Friday, January 18, 2013
In less than an hour I will have to kill you.
Is that the right way to say it if technically you’re already dead?
I don’t know.
A person could go crazy trying to figure out the proper words.
The thing is you died for the first time five nights ago, on our wedding night. We’d only just gotten here to our cabin when it happened. You were laughing about something I said…funny that I can’t remember what it was now. But I do know that it must’ve been a real howler of a joke because you were doubled over with tears in your eyes.
I unlocked the door and let it go open just a crack, but no more, so that I could scoop you up and then dramatically kick it in like I’d seen some guy do in a movie of the week kind of thing. I knew you would think it was silly and then endearing and so I was over the moon happy to do it. I remember working to gather your dress into my fingers so that I could walk without tripping. Then I did manage to kick the door in with the kind of flourish I was hoping for. It slammed against the wall of the cabin and you squealed.
But before we made it over the threshold this thing charged at us. My first thought was: Bear! My knees went a little weak and I took a step backwards, prepared to run as best I could with you in my arms--knowing all the time that we wouldn't be able to run fast enough. Looking back I wish that’s what it had been. At least then this would all be over and I wouldn’t be here staring at you, waiting for you to open your eyes.
When his teeth sunk into the meat of your forearm I realized it was a man, but his face…it was mangled, the skin hanging off in places like pieces of old wall paper dangling from a bone wall. I had this momentary debate in my mind about what to do. Keep you in my arms and try to wrench your arm from his teeth or put you down with him still attached so I could get my hands on him properly? In the end it was a little of both and you dropped to the floor, the sleeve of your dress stained red with blood. I punched him, but it barely slowed him down.
He came at me again and again while you sat on the floor, your mouth a perfect O, your hand clamped over the bite.
Screaming, screaming, screaming.
I punched and hit and kicked, but he wouldn’t stop. Then I saw the ax by the fireplace. I yelled for you to turn away and you did and I swung it into his chest.
The ax was sharp. It slid in easily, stopping only when it hit his rib cage. But still, he came, pushing on the ax, driving it deeper into his chest, snapping the bones so that he could get closer to me, his jaws snapping.
I put my foot on his stomach and pulled the ax out, all the while picturing King Arthur pulling that sword from the stone and feeling like something inside of me was breaking. It was a movie scene. It couldn’t be real life. Still, I reared back and brought the ax down again, this time into his skull, the sweet spot that’s supposed to permanently stop those like him—I can’t say the word for what he is--you are--even now.
He went down almost immediately.
A few hours later you were feverish.
I wanted to take you down the mountain to town, but it was snowing hard by then. The road was buried in the first hour. And we left our phones at home, didn’t we? All part of the “off the grid” honeymoon we’d planned. How could we have known?
You died before the night was over and by dawn you were standing up again. At first…well, I hoped it was a miracle. But then you came for me like he did. I couldn’t stop you, not the way I did him. I just pushed you out into the snow and shut the door. I barricaded myself in, busted up the small kitchen table and covered the sole window with it. You pounded on the cabin for hours. Then you walked around it. Over and over and over.
It was cold so I built a fire in the fireplace. You were in just your wedding gown, a long sleeved, crimson splattered mass of tulle and netting. I’ve been wondering if you could feel the cold. If you do now.
You were lying down, half buried in snow when I finally worked up the nerve to open the door. I made myself get closer to you and then I touched your arm. It was marble beneath my fingers, all smooth and hard. You looked like one of those sleeping princesses—what were their names? I can’t seem to remember now. You still do. If I lean over and kiss your lips will your skin flush and your eyes flutter open? Will you be you the way you were before the bite?
But no! That’s a fairytale. It’s not our story. I know that, of course I know it. Ours is a tragedy steeped in horror. There won’t be a happy ending, not now.
It didn’t take long to figure out that the cold kept you from, um, waking up. So I’ve done my best to keep you buried in it for the past few days. What else could I do?
I did almost drive away yesterday. Hopped in the car, let the engine turn over. The roads down are clear now. I could just drive away. But what would I tell your parents? What if you wandered after me and found the town down there?
No, I know what I have to do. And I will do it. I will.
Your finger just twitched. I swear it did. I run into the house to get the ax. I don’t like how it feels in my hands though. I can’t get my grip right. I can’t…your eyes are opening.
Oh god, they’re the same shade of brown.
I thought…I hoped that they would be black or red or just different somehow after all these days out here, but you look too much like you.
Was I wrong?
You lean up on one arm and the crown of rose buds in your hair falls to the ground. You watch it, your head cocked to one side. There’s something so sweet, so gentle and so inherently you in the movement that I feel the the wall of ice I've been building around my heart these past few days shatter.
I let my hands slip from the ax and close my eyes.
Story by: Amy Christine Parker