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16+

Sol-ji's Video

by cookiesandcream123


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

(CW: terminal illness & suicidal ideation.

P.S. I've grown up pretty healthy so far, so I won't claim that I know the perspective of those who have terminal illnesses and/or that I can portray everything accurately. This is just a fictional story I came up with, so I hope you understand if there are any mistakes. Ty!)

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I open the link. And within an instant, the video pops up, a 10-minute clip uploaded to YouTube under “Unlisted.”

Numbly, distantly, I click the play button.

A familiar girl appears as her hand uncovers the camera. Her eyes are tired. Her dyed, light-brown hair hangs around her pale face, while her dark eyes stare into the camera, making sure it was recording. There's determination, but also a grim numbness, to her gaze. As usual, her evenly-cut fringe barely grazes past her lashes.

I keep my eyes on the Sol-ji in the video, almost feeling like she was really there, staring back at me.

"Hey again. It's me, Sol-ji. This probably isn't the best time to be recording." Her greeting is casual, mundane, a small smile flickering across her face before it disappears. She's dressed simply, still in her hospital clothes. The background of the video is a paper white wall.

She pauses there, her eyes looking away, as if taking a moment to collect the words she wanted to say. 

Did I ever tell her that she could've been a great YouTuber? That she had a way of expressing herself, of bringing others’ attention to her words? There are so many things I should've said, I realize.

"It's 8:40 pm right now, which is why I'm keeping my voice low. On the 19th of September. I'm still here, at the hospital." She swallows, her eyes averted. "Mom, dad, and Jeongmin visited earlier today. They bought me a ton of gifts. I told them they didn't have to, but they always bring some every time." She cracks a bittersweet smile, her eyes blinking away tears. "I appreciate it. I really do. But it's... they shouldn't have to, you know? What's the point anymore?" 

I hear her sniffle, and my heart shatters like a mirror breaking into a thousand pieces. But still, I watch on, as if my soul was dangling from each of her words.

"I know they don't tell me everything. They don't want me to worry, so they stay hopeful and tell me happy stories to make me as optimistic as I can be." A sob escapes her, and then suddenly she raises her voice, distraught. "But this illness is terminal. I know it is! Even though people say it's unknown, the common factor between all the victims so far is that they die. I know this treatment is only going to extend my life for a few more months!"

The screen trembles as her hands shake and her eyes, still fixed on the camera, fill with tears. She briefly covers the camera with her hand, clearly still unwilling to show her tears, but eventually moves it away.

"Mom and dad don't say it, but I know my treatment costs a lot. Tens of thousands? Millions? They've already been worked to the bone while raising me. And now they're having to work even more, while selling everything they have, only to still be in debt." Angry tears spill down her face. "It's not fair. It's not fair at all. I realized that from the very beginning until now, I've only been a burden. They've done so much for me and I've done nothing in return. Now my existence means leeching off of them -- sapping away their whole lives -- just so I can survive for a few more months. And it's not like anything will even change." She draws in a shuddering breath, trying to calm down. "All this is taking a toll on them -- mentally, physically, financially. And it's taking a toll on me, too."

"I know I should stay strong," she says bleakly. "And it's true I don't want to die. I want to live. I want to live. It makes me happy to hear Jeongmin talk about the things happening at school, even if I'm not there to see it myself. I never thought I would say this, but... I can't wait to go back. Still..." She rubs her eyes, a bitter smile flashing across her face. "What are the chances of that happening? It's pointless. And let me admit something." She takes a deep breath.

"It hurts. It hurts all over. Every single day. I know I have to be strong, but I've never been someone like that. I'm not strong, I'm a coward. I'm so sheltered that the last time I fell was when I was 8. I've never broken a bone. I never had chores I had to do at home. So, to be in this condition...it's destroying me. And if it's all for nothing– if it's just going to hurt mom, dad, and Jeongmin too – then why should I keep going?"

From there, she couldn't hold back her crying anymore, and neither could I. My eyes drip with tears as I watch the screen go black as her hand covers the camera again. Sol-ji's soft weeping in the background is the only sound I hear for a moment, before she quiets, trying to regain her composure. Then the camera slowly returns to her face.

"Well.." She wipes at her eyes, her expression returning to its numbness again. "I think... the next time the doctors ask if we want to continue the treatment...I'll convince mom and dad to end it all. I'm sure the doctors here... know how to make it quick and painless." Her gaze is empty as she looks away. "Or... if not... I could also find a way to end it myself, but I've been too much of a coward to think about that. We'll see. I'll give everything 1 more week. And then I'll do whatever I see fit.

"That's all I wanted to say. I wonder if anyone will ever even see this. How funny would it be if it turns out this phone can't even record audio anymore? Maybe it's just 10 minutes of awkward silence and a crying girl." She chuckles mirthlessly, her eyes darting to the camera again. I stare back, feeling my heart throb as I imagine her speaking to me. "But maybe it's okay to rant to myself to feel better. Maybe when I'm better, I’ll look back at these videos and laugh at how whiny I was." Even as she says these words, though, her eyes remain hopeless. "Though I doubt that'll happen."

A long pause. A small, sad smile.

"Well, I'm ending this video. I don't know if I'll have the time and energy to make another one. This might be my last one, so... goodbye." Yet she hesitates. She swallows, her finger likely hovering an inch away from the Stop button. I wait in silence with bated breath.

Then, after a few seconds...

"Mom, dad, I'm sorry for everything. Please forgive me," she chokes out, her voice breaking as she starts to cry again. "And Jeongmin, too. It's not your fault."

And then it ends. I'm left staring at the last frozen image of her. With her tearful eyes and expression twisted by grief.

Suddenly, the raging pain that I thought had subsided comes rushing back, tearing through my mind. I break down into tears and sobs, no longer having the strength to scream from heartache.

Sol-ji. It hurts to think that in your final moments, you were most worried about us of all things. That you were afraid of being a burden to us.

Did you not know how strong you were? Or the happiness that we felt just being by your side?

I think all that despairingly to myself, wishing she could hear me.

I watched her grow up, happy and safe, and it was an immeasurable joy that no one can come close to describing. A precious, invaluable blessing.

If she was a burden, then she must've been one sent from heaven, because she made our lives feel lighter than ever before. Why heaven decided to take her back, I’ll never know. But trying to save her had been the equivalent to saving ourselves.

I wish she’d realized that. I wish I told her, and I wish she’d confided her worries in me. And if not me, then anyone else would’ve been fine. Anything to keep her from crying alone in that hospital room the way she did.

Sol-ji, I want to tell her. You've apologized, and you've asked us to forgive you -- which of course, as your family, we’ll always do.

But none of this was ever your fault, either.


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Tue Feb 20, 2024 3:04 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hey there, Icy here for a quick review on this grey and windy Tuesday! I hope the weather's better wherever you are in the world.

Let's get straight into it :)

I really felt for Sol-ji in this, what a sad situation! It was a clever tenchnique to have the narrator watch back a video that she's in, because that way we as the reader get to experience the character too rather than simply be told about her which I think is was more powerful.

It did raise some questions for me though about the nature of our main character. They seem to serve as just a vehicle to get the reader to experience Sol-ji's story. I'd like to get a bit more context on them and who they are so they don't feel like just an empty plot device.

I also have to admit I got a bit more confused towards the end. I think it's mostly this section:

"Well, I'm ending this video. I don't know if I'll have the time and energy to make another one. This might be my last one, so... goodbye." Yet she hesitates. She swallows, her finger likely hovering an inch away from the Stop button. I wait in silence with bated breath.

Then, after a few seconds...

"Mom, dad, I'm sorry. Please forgive me," she chokes out, her voice breaking as she starts to cry again. "And Jeongmin, too. It's not your fault."

Is she apologising for being ill, for making a video or for something else? It sounds here like she's about to do something that will hurt them, but then there's not an obvious indication of that further on. Some ambiguity makes sense in a short story like this, but I think there was a bit too much confusion for me at the end of this.

I really enjoyed your writing style overall in this piece and will definitely be on the lookout for your other work.

Hope this was helpful!

Icy




cookiesandcream123 says...


Tysm for the review, Icy!! And yes, it was very helpful! :) You're right, sometimes I forget to explain things because I don't realize that it's unclear from the reader's POV, oof. Yeah, Sol-ji was apologizing for being ill (and also for contemplating ending everything, which she knew would hurt her family either way). The narrator was supposed to be a family member; most likely one of her parents.



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Mon Feb 19, 2024 4:35 pm
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Ley wrote a review...



Hello, Ley here to leave a review on this awesome work! I will be using my own review method today: Ley's Potato Chips Version! :D I'm trying out this review method in attempt to leave more enjoyable reviews. Let's get started and cut these potatoes, shall we? :3

Image


Turning on the Fryer!
This was a super emotional piece that kept me absolutely captivated. When Sol-ji started talking about her terminal illness... I was completely heartbroken. This was a powerful take on awareness, and how we all need to be strong in even the hardest of times. Your use of language and the way you wrote Sol-ji also contributed to this! I was blown away with how interested I was in this short story by the second paragraph! I also think it's good that you added that warning before the actual piece, as some people could find this triggering. But, alas, this short story was definitely a work of art! Lets get into the specifics.

Fry Those Potato Slices!

These were a few of my favorite lines:

Sol-ji, I want to tell her. You've apologized, and you've asked us to forgive you -- which of course, we’ll always do.

But none of this was ever your fault, either.


This was the perfect ending to this story. You showed how Sol-ji's passing effected people, especially the narrator. You did a wonderful job showing the impression it left!

"Well, I'm ending this video. I don't know if I'll have the time and energy to make another one. This might be my last one, so... goodbye." Yet she hesitates. She swallows, her finger likely hovering an inch away from the Stop button. I wait in silence with bated breath.


A tear ran down my cheek when she ended the video. It actually reminded me of Cyberbully (without the terminal illness part, of course). Either way, you did a wonderful job, once again, encapsulating emotions by using amazing word-choice. Nice job here!

Add Some Salt!

I only have one recommendation, and it's super minor. As I was reading, I couldn't figure out who the narrator was to Sol-ji. I didn't know if they were a lover, friend, acquaintance. I would've liked to know a little more information regarding that, but otherwise, this short story was perfect!

Enjoy The Crunchy Greatness!

Overall, this was an intriguing and emotional piece about the internal battles that come with a terminal illness, as well as the effect that is has on people around/close to them. I loved the premise of this story and can't wait to read more of your work in the future :D

That's it for now! Enjoy your potato chips! :D

With Love,
Ley :smt023




cookiesandcream123 says...


Heya Ley! Thanks so much for the feedback, and yess, your review was really fun to read! I will grab a potato chip...and EAT IT! >:D (*cough* Death Note reference-)
And to answer your question, the narrator was meant to be one of Solji's family members, most likely a parent. I should've made that clearer, mb x__x Thxs for reading!




Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
— G.K. Chesterton