When I was young, my father told me that love was for fools. Love did not exist. Love is false hope and disappointment. I guess I never really understood what he meant till one eventful day.
It was a frosty winter morning. The Earth was covered with a thin layer of pale snow. And, out of all the pointless days in my life, my alarm clock decided that it would be best to stop working on the day of my literature exam. Fate definitely wasn’t on my side today. Fortunately, I managed to – not very successfully – get dressed and head out the door.
“Bye, Dad!” I yelled.
…no reply, as usual. He’s probably just passed out drunk again.
I hurried my way to the old trusty pick-up truck my dad won in a bet. I clumsily tossed my things on the passenger seat and slammed my foot on the accelerator. The ancient engine burst to life. I had never been a one to drive fast, but I am not missing this exam that I had studied relentlessly day and night for.
Maybe it was my quivering hands, my agitated eyes, my distracted mind or just the glassy surface, whatever it was, it caused the old shabby truck to completely flip over itself and collide with an enormous incoming tree. Everything after that was just a complete blur. All I could remember was the pungent smell of gasoline and the faint sounds of sirens.
I flicked my eyes open to the blinding lights of a colourless room.
“Look who finally decided to wake up.” I heard an unfamiliar voice say. “What?” I said to the young man sitting across from me. His elbows rested on a chair on his knees, while his knuckles supported his weightless face. He stared tentatively at me. With a long sigh, he relaxed himself and sunk into his chair.
“Do you know where you are, Leah?”
“I…I’m in the hospital. I was in an accident.”
“Bingo! We’re off to a great start.” This mysterious young man exclaimed with a grin forming on his face.
“I don’t understand. Who are you?”
“Who am I? I’m Cupid.”
“Cupid?” I said in dismay.
“Yes, Cupid.” He answered truthfully.
“Cupid? Like the short chubby kid with the bow and arrow who makes people fall in love?”
A small smile escaped his lips. “Well, firstly, I’m not chubby,” He declared, pointing out his tall lanky self, “And secondly, I do not work with a bow and arrow anymore.”
“ Anymore?” I said, completely intrigued by him.
“They got a little too old fashioned for my liking.”
Taking in my surroundings, I studied Cupid’s features with more observation. He wore an old but fancy pair of suede shoes with black skinny jeans that still did not fit him right because of his lanky exterior. His bony fingers had ill-kept nails that had tiny scabs around them, indicating the fact that he bit his nails. The white dress shirt he was wearing looked as if it hadn’t been washed in ages. His neck held a carelessly tied black tie. His shaggy and wavy black hair reached just above his enchanting crystal blue eyes. His hollow cheekbones perfectly framed his fair face. He could not have been younger than me, probably 18 or 19.
“Wait, are you saying you’re The Cupid?”
He rolled his eyes in an overly exaggerated manner. “I’m not The Cupid. I mean I just do everything he does: make people fall in love blah, blah, blah. But, I’m not Cupid. Puff! Cupid doesn’t exist.” He seemed satisfied with this even more confusing explanation.
“You’re not Cupid, but you do everything he does and you just happened to be named Cupid?”
“Ironic, isn’t it?” He said as he spun around in his chair. Someone must have let this guy out of the psyche ward.
“Okay, Cupid,” I said maybe too mockingly. “What are you doing here, in a hospital out of all the places?”
“Well, the thing is, you were supposed to meet the love of your life today and I was supposed to help you with that. But, since you’re in a coma now, I have to wait for you to wake up so I can get back to work.”
“You’re in charge of helping me meet the love of my life? I can’t believe that! You wouldn’t know the first thing about love.”
“Oh, but I do. I know much more than you think.”
“Then you must know love doesn’t exist. Love is just an excuse. Love is false hope. Love is just being attracted to one’s physical appereance. Let’s admit it: we’re all superficial degenerates who choose who they like based on their looks. Not their inner beauty.”
Cupid practically went into a shock. I must’ve dropped quite the bombshell. His brow furrowed and his mind scrutinising my every word. He took in a long breath and began speaking: “I wonder what you had to go through to make you so cynical, Leah. Love isn’t attraction. Love isn’t wanting to be touched. Love is wanting to be close: emotionally and physically. Love is wanting to do things with that person you couldn’t imagine doing with anybody else. Love is those midnight walks holding hands. Love is croaky phone calls in the morning after staying up too late talking the night before. Love is kissing their nose and watching their face light up as a grin slowly creeps along their face. Love is longing to be in their presence in the most innocent sense possible. Love is a simple feeling, too greatly feared and misunderstood. I know one day you’ll understand.” He said with an understanding expression. He truly believed in love.
Being stubborn to prove my point, I contested, “How do you know all this? You’re just a kid. You haven’t even lived yet.”
Staring right into my eyes, he said, “Neither have you.”
I shaked my head in disagreement. “This is insane. I’m supposed to be in a coma, not listening to a naïve fragment of my conscience.”
Cupid let out a rather loud groan clearly fed up of my interrogation. “Jeez, Leah. You really don’t get it, do you? You’re on life support. You’re hanging on by a thread. Ha. I’m surprised you’re still alive. Your soul exists, right now, in my universe. Anything you do here will not influence reality. And, unfortunately, your reality is you’re dying. This place, for all us misplaced souls, those who still have some unfinished business and for those who still have to crossover. I – Hold on. You’ve got a visitor.”
“Huh?” I followed my eyes to a man in his 50’s walk into the room. Bags under his eyes and dressed in shabby and dirty clothing. The hint of alcohol was still fresh on his breath. He spoke, “Leah? Leah, honey?”
He now stood beside my comatose body. “Leah. I’m so sorry. Can you hear me? I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t the father you deserved. I’m sorry I let the divorce ruin me. I just – I just didn’t realise I had a little girl to take care of. I blew off all our money on cheap booze,” He sobbed in between words.
“I was selfish. I was stupid. And now…and now it’s too late to change. I love you. I love so much, honey. I wish it were me in your place right now. Oh God, I’m so sorry!” He was wailing now. “Please! Please, come back! I cannot lose you. Not today. Not ever. I’m supposed to be on this bed. Not you. Leah, please fight! Fight to live again! What am I supposed to do? You’re my life. You’re the only good I did in my life. Please don’t die today.”
“Dad! Dad!” I screamed as loud as I could.
“He can’t hear you, Leah.” Cupid said.
“No. I can’t leave him like this. Miserable. Alone. Without purpose.
“You are his purpose, Leah. Wake up.”
I was discharged from the hospital two days after the accident. A few broken ribs and a few fractures here and there, nothing too drastic. Dad was different now. He was trying his best to sober up. He got a part time job in town. He was trying.
One thing I won’t forget though is who died the day of my accident. Some kid, around 18 or 19 years of age, was on his way to prom. He, too, was in a coma except he didn’t make it through the first few hours. It just made me think. He had his whole life left and a split second changed that. He was supposed to have his first date this prom. He was so nervous for his date that he could not stop biting his nails. His friends teased him for being the only hopeless romantic in the group, despite being single. He was, apparently the class match-maker. Everyone called him “Cupid.”