The following article discusses topics of a sensitive nature which may be disturbing and/or controversial to some readers. Hence, reader discretion is advised. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author and do not reflect Sunway University and Sunway College’s values.
Content warning: Mentions of accidents, depression, suicide, and contains possibly triggering language.
Author’s note: Check out part 1, Inbetweens! Or this might not make very much sense. Feel free to put this song on by the word/paragraph Better, hyperlinked in the story.
A new reset.
Oshin stared himself down at his phone screen as it went dark, awake from a fitful slumber–pockets of unconsciousness interspersed with barely there consciousness. Dreams came sparse, far and few in between. If he were more coherent, he’d assume it would be a possible side effect of living the same day every day.
Not the exact same day, per se, but the general idea was there. He planned on stopping this habit of his eventually, of course. Of course.
Oshin closed his eyes, vying again for an attempt at sleep. The white noise of the ceiling fan swallowed his thoughts, racing as they were. His mother screaming, his father yelling.
Still his senses jolted awake, and he sat up, listening for the telltale sounds of an argument in the living room. There was nothing, of course. Realistically, this wouldn’t happen in his bed, in his own (rented) apartment, several kilometres away from his mother. His father didn’t even live in the same country anymore. Even so, he listened on until he heard a door creak open. Nick, the early-rising psycho. No yelling, no screaming, no arguments. He laid back down, heart heavier than before.
When he next woke, the sun had already risen high into the sky. He took it all in, fan ever-turning above him. Another missed class–not that it mattered. He could restart the day. What to do now? Usually, he’d lounge around until after lunch, grab something for his mom if he wanted to. Not that it’d change her mind. But it seemed good to try to please her, somehow, and to hope for a different outcome. Nick would be out, going for classes, going for lunch, and then returning at the end of the day.
No need to send his teachers or friends a text. He’d done so in the past before realizing the futility of it all. They wouldn’t remember it. There were simply no more consequences and no more reason or point in doing anything at all. He went through social media anyway, seeing the exact same Instagram posts, the exact same stories, the exact same Youtube videos. The bed stayed warm, cosy, and he needed little entertainment.
Stuck in a trap of his own design, maybe, but he was content to waste the reset away.
Everything would return to the way it was supposed to be tomorrow.
Later that evening, he took a trip to the kitchen, and shortly after, time paused.
Oshin’s sleep seemed to be getting lighter and lighter. He laid in bed still. Nick rapped away at the door. It was bright again. A Wednesday. Why wouldn’t Nick be at class?
A final, hesitant knock.
He kept silent, breathing shallowly. It wasn’t like him to ignore Nick, and somehow, he almost felt bad. It seemed all too much effort, however, to answer him. Conversation felt like a chore, dread pooling in the pits of his stomach, anchoring him to the bed.
“Guess not,” Nick muttered, disappointed. A pang of guilt rang through him.
Then it was silent.
After he heard the rattle of the front door, Oshin sat up, feeling a certain way. He couldn’t quite place it, guilt, anger, sadness, all negative and swirling.
I’ll make it up to him tomorrow, he thought. Tomorrow.
The time paused and continued.
Another new reset. Oshin slept long and well, this night. He woke bright and early, room cast in a pale sheen. He took a shower–how long had it been? There wasn’t a need to before, but now he let the water hammer away on his back. He got dressed, combed his hair back, and paused at the door to his room. 7:17 am, and Nick would be home. Could he face him?
He wound up sitting next to the door, scrolling through his phone once more. He’d do it when Nick got home.
An indeterminable amount of time later, there was a string of knocks, and Oshin jolted near violently.
“Hey, uh, Oshin?”
He swallowed. He could do it.
More knocks, Nick sighing. Oshin backed away, leaning down to look under the door. Nick’s sock-donned feet.
Oshin wasn’t sure what was wrong with him exactly, but he kept quiet, mouth glued shut. He clenched his fist and relaxed it. Hold and let go. Hold and let go.
“Just checking in, man,” and he walked away.
Oshin, to put it plainly, felt like shit.
He crept out of his room later, and returned for the rest of the reset.
Nick kept knocking. Oshin wasn’t sure how the pattern had surfaced or why, but he found himself almost looking forward to it. Each reset, Nick would come to check in on him, and Oshin would ignore him until he left. Oshin felt like he was rotting from the inside out, sweet decay as he swung between loathing and anticipation for the visits. He wasn’t going to respond. He wanted to respond. Just a hey!, or what?. Any manner of reciprocation would be appreciated, he was sure, but–
It just felt impossible.
He’d simply given up on talking anymore, guilt eating away at him reset by reset. He’d only had self-loathing for his cowardice. He’d held anger and hatred for himself and sometimes, almost unfairly, at his mother. Her beliefs were rooted in place and it wasn’t up to him to change her, or expect her to change and to accept him, but it still hurt. His parents had both been stubborn, his mother more so than his father, who had left for his own sanity. He abandoned us, is what his mother had said bitterly, and what Oshin cried in the hurt left behind, and at the hated new men who walked into his and his mother’s life. Perhaps it was selfish to prefer her staying single. For now she was truly alone, and… And now he felt guilty, digging himself deeper into a pit. He felt even worse too, thinking of Nick. He’d trapped Nick in an endless cycle, even if Nick didn’t know it.
And now, he ignored him repeatedly, even as he tried to show concern.
Resetting was even easier that day, frustration driving his actions.
A new reset.
Oshin swung open the door to Nick’s room, 5 am, on the dot.
The poor man was caught still sleeping, and Oshin wanted to back off nearly immediately. He held his ground, despite being an asshole.
Nick groaned as his phone alarm went off, and he reached for it to turn it off. Oshin watched, awkward. He eventually peered over at Oshin, still too sleepy, perhaps, to be surprised.
“I–” What had he set out to do? Apologise? For something Nick had no clue of? The other man waited, placid and patient. Oshin began to sweat. “G-good morning.”
“Good morning,” Nick said, pleasant, somewhat more coherent. “Rare for you to be up.”
“Yes.” God. Maybe he should kill himself now, get it over with before the shame did.
“Mm.” Nick stayed in bed, looking at him from under the blankets. “Well. If you want, we can run together, but you need to leave.”
“Right. Uh, I’ll…I’ll come with you. Sorry for barging in.”
“All good, and just so you know, I’m naked.”
Oshin nearly slammed the door again as Nick laughed behind him.
Fifteen minutes later, Oshin swore violently to the skies. He knew his body reset as per usual, of course, but it’d still been ages since he last ran. Nick had literally sprinted down the street, Oshin gasping for breath as he tried to keep up. The athletic asshole. There was no way he actually ran like this in the morning. They had gotten down the stairs, and the second they went under the security gate, Nick had said race you! and sped off. Now he kept a good distance away, light on his feet. Oshin’s soles slapped against the pavement, wind flapping through his hair. His lungs burned, he was almost lightheaded, and he felt like a feeble foal, thrown headfirst into a prized competition.
And yet, despite everything, it felt…good.
It felt really good, actually, and for the first time in a long, long while, Oshin felt well and truly alive. He wondered why he’d confined himself to his room at all in the first place. Hadn’t he enjoyed being outside? The air was crisp and clean this early in the morning, and the streets were clear. He felt weak, physically, but stronger than ever everywhere else.
Nick slowed ahead of him, and Oshin quickened his pace, watching mildly as street lights bounced off neon highlights on his shoes, feeling ever-so-slightly whole.
Not fully whole, though. More of “a slice of Swiss cheese settled into a sandwich with ham and lettuce” type whole.
He went on a run with Nick again the next reset, choosing (overly consciously) to ambush him outside his room instead. Unfortunately, he felt as weak as before, the rush of adrenaline barely enough to keep him going. He deigned to finally send a message to his lecturers today, and he sent some responses to his friends’ messages. Most of the messages were memes, and he sat and scrolled through them. lol. lol. LMAO. lol. lolololol. His heart warmed, and he paused. He’d seen all these before. Well, some of them. There was nothing remotely heartwarming on the videos he received–a video of a girl asking the viewer to watch her cat as a large, very edited missile blew the screen up. Or a video, simply, of a man adding ridiculous amounts of butter to a pan.
It was corny and ridiculous but he was on a roll with these feelings, apparently. If but for a brief moment–for the full five seconds it might have taken for his friends to go haha! Oshin would enjoy this, and send the videos to him–his friends had thought of him. It was an incredibly obvious and lame realisation. This lameness was further exacerbated when he felt a tightness in his chest.
He shook it off, grasping at his chest. Maybe he could physically shove all these realisations and emotions back into him–maybe he could deal with this a little later, and a little less emotionally.
He failed spectacularly, and was glad no one else was home.
By the third reset like this, he ran side by side with Nick (due to his roommate’s ‘kind nature’). He let his lecturers know he was unwell, and would do his best to catch up in earnest. He messaged his friends back–admittedly still with lols and things as such, but they would have to live with that. That, and the occasional comment.
He found himself back in the kitchen, in the late afternoon, going through the fridge for his groceries. He could make dinner for him and Nick. He was free! Technically.
It was then did he realise he had forgotten his appointment with his mom, and any good mood he had going on sank to his feet.
“Fuck,” he breathed, out loud. “Fuck.”
He didn’t make dinner or visit his mom, ignoring her messages and calls.
On the fourth consecutive morning run, Oshin found himself nearly out of steam. He’d been on a roll, so far, completely ignoring and forgetting about the dreaded appointment with his mom–dreaded mostly due to his coming out. Could he just never do it? Never let his mom know, never bring it up?
Later, he pictured it in his room, vacuuming and dusting. It was unusual for him to make an effort when the dirt wasn’t directly within line of sight, but he was trying to clear his mind. Where better to start than the room he had effectively placed himself on house arrest in? A clear room, a clear mind–or something. He was pretty sure his mom made that up to get him tidier.
God, his mother. Was it fate to always be at odds with her? They’d argued plenty when he grew older and learned to do so, and he’d regretted many things he did, as did she (he hoped). He’d hoped her love for him, or something, would win over her prejudice against his gender identity. Was it fair for him to ask for her acceptance?
Well, duh. It’s your body, came a thought. It was the least his mother could do to change her views, right? Yet he felt guilty, ashamed to be asking so much of her, conflicted between an attempt at being a filial child, to straining their already distant bond. They’d never been good at communication, even without the discussion of him being trans. Realistically, he wasn’t in the wrong–he hadn’t actually done anything wrong this time. But it was still so hard.
He knocked his head softly against the wall. Another attempt at physically shaking out his thoughts that never really worked, and he knew it. Knock, knock, knock. It did make him feel better, even if his mind remained as turbulent as it did before.
He would figure it out. Eventually.
The resets passed, as they always did–Oshin had come to realise that time itself was unstoppable. It was foolish of him to think otherwise, minute as his power was to simply set it back a mere 24 hours.
Today, he would let it run its due course.
He ran with Nick. He did his best to be as courteous in his messages. He lol’d the videos his friends sent.
He made his way to his mom’s place, contemplating the whole train ride there. He could very well have driven, obviously, and he knew this was simply to procrastinate on the inevitability. He took slow steps regardless. Throughout the escalator ride up, he swallowed his fear.
And now, standing in front of the door, he hesitated for the final time.
He still hadn’t quite made up his mind.
Inside, he heard his mother watching some video, volume turned up ridiculously high, but then again she lived alone.
Alone, in solitude broken by visits such as these.
If he left now, nothing would change. He could reset, and–
He rang the doorbell, relief and sharp panic hitting him in full force. He had barely meant to, but he needed to do something.
The tinny voices inside stopped.
Oshin steeled himself. Too late to turn back. He thought of his friends; he thought of himself. In his mind, he promised to see the day through. It was horribly stupid. It was cringe, something out of a bad story. His friends didn’t even know half of the time they’d lost, put into a personal purgatory, a manmade limbo.
Oshin did, however. He’d had enough of himself, too.
A key rattled in the lock.
He would make it to the next day, he swore, repeating it in his head. No more resets.
A new day.
The door opened.
A new day.
Written by: Crash