Tears. But they were not of joy.
Grief. But they were not for another.

The girl wept on the beach by the sea, the only outlet for the suppressed suffering she had pushed into her inner being.

Sobs finally quieted into sniffles as the young girl rocked to and fro, hugging her knees and staring vaguely into the distance. Nothing existed for her any longer except the pain in her heart and the fire on her flesh, the cane marks mute testimony to the cruelty dealt to her since her earliest memories.

As if she had come to an agreement within her turbulent self, the young girl stood up and brushed her dress off carefully, making sure that no sand clung. Then slowly but determinedly, she strode into the water. Shivering though she was from the chill of the seawater, it didn’t prevent her from making purposeful steps deeper into the water.

“Mandy…no!!” A female voice rang out.

Before the young girl could take another step, she was grabbed from behind and dragged like a sack of potatoes to the beach. Flung onto the sand where she laid motionless, the young girl started crying again.

“Why…” She sobbed, “Why did you save me? I don’t want to live…”

Through the flood of her tears, she could vaguely see a young woman kneeling by her side, watching her.

“Because Mandy, “the woman said, “if you had died, you wouldn’t have known what a bright future you’ll enjoy.”

With tears still on her red cheeks, Mandy stared at the woman in disbelief.

“How could that be? I could barely live from day to day as it is!”

The woman took Mandy into her arms.

“You’ll live bravely,” she said firmly but gently, “and I promise you, one day, you’ll not regret it.”

It was a strange feeling but Mandy somehow felt comforted by the young woman. It was as if she had known her from somewhere but had no idea where. She looked up but found her comforter’s face peculiarly transparent.

Mandy panicked.

“What’s happening?” She cried in alarm, reaching out to try to pull her rescuer back from wherever she’s fading to.

“Be well, Mandy.” The woman smiled as she faded into nothingness.
Mandy’s hand clutched at empty air.

* * *

Mandy strolled along the beach along where she had attempted suicide almost fifteen years ago.

After that ordeal, Mandy had gone straight to the Police to report her mother’s abusive behavior, knowing that her mother would never change. If her life were to be better and happier, she would have to take action, even if it meant going against her only living parent.

Mandy was put into the care of a relative who cared for her as if she was her own child and she was happier than she had ever been.
Though people knew of her violent mother who was now jailed for abuse and avoided her like the plague, Mandy lived bravely, just like what that woman advised her to do.

Years passed like the wind and Mandy, who had found a certain talent in clothes design, soon curved a niche for herself in the local fashion scene.

Yet, somehow after that incident on the beach, Mandy could not find that mysterious lady who had rescued her from the jaws of death. Try as she might, Mandy just could not locate the lady.

A white figure in the distance suddenly caught her attention. Squinting her eyes, Mandy saw a young girl making her way into the water. As she watched the young girl, a sudden realization dawned on her. The girl was not just taking a causal stroll into the sea; she was trying to drown herself!

Kicking off her high heels, Mandy dashed towards the girl. Her eyes widened in shock as she neared the girl.

That hair…and that bruised profile… Why, isn’t that herself from fifteen years ago?

The younger version of her was determinedly wading into the chilly waters and Mandy was just as determined not to let that happen.

“Mandy…no!!” she yelled to stop that pathetic figure before she could wade in any further.

She reached the girl and grabbed the stick-thin figure, dragging her back onto the beach.

Her childhood self lay motionless on the sand and started to wail,

“Why…” She sobbed, “Why did you save me? I don’t want to live…”

Mandy knelt beside her, her own heart welling up with emotions,

“Because Mandy,” she replied, “If you had died, you wouldn’t have known what a bright future you’ll enjoy.”

Her younger self recovered from her sobs enough to stare at her,

“How could that be? I could barely live from day to day as it is!”

On an impulse, she hugged her younger self, desperately wanting to give whatever comfort she could.

“You’ll live bravely,” she said firmly but gently, “and I promise you, one day, you’ll not regret it.”

Her younger self stifled her sniffles and looked up to gaze into her face. But the questioning look on her face was soon replaced by panic.

“What’s happening?” She cried in alarm, reaching out with a hand.

Mandy could feel her surroundings fading even as her younger self reached out with a pale hand.

“Be well, Mandy.” Mandy gave her a smile of encouragement as everything around her dissolved into nothingness.

Waves lapping at her feet snapped her into alertness. Mandy shook her head and gaze all around her. Her younger self was no longer in her arms, yet somehow she felt happier than she had before. She knew that no matter what happened, strength would always come from within.

She could live bravely, she could.

This was first published in Montage Edition Vol. 23 in the year 2006.

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