2020 Junior Division: 1st Place

Cessation

Jo Beecroft

This is the end, the closing, the finale.

The boy is falling, fast. Cold wind rushes past his open-mouthed face. The deafening roar of wind blocks out his screaming. All he sees is a vertical blur of blues, greys and greens leading, inevitably, down. He is panicking now. The way his stomach flies up cements the fact that he is going to die. His end is inevitable, inescapable, inexorable.

How many of those synonyms start with ‘in,’ he thinks, nose blocked, eyes wide, delusional. If he could think, he would’ve scowled at himself. Is that seriously going to be the last thought before my untimely death?

The boy knew he would die, but not like this. Your death is supposed to be magnificent, grandiose. You should see your life flash before your very own eyes. You should have done something to relax you before the end. Something to make you feel content about your life. You’re supposed to die surrounded by family and friends who could come to terms with your death. They could relax, knowing you have achieved something, done something with your life, before it ended.

Even his stomach wants to escape the inescapable. But it, just like the boy, cannot. There is no parachute, no safety net, no padding. There is nothing waiting for him but a slab of concrete. Tears stream from his eyes. He knows this the end. The closing. The finale.

Not yet, is all that he can think. Two words repeating in his head, again and again and again.

Notyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyetnotyet

The words blend together in his head, merged into one long distorted, panicked mumble.

Notyetnotyetnotyetnotyetn-

The boy hears a loud crunch.

He dies.

He doesn’t even feel the pain, it’s just… nothing. He doesn’t even get that last experience before the black. He can’t go into the ‘afterlife’ and talk about his grand death. About how many of his bones cracked on impact. How his broken rib cage dug into his heart and severed his aorta. How he felt the warmth of wet, viscous blood dripping down his back before congealing on his shirt. He didn’t get to know what it felt like for his heart to stop and blood to lie dormant in his veins. It might’ve even been funny to talk about how his bowels relax and let out faeces. But no. The boy lies between life and death in turmoil, thinking about everything he missed out on.

The boy opens his eyes. He tries to blink away the groggy, grey haze to no avail, getting nothing in return but an irritation in his red, puffy eyes. His body feels so heavy. It’s like a weight slowly sinking in quicksand. He tries to swallow, but his dry throat has a lump blocking it. He fights against the pressure and is rewarded with one desperate second of sitting up. He collapses, fatigue instantly dragging him back down. He struggles back up one more time.

What am I fighting for? he thinks. A different view of grey?

He continues looking up, slackening his tense neck. It’s just grey. Forever and ever into oblivion. There is no sense of space, no point at which he could orient himself. He’s just sinking. More gentle than falling, at least.

The boy fully gives into the sinking. There’s no way out of death, after all. He tries to remember his life. What had he actually done?

Surely there’s some way I’ve impacted the world? At least one good thing I’ve done.

He thinks about the time in kindergarten when he learnt to spell his nam-

POP!

The sound is loud, but not harsh. It makes him feel satisfied… like a weight being lifted off his shoulders. A fuzzy sensation warms his entire body. He doesn’t know what he was thinking about before. It’s like the memory shot off into oblivion, parting with him.

Then he thought about his first day of primary school with the slightly scary teac-

POP!

Making his first friend at kindergarten becau- POP!

Making a mess baking cookies with his m- POP!

Going to the park alone with his sist- POP!

Going to his friend’s 6th bir- POP!

Bringing his dad to schoo- POP!

Going to his mom’s wor- POP!

Picking up their pupp- POP!

Winning the scho- POP!

Obsessing ove- POP!

Buying his fi- POP!

Askin- POP!

These thoughts continue as he sinks further. With every pop one small chunk of his mind flies off and into the infinite expanse of grey. It’s like they belong there. He was just carrying them around, scavenging for those memories until they could make their way here, to their inevitable, inescapable and inexorable end. The cessation is comforting, like baggage being lifted off his conscience, leaving him feeling lighter. He thrives in this moment. He finally feels free. Free from the constant anxiety that had stressed him for his last few years. No worries, no problems, no fear. He has nothing left but freedom. His sense of self dissolves, diffusing into oblivion, slowly and blissfully. Down, down, down the boy goes until the final thought. He thinks he should feel more fervent about this last thought. Maybe he should desperately cling to this last part of himself. Maybe he should want to get rid of it, passionate and furious.

It doesn’t matter anymore.

Getting pushed off the cliff by- POP!

The boy sinks and the grey gets darker and darker, enveloping him in comfort. It feels like a heavy blanket. The darkness calls to him, warm, inviting and secure. He lets it take him. He’s almost eager for his end, wanting more of the safety that the darkness promises.

Finallyfinallyfinallyfinallyfinally…

The boy hears the soft echo of that fatal crunch.

Everything goes completely black. This is the end, the closing, the finale.