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



6. quand vous venez annulée

After the nurse called my mother that day, she refused to leave by side—drinking cup after cup of bitter coffee. I tell my mother to stop and go home to sleep because I’ll be okay but she always places her frail hand on my leg, biting back a yawn, and shakes her head. She tells me she’s okay but staring at her constantly makes me wonder if she’s going to die shortly after me. She makes me wonder if Mortimer will use her as his next victim.

Soon, I grow weary of the constant check-ups and watching my mother down six cups of black coffee in two hours so I get up to go outside. My mother knows where I’m going, quickly looking away to pretend she didn’t see me double check my jacket pockets to know my cigarettes and lighter were tucked deep inside. I know it pains her, but I don’t know how to explain to her how much it hurts to be alive anymore.

I lean against the brick wall when I burrow myself in the shadows, slowly sliding down. I rest my arms on my legs, bowing my head down and closing my eyes. I sigh heavily to myself before stretching my legs out and pulling a cigarette out. Here’s to hoping my shit lighter works. I duck my head down to cup my hand around the flame quickly, scared that if it goes out, it won’t light again.

I look up after I light the cigarette, wanting to laugh bitterly when I find Mortimer standing in front of me. His eyes are blank—gray orbs of nothingness—as he stares at me. He keeps his hands clasped together behind his back. I stare at his pasty face, lingering on his faintly purple lips. I watch as he blinks slowly, shadows from his lashes casting across his cheekbones because of the cold light above us, before letting my head hit back on the wall.

Is my room even high enough to kill me if I jump out of the window?

“When I asked you if you wanted to die, you said you didn’t.” I look back at Mortimer but his eyes are casted up at the sky again. He licks his lips slowly when a snowflake rests gently on the skin of his mouth. I turn my attention to my cigarette sharply, watching the ember burn pointlessly. I’ve wasted another cigarette because of him. “You said you didn’t want to die and now all your thoughts are suicidal. Isn’t smoking suicide enough for you?”

I can’t look at him because I’ll fall apart. I blink back tears. I feel as if my soul is breaking inside, slowly shattering into pieces as if made of glass—fragile glass that never had a chance the second Mortimer stepped into my life. I clamp my hand over my mouth like it’ll make a difference when I feel the cries bubbling up again. I’m so sick of crying, but it’s slowly starting to feel like that’s all I do anymore. I feel so vulnerable and fragile.


I snap my head up at the sound of my name being called by a familiar voice and when I glance around me, Mortimer is gone again. I want to scream at whoever is calling my name, but I’m not sure how much crazier I can seem to the people in the hospital before they ship me off to a mental institute and find a way to treat me there.

I hear my name again so I flick my cigarette away and rub my eyes as I stand up. I have to bite my tongue harshly to keep from groaning out when Samuel comes into view. He seems overly happy that he’s found me out here, a bounce in his step and a sickly animated grin on his face. I honestly believe I’m going to be sick when he finally stops in front of me and lets out this heavy breath as if he had been jogging to come hang out with me.

I wouldn’t be too surprised if he had.

“Hi,” he breathes. “How are you?”

I study him for a second and bite back the scowl as I say between my teeth, “I could be better.”

Samuel laughs as if I’ve told some hilarious joke and looks at me like he’s expecting me to smile with him, but I cringe instead and step around him to walk inside. He doesn’t waste a moment in catching up with me. He’s standing too damn close to me for my liking, which gives me the urge to turn around and push him back eight steps because I can’t take feeling his body heat even through the three layers of clothing we’re both wearing.

“It’s like we live in Alaska,” Samuel says. He laughs again, but it’s a little more awkwardly than before because I don’t crack a smile, only sparing him a single glance as I continue walking. “You know, because it’s been snowing for—”

“Yeah, I got it,” I snap. I know I shouldn’t be rude to the boy because he’s just trying to be nice but everything about him is slowly getting under my skin. He’s too happy—too jolly as if he isn’t walking through the hallways of a hospital that’s smothered in death around every corner. He acts as if he’s at a fair where it’s a place to have fun. Doctors are clowns and nurses are cotton candy sellers. Get me the hell out here.

After five minutes of silence—from the walk to the elevator and the entire ride up to the eighth floor—Samuel decides to make conversation again, mumbling, “Why are you here?”

And I can’t take it. I can’t take it at all, so I turn around sharply in front of him, making him stumble before he can manage to halt completely and not run into me. “I have lung cancer. It’s too far along for there to be anything done and all the people here are feeding me lies but I know better. I know death personally and I know that this entire place is bullshit. So leave me alone and be miserable for once because this isn’t a place to be happy.”

Samuel’s mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water a few times before I get inside of my room and slam my door shut. My mother stands there, with her arms crossed tensely over her chest, when I turn around.

“Kerra, I get it. You are miserable and unhappy here—you’re depressed, even. But that’s no reason for you to make everyone else miserable. Clearly, this boy is trying to remain positive in a place of negativity. Just because you’re miserable doesn’t mean you have to make everyone else miserable,” she states softly. I stare at her blankly. “Maybe if you try to be more optimistic, you can get through this instead of thinking there’s no point!”

“That’s what you want,” I retaliate, grinding my teeth. I can feel the throb behind my eyeballs as the blood rushes to my head. I want everyone to just leave me alone—let me die in peace. There’s no point. “I want to die.”

“Don’t say that! Don’t say that, Kerra!” my mother cries. She reaches for me, wrapping her arms around me as if I had started crying and need comfort. I had run out of tears to shed when Mortimer said there was nothing he could do to make it go quicker. I’m completely dry, incapable of crying anymore. “You don’t want to die. You just don’t know what—”

“You don’t get it!” I scream. I rip my body out of her frail arms, taking three steps back towards my bed. “I don’t want you here, wasting your time. I’m going to be the death of you because you don’t sleep and you survive off coffee. I don’t want it like this! I just want to be left alone to die. This is all pointless. There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing these stupid doctors and nurses can do. I know my fate and I’ve accepted it! So why can’t you?”

She stares at me like Samuel did, but as her features twist into pain and sorrow, my chest clenches and makes it feel as if a steel fist as gripped my heart and is squeezing it so tightly that I can’t breathe. I cover my mouth to bury the coughs starting to emit as my mother continues to stare at me. I can tell that I’ve shattered her world—I’ve broken her fragile heart into pieces like my entire soul is. I’ve hurt her. And as she turns to leave the room, she clamps her hand over her mouth like I have and tries her best not to start crying when I can still see her.

So I crumble.

I crumble to the floor, coughing and wheezing though I thought I had run dry of tears. I bury my face in my hands and sob. I sob more when I feel cold arms wrap around me in a vain attempt to make me stop crying.

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