A violent Death was there for my mother. He squeezed her lungs and bruised her arms. I saw a sore on the bridge of her nose. He waited while cancer eviscerated her. She didn’t die.
I know, because I saw. You see, I am a death too. A she/her pronoun death. A sophisticated death, if you will. Not big and loud like him. I’m a gentle, while you are sleeping, slip away type.
And before I was a death, I was her daughter. Trained as a psychiatrist. Then, they said not to invest in one’s own death. Because it stifled motivation.
After my death which is a story too long for these pages, I educated myself to wield the sickle, as they say. Though we are not permitted to choose who we carry over the line, I pulled some gossamer strings. Me and the Big Guy in charge were close. I used the two ears, one mouth theory. Even he wanted to be listened to, not merely heard.
And it turned out he liked to talk. About how nobody worth anything was dying these days. All the powerful kings and queens were gone. Even the pandemic hadn’t made death more exciting. He droned on. Complaining about Voo-doo, Dybbuks and La Llorona. He’d had enough with the Ghost Deaths Matter group. What a jerk.
I focused on my purpose. My duty to take care of my mommy. In a pause I whispered my mother’s name… “Babette.” It rolled off my spirit tongue like a slithering snake. I thought he hadn’t heard.
But he grunted out, “Bingo.” It was only a game for him. But no matter. I’d won over the violent Death. All competition was eliminated. Babette was mine.
I moved in, watching her day and night. My specter was as heavy as the shitty couch she lay on all day. She never went out, so I didn’t either.
One night she woke in a panic. Perhaps she will have a heart attack, I thought hungrily. I noticed that the bruises on her face had multiplied. Were they the same size as my finger pads?
But somehow, she evaded me. Just as she ignored me in life. She went without pants and shivered. Freezing in the clammy room. It was snowing out and she asked,” Where have the birds gone?”
I snuffed out her bouquet of sunflowers and consumed them. The blooms were unsatisfying, leaving me wanting more.
“Oh yes. They are dead. Throw them away,” she said fearlessly. To no one.
It was now or never. “Act and you shall become,” said the dead psychiatrist inside me. I waited until midnight, until she couldn’t breathe. Then I stuck a finger in her head, stirring her thoughts.
She opened her eyes wide. Panicking, she wet the bed. I leaned over her shrunken body and looked her in the face. I memorized my dear, difficult, living mama. The only one I would ever have.
“It’s you,” she said seeing me for the first time.
“Yes Mom, it’s me,” I replied.
Then I yanked her over.
Eliza Master began writing with crayons stored in an old cookie tin. Since then, many magazines have published her stories. Eliza’s three novellas, The Scarlet Cord, The Twisted Rope and The Shibari Knot are her published books.
She attempts to make each day better than the previous one. When Eliza isn’t writing you can find her amongst brightly colored clay pots dreaming of her next adventure.