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*The Standard Essay*

Extracts from: *_HOW TO ANSWER LITERATURE QUESTIONS_* (A work in progress)

A standard essay should have three parts namely: the introduction; the body; and the conclusion. This is applicable to every essay in every discipline. These three parts must be present when one is drafting one’s outline. Hence, ensuring that one’s essay is properly divided into paragraphs.

For an essay to be considered as standard at this level, the essay should have at least five paragraphs — that is, one paragraph for the introduction; three paragraphs for the body; and the last paragraph will be for the conclusion. It is important to note that only one idea should be discussed in a paragraph. For example, in an essay titled “The Effects of Drug Abuse”, you may outline at least three effects and discuss them all in different paragraphs.

The different parts of an essay perform different functions. The introductory part, just as the name implies, introduces the essay. It contains the thesis (What the essay aims to accomplish.) and perhaps, the definition of the concepts. An essay should have a good introduction that is catchy enough to attract the reader. The body of the essay is the point where you discuss your points while the conclusion is the point where you summarise and round off your essay.

Aside having the proper form, a standard essay should also show one’s authority in the use of language — that is, the grammatical construction of words and the correct employment of punctuation are keys to writing good essays. On this note, it is advisable for students writing literature exams to master topics such as: The Rules of Concord and The Correct Ways to Use Punctuation Marks.

Knowing the aforementioned topics is important because most literature teachers usually assume that these things have been taught in English so they do not waste precious time trying to teach the students basic things like subject-verb agreement and where to put the punctuation symbols when writing.

Another important skill to have while writing is the ability to ensure the smooth flow of thoughts from one sentence to another or from one paragraph to another. This is otherwise known as cohesion. Cohesion can be achieved in an essay through the use of connective such as: firstly, lastly, in conclusion, however, furthermore, nevertheless, conclusively etc.

To summarise all that has been said, one needs the following in order to write a good essay:
1. An outline.
2. Proper paragraphing.
3. The correct application of grammatical rules.
4. Mechanical accuracy — the correct use of punctuation marks.
5. Cohesion between sentences and paragraphs.

Below is an example of an outline and essay on the topic: “Why Youth Empowerment is Important for National Development.”

*Introduction*

Paragraph 1: Define the concept and list out some points that will be discussed in the body. State your thesis.

Body

Paragraph 2. Youth empowerment reduces the dependency on the government.
Paragraph 3. Youth empowerment reduces poverty.
Paragraph 4. Youth empowerment reduces crime.

*Conclusion*

Paragraph 5. Restate your thesis. Comment on what your essay has been able to achieve.

Why Youth Empowerment is Important for National Development.

Many of the developed countries of the world today are where they are because of the efforts the governments of these countries have made in terms of empowering their young citizens to be self-reliant. Self-reliance simply means the state of being able to provide for oneself the basic needs of life — water, food, housing, clothing and pleasure. Because the youths in the developed countries of the world are self-reliant, there is less dependency on the government, less poverty, and of course less crime. The word “less” is used before all the aforementioned because it is impossible to have a country whereby there is zero crime and no poor citizens etc. On this note, this essay will discuss the importance of youth empowerment to national development.

As mentioned in the preamble, if the government of Nigeria decides to invest in its youths by teaching them various skills that will make them to be able to fend for themselves, there will be less dependency on the government. If this is done in Nigeria, there will be an upsurge in the economy because the people must have learnt the skills needed to produce some of the things which are usually imported and subsidised by the government; thus, providing more funds for the government to carryout other tasks. It is no news that when people are happy and healthy, the government of the country will not have much problems; hence, doing this provides an opportunity to the government to pursue other pressing needs that will also aid national development.

Empowering the youth of Nigeria is surely going to reduce poverty. Due to lack of any official data at hand to back up claims that many Nigerians are poor, I will be giving a subjective description of poverty in Nigeria. Going through the slums of Ajegunle, I cannot help but feel nauseous when I see the poor living conditions of the people. Their houses are often old and dilapidated, usually without running water and proper toilets. To summarise, the places many a Nigerian lives is not worth living. Sadly these unhealthy environments and accommodations are what most can afford due to the high rate of poverty in the country, and in fact the ones who can afford these houses are often considered as lucky when compared to those who sleep on the streets. The high rate of poverty in the country will easily be reduced if only the government can train the youth to be self-reliant by conducting different workshops that will provide a platform for people to develop their skills and make money from it. If this is done, the standard of living of the people will increase significantly.

Finally, training the youth in skill acquisition will surely reduce crime in the country. In Nigeria today, crime — both high-profile and low-profile crimes — is the order of the day. Many youths involve in different vices in order to cater for themselves. The adage — “An idle hand is the devils workshop.” — is, everyday, proven to be correct in Nigeria because it is only those who are not gainfully employed that can find the time to involve in vices such as stealing and prostitution etc. All these will definitely reduce if only the government could provide a genuine means of making money for the youth in the country.

Youth empowerment is important for national development because the youths are the future leaders of the country. If those who will lead the country in the nearest future are responsible and self-reliant citizens, we can rest assured that the country will continue to grow and will soon be at par with the “Japans”, the “Germanies” and the “Chinas” of this world. In conclusion, this essay has discussed the importance of youth empowerment to national development.

Your feedback is required. Thanks.

*UDE, Chiedozie Orji (Atomic)*

09090953414

Finding the impossible True Love | GBAMLOG.COM

Paris watched Blaise as he slept. He was a restless one alright, even in sleep.
There was a faint frown on his face, like he was solving a puzzle. Maybe
teaching advanced calculus in the university would do that to you.
She traced her finger from his temple to his jaw. He stirred and caught her
hand. He kissed her palm and pulled her close. As she snuggled against him,
she felt it was the best time to broach the subject she had been agonising
over in the past few weeks.
“You have classes today, don’t you?”
“Hmmm,” he replied, holding her tighter.
“You have classes. That means you need to go home and change.”
“Not for an hour or so,” he responded, caressing the love handles by her side.
That was one of the things she loved about Blaise. He never complained about
her recent weight gain.
“You know you could save yourself the trouble of running back and forth by
moving in.”
There! She’d said it and it wasn’t so hard to do. She and Blaise were both 31
and taught at NYU, she in Physics, he in Mathematics. They’d met at a cafe on
campus and had been dating for a little over a year, with him often sleeping
over at her flat close to the Greenwich Village, Manhattan campus. The first
time was when she invited him over to celebrate their one-month anniversary.
He lived in an efficiency apartment on campus and always went back to his
place the mornings after their nights together to show up bright and early at
the Courant Institute where his office was located. Every single time.
This is the story of a young woman’s pursuit of love and emotional healing.
CLICK TO TWEET
Paris had hinted that he leave a few clothes at her place but he didn’t. So she
bought him some, hoping with those he’d spend two or three days at a row in
her place. But he packed them back to his apartment and continued his
practice of spending a night with her, then skipping two or three nights before
showing up again. The raw situation reminded her of the saying, “You can take
a horse to the stream, but you can’t force it to drink.”
Paris wanted more but Blaise wasn’t giving it. So she decided to make the
offer that she just did. There never seemed to be a right time to talk about
commitment with Blaise which was really what she yearned for. And her
immediate past relationship had taught her not to assume anything with a
boyfriend. But his silence now proved that Blaise didn’t like her suggestion.
“I do need to get going,” he said, rolling away from her and off the bed.
That stung like a slap. She wasn’t going to pretend she wasn’t hurt. Blaise
stood up and began to put on his trousers.
“I just made a suggestion, Blaise.”
“I heard you.”
“And?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I don’t think it’s a good idea.” He wore his shirt and began to
button it.
“Why?”
“Can’t you guess? You’re a smart woman, Paris. And besides, now is not the
best time for this conversation. I need to get home and prepare for work.”
“No, I say we have this conversation RIGHT NOW!”
Blaise became annoyed at her insistence. “Fine,” he said, sitting on the bed to
wear his socks. Paris came around to face him.
“I love you, Blaise. Why can’t we be together?”
“We are together, Paris.” She noted that he didn’t echo her love declaration
and he called her Paris, as he always did. “I just don’t want to lose my own
life. I gotta have my own space.”
“I don’t understand. We have 750 square feet of space in this flat. You can
have as much personal space as you need.”
“It’s not the same thing. I’m perfectly satisfied with the arrangement we have
now.”
“Well, I’m not. It’s either we’re together or we’re not.”
“I can’t give you what you want, Paris; I can’t go beyond what we have now.”
Blaise stood up and slid his glasses on.
“I think you’re selfish and afraid of commitment.” Paris was on the verge of
tears.
“And I think you’re needy and clinging.”
“I thought we were good together but I guess I was wrong.”
“Watch what you say before you have to eat your words when this blows
over.”
“You’re such an arrogant pri#k! I think you should leave now and never come
back.”
“Get over yourself, Paris. Why would I want to come back? Next thing I know,
you’ll be begging me to marry you.”
“Get out at once!”
“Gladly!” Blaise declared, slipping on his shoes and picking his blazer from
where it hung in the closet and leaving.
The moment he left, Paris dissolved into tears.
That would be the fourth man to walk out on her. What am I doing wrong?
Why can’t I get them to stay? I just want to get married. Why do I keep
hooking up with all these commitment phobes?
Blaise said I’m needy and clinging. How is that a bad thing? Shouldn’t a man
love a woman who makes him feel so important, whose life seems to revolve
around him? All this is so confusing. I think I’m just not cut out for this
dating game.
She remembered what she had been taught when she was growing up.
“Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. … Flee youthful lusts. … Pursue
holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.”
She really believed and practised that stuff till after her graduation from
college. She had been a typical book worm in school and had made a clear 5-
point average, which earned her an academic position in her alma mater and a
scholarship to do postgraduate studies in Europe. She ended up at Uppsala
University in Sweden, where she got a teaching position for additional funding
and pursued a doctorate degree in theoretical physics.
Opting to study abroad deepened her loneliness and her inability to cope with
it drove her into the arms of one of her professors, Katz. She began to
fantasise about settling down in Sweden and raising a family with Katz, only
for her to wake up one morning and learn he had accepted a position in
Norway. He left a note apologising for letting her down. She was young and
beautiful, so she would find someone else soon, he had assured her. (Katz
was twenty years older than her.)
Sex is not a guarantee of longevity or commitment in a relationship.
CLICK TO TWEET
Then there was Gilberto, the Italian painter she had met during a trip to see the
city she was named after. Just when she had finished rehearsing the speech
with which she would invite him to go back to New York with her, he
preempted her by saying he was going back to Italy, to join a monastery!
Upon getting back to New York, she decided to avoid the artsy crowd and go
with more cerebral folks. But a romance with a marine biologist, Chad, lecturing
at a community college in Brooklyn fell through. She discovered he was
married and confronted him. He said he didn’t know singleness was required
in their relationship and that he still loved his wife. Paris wanted to ask if he
didn’t mean to deceive her, why he hadn’t mentioned his wife in the two years
they’d been together. But she decided it was too late – pointless. She later
learned his wife was a fashion model and constantly travelling. No wonder the
guy could come and go as he pleased. She also recalled that he never invited
her home, claiming that the view of Washington Square Park from her place
was therapeutic.
And finally, Blaise! Charming, handsome, funny, smart, Blaise! Blaise didn’t
know his family. He was raised in an orphanage, same as herself. Although
they were taken into foster care as adolescents, they didn’t build close
relationships with the families they had been placed in. Paris had assumed
she’d found a kindred soul and together, they could heal each other. But while
being an orphan made her crave love, it had the opposite effect on Blaise. He
embraced his aloneness and maintained superficial relationships with others.
Their differences actually ran deeper. Paris grew up in a church-run orphanage
and always had a deep longing for God. She accepted Jesus as her Saviour at
the age of ten. Blaise, on the other hand, mocked her religion and told her to
grow up, implying that to him, belief in God was an infantile notion.
All Paris was looking for was love. She felt if she got a man who loved her,
she would rededicate her life to God and begin to serve Him well. She didn’t
think she stood much chance of finding an interesting guy in church. The
church folks she knew from her childhood were “stuffy”. But as she wept over
the disastrous way her romance with Blaise had ended, it occurred to her that
she had been disobedient to God all along. She was living by her own rules
but that didn’t make her actions right. She had been seeking love and
happiness but she had only found heartache and pain. It was time for her to
retrace her steps. She needed to get back to who she was before she travelled
abroad. She needed to quit the dating scene. She needed to allow God to take
over the saddle of her life once again. His love was superior to any other. It
was what she really needed and in time, if He willed, she would have the love
of a man under the right circumstances.
It is best to seek emotional healing in God, not in the arms of a fellow human
being.
CLICK TO TWEET
As she was about to kneel beside her bed in prayer, her cell phone rang. It was
Blaise. Paris was confused. Should she pick the call? What did he want? She
didn’t want to fool herself into thinking Blaise would apologise. Even if he did,
what would it actually mean? He certainly wouldn’t be granting her request. If
he did, he would resent her in the long run. He could only want to restore the
status quo, which would mean hurting her again in the near future. But all this
is conjecture. I really don’t know what he wants.
Much as she loved Blaise and was very curious about why he called, she
decided it wasn’t nearly as important as what she was meaning to do. It was
harder than she imagined (not just ignoring his call but giving Blaise up) and
she succumbed to another bout of weeping. She knew the tears would still be
flowing intermittently for weeks, maybe months. But for the moment, she
pulled herself up from the floor to kneel by the bed and find her way back to
God.
-The end-
Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja 2018

She Made Me feel Love Again | GBAMLOG.COM

Once, I caught sight of how women deserve to be loved. I carried an old
lady’s shopping bags up a staircase in an underpass. She thanked me and
timidly asked me to help walk her to her house. She told me she was in a
rush because her husband waited to meet her whenever she went outside. As
we approached, I saw a nearly blind man walking with a cane outside of the
lady’s house. He came up to us and took his beloved’s heavy bags from me.
I immediately recalled how often I was too lazy to meet my girlfriend on the
way home from the supermarket or from the train station.
I lost my leg when I was 19. I was dating a girl at that time and we were very
much in love. After a while, she suddenly decided to move abroad, claiming
that she wanted to earn some money for us. I wanted to believe her, but was
convinced that she was lying. I told her we needed to break up and that it
would be better for her. One month later, my doorbell rang. I took my
crutches, opened the door and there she was. I didn’t even manage to get a
word out before she slapped me and I fell down. She kneeled down beside
me, hugged me and said, “You’re an idiot! I didn’t run away from you. We’re
going to the hospital tomorrow and there’s a prosthesis waiting for you. I
went abroad to earn money so you’ll be able to walk again — do you
understand?” I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I couldn’t utter a
single word — I just hugged her tightly and cried.

Mother visits her daughter for omugwo, gets pregnant for her son-in-law

A mother who went to do Omugwo for her daughter has allegedly gotten pregnant for her son-in-law (her daughter’s husband).

Social media user, Uncle Chike shared the story on his page where he revealed the mother who is 57 year old has fallen pregnant for her son-in-law who just welcomed a child with her daughter.

Mother visits her daughter for omugwo, gets pregnant for her son-in-law

He wrote;

Man …fear PH women. How can you go for Omugwo and get pregnant for your son in-law? How? Why is a 57yr old woman pregnant for her son in-law? What sort of “end of the world” nonsense is this?

Source: Lailasnews.com

Mimetic Analysis of Bomboy. Chiedozie Ude. Gbamlog.com

The novel Bomboy revolves around the character of Leke, a single young man who is portrayed as quite restless and antisocial; hence, he develops the habit of stalking women and stealing irrelevant things from people. He later finds out through a series of letter written to him by his biological father that the cause of his queer mannerisms stems from a generational curse placed on his family by a witch doctor whom they wronged. Having found the source of his troubles, Leke embarks on a mission to rid himself of the curse. All the events in the story prove that the novel Bomboy is one that can be analysed based on the verisimilitude it shares with the human society.

The novel Bomboy is rich in content in that it displays the relationship between modernity and tradition as it portrays human life. The novel portrays modernity through several ways. One of such ways is highlighted through the author’s depiction of a plethora of instances when Leke seeks modern and professional help in his search for rest and peace of mind. By so doing, themes such as: the universal theme of cultural conflict, as depicted by the clash between the Nigerian and South African beliefs; the theme of identity; the theme of love; the theme of racial discrimination; and the theme of the despicable nature of the prison system etc., are projected by the author. All the aforementioned help reinforce the argument that this novel contains some present issues faced by people in the society.

However, it is, arguably, the author’s use of traditional events that make this novel really stand out. By fusing tradition into the story, the author, who is of the Yoruba origin, has been able to reinforce several notions postulated by other Yoruba authors such as Wole Soyinka in Death and the King’s Horseman, Femi Osofisan in Women of Owu and Ola Rotimi in his Nigerian adaptation of Sophocles Oedipus Rex — that is, The Gods are not to Blame. One of these notions is the belief in the gods and their ability to affect destinies. Consequently, we have the theme of fate. All these themes combine to strengthen the argument that Bomboy is a realistic work of art with happenings that are peculiar to man.

The theme of fate can be considered as central to this story. The author develops this theme by employing several literary devices such as flashback, suspense and other factors such as happenstance. Through these devices, the theme of fate is established and the reader is also able to link different events to the subject matter. One may be tempted to argue that the author’s use of similar dates to convey past events that have significant effects on present events is purely coincidental. However, it simply strengthens the argument that everything has been premeditated by the gods. Hence, one can be justified to describe the gods as domineering and all powerful because they are capable of determining the destinies of man. This theme of fate is arguably most prominent in the life of Oscar, who from a very little age realises that he will never know peace or be happy because of the curse of the witch doctor, an emissary of the gods, on his family. Therefore, one can be justified to declare that it is the pronouncement of the gods that made Leke to behave awkwardly.

Another theme that is worthy of attention is the theme of cultural conflict. The concept of cultural conflict is a universal phenomenon which appears in many works of art. This theme is portrayed by Oscar who finds it difficult to get along with his South African colleagues because of his belief in the stories which surround the mythical and ancestral Queen Moremi of Ile-Ife. Because of this belief, Oscar fails to acknowledge South African heroes such as Rhodes. This clash of beliefs adequately sums up the tensions that plague the relationship between Nigerians and South Africans in the modern era — that is, 21st Century.

Closely related to the theme of cultural conflict is the theme of identity, another universal concept. The theme of identity is brought into focus in this book through the plights of biracial people. Both Leke and his father are the products of interracial unions; hence, they can hardly pass as whites or as blacks. This issue plagues Leke’s childhood because he gets bullied by school mates who recognise, through his white foster parents, that he was adopted. Another instance which reinforces the theme of identity is Leke’s name. Leke, because he was not raised by his biological parents, is forced to answer awkward questions about the meaning of his name and its origin.

The theme of love is another recurring idea which helps to project realism in the text. Love, however abstract, may be regarded as the force behind the actions of the characters. For example, Oscar’s grandmother is motivated by her love for her daughter; hence, she refuses to honour her promise by withholding her daughter. Unarguably, love may also be regarded as the catalyst behind Oscar’s decision to have Malcom Feathers killed. Also, everything Jane does for Leke is motivated by love and this explains why he really adores her, even after death, as seen in his ritual of planting 4 o’clock flowers. The budding love affair between Leke and Tsotso cannot be exempted. Through this theme, the characters have been able to vividly portray the sacrifices humans can do for their loved ones.

Another theme which ensures that this novel possesses verisimilitude with its environment is the theme which captures the despicable nature of the South African prison system. The South African prison system neither rehabilitates or reforms. Rather, it is a place where different vices such as murder, homosexuality, rape violence, etc., thrive. The pathetic situation of these prisons are vividly portrayed in Dennis Brutus poem: “Letters to Martha” where Dennis Brutus describes in detail the atrocities that are committed by inmates on one another. This inter-textual evidence strengthens the theme being discussed because it proves the truism of the theme through the similarities in the way the inmates in both texts act —that is, violence, homosexuality and killing are the order of the day. With all this evidence, one will surely not receive Oscar’s death in prison with much surprise. Therefore, one cannot gainsay the fact that the theme of the despicable nature of the South African prison system as portrayed in Bomboy captures the reality of prisoners in South Africa, and by extension, prisoners all over the world.

In conclusion, the text Bomboy is one which portrays real life with its setting — places drawn from real life; themes — ideas that are universal; and character actions etc.

Expressive Approach to Analysing “A Song for Ajegunle” by Niyi Osundare. Chiedozie Ude. GBAMLOG.COM

As is the case with most literary works of art, Niyi Osundare’s “A Song for Ajegunle” is a work of art which portrays realism. Realism is portrayed through the setting of the poem — that is, a place in Lagos known as Ajegunle. The place setting is reinforced or rather made known through the title of the poem. Aside from the setting which is drawn from real life, realism is also captured in the text through the way the poet vividly describes the happenings in the location. For example, his description of how so many children that should be in school are out of school aptly captures the situation of many a child in Ajegunle. Hence, one can without any iota of doubt say that this poem is, indeed, realistic.

The poem “A Song for Ajegunle” is one which captures the social, economic and political realities of Ajegunle. The poem centres on the poverty-stricken ghetto area known as Ajegunle. It contains the persona’s description of the dirt-infested and government-ignored area in the morning, evening and night. The persona does not mince words as he vividly describes Ajegunle, using a series of figurative expressions to give maximum effect to his description. Because of the indepth knowledge which the poet has of this area as exposed by the simile “curious bird”, this essay will seek to analyse the poem based on how it represents the poet’s feelings and attitude towards the subject matter.

The poet is a well-known romantic who, through his poems, has been able to promote the conservation of nature. Hence, it comes as no surprise that he bemoans the unhealthy situation of Ajegunle. Some of the issues which the poet raises in this poem include: poverty, insecurity, underdevelopment, irresponsible government, and filth etc. These issues are developed through the poet’s choice of words and of course, his use of figurative expressions.

The issue of poverty is central to this poem in that the poet does not mince words as he describes the pathetic situation of the people who live in Ajegunle. He brings this into focus by describing the smoke which comes out of their idle kitchens as pale. The phrase “idle kitchen” is apt because it depicts the lack which is inherent in this place. Niyi Osundare further comments on the issue of poverty by describing how children are unable to go to school and also how many households cannot afford decent meals — that is, the tables are without bread. Through the poet’s cacophonic choice of words such as rumble, manacling, battering etc., his unhappiness at the state of affairs is evident.

Another issue that is on top of the poet’s mind is the issue of underdevelopment. This issue is brought to the fore by Niyi Osundare through the use of contrast. In comparison to Ikoyi, Ajegunle is simply an empty bag that is sprawled. By this, Niyi Osundare, unequivocally, states the backward nature of Ajegunle in comparison to other popular areas of the state. The poet goes on to lament the deplorable housing condition of Ajegunle. To him, the poet, the houses are hovels or slightly better than hovels. He expresses his unhappiness by his repetition of the word “through” in stanza three. The repetition is significant because it serves as a medium which the poet uses to reveal how backward Ajegunle, indeed, is.

Of course, the theme of underdevelopment is related to the theme of bad governance. Niyi Osundare exposes the inability of the government to provide basic amenities for the people in Ajegunle. Niyi Osundare draws light to this by commenting on: the poor state of roads; the poor toilet facilities as exemplified by people’s penchant for defecating in the gutters; lack of good water as seen in the phrase “taps without water”; and of course, not forgetting the apparent lack of electricity which is exposed by Osundare’s nighttime description of the sweaty stupor of people sleeping in crowded mats. Through his use of different imagery such as sight, touch etc., Osundare is able to comment on the issue of bad governance.

Osundare sticks to stereotype in that this poem is in tandem with other poems written by him which talk about the environment. Due to this, it comes as no surprise that Osundare’s description is filled with visual images of filth. These images are further reinforced by the refrain which continually describes Ajegunle as a place that is sprawled. This issue of filth is one is dominant in the stanzas. Firstly, the poet describes the place as weed-infested. He goes on to address the issue of people defecating in gutters and this is unhealthy because it instigates the outbreak of water-borne viruses such as cholera. Osundare further comments on the issue of filth by drawing upon the image of smell. This is made known through the metaphor “the hooded stench of nightsoil” which further reinforces the issue of filth in the poem. Through this issue, Osundare expresses his disdain for the environmental hazards plaguing Ajegunle.

In conclusion, the poet fully utilises the expressive power of literature in this poem because he is able to shed light on several personal and national issues. In fact, this poem may be described as a poem which the poet uses to protest against the rulers of Nigeria; thereby, championing the cause of the masses.

UDE, Chiedozie Orji.

Department of English, University of Lagos.

09090953414

Romance Tragedy: “DON’T YOU DARE CRY FOR ME” | GBAMLOG 

Don’t You Dare Cry For Me

By Genesis

“Don’t you DARE cry for me. You understand me?” Liam took my chin in his hands. He stared into my eyes. He could tell that I want so badly to cry right in front of him. And yet, I couldn’t. I couldn’t because I knew if I did, he’d die hating me. I didn’t want him to leave me feeling the same way when we first met; angry and alone. I wanted Liam to leave me with happy thoughts. I want him to close his eyes forever with a smile spread across his face like peanut butter. I wanted Liam to die laughing so that his final memory before he leaves is us.

But in my mind, I knew this could never happen. I knew Liam could never be happy. I knew he could never die with happy thoughts. I knew he couldn’t die with a smile spread across his face like peanut butter. I knew he could never die laughing. I knew all this because he wasn’t the one dying.

I was.

I was the one lying in the hospital bed. I was the one who’d been stupid and gotten sick in Minnesota. I was the one who was gonna die angry and alone because I couldn’t help Liam. I couldn’t be there for him. I couldn’t make Liam happy. I couldn’t do anything anymore because I was the one who’d leave Liam the same way I found him; angry and alone. “I can’t promise you that, Liam. You know I can’t,” I turned my head away from Liam. I couldn’t let him see me. I couldn’t let him see me cry and yet, he squatted down next to me. He placed his calloused hand on my shoulder.

I shuddered at his touch. “Look at me. Lia. Look me in the eyes and tell me you won’t cry for me,” he told me not to cry for him. He told me to be brave and to look fear in the eyes and say “No.” Liam grabbed my chin once more and turned me to face him. “I’m sorry.”

Tears ran down my face. The salty tears stung my eyes. I could feel it in my nose and taste it on my tongue. My face was red and I’d felt flustered. My eyes were as red as an apple. My head was hot and it hurt to breathe. “I’m sorry, Liam. I really am. I’m so sorry…,” Liam tucked me away in his arms. I could feel his heart beating against my face. The reassuring thumps pounding from his chest calmed me down a bit. Enough for me to give Liam a chance to speak his feelings.

“Lia, did you know that when we first met in Minnesota, upon the waterfall, you were the first thing I saw? You were down in the stream while I was at the top. I was a pretty sad and lonely kid back then, so when I saw a face in the middle of the woods, I was shocked. I didn’t know anyone would be out there during the winter. But you were. You were there but… you were alone. You were alone in the middle of the woods clueless about the dangers of being in that scenario. And yet, you didn’t scream. You didn’t cry for your parents. You didn’t worry or panic at the time. Instead, you stayed calm.

“That’s why I don’t want you to cry for me. You can’t cry for me. Because I’d you do, I’ll cry too. I’m sorry, Lia that I couldn’t give you a happy life. I knew how you felt. I knew you were feeling miserable, but I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything. I let you fall and I left you there because I thought you were going to die. I didn’t want it to seem as though I killed you but, I guess in a way I did.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t help you in school when you were being bullied. I spent so much time focused on my life, I didn’t look into yours. When I first moved to New York, I didn’t know anyone. I had no friends or anyone I could talk to. You came to me looking to be my friend and I pushed you away. You asked me to the school dance a few times but I rejected you. You even asked me to join you and Kori every now and then but I shot you down. Then, when we went on the trip back to Wisconsin, I relived that moment when were kids and let you fall from the cliff.

“I made your life a living hell and all you did was care for me. When I found out who you were, it was too late. You were in the hospital and I had no idea. When I did learn of your condition, I came every day but you didn’t know because you’ve been in a coma.

“I know I’m not the best person in the world, but I’d like to try. I like to have a proper introduction with you. I want to dance with you every day. I want to go out with you and Kori and all of our friends. Maybe just you and me sometimes. I want to travel the world with you and protect you with my life. I want to be there for you. But the one thing I don’t want to do with you is cry. Because I know if we cry together, it means one of us is sad and I never want there to be a day when you’re sad. Never.

“I love you that much.”

“I love you so much. I don’t even care if you don’t love me back because the thought that you are even alive makes me happy. So please,”

Liam took my head in his hands and planted a kiss upon my lips…

“Open your eyes…”

…it didn’t matter, though…

“…for me…”

…because I couldn’t feel it…

“…please…”

…because I was dead.