Outside her window, there was a city bustling with life. There were people, thousands of them, all of them purposefully going about their tasks, even at this late hour.
Two blocks down, by a lamp post, a man would kiss his date for the first time. Further down the road, there was a house where a boy waited out his last night of high school, with tears in his eyes and nostalgia filling his heart.
Two floors down from Lisa’s, a couple in the maternity ward cherished their baby’s first moments.
Lisa remembered her mother, although the memories were hazy. There was this one particular memory of her mother caressing her hair as she screamed in pain. She was suffering from Jaundice then. The pain had been unbearable, but it was nothing compared to what she was living with now.
Oh, how she wished her mother was here now: to caress her, and tell her that everything was going to be okay. It wouldn’t happen though… She died 40 years ago.
There was a strong wind, and her curtains flew wildly for a moment before settling down calmly again. Lisa tried to get up to see what was going on but she could only manage to move her head. The rest of her body was paralyzed.
She noticed the shadows move on the wall in front of her.A figure became distinguished as it moved towards her. Lisa could not tell the color of his clothes, but she imagine they must be dark gray for that was the color with least visibility in darkness. Maybe they were dark gray, maybe they weren’t. She had no way to tell. She thought she should be scared of him, but through the veil of pain, she hardly felt any emotions.
“How are you today, Lisa?”, he asked as he moved to her side. His voice was friendly and inspired trust.
“I am in pain … a lot … of pain”. Tears filled her eyes as she struggled to speak.
The figured tickled her scalp with her fingers playfully. It made her sleepy. She remembered someone she had met in her youth could do the same.She couldn’t remember who it was, just that there had been someone.
“Its going to be okay, Lisa”, he said.
She noticed her pain was fading slowly, ever so slowly.
“Are you God?”, she asked.
The figure laughed. It was a warm comforting laughter that filled her heart with hope.
“No, but you could say I am an angel. ”
“Are you here to take me to God?”
The figure moved his face closer to her and whispered,
“I can if you want to and only if you want to…”.
Lisa reflected upon it for a second.
“ I want to be free again. Even if it is in death.”
“And what about your family?”
“They’ll get over it. Right now I am nothing more to them than a source of pain. I see Bobby struggling hard to pay my bills. I don’t want to be a burden anymore. I had a good life, I want to go away with dignity. Will you give me that?”
He smiled. It was a smile of understanding, brimming with empathy. He had done this before, she realized. What exactly he was, she didn’t know. She had a word for him, however.
“Reliever, will you relieve me?”
He spoke nothing for a while, just looked at her, as if trying to read her mind, trying to ascertain if she actually wanted what she thought she wanted. He had to be sure, she knew.
“Lisa… you are redeemed. ”, he said finally.
She saw in his hand an empty syringe. He had already pushed whatever was in it into her arterial line.
“Is that what will kill me?”, she asked.
“No, this is my gift to you. I give you a perfect dream. You will live a lifetime in it. Life will be as you imagine it to be. You will live many years in the dream. There will be no pain, only happiness”
She thought about this. Her pain had faded completely, she could only feel its absense. There were waves of euphoria going through her body. It reminded her of the warm feeling she had on her prom night when her childhood crush had taken her for a dance.
“Will he be there in the dream”, she inquired, thinking of him.
“Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. I don’t know, Lisa. Its your dream”.
Her eyes were heavy. Her mind mind was already racing with images and memories called from the distant past. She had trouble focussing on the person beside her.
“Its okay, let it take over.”, he said reassuringly.
She closed her eyes and let her mind take over. Soon she forgot where as her imagination took over. Her life as it should have been flashed before her eyes.
The Reliever looked at Lisa. She was asleep. He stepped up her morphine drip. She had a few minutes before it took her life.
“Good night, Lisa. Have a great life”.
He walked over to the Window and looked at her one last time before jumping down the ledge and onto the street. There was a homeless man sleeping on the pavement. He put a dollar in his cup and disappeared into the night.
That night Lisa dreamt of her prom night and her life since. How happy she had been when he had kissed her. She relived the warmth of that kiss. Her whole life was going to be perfect. She danced that night with a liquid grace so perfect that everyone watched her mesmerized. There was no pain. Her life was perfect from then on. Every morning she went to work in her own Designer store. At evening, he’d wait for her and they’d dance the night away.Lisa didn’t know if this was how her real life had been. Something told her it was all a dream. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.
She travelled the world and visited every place she ever wanted to. One morning, she had coffee in a seaside cafe in greece… just like she always wanted to.
In her dream, she lived on forever. In the span of a minute, she lived several years. Every week, a new delight waited round the corner. There was no pain, her mother was always around. She never grew older, or weaker.
The morphine killed her fifteen minutes later. Maybe she noticed… maybe she didn’t