Writers (in order): CL, Irene Tsen, Amann S. Mahajan, Ava Cheng, Sophie, Brendan Lin, Sophia H, kaylee n, Luca Bernardini, Jade Stone, Mariarosa Cerrritos. Editor: Ms. Ja.

He stares at the gray horizon, the cold water lapping at his bare feet. He takes a hesitant step forward, then another. He’s ankle deep now, the white foam beginning to soak the ends of his worn sweatpants. His hands shake as he drags them across his face, barely flinching when they rub his nose, sore from snorting another line. He chuckles wetly to himself; it seems he can’t even die sober. He drops his hands and looks around, somewhat relieved that there’s nobody around to see him. Or stop him.

It’s almost peaceful, the sound of the waves and cries of the seagulls. He thinks to himself, this will be a good end as he mulls over the chaos of the first twenty-something years of his life.

He is still smiling faintly as the top of his head disappears under the surface of the water. He forces himself to stay under, to work against the buoyancy his body tends towards. It’s laughably easy at first: his limbs are relaxed, his eyes are closed, and he waits. Hearing nothing but the thrum of his heartbeat, seeing nothing but the cleansing and rebirth he is about to realize.

Then the waves start to pull him down. His feet no longer find purchase on the sandy bottom of the sea. His heartbeat speeds up. He forces himself to continue, squeezing his eyes shut further, ignoring the flurry of frantic movement inside of him as his body struggles to live, to breathe. It feels as though there’s something inside of him bursting out, an uncontained, uncontrollable beast; it throbs against his ribcage, insistent, persistent. Rhythmically, it sends out one message, strong and clear: Live. Live. Live.

No. No. No!

What’s the point? He’s too far out at sea already, his body captured in the silk claws of a strong current. He’s almost weightless… but he’s fighting, before he even thinks to do so. No rest for the wicked…

Flailing limbs dragged further and further out. Choked gasps. Water trickled into his lungs with every shred of energy that leaves him. What’s the point? To die. To fight. To give up. What’s the damn point?

His mind wails louder as the black spots grow in his vision. A pulse—his pulse—echoes, repeats, and loops in its rampage like a scythe. It cracks down on his head, again, and again… and again.

He’s blind now, and unable to breathe.

It’s peaceful again.

And he’s not fighting anymore either.

Spots take shape and dance before him. The figures shake themselves forward then back until they seem to float closer and closer. If it’s over, why is it still hurting? Will it keep hurting forever?

But if he is not going to fight, then only the external force will.

Suddenly, an abrupt motion surges around his body, followed by a violent grapple of his arm.

Unfortunately, he is not in a state to be aware. Only bubbles flee from his blue lips when another hand gently taps his cheeks to check his consciousness. He seems to be lifeless.

He makes no sound, no movement, no signs of life. His heart seems to have given up on him. Why should it care if he doesn’t care himself?

Chest compression after chest compression, he still is unconscious. His brain will not fight*. He was already dead inside before he was unconscious. Why bring him back to life when he didn’t want to be alive himself?*

But something externally will not give up on him. His eyes somehow flutter open, and he realizes that he is not dead.

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