Bella Morte

"I dream of a grave, deep and narrow, where we could clasp each other in our arms as with clamps, and I would hide my face in you and you would hide your face in me, and nobody would ever see us any more." —Franz Kafka

(http://www.mibba.com/Stories/Read/446872/Bella-Morte/)

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5. ce qui reste de moi

I don’t see my mother for a few days because she’s working to keep my family afloat since my father has seemingly camped out in the basement at home permanently. A part of me is angry with him because I haven’t seen him since the day the doctors suggested that I “move into” the hospital to receive better treatment and lower the chances of something “dangerous” happening. So instead of my mother keeping me company, I have Mortimer looming over my shoulder almost constantly. I feel he never leaves anymore—it makes me feel worse, like my time is coming soon. I feel like I cough more and more every day Mortimer’s around me.

I try not to ask so many questions because his brows pin together in that slightly annoyed expression that he had when I tapped my shoes together, so I shut my mouth quickly when the expression starts. I’m afraid that if I annoy him too much, he’ll leave me—I hate being alone. Mortimer isn’t my first choice if I had an option in choosing who to stay with me during the lonely days in my hospital room, but when my mother is working overtime, my father never visits, and my brother is three states over for college, I don’t have much of a choice. I settle with Mortimer.

And I like when he calls me Bones—though, I’ll never tell him that.

Mortimer is standing by the window again, staring at the falling flakes, and I’m twisting the thread of my blanket around my finger tightly again, trying to control the coughing. It’s scratching at my throat painfully. It didn’t used to be this hard to bite them back—it didn’t always hurt this much to push it back. Holding it back is making my lungs hurt because I keep holding my breath. I wheeze loudly.

I decide I need a distraction so I turn to Mortimer, licking my dry lips before asking, “Why do you call me Bones?”

He doesn’t reply to me—hell, he doesn’t even turn to me or show that he had heard what I said. I nod mostly to myself as I start playing with the thread on my blanket again. I’m trying desperately to swallow back the coughs in my throat, though it’s starting to hurt to an unbearable point. I give in. I can’t bite and swallow them back any longer, falling into a coughing fit that’s making my lungs hurt. My throat feels like I’m coughing up sandpaper as I throw my legs over the edge of the bed to sit up properly.

I can feel it coming—the blood rising up my throat. I can taste the metallic in the back of my mouth. I try desperately to clamp my hand over my mouth as if that’ll stop it, but it doesn’t do anything. I cough more—strangled sobs emitting from my mouth in the mess of it all—until I’m hacking more blood into my palm. I wonder momentarily if a nurse from the hallway will come, but no one comes.

I forget that Mortimer is there until something cold wraps around my wrist, pulling my hand away from my mouth. I try to stop coughing—making noises that could be taken as if I were dying scratching against my esophagus—and I try to swallow back the blood on my tongue, uncomfortable with what’s on my palm that’s being held in the air. I can’t do either as Mortimer’s bare fingers dig into my wrist painfully. The coughing starts to hurt more, so I choked and the blood starts to run down my chin, onto my cotton shirt that the hospital gave me. I reach up to cover my mouth with my other hand but he grabs that wrist, too.

“Mor–Morti–stop,” I choke, wheezing. I twist my wrists in his hands. Despite the iciness of his grip, it still burns as my skin rubs painfully in his firm grip. “I need…oh god, I–I need a nurse.”

I gasp for air, wishing desperately that he would let go so I can wipe my mouth. He leans forward as I cough again and jerk my wrists to rip them out of his locked grasp. I can feel his cold breath on my mouth, making me freeze all together. I wonder for a split second if he’s going to take the pain away and kiss me, but suddenly, someone is barreling into the room and Mortimer is letting go of me, making me fall to the floor in surprise because I had put what little strength I had into trying to tug my wrists out of his cold hands.

No, no, no, come back. Mortimer, come back. Don’t leave me alone.

A boy walks over, concern making his features twist. “Are you okay?” He pauses, looking me over. Then he’s shaking his head, “Oh god, of course you’re not okay. I’ll get a nurse.”

The unknown boy walks out of the room in a hurry and I glance around, looking for Mortimer but he’s gone. He isn’t around and I feel weak on the floor—I feel broken. I know it’s because of Mortimer that I’m dying, but that didn’t mean I wanted him gone. I was already dying, so what harm could he do to me anymore? I wanted him. I didn’t want to be alone. I couldn’t be alone. I wanted Mortimer.

Maybe that makes me twisted because he’s death himself. He’s quite literally death in living (undead?) form. Wanting him around is like wanting to live in a graveyard, building little comfortable places against the gravestones and holding Mortimer’s hand. Wanting him to be around me while I’m in the hospital is like wishing I was dead so he would never leave. I know this—god, I know this. I consider the idea of asking to be checked into the psych ward of the hospital, too, because surely this can’t be healthy. Maybe it’s a part of just falling into my fate rather than fighting it. Maybe a part of me is just hoping Mortimer will put me out of my misery and kill me quicker. It would make all the pain go away, for me and my loved ones.

The mysterious boy that had seemingly come out nowhere and let himself in my room comes back with a panicked nurse, medicine in hand. He picks me up off the floor without even saying anything—never mind asking if I could do it myself or giving me a chance to—and sets me on the bed for the nurse. She starts talking to me, but she sounds muffled as if I’m being held underwater while she talks above on the shore. My eyes burn when she forces an oxygen mask on my face. I want to rip it off and throw it at her face, but I’m too heavy now. I feel too sluggish.

The boy doesn’t leave, much to my dismay. Instead, he stays by the side of my bed and introduces himself as Samuel. (“I’m in the room next to yours. It’s why I heard you coughing.”)

I don’t say anything to him because I just want him to go away. I want them both to go away. I look over at the window, staring intently at the falling snowflakes. For a split second, I wish I were one of them. I want to melt away. I want Mortimer to make me melt away because I’m tired of hurting. There has to be some way.

I sink deeper into the bed, ignoring the two people on either side of my bed. They’re hurting my head as they talk to each other. I want the pain of coughing and hacking up blood to stop—I want Mortimer to kiss me again in hopes that he’ll suck the life out of me. I glance around the room again, debating on either using the IV cord to choke myself or injecting whatever medication I can get my hands on. I don’t want to be alive anymore.

Samuel asks the nurse what my name is because I don’t reply to him, seemingly entranced with the wall in front of me. It’s not that I didn’t hear him because I did—he’s too loud to ignore. I just want him to go away.

“Her name is Kerra, sweetie,” the nurse says, her tone making my stomach clench uneasily because it’s too fake—too sugary to hear in a hospital. I don’t bother to look at them because I want them to get out of my room but the nurse is still poking and prodding my arm with needles.

Samuel keeps talking to me, making me bite down on the inside of my cheek so I don’t scream at him to go away. I want to be alone. I need to be alone because I need Mortimer to come back to me. I need Mortimer. I need him to kill me finally because there has to be a way. He’s the grim reaper—there has to be a way that he hasn’t told me about because he likes to watch his victims suffer. I can’t take it anymore.

Samuel takes the hint—he goes away and the nurse follows shortly after. I want to cry out when I roll over in my bed, burying my face. The sheets smell too much of bleach, like desperate attempts to wash away blood; desperate attempts to scrub the rest of someone’s soul out of the threads. I breathe through my mouth as I keep my face half-buried.

Suddenly, the bed sinks under a weight of someone, making me roll over and jerk up. My face almost crashes into Mortimer’s shoulder. He looks at me blankly when I look up at his face. He doesn’t even blink when I reach for his jacket to cling to him in desperation as I beg, “Kill me. Please just kiss me again or something. Just please kill me. It hurts and I don’t want this anymore. I can’t do this to my family and I can barely do this to myself. I can’t fight it; I know I can’t, so please. Kill me. There has to be a way for you to.” I reach for his hands, tugging his gloves off. I wait for him to stop me as I’m doing it, but he doesn’t. I throw them on the bed next to me, pressing his icy hands to my flushed and wet cheeks. “Mortimer, please, just take what’s left of me.”

Mortimer doesn’t say anything. It feels as if times ticks slowly as the silence falls on us. I open my mouth to beg again, gripping his hands tighter against my face, but he pulls them away easily. He pulls his hands away slowly—ignoring my pleas as I reach for them again—and stands up. He walks to the window again, curling and unfurling his fingers into fists repeatedly. He shakes his head, “I can’t, Bones. It doesn’t work like that.”

“There has to be a way!” I scream. My voice cracks and echoes in the heavy air that’s weighing on my shoulders.

He just shakes his head and says emotionlessly, “There’s not. You die when your body gives out.”

I start shaking my head—in denial or disappointment, I don’t know—and cover my face with my hands, heaving another choked and muffled sob into my palms. I slowly crawl back onto my stomach blindly, jerking the pillow down more to bury my face pathetically. And I lay there, with no point left in my pleas, sobbing until I can’t breathe and my gasps for air are slowly turning into more coughing.

I can’t continue hurting my mother, I can’t continue leaving my father to think my cancer is his fault because he smoked around me often, I can’t take never seeing my brother even though it’s not his fault. I can’t handle Mortimer hovering around me constantly, reminding me of what’s to come just to make me suffer more through the process. I can’t take the hospital suffocating me or the ugly mint green tiles that are invisibly—but definitely—stained of blood from people that died here, their souls seemingly haunting the eerie halls that reek of medicine and death.

I can’t handle it anymore. I want to die finally.

I feel Mortimer standing above me, watching me cry like a child into my pillow, but I can’t stop. There is no on and off button for the rush of emotions that have overwhelmed me, leading me to wail pathetically into a pillow that smells too much like bleach and faintly of death.

I feel his cold fingers feather against the nape of my neck, catching stray strands of hair and tugging painfully when he moves his hand. I cry more, despite the burning scratch of coughs.

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