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Sonjia lies on the clean worn floor of the living room, her life seeping from the bullet hole in her chest. Somehow, she is aware that the bullet is lodged and thus her life forfeit. There isn’t a healer for miles that possesses either the know how or the equipment to remove it from her chest cavity safely. Her mother, Lucy would have been her best bet but she been kidnapped at gun point by men who want the knowledge in her head, the designs for her portable water filtration system. Sonjia groans as the weight of knowing that her mother’s cleverness is the very reason their town is being raided settles on her spirit.

Dying is harder than she thought it would be. There is more time to think, regret, take stock then she would like. She cycles through the usual wishes of having been better, nicer, truer to both her mother and Mari. Her limited view of the floor and stubbed legs of the ugly couch that she used to sleep on blurs with agony as she pictures her willful, stubborn, wonderful little sister now out there in this poisoned world alone.

“Please come, please. Set me free of this misery,” she begs of the Grim Reaper, willing him with all that she has left to release her.

A warm hand clasps the shoulder pointed to the ceiling and the other slides behind her head sinking into her hair, cradling the bones of her skull. Her life is making its final march across her nerves setting them each and every one atingle. Smooth lips kiss her temple and humid air warms her ear as he whispers, “I can give you what you want or save you. What would you have me do?”

Tears prick and trickle from the crusted corners of her eyes. She didn’t expect the Grim to be so kind, so gentle.

He turns her, cradling her in his lap and if she could laugh she would, because only in this world would the Grim take the shape of the boy she knows she already loves but can now never have and is strangely relieved that the Grim is showing some cruelty.

“I can save you, but you mustn’t do it for me, because…” he trails off, reluctant.

“Because we can never be,” she says closing her eyes letting fate take the reins. She is so very tired, of fighting, of keeping it together, of being. As she lets go she leaves behind in his arms nothing more than a façade, a mere shell of who she was, who she could have been.

Previous Entries to this Darkening Tale: When We Miss (1), Grin and Grind (2)Industrial Blue (3)Sugar Plum Fairies (4),Gently, Gently (5)Spiderlings (6), Tiles (7).

Inspired by Write at the Merges Smash-Up of: La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have, an dthe picture below.


Bancroft Tower, Worcester, MA, courtesy of Hillarie Jason via Esty.