“Do you think we’ll be here until we, umm, die?” he said. His voice was almost unheard even in this space so small. I snapped out, looked at him and then looked above me, my hands were itching to scratch all the debris until I could find the light, but it was illogical to do so. “Sooner or later.” I replied.
He turned his face towards me. He had such a beautiful face that I couldn’t help but to look with a bit of envy. I have never looked at myself as beautiful. The resentments that other people gave to me seemed to solidify the fact that I was… nothing.
The infinite emptiness of the place was filled by a bright light emitted by his old torch light – wait, I mean his old mobile phone. I chuckled earlier when I saw him took out that… thing, but it turned out to be a saviour of sorts, really handy for a situation like this. My smart phone, unfortunately, had a cracked screen, so much for $300.
“Sooner or later?” he asked me back. His eyes were ignited embers, hazel-like with hope radiating through them.
“Sooner.” I smiled meekly. The truth was my own hope had already thinned. It had been three hours since we were stuck in this hellhole. The damned safe did its work. It saved us from death, but I was sure, sooner or later, it would turn into a makeshift coffin for both of us.
“Pretty grim eh?” I said. “Who knew this (I wiggled my hands around) would happen to us?”
“Pretty much.” He answered weakly. I didn’t mean to be so negative, but it came out that way. I should have guessed jokes made in troubled times would turn out sour. “So, ummm…” I tried to begin our conversation again. “You’re Bristol, right?”
“So Bristol, what are you thinking?” I was not a good conversation opener.
“How short life is.” He said. For a young guy (not that I was old), he looked as if he had lived since the time of Plato, though I think his Plato-self only emerged because we were in a crisis. “Mind telling me about it?” I asked him. I could see he was smiling. A Plato wannabe trapped inside a safe made from metals and rocks. Sounded like a mediaeval painting to me.
“I think we have too many secrets that we keep inside and we take all of them to our graves. No one will ever know about all those things, but then again, no one will remember us after we’re dead.” Definitely a Plato wannabe.
“You know, you could tell a secret that you daren’t say to other people, and I’ll do the same.” I suggested to him. I did not know what made me to do that, but it seemed like a pretty good idea: two certain-to-be-dead-strangers playing telling-secrets. Bristol watched me, perhaps thinking whether the cons would outweigh the pros, but let’s face it, being trapped underground gave the idea more advantages already. Bristol’s ember eyes shone ever so brightly amidst the dense dark background.
“I failed in my studies.” Bristol began while I attentively listened. “I failed in my studies, but that was not what I’m sorry about. The thing I really regret… I said to my mom that I hated her. She tried to help me, she told me I could do it, I could be the doctor I wanted to be, I should trust myself. Mom told me I was a good child. I just needed to get back on my track. I hated her for that. She bugged my life. All I did was saying that I hated her and pushed her and ran out from the house after that. I was drunk, but I knew what I was doing. I was angry. That was the last time when I saw her alive.”
I did not say anything for a little while, but I was curious. At last I said, “What happened with your mom?”
“Some burglars came stealing stuff in our house and...” He stopped. Hollow was his voice. Those ember eyes lose their radiance a little bit.
“You are still remorseful?”
“Remorse is the pain of sin.”
“Who said that?”
We stayed silent. The safe was still, except for the amplified continuous sounds of droplets coming from a hidden corner. The place was airless and we were drenched in stickiness. The size of the shattered safe did not help in making us becoming more comfortable. I heard Bristol gagged rather loudly for a moment. “Are you alright?” I was panicking.
“Nothing. It was just my usual reflexes.”
“Usual reflexes.” I said, not entirely believing in him.
“So, what’s your secret?” he asked, unquestionably trying to change the topic. “Anything as tragic as mine?”
I just followed his whims, “I don’t know if my life is story-worthy. This seems to be the most exciting event that has ever happened to my life.” he burst into laughter, and I followed suits, but it was cut short when Bristol began to cough again. This time slightly badly. “Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked again, and I was certain no one would be okay in this kind of situation.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He uttered. “So, you don’t have a secret? I should have not told you mine.”
“I have. It’s not a secret, but I don’t know. I just… I just hate myself at times. No, perhaps all times. I feel like I don’t measure up to anyone else. I’m a worthless piece of junk. No one will look at me and be amazed. I hate my body, I can’t do anything right. I can’t control my heart. I’m…” I stared at him. “Not beautiful, not like you.”
“If being beautiful is a good thing, my mom would still be alive.” He snapped. My mouth was zipped. I looked up. I was a tad ashamed for being a shallow-minded person. I taught that all good-looking guys would have the best things and the best life. Not with Bristol though. He was beautiful, but he never had a good life.
“We have our own regrets. We have things that we don’t like about ourselves.” He said. “Maybe that is how humans are made. We want to live in the other side of the fence, but we forget the garden that we already have.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t…”
“I know.” Bristol cut me. “I think we should stop feeling so bad about ourselves if this is the last day, or night, of our life. I don’t want to die in regret. Tell me what do you like the most about yourself.”
“I don’t know… at least I like to do photo manipulations.”
“And you say you can’t do anything right.” He grinned. I could not help but to do the same.
We spent a long time telling each other about our lives trying to be awaken, awoke in hopes that someone would finally find us. We stopped telling stories about our bad past because the present felt much more real than the past had ever been. Each story was interspersed with Bristol’s coughing fits that turned worse and worse after every passing hour, but he kept on talking and talking. I admitted that talking to him made me felt cheerful and warm inside. Even if he had this horrendous history, his beautiful eyes gleamed with happiness. His cough got stronger though, and I was afraid of the things that would happen to him. What should I do? I kept saying to myself. I did not know how to help Bristol. I myself felt weak, not because of sickness but because I could not be a good person to him. Fatigue started to engulf me, which I tried to shoo away.
Bristol got sicker and sicker that I told him to just sleep. He protested but my argument got the better of him. It was hot and humid, and the smells of our sweaty physiques were sewage-worthy, but sleeping was better for him. I watched him dozed off. I intent to keep awake, just to make sure that Bristol was safe, but sleep won over me. My eyes started to see grey that went on to become darkness.
“There’re survivors here!” I heard someone saying that. My eyes were burning with white. It was a dreamtime ago that I last saw the shining light. There were footsteps all around me. I heard someone yelling, “Get the EFFING medics here!” Then another voice saying, “Bomb squad is ready to inspect this place, sir.”
“Sir, are you okay?” a sweetly soft female voice asked me.
I quickly remembered Bristol. I left him on his own, I left him when he needed me the most.
“BRISTOL!” I shouted to her. “Save him! Please!” I begged to her, I did not care how damaged I was. All I knew was I did nothing to ease Bristol’s pain. The female medic went down the big hole that they created and tried to calm me down. A few other people went down as well and held me tightly as the others put some contraptions on Bristol’s face while uttering medical jargons that I did not understand nor care about.
“Bristol, wake up!” I yelled, wishing that somewhere in his head, my voice would register. “Bristol!” he did not move. I regretted myself for not being strong enough to push myself to last the night with him. I was too fragile, too puny to do anything right. I regretted everything… everything until I heard Bristol’s frail voice.
“Hey…” he said. I quickly pushed the medics aside and said I was sorry to him. He only smirked and said he was sorry for being such a jerk.
“We’re both jerks then.” I said.
“You know something?”
“My mom visited me last night...”
“I guess that’s good for you then. Now just be quiet, and let the medics do their work, okay?” I told him. I knew he was going to tell me his dream, but I did not feel like knowing it. After knowing what happened to him, I just wanted to let that memory of his mother to only stay with him. Bristol’s grin turned into this sweet smile. The medics did their work.
“So, you’re ready to go up?” asked the female medic. I looked at her and then back at Bristol. He was smirking and mouthed something that suspiciously looked like go on. I looked back at the female medic.
She smiled at me and then said something else, “Well, wanna have a cup of java with me after that?” she got the same effect like Bristol, or maybe that was because I was trapped with a guy for a long time, even if it was Bristol. I watched her face. She was beautiful too, and a whole night in a safe was enough. “Perhaps two cups.” I agreed with her, sort of.