You can read the previous part here: Part 7
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May 10, 2036
Silence. That was all Mei could hear as they clambered into the kayak. She couldn’t respond at all as her brothers got the boat ready and she simply sat down.
‘Mei Yang! Get up right this instant. You’re sitting in the wrong posture. Do you want us all to drown?’ Mei looked up as she saw her eldest brother, Bao, watching her incredulously. ‘Get up!’ Mei simply stared. She couldn’t answer, she felt sick. How had their lives come to this? Had they not come how managed to be alright? Why did this have to happen to them?
‘Hey, it’s going to be fine.’ She heard the soft voice of another one of her brothers. It was Lei. Lei meant thunder in Chinoese, but he seemed the opposite of that in the moment.
She nodded and the trail began. Trail of the Tears 2. To another fresh start, however, none knew if it would be good or bad. She settled down and clutched the paddle like it was her only hope, which it was.
Days and nights had passed like minutes and seconds or perhaps it had been only a few days, but all Mei could see was the water stretching afar. It had been days since they had eaten a decent amount- they did indeed have meals, but to save food, ‘meals’ consisted only of a few slices of fruits. They had taken very little food from home, which was their first mistake out of many.
They’d spot kayaks contains other families, sometimes with dead members floating into the distance. Mei used to feel sick seeing the death around her. People starving, drowning- it was a common occurrence. She struggled to keep the only food she had eaten all day down. At nights, everyone took turns, and Mei used to cry, perhaps as much as the water all around her. She couldn’t do so in front of her brothers, anyway.
It was another morning with the sun shining down upon them, not giving them a clue of the incidents about to follow when evening would fall. Mei’s stomach hurt with hunger.
But what was to come next no one was expecting. Mei wished they had. Things had been going too well. It was a short storm, nothing like they had seen before. Her youngest brother, Huan, had spotted a fish in the water, near enough to catch. Or maybe it was something else. They never came to know. Because when he dived inside to retrieve it, he never came out. All Mei saw before collapsing with horror was his stricken face, shouting a painful goodbye.
Mei was stricken herself. She never talked much to him, he preferred to be cooped up in his room. If only she had been persistent.
One death led to another. The leader was right- it was just like the trail of tears. A night had passed in oblivion when they had woken to find Bao, the one who was supposed to row, nowhere to be found. Mei couldn’t even react. They spent an hour or two crying, floating before Lei suggested they get to work. The trail was getting more dangerous. Mei didn’t understand what he meant by more dangerous- if this wasn’t enough. Mei wondered how long she would last.
Soon, there was nothing left to eat. Mei didn’t bother anyway- ever since Huan’s death, she had only nibbled on whatever was given to her. They ate anything that came within their grasps- even seaweed wasn’t bad. Soon, they lost pretty much all appetite. Mei watched in horror as mornings passed and her mother’s cheeks further lost their pink, and one morning, there was nothing left to lose. She had lost her life. Mei couldn’t even cry this time, she hadn’t anything left. She and Lei just spent a few hours staring at the horizon, hugging each other, making promises. But she knew- one of them would break their promise.
‘Mei?’ Lei seemed distant.
‘Lei….?’ Mei woke up yawning. Her ears suddenly pricked up. What the heck was wrong with his voice?
She saw a limp body in the boat. Someone whose suffering would end soon indeed. She couldn’t spot her mother’s body anywhere, either.
‘Lei!’ Mei jumped up. ‘Get up! What are you doing?’
‘Mei.’ He said, taking her hand whose white skin had turned golden with all the sun. A tear from her eye fell on his face. ‘No. Don’t do this to me! I deserve better.’ Mei sobbed. She was tired. This couldn’t happen to her, not now, They were so close. ‘Lei, get up!’
‘I’m going to sleep now, Mei. Good night. I’m sorry, Mei. But you go do this.’ Mei counted the seconds until he closed his eyes.
‘I love you too, Lei. Good night.’ She whispered. Lei slept like he’d never slept, and like he never needed to be awake. He couldn’t be even if it was required, anyway, thought Mei.
The first sun rays appeared behind Zealandia. Mei did not smile, she did not sigh. At this point, she didn’t care. She dragged out her brother’s body from the boat and simply looked at him. He seemed to be smiling about it.
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You can read the next part here: Part 9