Please, Save Me, Save Me From Myself
“The Life Debt”
The hot summer days had come to an end.
The leaves, once so green and lively, were slowly turning from green to red, yellow and all sorts of beautiful colours. Slowly they start falling and turning into a dull brown.
Aaban was walking home from his first day back at work.
Aaban was a great teacher, in the eyes of his students. He was always on the side of his students, he fought for them every day no matter what trouble he got into by the school board from protecting them. He put so much time into helping his students not just with school related material but with any problem they brought to his attention.
He was loved by many of his students.
Aaban worked once a week.
He taught a film studies class at what some people would call an “alternative” school. Kids that were bullied, or endured some sort of trauma in their old school, kids that were “troubled”, kids with mental illness or learning disabilities, basically all the kids that the school board felt they did not want in their regular schools, or were to problematic for them. The school was also for students that had not graduated high school and wanted to finish.
We are not born with equal chances at life, or the same opportunities.
Education is a luxury, and not every one can make it a priority.
Aaban knew this very well, and saw himself as no stranger to life’s obstacles, this is why he bonded so much with his students and did everything to help them because the system had let them down, just like it let him down. He saw himself in many of his students. He tried his best to make sure every one would pass his class, even those that did not care whether they passed or not. Aaban gave almost all of himself to his class, every year, every group.
Aaban more than anything wanted his students to feel proud of themselves. He wanted to give them he wished he had. Aaban only wanted positive energy flowing from him to his students. Although, this was far from easy for Aaban and took a lot of his inner strength.
During those three hours, every Tuesday, this man gave every ounce of life he had to these kids. This left poor Aaban very exhausted. A lot of the time he would have to act, because he had no true positive energy left to give, he did not even have any for himself anymore. He wanted his students to be happy, because he never wanted them to feel like he did, like a prisoner. So much so, that it stopped him not only from living, but from finding true happiness. Aaban lived with a deep sadness, slowly robbing him of all the energy he had, even getting to school every Tuesday was becoming harder and harder for Aaban.
Aaban wanted to please every one around him but his own hopes and dreams were slowly dying.
Fareess was a new student in Aabans class. She was young but devoted her entire life to collecting as much experience that she could, to collect as much beauty from this world. Fareess chased adventure and always chose to follow her soul, no matter what trouble this got her into.
Four the last four years Fareess was addicted to drugs, her family decided she was a disgrace, so they kicked her out onto the streets. When they told her to leave her home, she and her boyfriend at the time were left living in his car, with no heating, because there was not any extra money for luxuries, just finding money for gas was a problem. The winter was bitter and cold.
Sometimes they had someones couch to crash on. Fareess was in a very abusive relationship. The man that had once been the love of her life became a monster, taking all his life’s troubles out on Fareess, whether it was his fists or his words. After four years, Fareess could not take it anymore. She would have vivid nightmares of her dying. Those that loved her were preparing themselves for her eventual death.
Fareess’s went to her fathers door step, begging for forgiveness. Her father took one look at her and knew that his daughter would die very soon if he did not take her in. Something in him changed at that moment. Charlie was always a very abusive man towards his children, angry at them just for being born. But when he saw his daughter at his door step, no more than 75 lbs begging at his door step with her long greasy hair and stains all over clothes and body something changed in him. He took her inside. Through her tears she promised she would work really hard, cleaning for him, doing whatever he wanted, in exchange for letting her stay. Fareess promised her father she wanted to leave the person she had become behind. This was very true, she had become accustom to it and knew she would miss every one she left behind in the life she wanted to build but she saw so many of her friends die over the years that she knew if she stayed she would be next.
Charlie, through his own tears asked her if she would like to take a shower and then they could go and buy her a tooth brush and all the other things she would need. Fareess cried even more as she thanked him, except these were tears of joy. Charlie was a very wealthy man, but had always been a very selfish man.
A week had passed.
Charlie was working most of the time so she was usually home by herself that week. She knew she would need something to distract her through this difficult time. Fareess went to see her social worker to see what she should do next. Susan (Fareess’s social worker) suggested she take some classes to pass the time while the chemicals in her brain cleansed themselves. Susan suggested a film studies class at a school that was close by Charlie’s house, she also told Fareess that the school offered the math class Fareess was missing to get her high school diploma. Susan recieved positive feedback from this particular film studies class from many kids, something about the teacher being a very kind man.
As Fareess walked back to her fathers house from the social programs office she decided to stop by the school and give it a chance. She was desperately looking for something to distract her from the sadness and loneliness that she felt inside, to distract her from thinking about shoving a fucking needle in her veins, which is how she dealt with the pain she felt her entire life, getting high to escape the madness. The madness that she could not even escape in her dreams.
The school registered Fareess and Fareess told them the classes she wanted to take. The film studies class was that coming Tuesday, which was four days away and the math class was on the Monday. She wasn’t so excited for the math class. Fareess loved interpreting pieces of art, whether it was a movie, a book, a painting, music or anything else artistic.
Charlie was very happy that Fareess was going back to school. He bought her new clothes, as she had nothing but the clothes on her back, so she would have something to wear to school other than tattered clothes.
It was seven o’clock, Tuesday morning.
Aaban was on his way to school, mentally preparing himself for another semester.
The class went well every semester, he was adored by his students.
Fareess felt very much disconnected from others.
She knew she was different, and she to her most people were a lot of the same. She lived on the fringe of society her entire life and she loved it. She discovered long ago that this was where the real people were, those that still believed in individuality and learning and living life to truly live it. Fareess lived with nothing for most of her life, her mother was very poor and there was no money once Fareess’s father divorced her mother.
Fareess did not really want to go to the class anymore. She rarely connected with anyone she thought to herself, what would be so different this time?. What kept Fareess going was that when she did connect with people it felt like pure magic. In those moments Fareess wouldn’t feel so lonely or disconnected.
It was now half past seven, Tuesday morning.
Finally, after contemplating whether she wanted to go, she got dressed, brushed her teeth, tied her hair back. If anything she figured she could just leave, go back to her fathers house and get high.
Fareess walked inside the class room with a piece of paper written “Film Studies Class, Tuesday Morning” on the door with two pieces of tape, one at the bottom and one at the top. She was about twenty minutes late so the students were already inside, working on computers. Fareess walked up to the teacher that was helping a student, she waited until he was finished speaking with the girl he was helping.
“Hi, I’m new?” Fareess said awkwardly.
“Hmm, your name is new? Let me guess… last name student?” Aaban said to her smiling.
The two of them both laughed.
“My name is Aaban” Aaban said, introducing himself to his new pupil.
“Fareess” She answered, shaking Aaban’s hand.
Aaban told her about the class, and she told him a little bit about why she was there and what she wanted out of the class.
The chemistry between them was instant.
Fareess immediately loved the sound of Aaban’s voice. She felt so comforted listening to his soft soothing voice. For the first time in a long, long time Fareess felt safe. She felt cared about, she felt at home, but reminded herself that she shouldn’t get attached because she didn’t need more pain, and in the end every one always leaves. She knew that. At this point in Fareess’s life, she knew she was very vulnerable and she knew it, and had a very hard time controlling it.
Aaban felt a connection between the two of them.
He felt for Fareess and saw something in her, something beautiful.
Aaban and Fareess walked back into the class room, he told her she could sit at whatever desk she wanted. He asked her if she would like to sit at his desk, as he was standing while he taught anyways and knew that she was very anxious. Fareess smiled and nodded. She dropped her bag on the side and took out a copy book.
Aaban had all his students create a profile online so they would all have personal accounts and could reach him at all times. He explained that no matter what, day or night they could always reach him, even if it wasn’t school related and they were just looking for someone to talk to.
Fareess grew to love Aaban’s class. His class room became her sanctuary. She didn’t care much for the other students but she felt for the first time safe. Safety she found in his world.
It wasn’t too long before Aaban and Fareess started seeing each other outside of school. It started with a couple of e-mails, quickly growing into meeting each other in secret all over the city.
Aaban often told Fareess that she was “the traveller” and he was “the oasis”. He told her he was her knight in shining armour and would never, ever hurt her. “Take all the life you can from me Fareess” he would say to her.
Fareess quickly realized that Aaban had the most beautiful of intentions, but he was very fearful, afraid of the man he knew he could be, but was afraid to be, afraid of failing. Aaban was afraid of risk and change.
Aaban was a great man nonetheless.
Aaban did not quite understand why, but Fareess loved him just the same, just the way he was. Fareess did not want to change Aaban, more than anything she just wanted him to be happy and truly enjoy his life. Oh, did she ever love him. Her soul was attracted to him, his soul, his essence, but most of all his selfless love for others.
Regardless of her love, Aaban felt he was constantly disappointing Fareess. All she wanted was for him to find happiness and for once live life for himself. She showed him every way she could that no matter what “one can not please every one, so he may as well go with what makes him happy”. She always wanted her mother to find that happiness too .. instead of cleaning up and being a live punching bag for her father, Charlie.
It was getting really cold out, but they were outside just the same, with no where to go, no money, nothing, but each other but it was worth the frost bites.
“Stop wasting your time!” Aaban shouted.
Fareess stopped talking, shed a tear and looked at him dead in the eyes.
“Baby, I don’t want you to change, you could stay the same forever and you would always mean the world to me. You showed me love when no one else would. You took me into your heart and soul. I just want you to be happy. Please, come, take my hand, be happy with me.” Fareess said tearfully holding out her hand that was shaking from the cold.
“I just want you to love yourself, as much as I love you, I want you to see what I see” Fareess said, shedding another tear.
Aaban shed a tear and held Fareess tight, tighter than anything else in the world. So tight, that if he were to let go of her she would explode.
“I’m sorry” Aaban whispered.
“Don’t apologize sweetheart, I love you just the same, flaws, vices, beauty, I love it all.” Fareess whispered into his ear as he hand reached down. They didn’t care who saw.
The seasons were taking a shift for the worst.
It was getting colder and colder, minus three degrees celsius became minus twenty degrees celsius, building up to the brutal, unforgiving winter. Fall shoes/boots were being replaced with heavy socks and water proof boots.
The couple was faced with a small dilemma.
In the fall and in the late fall, even when it was cold, they managed. But there was no way Fareess and Aaban would be able to spend even a couple hours outside with the weather being in the negative double digits. Neither of them had much money and Aaban was married so they couldn’t spend time at his place. Sometimes when Charlie was at work, Fareess would sneak Aaban in. However, after the first couple of times Aaban was to paranoid to continue meeting up there, in case Charlie came home early or any other of the million possible scenarios running through Aaban’s mind.
For most of the winter they spent most of their time hanging out in an abandoned factory. It was cold but much warmer than being outside. They would bring blankets. It became their own little love nest. The other problem was the days were getting shorter. The sun that once set at nine, nine thirty at night in the summer was now setting at four in the afternoon, sometimes three thirty.
Aaban wanted the relationship to become official, but Fareess was so well.. lost. She had just left her abusive boyfriend before moving into Charlies house, she left every one from that world behind. The world she was desperately trying to escape from.
“I need to restore the relationship with myself Aaban, I don’t even know who I am anymore and I am still trying to figure that out, Inshallah Aaban, Inshallah ” Fareess said, tears streaming down her face.
Aaban, disappointed looked down on the ground then without saying a word, looked back up at Fareess.
“Listen Aaban, I really care about you. I want to give you my entire self, all my love and all my attention, but right now I really need to give it to myself. Fareess said wiping the tears that were falling from his sweet, sensitive eyes.
“I understand. I am sad, but I understand that. You have been through so much and you’re really strong, you know that, don’t you?” Aaban said putting his hand through her hair and slowly pulling her face towards his.
They kissed, and a beautiful kiss it was. A kiss filled with patience, understanding and love.
“I love you Fareess” Aaban said as they were still making out.
“You do?” Fareess asked, shocked that anyone would love her at this point in her life.
“I love you too Aaban, more than you will ever know. You saved me, saved me from the person I don’t want to be anymore. I never thought anything would ever bring me such happiness. I felt like I was done for. That drugs were the best feeling and now there is no way I could ever appreciate anything else. You proved me wrong” Fareess whispered into Aabans ear.
Aaban held her close.
“I promise i’ll wait until you’re ready. All I care about is your happiness, your well being.” He whispered into her ear.
Fareess was so happy that he loved her too. She smiled the whole way home.
A couple of months had passed.
Aaban and Fareess were hanging out in the abandoned warehouse, cuddling.
“Are you seeing anyone else?” Aaban asked Fareess.
“No, I am not (which was true). However, you have a wife waiting at home..” Fareess started to say.
“But..” Aaban tried to interrupt.
“No. Please finish listening to what I have to say. No matter how dead you claim your sex life to be. I feel like I definitely have the option to see other people. Currently, I am not and I love you so I don’t want to, but I don’t feel like I don’t have the option” Fareess said, she felt Aaban was being very selfish.
This made Aaban very sad.
“Fareess please understand that my wife and I never have sex and when I make love to you, I give you a part of myself that I never gave to my wife.” Aaban said to Fareess, hoping she would understand.
Fareess thought that Aaban may be hiding something. What he was saying made no sense to her.
“Regardless of this, if you want us to be exclusive, you have to leave your wife. Things are great right now, we are happy. If you want to be more, I don’t want you to be ashamed of me. I want you to be honest with the entire world, with yourself, and with me that you are just mine. Besides sweetie, I need to come to terms with my past, its just not a good time for either of us” Fareess tried to explain.
“Inshallah” Aaban whispered into Fareess’s ear.
Months went by..
It was still freezing cold outside. Aaban and Fareess found a small quiet space away from the chaos of the outside world in a train station. Aaban was always worried that students or people from the school would see him with Fareess (a student). To the world what they were was wrong.
Aaban, like Fareess was not ready to make those concessions, but he couldn’t bare the thought of Fareess having the same freedom. Her..with anyone else but him? The whole idea made his stomach turn.
A part of Aaban really did want to be happy with Fareess, to wake up to her beautiful face every morning. Although, he just couldn’t leave what had become his “comfort zone”, regardless of the fact that what his life had become didn’t make him happy at all. Changing.. it just all seemed to hard. Aaban had created a safety bubble and Fareess wasn’t enough to push him out of it.
Fareess knew this. She knew it well and it broke her heart. She desperately wanted to take him out of his misery and into her world, into her world of adventure.
Aaban fell into a deep depression. He went to work, then straight home. Other than Tuesday for three hours, he was always at home in his shell. The deeper he fell into his shell, the more he pushed Fareess away.
Aaban still gave every ounce of positivity he could find in himself to his students. They meant the world to him. No matter what, he couldn’t let them down. He came home drained, every single time.
As time went by, he barely had enough energy to fake it for his students. Aaban was falling apart. It was so difficult for him even to fake a smile. He sunk lower and lower into depression. He no longer wanted to spend anytime with Fareess. In his mind he had failed her and he distanced himself from her.
Fareess felt foolish. She felt abandoned and alone. She thought they had grown… so close. Once again, life had let her down, and she couldn’t handle it, not again.
Winter was coming to an end. The bugs started to crawl, the plants began to sprout. Spring had finally arrived. Life was reborn, everything was growing. All those in hibernation were slowly awakening. The grass was slowly turning green again. Even the patches of leftover snow were melting. People were out and about.
Fareess didn’t go to Aabans film class anymore. She couldn’t. She couldn’t pretend nothing ever happened. Her heart was broken, once again. The class didn’t give her the warm safe feelings it once did. Her sanctuary had become just another classroom, just like any other classroom, in any school.
Fareess missed Aaban so much. She just wanted him to get better. Watching him fall apart, was making her slowly fall apart. She desperately wished Aaban would let her pull him out of the dark and into the light.
Her soul wanted his.
Fareess felt it was a good time for Aaban and herself to become offical. She was ready to give her complete self to him. She wanted to make sure her feelings were real and they were. She knew deep in her soul that they were. Fareess loved Aaban. She truly did.
Occasionally Aaban would send Fareess messages but made it clear he did not want to see her in person anymore. Aaban loved Fareess, he really did. He thought of her every day.
Fareess was so used to being abandoned. Her own mother abandoned her. Losing people no longer brought her any sort of shock. She had lost so many people in her life. However, no matter how much you get used to pain, it hurts just the same.
Aaban had intentionally or not, killed anything positive that existed in Fareess. So Fareess decided there was no reason to live anymore. She was tired of having to tough out pain. It was enough!
When Fareess gave up drugs and left everything and everyone from that world behind. She decided she was going to give life one more chance, which is what pushed her to knock on Charlie’s door. She was afraid he wouldn’t even remember she existed. One last chance at happiness, one more chance at love. She had worked so hard the last year to pull herself out of the mess that she had gotten herself into. All the nights she would cry herself to sleep with the hope of a better tomorrow, for things to at least get just a little easier. That was one of the reasons she took Aaban’s class to begin with, to try to make things better.
Aaban made those days easier, he created her sanctuary with his love. Then he took it all away. Fareess once again was forced to face her reality alone. She stopped going to her other classes, she stopped dancing (which was always her passion), she lost hope. The little bit of hope she had built for herself. She had nothing to hold on to or believe in anymore, once again.
Fareess knew what she was going to do. She knew how, where and what.
One day after Aaban’s class Fareess walked to the bus stop where he would be going to take the bus home after he was finished teaching.
When Aaban got to the bus stop he was shocked to see her there.
Their eyes met. Fareess held Aaban in her arms and cried, she cried hard and loud, she couldn’t help it. Aaban’s shirt was soaked with her tears.
“Please Aaban, believe in our love, please let me guide us both to the light” Fareess said through her tears, holding on to Aaban as if she had glued herself to him.
“I’m sorry Fareess” Aaban said, shedding a single tear, then he jumped onto his bus and away he went.
Fareess felt sick, she felt her stomach turn, she felt her heart break right there in that moment. Fareess called and called but Aaban never answered.
Summer had come and gone, and autumn was on its way again.
Aaban had finally pulled himself out of the dark and was ready to be the man he wanted to be for Fareess. He called her phone, it went directly to voice mail, he left her a message “Fareess…I’m sorry…the memories of what happened at the bus stop will plague my soul forever. I can’t believe I could have ever caused you any type of pain. I was a horrible, selfish person to you Fareess” He cried as he told her answering machine how much he loved her and ready to do anything to earn her forgiveness.
The next day he called again, and once again her phone was off.
Aaban ran to Charlie’s. He didn’t care what any one thought anymore, he just had to see her. He needed to look into her beautiful green eyes, to hold her, to kiss her.
A girl named Fatima claiming to be Fareess’s sister opened the door.
“Ah, you must be Aaban, yes?” Fareess’s sister asked Aaban coldly.
“Yes” Aaban answered sadly.
“I have heard a lot about you..” She said looking at Aaban like he was garbage.
“Please, I know I did her wrong, very wrong. Please, just let me see her, please if anything just to apologize. I need to tell her it was never her fault and that she is the most radiant, beautiful person that I have ever gotten the chance to meet” Aaban said begging, tears falling from his eyes.
Fareess’s sister looked down to the floor and shed a few tears before looking back up.
“Well… you’re too late” Fareess’s sister said very quietly.
“Fareess fell deeper and deeper into the darkness. She was tired of the pain, tired of begging and hoping for the days to get better or at least a little bit easier. So she put her “plans” into motion. She did everything she needed to do” Fatima started.
“You see, its all here in the note she left behind” Fatima continued as she showed Aaban the piece of paper.
Fareess cried the entire time it was happening, but they were not tears of sadness, or even pain. They were tears of joy, of relief.
The crying stopped.
The universe welcomed her with open arms, and finally for the first time in her life Fareess felt at home.
“Do you want to know the details?” Fatima said still crying, she hadn’t stopped since the two started talking.
Aaban wasn’t sure he wanted to know how, where and the other details. She was gone…and nothing was going to bring her back.
Aaban nodded because he never wanted to re open this conversation again and make her family revisit this either.
“Okay. Fareess was found dead in a forest two hours away from here. Causes of death were either an over dose or losing to much blood, as she slit her wrists pretty deeply. They don’t know which one killed her. She had been dead for five days before any one had found her. We had been looking everywhere trying to find her, calling all her friends, the school, any one we could think of. We thought she might have been doing drugs again and ran away because she didn’t want us to know. She was found by a family that were hiking in the woods. If it were not for them we may have never found her body” Fatima said, it was obvious that it was very difficult for her to talk about.
“I wont tell you the minor details. However, I wanted you to know it was suicide. My baby sister killed herself. I wish she would have told me. I wish I could have at least tried to stop her. No, I can not blame you, but I don’t like you. Now, please go and never come back here again” Fatima said leading him to the front door.
“Im sorry for your..” Aaban tried to say, but Fatima slammed the door in his face.
Aaban knew deep inside his soul that he was too cowardly to live with himself. He knew he was responsible. He knew that if that day at the bus stop would have gone differently, that she would still be here. Aaban believed he deserved to live with guilt, but knowing it was his fault was destroying him.
Aaban made his way home, caught the bus to the subway station, waited for the subway and right as the subway came out of the tunnel and into the station he took a deep breath and jumped in front of it.