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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4. cesser de

Though the snow keeps falling, Mortimer hasn’t come around since the day at the hospital. I know he’s near—I’ve even tried saying his name to get him to appear—but he doesn’t make an appearance. I stare at the gray sky that oddly resembles his cold eyes a bit too much for my liking every time I’m outside. I would say it’s a new habit, but I’ve done it since the first day I met him.

I keep flicking my lighter in hopes that even a spark will come out to light my cigarette, but nothing happens. I want to scream when I throw the lighter at the wall. It bounces off to land in the snow that’s actually still write, unharmed from the thirty different cars that drive over it. I make another noise before standing up to go fetch it.

A nurse in coral scrubs and an overly thick arctic jacket rushes pass me—probably to get out of the freezing snow—but she stops when she sees me picking up my lighter with my crushed cigarette between my chapped lips. She makes this horrendous face, her dull features twisting in disgust, and I can already see the statement coming before she even opens mouth. I stare at her, debating what a polite version of “fuck off” would be because I’m hardly in the mood to hear a lecture from someone I don’t even know.

I can’t think fast enough apparently because then she says, “You should quit smoking. It’s really bad for you.”

I could swear that I hear Mortimer chuckle near me.

“Yeah, I know,” I say tensely, instead of saying what I really want to say. I’m so tired of hearing that smoking is bad for me and that I should quit; I’m slowly losing what little patience I have left.

She leaves as quickly as she had stopped, leaving me to scowl at her back. I sit back down on the wet curb—not caring that my dirty jeans get damp—and try again in vain to light my cigarette. I let out another groan of frustration just as someone sits next to me, but I don’t have to look to see who it is.

Mortimer rests his arms lazily over his knees as I give up. I shove the lighter back in my pocket, trying so hard not to throw it away again. I don’t turn to look at the grim reaper sitting next to me because I’m not even sure what to say to him. Even if I did, I’m not even sure he would respond to me.

The silence between us is thick and uncomfortable, seemingly full of death—as if living in a hospital isn’t enough. I have to hang out with it, too, when I’m trying to smoke. Except I couldn’t get the stupid lighter to work so I’m twisting my fingers nervously, debating whether or not I should go back inside because Mortimer hasn’t said anything. I don’t, though, for some unknown reason.

“Long day?” he asks. His voice is still hollow. I hate it. I hate the way he asks, too. Sarcasm is leaking out under his tone; the snarky and highly amused sarcasm, but he’s so intent on not showing any emotion that when I snap my head to look at him sharply, he’s staring at the cars driving by blankly.

So instead of sitting there and glaring at him as if I can set him on fire to use him as a lighter to light my cigarette, I reply heatedly, “Kill any more innocent people today?”

Mortimer just rolls his head back to look at me, catching my eyes. I shiver, desperately trying to pull my jacket around me tighter as if the chills underneath the three layers of thick clothing will go away if I curl into myself more. I look away from him—with much struggle—and stare at the grimy snow underneath my old shoes. He still doesn’t answer me and a part of me is incredibly happy that he didn’t because I don’t think I can take the answer.

It’s another thick and heavy silence between us as he watches the sky and I watch my shoes as I tap them together in an unsteady rhythm for a few minutes.

Suddenly, Mortimer slams his hand down on my shoe hard. “Stop it. That’s annoying.”

I blink, looking at him. His face is still blank but his brows are pulling together, forming a crease on his forehead, and his eyes are narrowed. The expression could be taken as annoyance and frustration easily. I part my lips to say something, but nothing comes spilling out. I’m not even sure what I want to say because he’s still gripping my shoe tightly. I look down when I consider smashing my shoes together to crush his fingers, but he’s not wearing his gloves and that makes me stop. I wonder if he can do me any more harm than he already has if he touches me.

“When someone’s already dying and you touch them, does it do anything?” I ask aloud. Mortimer releases my shoe quickly, snapping his hand back. He has this look on his face—like maybe I ask too many questions, and I probably do. Every time he’s around, I feel like I’m asking at least one question. He’s clearly capable of getting annoyed so I consider the possibility that I might be pissing him off with all my questions. Could he kill me right here if he wanted?

“No,” he answers, shortly.

Then he’s gone before I can open my mouth to reply and tell him to touch me.

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