The Ending I WantBy: Samantha Towle
My seat belt is fastened. Window shutter is down.
I have a window seat. I hate window seats. Because I hate flying. No, actually, that’s wrong. I don’t hate flying. I’m afraid of flying. So, sitting by the window with the view of clouds and sky for the next six and a half hours, reminding me that I’m thirty thousand feet off the ground, is going to be torture for me—not that I don’t deserve torture. I deserve everything I have coming to me. And in the grand scheme of things, flying on this plane really doesn’t matter.
But in my defense—yes, I’m defending myself against myself—fear is not rational. It doesn’t give you a choice. It just is. So, yeah, I’m afraid.
Still, I know what matters is the reason that I’m on the plane. I’m going to London—the place I have always wanted to go. I’m going to see where my mother was born and grew up, where my parents met and fell in love. And, while I’m there, I’m going to complete my list.
I pull the piece of paper titled Things to Do If I Live from my bag. It’s the list I wrote when I was sixteen years old, and I had a life-threatening brain tumor.
I have one of those again—a brain tumor, I mean. Well, I’m almost ninety-nine percent sure. The symptoms are here again—the severe headaches, vomiting, and fatigue. I just haven’t actually gone to my doctor to have it confirmed. Because, if I do, Dr. Hart, my doctor, she will want me to have surgery and radiation therapy and take endless amounts of medication.
She’ll want me to fight to live.
And I don’t want that.
I just want to complete my list while on the trip I was supposed to take with my family before they died, and then…
I don’t know what’s at the end of that sentence. Actually, yes, I do know. Death is what’s at the end of that sentence.
Death and relief. Relief because I’ll get to be with my family again.
I plug my headphones into my cell and put the buds in my ears. I select the Music app on the screen, find the song I want, and hit play.
The sound of Coldplay’s “Paradise” starts to bleed into my ears.
This song was played at my family’s funeral. I listen to it regularly, not to only torture myself—because I deserve to be tortured—but also to remind myself of what I did, what I stole from my family—their lives. It’s not that I need the song to remember because what I did is always there. The knowledge that my mother, father, brother, and sister all died because of me is with me every single second of each day.
But what this song does remind me of is that I will get to see my family again, and when I do see them, I’ll be able to tell them how very sorry I am. I’ll be able to beg them for their forgiveness.
I’ll be with them again. Hear their voices and the sounds of their laughter, touch them…hold them.
It’s all I want.
And, now, thanks to the tumor growing in my head, that day will be sooner rather than later.
I’m going to die. And it’s a relief.
Maybe I should rename my list to Things to Do Before I Die.
Grabbing a pen from my bag, I pull the Hunter Airways brochure from the storage pocket on the seat in front of me. I put my foot up on the back of the seat and rest the brochure on my thigh. Then, I sit the paper against the brochure. I correct the title at the top of my list.
Things to Do If I Live Before I Die
There. That looks better. More appropriate.
Okay, so let’s see if anything else on here needs to be updated.
Go to London, England.
Kiss a boy.
Kiss a boy definitely needs updating. I’ve kissed a boy since I wrote that.
I draw a line through it.
Kiss a boy.
Okay, what should I put there instead? What haven’t I done that I want to do?
I’ve never kissed a stranger. That sounds like it could be fun and daring.
Perfect. I’ll put that.
Kiss a boy. Kiss a stranger.
Okay, what next?
Done that, too.
Benjamin Harley in the backseat of his dad’s Toyota. It happened a month before my family died. I’ve not had much sex since. Benjamin and I did it a few more times after that first time.
But, when my family died, it changed things. It changed everything.
I have had the occasional meaningless one-night stand here and there over the years when I had too much to drink or the pain and loneliness was just too much to bear, but getting close to anyone wasn’t something I was looking for. I’m still not. But I figure I’m dying, so I might as well go out with a bang—literally.