Wallflower Blush stared bleary-eyed at the tiny screen of her phone. A veritable laundry list of messages that began long before she woke up slid across the screen as she scrolled through them.
>Sunset: Hey, just wanted to check in
>Sunset: Haven’t seen you since the semester ended, everything okay?
>Sunset: If you want, we can get some coffee and catch up
>Sunset: I know this place a few blocks from school that’s got really great frapps
>Sunset: If it’d make you more comfortable, I can bring something over to your place. Just let me know what you want
>Sunset: I think I remember your address from that time I walked you home. 428 Saddlebridge?
>Sunset: Please let me know when you get this
Wallflower could hardly focus on the words, let alone understand any meaning from them. Still, there was no point in doing either. She had been ignored long enough to know how to do it to others. If she didn’t say anything, Sunset would give up and leave her alone. Wallflower knew she just wasn’t worth Sunset's efforts.
She looked at the timestamps and blinked in surprise. The first message had come at noon, with the rest spread out over an hour. Had she really slept in that late?
A cursory glance out the window confirmed that her neighbors’ cars were not in the driveway. Her eyes glared at the unkempt grass and weeds sticking up on either side of the cracked concrete. There had been a time when Wallflower prided herself on taking care of the apartment building’s front lawn, but the days of early mornings and meticulous care were long past her.
She looked at her phone again, confirming the time. It was a little before 4:00 in the afternoon. Yawning, she shuffled across the musty carpet towards her bedroom. Even though she had slept for so long, she was still exhausted.
As she sat on her bed, a mattress on the floor cluttered in sheets and dirty laundry, Wallflower let out a sour laugh at her own lethargy, knowing it would be replaced by the seizing grip of anxiety the second she stepped out the door. No wonder she was always so tired—her mind was performing a balancing act between constantly freaking out and not caring at all.
Falling back onto a pile of unwashed clothes, Wallflower stared at the ceiling with unfocused eyes. Despite how eternal such oscillations seemed, she knew that it hadn’t been very long ago that she could leave her home without fear. She lazily rolled over, searching the floor for the cold gray stone that she knew was no longer among the messiness.
Wallflower remained motionless for a few more—minutes? Hours? She didn’t know, honestly. Blinking at muted piles of junk was tiresome. Eventually she got bored of being bored and lurched off the mattress, her tangled hair settling in knots around her. As she stood, wobbling, Wallflower looked to her tattered green bag by the door, and her thoughts at last turned to her only reason for getting out of bed today.
She stepped over a stack of discarded wrappers and crumpled papers, making her way across the tiny space of her bedroom. When she reached her bag, she dug around through the mess of unfinished assignments from classes she had long since failed. At the bottom of it all, she found what she was looking for—a tiny plastic box, no larger than a thumb drive and half as wide.
Wallflower turned it over in her hand, observing every bit of it as if she needed to confirm it was really there. The cartridge and its contents had stayed with her whenever she left her apartment, providing a substitute method of distracting herself from her anxiety. It wasn’t as good as the memory stone, but it was all she had now. As she opened it, she saw the tool she needed—a wafer-thin razor blade.
Wallflower pulled the razor from the cartridge and removed the thin paper wrapped around. It was incredibly light, so much so that it hardly felt like she was holding anything at all.
A withering sigh later, Wallflower moved to the bathroom and put the razor on the counter top. Scanning the counter, she found and reached for the bottle of store-brand aspirin. An internet search from last night had told her that she would need to take at least thirty to achieve any kind of significant blood-thinning effect, and from the weight of the bottle it seemed like she had more than enough. After fiddling with the child lock, Wallflower popped off the lid and poured some of the bottle’s contents into her hand.
At her best estimate—and Wallflower was terrible at math—she was holding about a dozen pills. Looking down into the bottle, she confirmed that there were plenty left, certainly enough for what she needed. Nodding to herself, Wallflower dumped the handful of pills into her mouth—and immediately gagged when she attempted to dry-swallow them all at once.
Hacking and stumbling, Wallflower was barely able to keep from coughing up the pills in her throat. The bottle of aspirin almost spilled its contents all over the floor, and she shakily placed it back on the counter. Wallflower groaned, mentally scolding herself for being so stupid. She stomped to the kitchen for a glass, filled it and returned to the bathroom. Taking a deep breath, she poured herself another handful of pills and swallowed them, this time with water. Wallflower repeated the process three more times, totaling five handfuls. Even with the water, taking so many pills at once left her gasping, and she leaned against the wall to catch her breath.
When her lungs at last steadied, Wallflower returned to her task. She removed her sweater, its heavy woolen sleeves slipping away to reveal dozens and dozens of hair-thin lines running nearly parallel all the way up her forearms. Wallflower had learned long ago that deeper cuts were best saved for places less easy to see.
The sweater fell to the floor in a heap, and she stepped over it. A brief glance at the mirror revealed baggy brown eyes without so much as a spark of emotion. Matted green hair stuck out every-which-way like overgrown vines, falling over her shoulders and partially obscuring the thick purple scars that marred them. Wallflower’s eyes flicked down, only to meet their own gaze once more with a renewed anger at her own grossly-proportioned body. After thoroughly inspecting and despising every part of the girl in the mirror, Wallflower picked up the razor. Sighing, she turned away from her hideous reflection for what was thankfully the final time.
She turned on the bath faucet, flinching as a few drops of cold water got on her arm. Something in the back of her head laughed at her for such a reaction, knowing what she was about to do.
As she waited for the water to heat up, she tested the razor’s edge by drawing a few thin lines across her wrist. The cuts didn’t really hurt and were barely deep enough to draw blood, but the sight of redness bubbling up from her skin was satisfying as ever.
Finally, the bath began to fill with hot water. Wallflower passed the time by sliding the blade over her wrist, stopping to focus on the trail of blood that rose in the wake of the razor with every pass. This was all she had left, without the memory stone, so it was no wonder it hadn’t been enough. Self-inflicted pain could hardly distract her from her own awkwardness and the swaths of judgmental glares and whispers it brought on. It had been much easier to handle the world outside her room when she could just wipe away her mistakes, but even then she kept screwing up, no matter how many first impressions she gave.
Soon she wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore. Looking over her shoulder, Wallflower saw the bath was nearly full. She turned off the faucet and stood up, stretching her arms over her head. Then, she climbed into the tub, not bothering to remove her pajama pants.
The fabric of her pajamas clung to her legs as she lowered herself into the water. It was almost too hot, but there was no reason to back out now. Wincing, she sank the last few inches, until her body was almost entirely submerged. Her breaths grew heavier in the steamy air, but Wallflower hardly noticed. Instead, she held her razor before her, blinking at the tiny droplets of water that clung to its surface.
This was it. She was ready.
Wallflower raised the blade to her wrist and took a deep, deep breath. In one quick motion, she sliced down her forearm with as much pressure as she could, and immediately cried out. She had expected this to hurt, though. She knew what she was getting into, and she could handle it.
Immediately, blood poured from the gash, spreading through the water like a cloud and tainting the bathwater a bright red shade. Wallflower held her breath and gritted her teeth as the burning, stinging sensation screamed at her. Sure enough, though, the pain subsided to a level where she could return her focus to her task.
Another deep breath, and she slashed the razor down her other arm. This cut was much deeper, and an even louder scream escaped her. Her lungs inhaled and exhaled sharper and faster, the hot air above the crimson bath smelling of copper. Wallflower fought to keep control of her mind, putting all her focus into not panicking. The worst thing she could do now would be to call for help. She made it this far—she couldn't let herself screw it up now.
When her breaths at last began to slow, she fell back into the water, whimpering. It was done. She did it. She could finally, finally relax. There would be no more fitful mornings of anxiety to suffocate her with panic or endless afternoons beneath the waves of depression, no more lonely evenings missing the parents who didn’t remember her or sleepless nights fostering her self-loathing in the dark.
As the minutes passed and she got colder and colder, Wallflower could feel her mind drifting away from her body. Her eyelids grew heavier as her head grew lighter, and the ringing in her ears hummed louder and louder, deafening the whole world. Soon enough, she was floating away entirely. Her breathing slowed, and she sank a little in the tub, her head barely above the scarlet-stained water.
How long had she been here? Ten minutes? Half an hour? Longer? Her arms didn’t even hurt anymore. In fact, she didn’t feel anything at all. Just sleepiness, like she always hoped it would be, creeping in with the darkness on the edges of her vision.
Time passed ever-slower, and everything around her diminished. As the last of her senses faded away, Wallflower knew she was at the end, and she welcomed the wave of total numbness that swept over her mind and body.
Somewhere beyond the last fragments of her consciousness, she heard a series of muted sounds—a bell? It rang a few more times, then something started banging.
It didn’t matter. In the past she would have fallen into anxious terror, but the sounds couldn’t hurt her anymore. Nothing could hurt her anymore.
She could finally let go. She was finally going to be okay.
Wallflower closed her eyes, and the world disappeared.
The first thing Wallflower realized was how bright it was, even with her eyes closed. Her head was throbbing mercilessly, as if her skull would split apart any second. For some reason, though, the pain was diluted enough that it felt more like a neutral state of being, rather than her body signaling harm.
Why did her head hurt? It shouldn’t hurt. She shouldn’t hurt. She shouldn’t feel anything. Maybe she was in an afterlife?
Her eyes fluttered open just enough for her to see through her eyelashes, but the world around her remained impossible to make out. From what she could tell, everything was a soft blue, like she was drifting along a summer sky.
Was this heaven...? Had that weird lady next door with all the pamphlets been right all along?
Wallflower blinked away bleariness, and when things finally began to fade into focus, her religious reverie was shattered. Terror gripped her slow-beating heart as she observed the thick bandages that were wrapped around her arms, going all the way up to her elbows. A tube peaked out from beneath the cloth, which was itself stained red with blood. Her blood. And it hurt, and she knew it hurt, because she was alive.
This was a hospital. She was in a hospital. It didn’t work.
She looked up, the muscles in her neck creaking as if they hadn’t been used in years. She saw a face adorned with an expression she didn’t quite recognize. The face was far away though, and she still couldn’t make it out, other than the red and gold streaks all around it.
“O-oh thank Goddess, you’re awake!”
There was a voice. A familiar voice.
“Quick, i-in here! Please! She’s awake!”
This couldn’t be happening. What did she do wrong? Did she not take enough aspirin? Did she not cut deep enough? Was the water too cold?
“Oh, Wallflower, y-you...!”
Wallflower closed her eyes again. This was all wrong. She was supposed to be dead. She wanted to die. Why was she still alive?
“Excuse me, miss,” another voice said. It was rougher, older.
At last, Wallflower couldn’t stand her own silence anymore. She channeled what little willpower she had into opening her eyes and meeting the gaze of the girl she knew was beside her.
Sunset Shimmer stared back at her, tears streaming down her face.
A thousand scathing screams twisted around in Wallflower’s mind, each hypothetical outburst aimed squarely at Sunset. When she turned her head to see the other person in the room, though, the first words that left her mouth were anything but angry.
“...Y-you don’t look like a doctor,” Wallflower said. Her voice was raspy and strained, but speaking was otherwise painless.
The not-a-doctor nodded. “Correct, I’m not a doctor. My name is Clara, I’m a nurse here. It’s nice to meet you.”
Wallflower gave no reply.
“Yes, uhm, Miss... Flower, right?”
Wallflower sighed, not bothering to correct her. Besides, her last name ceased to mean anything after she had erased her family’s memories of her.
After an extended silence, the nurse spoke up again. “How are you feeling?”
Again, Wallflower refused to answer. She instead stared at a sign beside the doorway behind the nurse, trying and failing to make out the letters through her hazy vision.
“Miss Shimmer,” Clara spoke up. “If you would give us the room, please.”
“Wh-what? But Wallflower just woke up!” Sunset protested, a little too loudly. “I’m not leaving her!”
“I understand you’re upset,” the nurse said. “I’m afraid you’ll have to step outside while I talk with Miss Flower, for privacy reasons.”
The nurse looked at her clipboard and sighed. “Of course... It won’t make much difference either way.” She turned to Wallflower, who refused to meet her gaze. “Are you alright with her staying?”
As her fear and anger sank into bitterness, Wallflower glared at Sunset. Refusing to let her stay would certainly make her upset. After what Sunset no doubt did, it would be fitting for Wallflower to take away something she wanted.
“Ugh...” Wallflower sighed. “Yeah, o-okay.” Beside her, she heard Sunset’s thanks and chose to ignore it.
“Well, I’m... I’m sorry to say I don’t have any good news,” the nurse said.
Sunset froze beside her. “What do you mean...?”
“Miss Flower lost—”
Wallflower groaned. “Wallflower. My name is Wallflower.”
“Y-yes, alright. Wallflower lost a lot of blood. Too much blood.” The nurse closed her eyes, shaking her head. “By the time she was brought in, well...”
“I’m right here, y’know,” Wallflower said, frowning.
“I’m sorry, uhm...” The nurse took a deep breath. “I’m having trouble finding my words, is all.”
“What is it?” Sunset’s voice was meek and breathless. “Is she gonna be okay?”
“She... No.” The nurse sighed. She wiped her eyes beneath her glasses. “You were in shock after so much blood loss, and the aspirin only made things even worse.”
Wallflower felt some spark of an emotion in her chest. “And?”
“And, your body is too damaged to recover,” the nurse said. “It’s all holding on right now, but... But in a few hours, your organs will start to fail, one by one.
The spark blinked to life again, and Wallflower shifted beneath the thin bedsheet. “So I’m going to die,” she said flatly.
Before the nurse could say the word Wallflower so desperately wanted to hear, Sunset interjected with its opposite. “N-no!” she cried, her voice cracking. “There has to be something you can do!”
“I’m sorry,” the nurse said. “I really wish there was. We can give her something for the pain, but...” She trailed off, her words caught in her throat. On the other side of the bed, Sunset was sobbing, shaking her head and whimpering to herself. The entire room froze into silence, and Wallflower realized she was holding her breath.
When at last the nurse spoke, her voice was the softest sound in the world. “...All we can do now is ease her passing.”
Wallflower stared at the bandages wrapped around her arms. A bit more blood had seeped into them, so that red marks spread across them like crevices in the earth. Beside her, Sunset had finally stopped crying, although Wallflower had stopped paying attention a while ago.
A few hours left, the nurse had said. A few hours until her body at last crossed the point of no return, and the vessel trapping her to this life was finally extinguished. Wallflower had lived for seventeen years, and yet the next few hours seemed to stretch infinitely longer before her.
How long is a few anyway, she wondered. It had probably been at least an hour since she woke up, but when would she go back to sleep? Would she be lying here, then blink, only to realize the world wasn’t coming back from that split second of blackness? Would she be here until tomorrow? Would they find some way to save her before she could die?
Wallflower had heard the ever-so-popular stories about jumpers changing their minds mid-fall, or some variation on the cliche. As she blinked—damn it—at the stained bandages again, she wondered why she was the exception. Perhaps those stories were just fiction espoused by people who had never struggled with wanting to die. Perhaps she was just more determined to end.
A sullen voice sounded beside her, and Wallflower glanced at Sunset. She had her head in her hands, and while she was no longer sobbing uncontrollably, the occasional hitched breath punctuated her impossibly soft whimpers. Wallflower was about to turn away when Sunset said something, but she was far too quiet to be heard.
“What?” Wallflower was surprised at how clear her own voice was. Somehow, she thought dying would be more... Not this, whatever this was.
Sunset spoke again, and again Wallflower couldn’t hear. Maybe it was the ringing in her ears, or maybe Sunset was just being rude.
“I can’t hear you,” Wallflower said.
Sunset lifted her head, staring off to the side. “...Why?”
“Wh-why would you do this?” Sunset shouted.
Wallflower glared at her. “You can’t be serious.”
Sunset started crying again. “Of c-course I’m serious! H-h-how could you just—y-you didn’t even say anything!”
“If I had, you would have tried to stop me,” Wallflower said.
“I-I don’t... I don’t understand, Wallflower,” Sunset said, wiping away her tears. “I had no idea you were s-so far gone... I thought you were finally feeling better.”
“And how’d you come to that conclusion?” Wallflower rolled her eyes. “What did you think was gonna happen, Sunset? That all the misery that’s shadowed me for my entire life would just melt away because you gave me a hug and invited me to coffee a few times?”
“And the memory—!” Wallflower raised her voice, only to be silenced by a fit of heavy coughs.
“Wallflower!” Sunset shot up, her eyes full of panic.
“I’m—” Wallflower coughed again. Her chest felt like it was being crushed by a boulder. “I-I’m fine.”
“But... I can get someone to help,” Sunset said.
“No you can’t,” Wallflower droned. “No one can help me anymore. You heard what she said.”
“The memory stone,” Wallflower said. “I did horrible things with it, to you more than anyone! You don’t have to pretend it’s no big deal.”
“I told you, it’s okay,” Sunset said. “I forgave you, Wallflower. I w-wish you could’ve forgiven yourself...”
“I don’t deserve it,” Wallflower said, sighing. “You wouldn’t give me what I deserved, s-so I did it myself.”
At that, Sunset’s eyes hardened, even as they were brimming with tears. “Do not say that,” she said. “You deserve a better life, n-not... Not...”
Wallflower glared at her visitor. “What’s your goal here, Sunset?”
“My goal?” Sunset blinked, looking confused. “What do you mean?”
“Yeah, like what are you here for?” Wallflower asked. “Did you come to convince me that life’s worth living? That I shouldn’t want to die?”
“I mean...” Sunset shrugged. “It is, and you shouldn’t.”
“Let’s say you succeed,” Wallflower said. “What then?”
“Even if you did convince me that I should want to live, it’s too late,” Wallflower said. “You heard them. I’ve got another few hours—could be ten, could be one—before my body starts shutting down. If you make me want a better life, you’ll only be giving me a worse death.”
“You know I’m right,” Wallflower said. “And yeah, maybe I’m just playing into blissful ignorance, but it’s a hell of a lot less painful than grasping at straws with dying hands.”
“I’m not going to pretend to be okay with you killing yourself.” Sunset lowered her head. “It’s not okay, and it’ll never be okay.”
“I’m okay with you not being okay with it,” Wallflower said. She yawned, her eyes half-lidded. “I’d ask you to give me the same consideration when it comes to living at all.”
“I can’t do that,” Sunset said.
Wallflower looked at her and sighed. “Don’t you get tired of it?”
“Tired of what?” Sunset asked.
“Tired of pretending,” Wallflower said. “Pretending you don’t understand.”
Sunset tilted her head. “I’m not entirely sure what you mean.”
“Yes you are,” Wallflower said. “You and I both know that at some point in your life—maybe more than once, even—if things had gone a little differently, it’d be you in this bed and not me. Maybe at a different time, maybe for a different reason, but...” She gave Sunset a tired shrug. “At some point, you’ve wanted to do what I did.”
Sunset sighed, leaning back in the chair. “What makes you say that?” she asked.
“To be honest, it’s more of a guess,” Wallflower said. “You told me yourself—you were lonely for a really long time.”
“Quite a thing to guess about,” Sunset said.
“I kinda hope I’m wrong,” Wallflower said. “But... I’m not, am I?
Sunset stared past Wallflower, her eyes softening. “No,” she said, “you’re not wrong.”
“Then you can’t honestly tell me that you think what I did was wrong,” Wallflower said “If at any point in your life you’ve really wanted to die, some part of you—no matter how small—will always want to.”
Sunset shook her head. “Maybe once,” she said. “But I’ve been over that for a long time.”
Wallflower sighed, staring at the wall. “If only it were that easy for me,” she said. “It’s something that stayed with me. As soon as I let that thought enter my head, as soon as I really considered it, it was there to stay. I could push it back, ignore it, try to deny it, but...” Her gaze met Sunset’s, and in those blue eyes Wallflower recognized the same fear she had seen in the mirror for years. “It was a part of me, and even if you won’t admit it, it’s a part of you too. It’s an infection that you can’t cure, but only hope to keep in remission. Every time something goes wrong, no matter how big or small, that little thing in your head will offer its solution.”
Sunset looked away, and Wallflower knew she was right.
“Every time it does, you’ll have to tell it no. I finally thought I was getting good at that part.” Wallflower shifted in the tiny bed as a chill ran through her. “Not good enough, I guess. Eventually it caught up with me, and here I am. I could only hide from the truth for so long.”
“And what truth is that?” Sunset asked.
“That this is how I was going to die, no matter what,” Wallflower said. “That sooner or later, I would be too exhausted to keep telling it, ‘No, I want to live.’ Every time I did, it wore me down, bit by bit until it stopped being a choice, and started being an inevitable end.”
“I can’t let myself accept that.” Sunset blinked away a tear. “As soon as I do, that’ll be it.”
“Maybe you won’t have to. Everyone’s different, I guess, so maybe you’ll have better luck than I did,” Wallflower said. “I’d say I want you to live a good life, but I guess it doesn’t really matter what I want anymore, does it?”
“Of course it does, Wallflower,” Sunset said softly.
Wallflower sat back in the bed, squinting her eyes at the dim fluorescent glow of the ceiling lights. “And what if I want you to pull the plug on me right now?” she asked.
Sunset leaned forward. “I don’t want to make you do or feel anything you don’t want to,” she said. “And, I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do, either.”
Wallflower rolled her eyes. “Then why are you here? I can’t think of any reason outside of those two.”
“Because you shouldn’t be alone,” Sunset said. She took Wallflower’s free hand gently in her own. “Especially not now.
In that moment, Wallflower felt the embers of something—some long-forgotten emotion—smoldering in her heart. She sighed, lightly squeezing Sunset’s hand. “I wish you’d realized that a little sooner,” she said. Braving a glance at Sunset, Wallflower noticed a wetness on her face.
“I... I wish I had too,” Sunset said.
“This isn’t your fault. Not really,” Wallflower said. “You kept reaching out to me, but I just kinda gave up on myself, I guess. I’ve been on my own for such a long time... At a certain point I stopped wanting to have a friend.” She gave Sunset a tired smile. “It made this a lot easier, so... Maybe all that loneliness was a good thing after all.”
“I really wish you didn’t feel that way,” Sunset said.
“Y-yeah,” Wallflower sighed. “Me too.”
Sunset stood, moving from the chair to sit on the edge of the bed. Wallflower couldn’t meet her gaze, and a shaky exhale left her as she felt Sunset rubbing a thumb slowly across the back of her hand. The nameless feeling swelled again, forcing her to wipe away a few more tears.
“Sunset...?” Wallflower was a little surprised by how soft her voice had gotten.
Sunset turned to face her. “What is it?” she asked.
“Do you, uhm...” Wallflower paused, then stifled a laugh. “Oh geez, I’m gonna sound like such a child...”
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Sunset said. “I promise it’s okay.”
“This is a really stupid question, considering what got me here, but... When it happens..." Wallflower sighed, and a shudder tingled up her spine. She looked at Sunset, who gently squeezed her hand again. “Do you think it’ll hurt...?”
Sunset gave her a sullen look. “I don’t know,” she said.
Wallflower shifted beneath the bedsheet. “Whenever I dreamed about it—which was a lot, I should say—I always imagined it would be no different from falling asleep.” Wallflower closed her eyes, a shallow exhale leaving her lips. “I hope I’m right. I’m really, really tired.”
“I'd think it would be like...” Sunset spoke in an almost-whisper. “What was it like before.”
Wallflower turned her head. “Before?”
“When you... When you were in the bath,” Sunset said. "Th-there was so much blood..." She paused, her eyes shutting tight for a moment. "But y-you... You didn't look like you were in pain at all."
“Oh yeah, you saw that, didn’t you?” Wallflower gave a dry laugh. “I really wish you hadn’t.”
“I wish I hadn’t either,” Sunset said. “But I’m glad I did, if it means I can be here now.”
“Why were you at my apartment, anyway?” Wallflower asked.
Sunset heaved a sigh. “I guess I was worried? I dunno. I hadn’t seen you since school got out last month, and you never responded to anything I sent you. I wanted to see you, to be sure you were okay.”
Sunset turned to her, tears falling onto the bed. “W-when I got there, I could see through the window that the bathroom light was on. I kept ringing the doorbell, and knocking louder and louder, b-but you didn’t answer. I just knew something was wrong, and I called 911, but...” She shuddered as another sigh left her. “I should’ve been worried sooner...”
“I don’t think there’s anything you could have done, honestly,” Wallflower said. Speaking was getting more and more difficult, her chest twisting beneath each breath. Frowning, she forced the words out all the same. “If y-you’d gotten there before, I’d have just pretended I was okay until you left.”
“Maybe,” Sunset said. “Or maybe I could have made you feel a little better, just long enough for you to want to hold on.”
“That’s a big ‘maybe.’”
“I-I know you’ll tell me not to, but...” Sunset looked away, her hand sliding off Wallflower’s. “I’m going to blame myself for this for a long, long time...”
“You’re right,” Wallflower said. “You shouldn’t blame yourself. But if you’re going to anyway, uhm...” She shivered, both from anxiousness and the mounting chill that was creeping into her limbs. “Can you do something for me?”
“Of course, Wallflower. Anything,” Sunset said.
“Back when I had the memory stone, I...” Wallflower’s voice cracked, and she realized she was crying. “I wiped my parents memories of me. I thought they were really stuck up and annoying, and I was a st-stupid kid, believing I didn’t need them...”
Sunset let out a trembling sigh. “I know what it’s like to abandon people who care about you,” she said.
“Then you know how important it is that they remember. E-even if it’s after I’m gone...” Wallflower looked up at Sunset, her eyes pleading and desperate. “Please, do whatever it takes to undo what I did. And not just them—everyone, if you can.”
“Wallflower...” Sunset trailed off, and Wallflower’s heart sank.
“It’s okay,” she said. “If it’s impossible, it’s impossible. I just, I dunno... I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
“I’ll do it,” Sunset said suddenly, her face lighting up with determination. “I promise you, Wallflower. I’ll get everyone’s memories back.”
“S-Sunset...” Wallflower raised her hand as much as she could, a task far more difficult that she’d expected. Sunset got the idea and leaned down, holding Wallflower in a gentle embrace. As warm as the hug was, though, it only made Wallflower realize just how cold her own body was.
“Th-thank you,” Wallflower said, her fresh tears wetting Sunset’s shirt. “I’ll be able to... To rest a lot easier, knowing you’ll make things right.” Sunset held her a little tighter, and Wallflower allowed herself a brief smile. When the hug ended, Wallflower leaned back into the bed, a faint shudder running through her.
“Is there anything you want me to tell your parents?” Sunset asked. “When their memories come back, I mean.”
“J-just...” Wallflower blinked slowly. “Just that I’m sorry I left them.”
“Okay.” Sunset smiled at her. “I’ll tell them. I promise.”
“I’m, uhh..." Wallflower sighed, her eyes losing focus for a moment. "I’m getting kinda sleepy...”
Sunset’s smile remained, even as tears streamed down her cheeks. “It’s okay, Wallflower.”
“I-I don't know how long I'll b-be asleep before, uhm...” Wallflower's voice was breathless. "...Before I'm gone," she whispered. She heaved against the stiffness of her lungs, and with every sluggish, labored breath, it got a little harder for her to stay awake.
“I'm not going anywhere,” Sunset said. Her voice was strained and measured, and Wallflower could tell she was trying her hardest not to break down. "I'll be right here with you, okay?"
"O-okay," Wallflower said. She yawned, her muscles losing tension as she did. "I'd like that."
Sunset nodded, smiling as best she could.
“It’s kinda—uhh...” Wallflower stared at the wall for a second, chasing down the lost thought. “Uhm... O-oh, yeah. It’s kinda funny. I’ve wanted this for so long. Longer than I can remember.”
Sunset said nothing. She pulled the chair over so she could sit by the head of the hospital bed. As she sat down, she put her arm around Wallflower, bringing them closer together.
Wallflower rested her head against Sunset, reveling in the last vestige of warmth. “Now th-that I’ve got it, though... It’s not that I regret it—I’m happy that I c-can finally, uhm... That I...”
Beside her, Wallflower heard Sunset’s composure breaking down, her whimpers echoing in Wallflower’s ringing ears.
“I’m ready to die,” Wallflower said, blinking away the last of her own tears. “I-I’ve been ready for a really long time. I j-just wish... I wish I'd never wanted to at all.”
Sunset held her a little closer, and again, Wallflower smiled.
“I’m g-gonna go to sleep now,” Wallflower said. She was barely able to look up at Sunset, their eyes meeting for the last time. Another chill ran through her, and her voice fell below a whisper. “Y-you’ll stay with me...?”
“Yes,” Sunset whispered back. Her free hand found Wallflower’s own, and their fingers intertwined. “Always.”
Just as before, blackness crept along the edges of Wallflower’s vision. She sighed, immersing herself in this final moment of peace. The warmth of a friend was much more comforting than hot, bloodied bathwater.
“Th-thank you for being h-here,” she said. “It’s n-nicer than before...”
Everything started to shift out of focus. The sounds of Sunset's cries were softer now, and even the ringing in her ears was fading away. With the last of her strength, she pressed herself into the embrace and squeezed Sunset’s hand in her own.
When Wallflower drifted off, she had a smile on her face.