Ten Things To Do Before You Die

“Thank you and goodnight, Melissa.”

As Melissa gave Carlo a friendly kiss on the cheek, she found her lips locked with Carlo’s.

“No, thank you Carlo.”

Carlo watched as Melissa walked away. Soon, it will be all over. He brought out his list from his pocket. For the last time, he looked at the piece of paper in his hand.

There was only one thing left to do.

“Melissa,” Carlo shouted.

Melissa turned around and looked back at him.

“I will never forget you!”

In the dark, quiet evening, everything became bright for Carlo and everything became loud for Melissa.

He saw a bright light.

And she heard a sound of a gunshot.

  • * * * *

At around ten in the morning, Carlo woke up from the noise of his alarm clock. After another drinking session with his friends last night, he finds himself in the solitude of his desolated room. Soiled clothes were lying as well as books and magazines were displaced everywhere. His room was pretty messed-up.

Just like his life: pretty messed-up.

This has been his life since Melissa told him the news. When they broke-up more than a year ago, he didn’t felt a thing, not even the slightest remorse. Not until Melissa told him the news.

She was getting married to her fiancée.

The past few months became the gradual destruction of his life. Drinking sessions with friends have become a nocturnal routine, as well as absence in work to nurse a nasty hangover.

Unshaved and somehow disoriented, he stares hopelessly at himself infront of his bathroom mirror, somewhat trying to ask himself where have he been.

And all he got was a stare from a complete stranger.

For a few moments Carlo continued to stand infront of his bathroom mirror, he noticed something. His reflection was holding a piece of paper. He was holding a crumpled paper and he opened it.

  • * * * *

“Good morning everyone!”

Everyone in his office stared at Carlo as he entered. As if they saw someone who was long gone. Neatly dressed, shaven and emitting an aura of freshness, he mesmerized everyone and went directly to his boss’ room.

“Good morning, Sir!”

“Carlo! Where’s the report…”

“Here it is, Sir. Complete in a presentation burned in this CD ready to blow your clients off their feet,” Carlo quickly disrupted his boss.

“What have gotten into you? You look… normal again,” his boss replied.

“I just woke up from a terrible nightmare.”

“Good for you. Good for me. Good for our clients. Welcome back, Carlo.”

Carlo smiled and left his boss’ room and went straight to his cubicle.

As he reached his cubicle, he dialed a number and called someone in his mobile phone.

“Hello,” Melissa answered.

“Hey gorgeous! You free today,” Carlo asked.

“Why?”

“Nothing much. I just got some errand to do and I would like to bring you along.”

“Uhmmm… I still have a few things to tend, you know…”

“The wedding? C’mon, it’s only one day. Your fiancée shouldn’t worry. For old time’s sake?”

“Okay. What time?”

“I’ll pick you up before lunch.”

“Okay.”

“Til then. Bye.”

Melissa seemed confused after hearing Carlo’s voice. She hasn’t heard from him since they broke up. After a year, she’ll be meeting again her ex. And she doesn’t know what to feel about it.

Just as he said, Carlo picked up Melissa at her office. They went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Melissa was staring at the man she used to love. Some old feelings still lingered in her. But she rather keep them all inside her in solitude. Then he broke her silence.

“So what’s keeping you busy, aside from getting married,” Carlo asked casually.

“Uhmmm… nothing much. Just the usual. Clients who dream big and pay little,” Melissa replied.

“Shall we?”

“Where?”

“I just need to tend some errands. You’ll see.”

Carlo brought Melissa in the orphanage they used to go to during their anniversary. He still remembered how she adored children. For a few moments, she found herself enjoying her time with the children. And then she realized something was not right.

She shouldn’t be there with him.

“Why did you bring me here,” Melissa asked.

“You forgot easily,” Carlo replied.

“What?”

“Nothing. I just wanna go here. This is the first time I went here since we broke up.”

“I remembered when we still go here together.”

“Happy anniversary.”

Melissa stared quite confused at Carlo. She cannot understand why he brought her in the orphanage.

“You’ve been silent since we left the orphanage.”

“…”

“Carlo, why are you doing this?”

“What?”

“…”

“Okay. The orphanage wasn’t intentional. It was just a spontaneous idea. When you agreed to come with me, the idea just entered my mind. And besides, today was supposedly our anniversary. It’s just so funny if we went back there after all this time.”

“So you found it as a joke?”

“No. I found it heartwarming.”

“…”

“Shall we?”

“…uhmmm, where are you bringing me anyway?”

“You’ll see.”

  • * * * *

“I haven’t been here for a while,” Melissa said.

“I know you’ll be surprised. I haven’t also been here for a while either,” Carlo answered.

They arrived at his house in Marikina at around five in the afternoon. His mother was surprised to saw both of them. She still doesn’t know that the two of them had broken up.

“Hi Mama,” Carlo greeted her mother.

“Carlo,” Mrs. Gomez replied.

“You still remember Melissa?”

“Good afternoon Ma’am,” Melissa greeted Mrs. Gomez.

“How could I forget your beautiful fiancee? So when’s the wedding? C’mon here child and give me a hug,” Mrs. Gomez answered.

Both women hugged each other. Melissa suddenly became uneasy with the fact that Mrs. Gomez doesn’t know what had happened between them. She found herself starting to get mad at Carlo.

“So what brought you two here,” Mrs. Gomez asked the two.

“We’re just visiting you Mama,” Carlo answered.

“You should have called before you arrived, so that I have prepared a special dinner.”

“No Mama. We won’t be long. Melissa’s busy with her wedding.”

“You naughty boy. I haven’t met Melissa’s parents. And now you two are getting married? Why are you putting all the burden to her in preparing for the wedding?”

Melissa blushed in embarrassment. She doesn’t know what to feel, whether to get mad at Carlo for not telling her mother, or to feel guilty that the two of them broke up. She really liked Mrs. Gomez.

“You don’t understand, Mama. Well, I’m quite busy tending a lot of errands.”

“Okay, let’s just talked about the wedding later. Wait here and I’ll just prepare dinner.”

As Mrs. Gomez was about to go to the kitchen, Carlo spoke.

“Mama, I love you.”

When Mrs. Gomez reached the kitchen, he whispered to Melissa.

“That’s our cue. Let’s go.”

“Carlo, what do you think you’re doing? We have just arrived here and you’re mother’s preparing dinner.”

“I still have some errands to do, remember?”

“Oh great. At least let’s say goodbye to your mother.”

“That would be impossible. She won’t let us leave until after dinner.”

“…”

“C’mon. Mama doesn’t remember what happened between us, or with the wedding, or even what happened right now. She has Alzheimer’s and the only thing that she last remembers is the day I told her we were getting married.

And the two of them sneaked to the front driveway straight to Carlo’s car.

“I can’t understand why you are doing all this, Carlo,” Melissa said.

“You hungry?”

“First the orphanage. Next your mom. What’s all of these? Are you trying to win me back?”

“No.”

“So why all these special places? You know this is not easy for the two of us.”

“Hungry? We’ll grab dinner now.”

“You’re not hearing me. You’re shutting me out…”

And tears started to form in the corners of Melissa’s eyes.

“You know I always understood you. When you left me, it was your decision. I just set you free because I felt you really wanted out. Now that I’m asking just for a day with you, you judge me of not hearing you out?”

“So what’s this all about? I’m really confused.”

“Sometimes, the greatest questions don’t need answers. Please take my word for it.”

“I’m still not buying it.”

“Okay. I’m leaving. I’m going somewhere. I just wanna do the things I won’t be able to do after I leave.”

“…”

“Satisfied?”

“I’m hungry,” Melissa answered with a smile.

Carlo brought Melissa to Antipolo for dinner. When they arrived at their destination at around ten in the evening, Melissa suddenly felt something terrible was wrong.

“What are we gonna do here,” Melissa asked.

“You’ll see, Carlo answered.”

“No tricks, Carlo.”

“Trust me.”

And all she was able to do was smile back at him.

Melissa followed Carlo to a local restaurant. A waiter led them to the back area. As they were walking, Melissa knew she’s been in this place. But she can’t seem to remember when.

What she saw next made her remember everything, and left her breathless.

Inside an open cottage overlooking the metropolis, a candlelight dinner for two awaits her. White and red rose petals are scattered everywhere. And there was Carlo, standing from afar, smiling at her.

“What’s this,” Melissa asked Carlo.

“A surprise.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say you enjoy everything that’s happening right now.”

“…”

Melissa knew that she enjoyed every moment that’s happening before her eyes. It was a rerun of the happiest moment of her life. This was the place where Carlo proposed to her. Everything was the same, except there was no ring, no promises of forever. She decided to keep all the happiness to herself. But her eyes gave herself away; glitters of tears lingered in the corners of her eyes. Even though she didn’t say it, Carlo saw it in her eyes and he knew she enjoyed everything that he prepared for her.

For him, that mattered most.

  • * * * *

After dinner, Carlo brought Melissa to her home. They arrived at her place at around past midnight. Inside his car, they sat in silence.

Then Melissa’s defenses finally crumbled and she broke their silence.

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For everything. I know I should have given you a second chance but I didn’t. And now I’m getting married in three weeks, and I still continue to hurt you by letting you love me hopelessly.”

And tears finally rolled over her cheeks.

“I’m the one who should ask for forgiveness. I really made one grave mistake. Since the day we broke up, I deliberately suppressed all emotions that I should be feeling. Grief. Anger. Despair. But when I found out that you’re getting married, I started to feel, one by one, all those emotions that I’ve tried so hard to keep away from myself.”

Carlo clutched the steering wheel of his car and stared at the nothingness of his car’s windshield.

“Things are different now, Carlo. We both have different lives now.”

“I know. That’s why I met you today.”

“?”

“I should have loved you the way you truly deserve…”

“Stop it.”

“I should have asked for redemption when I still had the chance…”

“I said stop it.”

“I should have let go of you the moment I found out you’re happy with your new life…”

“Please Carlo. You know this isn’t easy for both of us…”

“I should have died together with all the hopes and dreams that we had…”

“STOP IT!!!”

Carlo continued to stare at his car’s windshield while Melissa’s sobs created an eerie rhythm of despair inside Carlo’s car.

It was around two in the morning. Nearby houses stood aimlessly in the darkness of the night. They sat silently inside his car for the past two hours already.

“I just wanna see you before I leave,” Carlo said.

“…”

“I’ll be leaving everything behind, especially my old life. I finally decided to start a new one.”

“…”

“I prepared this day for you to show my gratitude. I just don’t want to say how much I’m thankful of you. I want you to feel it and to never forget it. I should have done this when we’re still together but we both know I didn’t make you feel how much I really love you.”

“You don’t have to do all of this…”

“But I have to. My conscience has been eating me up because of the guilt I got from taking you for granted…”

Finally, after all this time, Carlo looked at Melissa thru the haziness of his tears.

“…”

“Hush…”

“…”

“I’ve already forgiven you a long time ago.”

“…”

Between the sobs and the tears, she found herself comforting him with a long, passionate kiss.

  • * * * *

At around four in the morning, Carlo decided that it was time for him to leave Melissa.

“So this is it,” Carlo said.

“I guess so,” Melissa answered.

“Thank you and goodnight, Melissa.”

As she gave him a friendly kiss on the cheek, she found her lips locked with him.

“No, thank you Carlo.”

He watched as she walked away. Soon, it will be all over. He brought out his list from his pocket. For the last time, he looked at the piece of paper in his hands. Words written in the paper were stained with his own tears.

There was only one thing left to do.

“Melissa,” Carlo shouted.

She turned around and looked back at him.

She watched in horror as he aimed a 9mm Beretta pistol at her.

“I will never forget you!”

He quickly aimed the gun at his left temple and squeezed the trigger.

In the dark, quiet evening, everything became bright for Carlo and everything became loud for Melissa.

He saw a bright light.

And she heard a sound of a gunshot.

She stood there as his body fell to the ground.

Melissa’s sobs lingered in the silence of early morning. She slowly walked towards Carlo’s lifeless body, still trembling from the terrifying ordeal she witnessed. As she stared into his dilated pupils, she noticed him clutching a piece of paper. She picked it up and opened it.

She read, “Ten things to do before you die.”

Written and crossed out were:

“1. get new haircut…”

“2. finish report…”

“3. eat a nice lunch…”

“4. visit orphanage…”

“5. visit home…”

“6. tell mama I LOVE YOU”

“7. surprise HER…”

“8. ask for FORGIVENESS…”

“9. KISS HER FOR THE LAST TIME.”

She almost lost consciousness upon reading the last entry on his death wish.

“10. die with the one you love.”

Melissa remembered the last look in Carlo’s eyes before he died. He couldn’t find the courage to complete his death wish. He couldn’t kill her.

She found herself sitting beside his body. Her tears almost completely smudged his death wish. She then felt guilty for his death.

She looked again at his death wish and read once more the last entry.

“10. die with the one you love.”

She picked up the 9-mm Beretta pistol, aimed at her left temple, smiled, and pulled the trigger.

It was around five in the morning when Melissa’s body fell beside Carlo, creating an illusion of two lovers together in an endless dream.

30

Ten Things To Do Before You Die

lucky-chan

Quezon City, Philippines

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