
She wants to say how wrong he is. How bad things are. But images fill her mind.
Long-forgotten kisses, hands on her body, breath in her hair.
Giggling at shared secrets.
Snuggling, smooching, spooning.
Always there for each other. Only apart because he went way too soon into the golden glow. He wouldn’t want her to do this.
It’s as if this magic man in the wheelchair can see her memories too. He’s nodding, laughing. His burns are completely gone now. He stands.
She grabs his hands. ‘Life is amazing,’ she sobs.
He pulls her into a hug, ‘Mind-blowing.’
The buzzer announces the arrival of the rollercoaster car.
Author’s note: Inspired by the Euthanasia Coaster designed by Lithuanian artist Julijonas Urbonas. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia_Coaster
Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Her short fiction collection, Flashes Of Colour, is coming in 2020. Amanda founded Retreat West, providing writing competitions, courses and retreats. Retreat West Books publishes short fiction, novels and memoirs and was shortlisted for Most Innovative Publisher at the 2019 Saboteur Awards.
Image via Pixabay