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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3. seules les jolies

The snow starts falling again. My mother gets annoyed, questioning why the hell it started to snow again after three months of finally starting to melt slowly, but I cast my gaze outside the hospital window to watch the elegant snowflakes fall to the ground silently. When my mother leaves to get coffee for herself—grumbling and cursing—Mortimer is standing in the corner of the room with his hands locked behind his back.

“Do you ever kill people with the snow you cause?” I ask without looking at him. From my peripheral vision, I can see black moving—like a shadows threatening to reach out for me—as he edges closer to the window to peer down at the parking lot. Some children are playing in the snow happily, away from the dirty slush on the concrete, and adults are looking up at the sky as if asking why.

“Sometimes,” he answers finally. His voice still sounds hollow and echoes in the room loudly though the one word was spoken softly with his raspy voice.

When I look at him again, I open my mouth to say something, but he’s just staring at me.

Mortimer looks at me blankly, studying me carefully like he always used to. He doesn’t say another word to me. It doesn’t even look like he wants to talk anymore and I’ve settled on the fact that I’m only going to get an occasional word out of him—if I’m lucky, a full sentence. We stare at each other for a few more seconds before I turn my gaze down to the ugly green tiles of my hospital room. I want Mortimer to go away—to just leave me alone because I’m tired of feeling death on my shoulders. I’m tired of being reminded of my fate.

When I look up because the door has opened, Mortimer is gone and my mother is walking into the room with a white Styrofoam cup clutched between her frail hands. To be honest, she looks like crap because she has dark circles under her eyes and she’s probably lost as much weight as I have. I know it’s my fault, but I try to tell her that I’ll be okay. She sits tensely on the plastic chair next to my bed with a heavy sigh, “How are you feeling?”

“Okay,” I reply. It’s kind of a lie because I feel like I’m about to cough up a lung and it hurts more to bite back the coughs than it does to actually cough. I’m scared of hacking up blood in front of her like I’ve done before. “Did you sleep any last night?”

She shakes her head, looking down at the black coffee in her cup. I wonder for a moment when she started drinking her coffee so bitter. I used to say she liked a little coffee with her sugar, but now there’s no sugar in her coffee at all.

I half expect Mortimer to come out of the shadows in the corner of the room and kiss my mother (or just touch her like he did my flower once) then have the doctors tell her she’s dying of heart failure or something stupid. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned from both life and Mortimer, it’s that you never know what’s next and be sure to expect anything.

“I wish your dad was here,” she says suddenly. Her tone is thick like she’s trying to swallow honey roughly. Her eyes are too saddened for me to look straight at her, so I look the other way—towards the window again where the sun is slowly setting behind the tree line. The snow is still falling, which makes me want to sigh because it means Mortimer is still around somewhere. “I’m sorry, Kerra. I don’t mean to upset you. I’m going to go call your brother.”

She leaves her cup of black coffee on the table when she leaves, closing the heavy wooden door behind her softly. I try not to cry.

Mortimer comes around shortly after again, standing at the end of my bed. I look up and sigh. “Do you get your kicks out of haunting me or something? I get that you’re bored of having to wait for me to die, but it’s really—”

He cuts me off, seemingly craving to ask, “Do you want to die?”

It throws me off that he’s asking, making me close my agape mouth and look down to my hands picking at the loose thread on the blanket. I narrow my eyes on the diamond pattern, shaking my head sluggishly. “Of course I don’t want to die.” Why are you asking me this? I don’t have a choice.

“Then why do you smoke when you know that it’ll do nothing but make you worse?” he asks. He sounds sincerely curious, and I get why. I truly do. Many people would fight strongly for their lives, despite knowing that it’ll probably be pointless in the end. He’s probably used to watching his victims fight—tooth and nail, down to their dying breath. Instead, I sit and smoke until I’m coughing so hard that I’m utterly convinced I’m about to puke out a blackened and shriveled up lung.

“I don’t know,” I answer, honestly. My mother kept asking me why I was doing it to myself, taking my cigarettes from me and shoving them into her purse with tears in her eyes. I didn’t want to hurt her but at the same time, I didn’t want to give up my smoking habit. “I guess I just know that there’s really no way around it. I don’t want to die, but I know that I’m going to no matter what I do.”

Mortimer nods, his eyes casting away to the window.

It falls quiet, so I sit there and pick at the thread of my thin blanket again. I twist it around my finger tightly until the tip starts to turn purple. Sometimes I look up at Mortimer, expecting him to be gone but he’s still there, watching the snowflakes fall as if it were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Death must be beautiful to him.

I think of my mother and how heartbroken she is—more so that I don’t fight it and have just fallen into it. I’m going to be the death of her, unsurprisingly so. I’m going to be the death of that woman. Upon thinking of my mother (morbidly) I look over at Mortimer, his body completely still. I study him, questions on the tip of my tongue that I’m barely able to bite back. So I ask carefully, “Do you kiss all the people you’re killing?”

Mortimer looks up to the sky outside and I nod my head instinctively, knowing I’m not going to get an answer to a rather ridiculous question because he’s already talked enough as it is. But he looks at me, dead in the eye making me want to cry.

“Only the pretty ones.”

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