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Death Came Knocking
Her eyes were like the stars to me.
The stars used to guide me through the dark,
But now the clouds are too thick,
And my stars are gone.
I had always treasured Clara. She was my best friend and she was also my wife.
We shared our thoughts and feelings every night before we went to sleep. There were no secrets between us, and everyone used to say that happiness lit our faces whenever we were together. We were inseparable, so we were forever smiling, despite the fact that I was all she had, and she was all I had. No money to speak of, no children to wander around our home, laughing and smiling. No business, no nothing. Just a house empty of everything but a bed, bathroom and kitchen.
Yet, she somehow managed to take me by surprise when that remarkably sharp old kitchen knife made its way into her chest, forced by her own hand. I watched as she screamed in agony, and crumpled to the ground. I felt like it was just a joke, because she would have no reason to kill her self, but I realised with horror that it had been no joke. She was really trying to separate us.
My heart pounded, the beats ringing in my ears. She was writhing on the cool tile floor and I saw my shaking hands extend toward her on their own account. Her eyes shut, her teeth clenched, her hands covered in blood, her breathing slowing…
Death knocked on our front door then.
I couldn’t bring myself to move from my standing position in the doorway of the kitchen, so he let himself in. He blindfolded me in an act of decency as he took her soul away from her body and sent it to where I desperately hoped was heaven. The sounds of his movements in my kitchen were so terrifying that I became numb. Moments later, I felt a rushing whoosh! as her soul ascended to wherever it was going, and then the sight-stealing cloth was removed from my head and I found myself standing face to face with Death.
His eyes were not one colour, but a million. They were piercing my soul, and I felt as though I would never break his crushing stare. His cloak, however, was somehow more extraordinary in its supernatural brilliance, covering his slight figure from head to toe, leaving only his eyes visible as they shone through the darkness. It stole my attention as I felt him tug at me from the inside when he spoke into my mind.
“You can go too,” He whispered to me, his voice surprisingly pleasant. Perhaps it always sounded that way when dying did not seem like such a bad idea. “It is not too late. What is your choice, Nathaniel James Hooksbury? Will you allow me to reunite you with your beloved Clara? Or do you choose to remain here, in this life?”
Her name burned through my very essence, and though it had only been moments since her horrific suicide, it already felt like I’d lived an eternity without her. I missed her so much that it ached.
Out of fear, I shook my head at the frightening figure, refusing his offer.
“Very well, frightened little man, I will see you again.” However, before he could mysteriously vanish, I took a hold of his long, dark cloak that was made of the most fascinating material. It was only in a moment of overwhelming curiosity that my life was stolen from me.
My body fell to the floor, and I stood there as a ghost, watching it drop like a pin. I didn’t understand why I felt like I was in a dream, but the thought that watching your own body fall to the ground was not normal never occurred to me. I just looked up at Death, then down at my body and back to the cloaked figure again before I ran from that room to lock myself in the basement, where all I would be able to see was darkness. Where all I would do is curl up, and wait for Death to finally come back, breaking down the door of my inescapable misery
Months passed down in the black abyss.
I said nothing. I did nothing. I ate nothing. I did not move. I did not do anything.
This is my living death.
The stars used to guide me through the dark,
But now I wonder if there were ever really stars at all.
Time became an illusion, and I felt my hope of ever finding reason to leave this blackness slip away.
I had realised long ago that I was no longer alive, nor was I dead. I just existed without purpose. I had no reason. Nothing to motivate me to move from my deep and dark corner. I just lived in the memory of Clara’s death. Stab, stab, stab. She had stabbed both our hearts to death that day. I could not comprehend her actions, so forever I existed in confusion and pain. There was nothing else.
It was not long after I had run from Death that I realised he would never come back to end my misery. There was no escaping from this horrendous joke.
My name lost its meaning as well. Clara had been the reason it meant anything, and now, as she left, so did its value. “Nathaniel James,” She would say to me, making my heart jolt when she spoke my name. “Nathaniel, you will never be alone.” But how could I believe her, when she was the one who cast this loneliness upon me? Had my own wife, who I held so close to my heart, who knew my past as well as I did, and fulfilled all my needs, created one gigantic hole in me? She took my heart, and broke it to pieces. How could she leave me?
I felt so empty of hope that there was no use for tears.
I resolved to wallow in my misery for I was as guilty as Clara in causing this to happen. I could not make her happy, the one I loved the most, so how could I deserve to be happy?
I fell into a slumber, and stayed in it for many long years. Exhausted and isolated, I slept, but even in unconsciousness, I was conscious of my loss.
My ears pricked at the sound of a piano, breathing soft notes in the house above me, bringing me out of my state of sleep. It was not a tune I recognised, and though I remembered what happened last time I allowed curiosity to get the better of me, I let it reign over me again. It pulled me out of the darkness of the basement, my body not feeling like my own as I moved, and into an oddly familiar house. I realised with a jolt that it once belonged to me, many moons ago. I wandered around, observing the changes.
It was no longer just a house. It had become a home. It was colourful and warm, and I longed for the warmth of love again. I felt as though I had no choice but to live in a permanent state of silence and pain, and that I could never have my love back, for I could never be good enough for Clara.
Moving on from my observations and avoiding the kitchen, I followed the tinkering harmony of the song being played on the piano, I found myself wandering into a lounge room that must have been added during my absence.
Furniture decorated the room, and a soft carpet lay beneath my feet, but the most breathtaking white grand piano was placed in the far corner of the sweetly scented room.
A woman sat on the stool with her back to me.
I could hear her sobs, and almost feel the cool tears running down her cheek. She was old, and fragile, and I wondered what reason she had to cry.
Walking around the piano, I looked upon her face, into her eyes, and had the breath knocked out of me as I recognized with absolute certainty who’s they were.
Even with the tears trying to barricade me from seeing them properly, I could see the stars in her eyes.
She looked up at me, and I saw that she was as I. Not dead, but not alive either. A ghost.
Clara spoke to me, her voice ringing in my ears, “I’ve been waiting for you to come back. Welcome home, Nathaniel James.”
I think I just felt my heart beat again.
Her eyes are the stars
And they shine brightly in my night sky,
Guiding me through this impossible eternity.