The exit interview

The exit interview

A Story by Moper

White.


Pure, clean white.


There’s no horizon. There’s no anything. Just a flat surface of white.


Quiet. Stale. Dead. This place is any or all of the three.


“Hello.” In front of me, a male voice calls out.


Standing there, as if coming out of thin air, is a small guy with pale white skin, blue eyes and a clean cut. He was wearing one of those clean white tuxedos that would probably have costed a couple thousand dollars.


“John?” He said as he takes a sip of his wine.


John? That’s my name if I recall correctly.


How does he even know that?


More importantly, where am I?


How’d I get here?


*snap*


He snaps his fingers once, getting my attention.


“Too many questions. Let me ask the questions for now. You’re John, right?” he inquired, pointing at me.


“Errr…” Unable to make sense of anything, I can only make a nonsensical sound.


“Son, Keep it together. You’re already dead. You should just take it easy now. How am I supposed to conduct your exit interview if you’re like that?” He said in a careless manner, playing around with his glass.


Me? dead? When?


As soon as he said so, my chest felt heavy for a moment. It was just like a needle poked my heart and left it bleeding.


“Yes. Can’t you swallow that pill like a man or are you too immature for that?” He provokingly asked as he takes another sip of his wine.


He sighs and sat down on a chair that seems to have come out of thin air. Leather and comfortable from what I could assume.

“This… This place is unusual.” I managed to state, my voice hoarse. The pain on my chest subsiding.


“Oh. You can still speak, huh? I thought I would have just read your mind or something.” He stated. “And there’s a lot that actually can’t speak once they get here so it won’t be anything new to me.” He continued in as-a-matter-of-fact voice.


Somewhere along what he said made me uncomfortable.


“Well let’s get started. Take a sit.” He prompted me, pointing at a chair behind me.


It was the same chair as he is sitting on right now. As expected, it was comfortable. Too comfortable. I never had a chair like this in my life.


“Wine?” He asked, extending his arm that’s holding a glass.


“No, I’m fine.” I replied, shaking my head.


“Alright then.” He placed his wine on the wooden table in front of us and clapped his hands once.


The way the gesture was made seem to have better his mood.


“Let’s see right here, tell me if I get something wrong, alright?” He quickly produced a parchment in front of him and started reading.


‘Full name: John Wit

Wife: Susan Wit

Civil Status: Widowed… well was widowed

Children: 2… Their names don’t matter here, but all are alive and well

Monetary status: Able… sounds good but you don’t need money here anymore

Cause of death: Cardiac arrest… too normal

Date of death: Just yesterday… at least in your sense of time

Notes: seems to have enjoyed his life to the very end…. Well somehow. Pathetic from elementary to college, even after college but changed when he met his wife. Discretionary, say at own risk, his wife didn’t like him very much because of his looks and attitude. She hated how annoying and irate he could be before they started going out but changed after. Something about being sensitive made her change her mind about him. A good man and the very definition of hard working‘


“Everything correct there Johnny?” He asked me, taking a sip of his wine.


“What the f**k?”  In disbelief, I can only say that as he lists key points in my life, even commenting on it.


“Yeah. What the f**k, right?” He chuckled as he said it. “How could your wife change her mind about you? You look like a scrawny little s**t f**k when you were courting her.”


He flashed a picture of myself around my first years of work in front of me.


One word. Pathetic.


As I remember, I was really scrawny at that time. Skinny arms. Legs. Everything about me was skinny. My haircut of doesn’t even fit me and did not even complement the shape of my face. It made me look like a damn abnormal kid. How’d I survive life like this?!


“HAHAHAHAHAAHA” The person in front of me laughed so hard when he saw my reaction. “Your face looks so priceless right now.” He said, hugging his stomach as he said so.


What does this guy want anyways? I can bash this guy’s face in if I want to.


He takes a deep breath as my thought leaves me and looked at me dead in the eye.


“Your exit interview. As you may have noticed now, I can read your thoughts. And! I’m not just any guy, kid.” He smiled. If there was any temperature in this room, place, it probably dropped to 0 with just those lines. I felt myself scared for my life as he looked at me with those blue eyes.


 “Can I change my mind on the wine now?” I clear my voice, trying to make light of the situation.


“’Course you can.” He smiled, not the kind he showed just a moment ago. Happier is the best definition.

As soon as he said so, I had a glass on my hand, the same as what he has.


“Any preference?” he asked me, crossing his legs and resting his hand on the armchair. Kind of like how superiors sit when they look at their underlings or captured foes to make them look higher.


“No. I don’t really know anything about wine.” I honestly replied.


 I just drank some and didn’t really care what it was. I know some that are fanatics though and know what’s best on this day, season or celebrations. I didn’t envy them but it would be nice to have something to say here.


“Don’t worry too much about it.” He said closing his eyes and put on a thinking pose of his knuckles under his chin as his elbows rest on the armchair.


I stare at him for a moment, wondering what he is doing.


“Oh. So that’s it, huh?” he jerk up as he remembers something. “Here you go. The best wine you’ve tasted your whole life.”

I felt the glass go heavy in an instant and see that wine has magically appeared inside it.


“What is it?” I asked him, confused.


“Carson Ridge Cabernet Paso Robles. I think you got a taste of it from some wedding party.” He said, nodding.


I take a sip and felt the familiar taste of it.


“Oh. I do remember this taste but I’m not sure if this is the best one I’ve tasted.” I said, uncertain.


“Indecisive.” He said as I hear a pen cross something out.


Where’d that come from?


“Oh. I just checked out that you are a very indecisive guy, as the parchment said.” he stated as if it’s normal.


“Did it ever say that?” I asked, knitting my eyebrows.


“Yeah. I didn’t say parts that were unnecessary.” He said, waving his hands in front of him.


“Do you want a copy of it? It’s very detailed. It’s isn’t like the bibliography books you read down there. It should contain anything you want to know about yourself really. If you don’t want to read, you could even ask it questions and it should give you a reply.” He said with a proud smile.


“No. I think I’m fine.” I replied, looking away from him.


I don’t think I want to read about that.


“Trust me. Once you get a glimpse, you’d want to ask or read away.” He smiled, provokingly.


“uhuh…”


“Anyways, alright.” He said, finishing his wine.


He set it down on the wooden table and look me at me directly as if measuring my own worth. He’s slumped forward with his elbows resting on respective knees and fingers intertwined each other in front of his mouth.


If this white void isn’t stale and dead enough, it is now. I felt my chest grow heavy, my bones chilled and my own self-worth diminishing as his eyes pierce through my very soul. His emotions that were so obvious a while ago, clearly left him. Petrified, I can’t look away from him nor move my body.


“Let me tell you this.” He said, dead serious. Almost a mutter. “What’s going to happen next isn’t anything new to you and extremely simple. We’re just going to visit a couple memories of yours. You just have to experience it in a different perspective. Do you understand?” He inquires, devoid of emotions.


I can only nod as I feel the weight of the atmosphere.


“Good. Let’s be clear about a few things then.” He relaxes back in his chair, crossing his arms. “You’re already dead and no. I cannot bring you back to life. Your life down there is no more and the only thing that attaches you to it is your memories. This is the final stop for you but before all that, there’s a protocol, as you will call it down there, in place which requires you to provide me information regarding two emotions. Why? Curiosity. Just think of me as a psychiatrist and you as a patient, it should be easier to imagine things that way. Did you understand all of that?”


I just nod again, unsure what to make out of it.


“Maybe you’d understand it once we start.”


As soon as the words leave his mouth and reach my ears, the white void shifted and turned into black. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see anything, it was more of all I see is black.


//


A few moments into that, I hear a voice.


“John.” A woman’s voice.


I remember that voice wherever I go.


“Susan!” I call out to her.


In this void, I don’t know if I am running towards her or just sitting down. All I know is I’m calling out to her.

Another moment and I see the setting.


It was the restaurant I proposed to her in or to be exact, this seems to be the exact time I proposed to her.

I remember this. The sound of piano playing in the distance. The people beside us having a swell dinner. Us having an interactive, funny chat regarding work.


If I recall correctly, this goes for half an hour. Just chatting and drinking some wine before the main dish. To be honest, I was a nervous wreck. I was trying to keep up with the conversation, drinking more wine than usual and trying to get myself ready for the big question.


I stare at the scene from a distance. From my view, the other people don’t matter. It was as if the two of us had a world of our own. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her but I still remember the details of hers that I really found attractive, especially on this night.


She was wearing a black dress that exposes slightly her collar bone, her black hair usually tied into a ponytail is left to freely flow to her shoulders, large black eyes behind rectangular glasses, her pouty lips that actually makes the best of smiles, slim shoulders and arms and her body that has curves at the right places.


Soon, the waiters come and at the same time, the piano played in the most inconspicuous way the beat of “Grow old with you” by Adam Sandler, which, yes, was a cool song song. Sounds a little corny if you think about it as I really heard the song when I was a teenager and told myself I’ll sing it to the girl I’ll eventually marry.


Everything was almost perfect at that time. Only one thing left, the big question.


As soon as the waiter set the main dish up, I knew it was only a matter of time.


The waiter looked at me a moment and I nod back to him. This is my cue and for the second time I heard my speech.

“Honey,” I call out to her, taking hold of her hand, to grab her attention.


I smile, the shy one from what I can see from here. I watch myself look down for a moment and can’t help but chuckle at how I look like at that time. The waiters started humming the song and I start speaking.


“Honey. I hope that you know that you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are my sense that slaps me in the face hard when I act stupid. You are my voice of reason when things start getting complicated. You provide the rope when I’m holed in too deep. You are my blanket of comfort when I’m sad, my teddy bear that I squeeze tight when I’m happy. The light at the end of the dark tunnels but most importantly, you are the woman I love and I am prepared to live my life with you forever. Susan, will you marry me?”


As I was speaking, midway I start going to a kneeling position. At the end of the speech, I had the ring out and was just waiting for her answer.


Nailed it. DAMN! I pump a fist as I finish hearing myself.


She has both her hands covering her mouth with tears forming on the corner of her eyes.


She removes her hands and look right back at me and replied,


“Yes! Yes, I’ll marry you.” I see myself jump up and hug her. Not caring about what the other people in the restaurant may think but from this view here, everybody seemed to be smiling and applauding.


Delight. Joy. Satisfaction. Excitement. Inspiration. Adoration. Admiration. Love.


A burst of mixed but positive emotions. Just hearing her answer again was enough to put me in a daze and remember the years hereafter.


Seeing her this lively. This wonderful. This beautiful. This…. Real. I felt really satisfied to have married her.


I watch myself thank everybody and have the best dinner of my life.


The scene shifts and as was a while ago, everything turns black. The rush of feelings and emotions I got just a while ago instantly leaves and disappears within me. It felt like something was sucked out of me and I wouldn’t be able to take it back anymore.


//


A few moments after, I hear the sound of sobbing.


Everything was as colorful as a greyscale television. I see date on the alarm clock set beside her. I remember this setting very much. How could I forget?


The dreaded long months in and out of the hospital.


A hospital room. Just the two of us. The sound of television spouting whatever was going on outside this room. The sound of the a/c unit. The rustle of blanket with every movement on the bed. The sound of the electrocardiograph on the side.

Sitting beside the hospital bed, I see myself with my head under my forearms, probably sleeping.


On the bed, I see Susan with her eyes on sleeping me, caressing my face.


I guess you could say that this is the first time I see her do this and probably the last time.


My heart ached as I know how this will end.


Leukemia.


Symptoms after symptoms. One night, its feeling sick, chills and night sweats, the other it’s feeling fatigue, nausea. Easily becoming bruised and bleeding excessively. Fevers. Infections. Everything was going downhill for months, going in and out of the hospital, before this fateful night.


When they were able to diagnose it, we tried everything from herbal plants to scientific procedures and at long last, just the belief in prayer and miracles.


The doctors said it wouldn’t take any more than a couple of months when everything was all done.


I sigh as I remember the doctor telling us the news.


I just held her. It felt like my purpose of living was being taken away from me. I couldn’t do anything but cry to her.


After that, it wasn’t much anymore. Life just dilly dallied. We accepted everything. I was always in the hospital whenever I can and on this fateful night. Things will end. Her hardships. Her struggle. The love of my life.


“John.” I hear her kind, sweet voice. Knocking me out of my thought.


I look at the scene one last time and was surprised to see her looking straight at me.


“S-susan.” I squeezed out, wide-eyed.


I don’t know if she just happened to look at my direction, my ghost-like self’s direction or if she can really see me right now but it was a blow to my heart.


She smiled at me, her face showing signs of the illness, but, nonetheless, it was still a beautiful smile. The most beautiful one I’ve seen my life.


“Susan.” I said with a muffled voice.


She can see me. I can talk to her. I can do that, right? It won’t be a bad thing to be able to talk to her right now, right? This won’t suddenly end when I try and talk to her, right?


“I love you.” She said, her voice weak. “I really… really…. do.”


“Susan please. Don’t s-speak anymore. W-We’ll get through this.” I said the very words I’ve always told her before, hoping the very outcome of this day will change.


I tried to walk towards her but my legs won’t move. It was as if something was keeping me in place.


Why won’t you let me comfort her?


Why are you doing this?


Can’t I give myself up for her?


Why are you this cruel to me?


“Thank you for everything.” She said with as much power as she can muster, closing her eyes as the words leave her. Her hand caressing my sleeping face stopping in its tracks.


I burst into tears as I hear those last words.


“Please. Please. Susan. Open your eyes. Please” I begged her, tears flowing down my cheeks.


I know that this is the end.


This outcome will never change.


That was the good bye I was never able to hear.


A gaping hole opened in my heart as I realize this all.


I then hear the electrocardiograph beep in a fixed pitch, the annoyingly loud sound that would wake sleeping me up in a moment’s time.


I see myself rustle in my sleep.


Jerking my head up.


Looking up at my wife in disbelief.


Taking hold of her hand. Her shoulders.


Everything felt like it was in slow motion.


“Susan?” dazed, he started calling out to her.


“Susan. SUSAN! Wake up!” His voice cracked as I remembered it did.


I look away as I hear it all.


Doctors would rush in a minute’s notice and she’d be declared dead half an hour after that.


Cruel.


How could you be so cruel like this?


“Good bye.” I said to nobody in particular as I was sucked back into the white void.


//


“Thank you for your participation.” I hear a monotonous voice from the guy before. He was still wearing the same tuxedo but something in him has changed.


I still sat on the chair just like before everything happened, wine on hand.


“Was that all real?” I managed to ask him, hugging myself as I drop the glass of wine.


“Yes.” He replied, indifferent. “Nothing there was changed. That was your memo--. Well to be exact, that was somebody else’s memories.”


“huh?” I looked up at him.


“Susan. That was Susan’s memories. She was here not long ago and told me to show you that when you get here.” He said, resting his head on his hand.


“W-why?” I asked, standing up.


“If I recall correctly, she was so guilty that she wasn’t able to say thank you. I didn’t understand it well. She was bawling and crying when she got here. Blaming herself and all. She begged me to do it. She told me I’d understand something when I show it to you.” He stated.


“I normally wouldn’t do it but curiosity killed the cat.” He said in a careless manner, shrugging his shoulders.

He explained it like it was no big deal but that made it easier for me to accept it all.


“Thank you.” I said to him, moving my hands to my face to remove any tears left on it.


“No. Thank you. This was good information.” He stood up and moved towards me, hand out.


We shake hands and I feel everything in me being sucked out.


My feelings.


My emotions.


My memories.


My very life.


“I’m sorry.” He said. “As I said, this is the final stop for you. Your soul should now be recycled and given to another person. Your memories will forever be stored here but never visited by anybody else.”


“That’s fine.” I said, sighing as I let myself go.


“Thank you, John.”


The last thing I remembered seeing is a sad smile on his face as my very consciousness leaves my body.


© 2017 Moper



Author's Note

Moper
It's been a while since I last wrote something this long so I at least hope it's good enough.

Any kind of feedback is appreciated.

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Featured Review

The plot is riveting if not thoroughly engrossing. Your dialogs very well written. It was perhaps this more than anything that groped my attention and latched on to it so thoroughly I was intrigued almost from the first.

The flow of the story is cohesive and well-formed. The syntax is well-formulated and even elegant.

I found your ability to enflesh the two primary characters both so swiftly and creatively I was drawn into two very unique personalities quickly and fully.

To be honest, Moper, I have not a single critical commentary to make of this piece and, as a matter of fact, if this is typical of your work, you have already gained a new fan. GREAT read!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Moper

1 Week Ago

I can't say this is typical of my work, this might just be a stroke of luck(haha) but I'll try my be.. read more



Reviews

Excellent story, well written and heartbreaking.

Here are a few minor typo's I caught while reading:

Standing there, as if coming out of thin air, is a small guy with pale white skin, blue eyes and a clean cut (unfinished sentence).

There is a sentence about a suit, you wrote costed (maybe cost would work better).

The pain on(in) my chest subsiding.

Somewhere along (maybe a comma here) what he said made me uncomfortable.

My haircut of (remove of) doesn’t even fit me and did not even complement the shape of my face. (careful when using "even")

Aside from typo's and some mechanical issues, this is a haunting and well written story. Great job!





Posted 4 Days Ago


Wow! Just how confused can anyone be after reading your story? It'll take me a while to get my mind to absorb your story.

Posted 1 Week Ago


Moper

1 Week Ago

I didn't mean to do that, but thank you for reading!
Enjoyable read. An interesting story with excellent characters. Loved the perspective. Really nice job.

Posted 1 Week Ago


Moper

1 Week Ago

Thank you for reading!
The plot is riveting if not thoroughly engrossing. Your dialogs very well written. It was perhaps this more than anything that groped my attention and latched on to it so thoroughly I was intrigued almost from the first.

The flow of the story is cohesive and well-formed. The syntax is well-formulated and even elegant.

I found your ability to enflesh the two primary characters both so swiftly and creatively I was drawn into two very unique personalities quickly and fully.

To be honest, Moper, I have not a single critical commentary to make of this piece and, as a matter of fact, if this is typical of your work, you have already gained a new fan. GREAT read!

Posted 1 Week Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Moper

1 Week Ago

I can't say this is typical of my work, this might just be a stroke of luck(haha) but I'll try my be.. read more
Very good. Dialogue very nice. Wasn't expecting the ending. I couldn't decide which character I liked the most but they were all well thought out.

Posted 1 Week Ago


Moper

1 Week Ago

Thank you for reading!

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Added on November 4, 2017
Last Updated on November 4, 2017
Tags: death, drama, propsal

Author

Moper
Moper

Philippines



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