“Why do I have to go to this party? I don’t even know them.” I was furious. Instead of partying with my friends, I was stuck going to this weird party with my parents. “I told you before this is not a party. This is someone’s last wish and we have to honor it.” my father told me. He isn’t usually like this but I guess this is something special which is why he is so on edge.
After about an hour, we reached the driveway of the host’s house. Mom was in a black gown while dad and I were in black suits. The entire ride I only wondered one thing: why would someone wish to celebrate death? I mean, death is not something to be celebrated. It is to be mourned.
As I was unbuckling my seatbelt, through the corner of my eye, I saw a glint of white in the garden covered in darkness. As I turned my head to see it better, it vanished.
We entered the house. Filled with people, overhead speakers playing soft, happy songs, the smell of freshly made food, the house didn’t seem like it was in mourning at all. Apart from my parents and the hosts, I didn’t know any of the people that came to the ‘party'. So, I just sat down on one of the chairs lined up along the wall. My parent went up to the hosts and all four of them looked at me. The male host raised his hand to wave at me and without a choice, I waved back. All the people seemed to be in a weird mixture of happy and sad. I was still confused as to what sort of people would arrange a party for a person who is almost dead. From what I was able to piece together, the hosts were the parents of the child who is in a coma and the parents had decided to end her pain and let her go. All of this felt very bizarre to me and I tried to keep myself busy by eagerly waiting to start eating and then leave.
Amidst all my thinking and rethinking, once again, I saw that white glint. This time when I turned to look, it did not escape. Rather it stood still. It was a girl. Dressed in a white gown in the sea of black, she smiled at me for a second before walking off towards the balcony. For some unknown reason, I felt I needed to follow her. That face somehow seemed familiar to me. Like it was the first face I had seen in my life. I followed her to the open balcony, the sky dotted with stars and the air filled with winter fog. The house was big. The backyard, even bigger. And there she stood, leaning on the rails.
“Hi.” I said. Hesitant but bold.
“Hello.” The voice. It felt so familiar. A brief silence followed.
“What is your name?” she asked as she turned to face me, now leaning on her right elbow.
“Jason.” I replied. She was indeed, very beautiful. Shoulder length, side-swept hair.
“Oh, nice to finally meet you, Jason.” The word ‘finally’ sent a cold shudder down my spine.
“Finally?” I asked, confused.
“She used to talk about you a lot.” she replied. For some reason, she suddenly seemed a bit off.
“Who?” I asked again. My mind was split, one moment I am drowning in the beauty of a girl I met for the first time. Another moment I am questioning how she knows me.
“The girl whose party you came to. I knew you wouldn’t know her.” she turned to face the dew-covered backyard.
“I have never even met her.” It came out more bluntly than I hoped.
“Sad”, she said rather sternly, "she talked a lot about you.”
I was shocked. So much so that I didn’t realize she was waiting for me to tell something.
“So, how did you both meet?” was the first thing that came to my mind.
“I have known her my entire life. We....”, she paused for a bit, “were very close.”
I didn’t know what to make of that. “Oh! That’s good.” I realized I shouldn’t have said that and quickly tried to change the topic and messed up again.
“So, do you know why we are here tonight, celebrating when we should be mourning?” I guess I just don’t know how to talk to girls.
“She was always very different.” She started talking, “She also had a different take on death.”
I was interested now.
“What take is that?” I asked, genuinely curious. She looked to the stars.
“She always believed that death was nothing to be mourned. When a person dies, they leave the pains of this world behind....” she continued, “and go to a higher place of salvation. Why should we mourn that? This is what she used to say. This is something to celebrate.” I was surprised. It does make sense when it is put that way.
Both of us were quiet for a long time. Maybe reflecting on the wisdom of the girl.
“She was a descendant of the moon.” she broke the silence and my mind.
“Descendant of the Moon.” she went on to explain, “It is a religion. That is why she’s being detached from life support. They believe that one must not be forcefully kept in this world.”
“How did it happen?”
“What?” she asked in return. “Be put in life support?”
“Yes.” I replied.
“The descendants believe that people who are born together are meant to be together forever. It is very rare that a boy and a girl are born in the same day, exact same time, in the exact same place. Very few descendants meet their soulmates this way. She was one of the few....” she turned to me again, “One day she went to meet him. But fate had other plans. She never made it back home that day. It was straight to the hospital and then back home, trapped in her own body.” Her voice began to crack as she wiped her eyes. I was tearing up as well. It was all a shock to me. We were back to being quiet. Occasionally looking at each other. She noticed everyone gathering around the table inside.
“We should go, her father is about to talk.” She started walking towards the house.
“Wait....” I called out, “I didn’t get to know your name.”
She smiled, “Since we will never meet again,” she turned her head, “remember me as the girl in the balcony.” She went inside. The smell of vanilla trailing behind her.
I went running after her. Even in the mass of black suits and dresses, I couldn’t see the white dress I was looking for. My dad found me before I could find her. He pulled me by my arm and took me to the front of the crowd, right in front of the host.
“This night is for her. Not for us. Tonight, we will visit her one last time before she leaves this world for a higher peace. Our speeches, our memories of her will be expressed at her wake few days later.” The host finished his small speech. I was still searching for the girl.
“Jason,” my own name caught me off-guard, “you are first.” I was baffled. I asked them why I was first.
“Because you were born together. You were the first to see her come into this world, so you will be the first to see her leave.” My whole world came crashing down. This is why I was specially invited to this party. That means that the girl is in life support is there because of me. She went to see me that day and I didn’t even know about it.
“Jason!!” my mother quietly screamed, “Go with them!” I came out of my mind. The girl’s father was holding the door to her room open. I went in with her mother who was quiet the whole evening. The room was even colder than the winter air outside with various machines beeping rhythmically. When my eyes finally went to her face, I felt my heart sink. It was her.
The girl, lying in bed with all the machines attached to her, was the girl on the balcony.