First-time-your-feet-get-cold-after-a-long-summer is on my top-ten list of most uncomfortable feelings. It was at three, just below needing-the-toilet-on-a-bus, but has now moved down to four since getting-stabbed-on-a-full-stomach has just taken the place of waking-up-with-my-contacts-still-in for the number one spot.
He came out of nowhere, smelling like my aunt on Christmas eve. He asked for a cigarette and I told him no. I was on my way home from dinner, walking along the canal. He stabbed me three times and left me without my wallet and phone. This was four hours ago and coincidentally, my feet are now cold for the first time since May.
“How am I not dead!” I groan, dragging myself along the cobblestones. Something is hanging out of one of the holes in my stomach, something like uncooked meat, but more painful. I hear something other than water for the first time, a mumbling. I push onto my back and look up. DEATH looks down at me.
She bursts out laughing.
“Oh, fuck you,” I growl up at her. She drops whatever was in her hand, it smashes on the ground. She falls down next to it.
“Son of a bitch,” I groan, “you’re hammered.”
She stops laughing. “No! You’re hammered!”
“No, I’m dying you idiot!”
She lifts herself onto one arm and looks straight down at me, a foot away. Her hair tickles my ears.
“No–” she frowns at my belly. Something seems to click in her. Somewhere inside something sober is scratching at the back of her eyes. She looks suddenly a little scared.
“What?” I ask.
DEATH holds out a hand, places it on my chest. “Shit,” she says. Then pushes herself up and stumbles around me. She sits at my feet, looking me over.
“Shit, shit–shit!” she says.
She shakes her head, drooling a little. I’ve never seen a child drunk, it isn’t pretty.
“You’re dead,” she moans.
I almost laugh but worry it might spill out along with more of my guts. Instead I manage a sarcastic smile.
“Uh–yeah, I can see that.”
“No,” she looks at me, wide-eyed, “not dying–dead. You died without me–so, you’re not dead. But, you’re dead! Don’t you see!”
I frown. Then yell, “No! I don’t god-damn see!”
DEATH sniffs the cooling air.
“Do you have any cigarettes not covered in blood?” she asks, wet-eyed.
I lay back and look up, not answering.
“I fucked up,” she says, from somewhere. “I’ve never fucked up before.”
I sigh, then wince. I almost forgot the pain for a second. I suddenly feel pressure. I look down, DEATH is pressing her hands over my stomach.
“What ar–” I start, but am cut off my a sudden overwhelming wave of nausea. I manage to throw her off and roll over just in time to vomit onto the wet street. It is black and endless.
“What the hell was that?” I ask, then look around. I am sitting up. I look down, the uncooked meat is gone, the blood–gone. The pain, gone.
DEATH is leaning back against a building. I crawl over to her.
“Thank you?” I say. She doesn’t look at me. I take my cigarettes from my pocket and light one for her, she takes it. After a few drags, she grunts.
“I didn’t do it for you,” she says.
I roll my eyes. “Gee, thanks.”
“You died– almost four hours, you died four–four hours ago and I wasn’t there. I–I made a mistake,” her mouth is wet and her eyes won’t focus.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
DEATH shakes her head. “I’m not going to be around much longer,” she says.
She turns, she looks right into my eyes and holds one of my hands in two of hers. “You can’t tell anyone this happened, okay?”
There is something in them, her eyes–a panic, a fear. She looks away before I can figure it out. She tosses her cigarette and stands up. She pulls a bottle of clear liquid from her pocket. She hands it to me.
“I’ve got to get my shit together,” she says. Then adds, “and so should you.”
I nod, putting the bottle into my pocket anyways. DEATH rolls her eyes, then shrugs. “Next time, I won’t forget you.”
“You’re too sweet,” I say.
She gives me the finger and walks off, a bit off-kilter.
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