Talking To The Dead
by nepthys

The curtains are drawn shut, blanketing the room with darkness. You stand still in the doorway for a moment, looking in.

The coppery scent of blood lies thick in the air. The whole house seems to reek of it, wherever you go. Blood spattered on the lavender carpet your mother bought on a sale three years ago and you remember saying it looked dingy.

You step inside. The room still looks lived in, like the woman who slept here simply is out on an errand. There's a hairbrush on the table, a tattered paperback lying open. A floral shirt and jeans neatly piled on the chair picked out for tomorrow

((that will never come for her))

You pack them down in a box, quickly and dispassionately. Roll up the carpet and push it under the bed, where it can't be seen.

After your mother's death, you threw out the couch. Couldn't bear to see it, remembering the sight of her sprawled limply on her back, unseeing eyes staring up at the ceiling. You're throwing out the carpet, too.

Can't help wondering if there's to be something about this house that's cursed, stained - three of the women who lived between its walls dying within a year.

Tempted to move out altogther -- sell the house, start a new life in a new place, maybe even a new town. You can't, really. Have duties here, and this is the house your mother chose for herself and her daughters to live in. But you think about it sometimes.

You empty the contents of the closet, putting the rest of the clothes in boxes. It's every bit as hard as you had thought it would be, packing down her life and giving it away to strangers.

You make your statement to the police, listen to Tara's father curse and yell over the phone--it's your fault, he says. She would have been alive if she'd stayed with us.

Righteous anger from a man who never phoned or sent his daughter as much as a card on her birthday. You want to remind him of that. But you bite your tongue. He's lost family, you tell yourself. And you keep holding the phone, saying nothing until he stops talking and there's just horrible, hitching sounds in the background, like a drowning man.

You tell him that you're sorry and hang up the phone.

You wish you had someone to talk to. The options are rather limited these days. When your mother became ill, Spike sat on the porch beside you while you cried. He told you, 'gonna be alright, pet', and you believed.

You still don't know why.

And yet you are sitting here on your bed, which you once surrounded with garlic and crosses to keep him out. Wrapping yourself in a tattered black leather coat, thinking about a dead man's words that never really meant anything but you still can't seem to forget.

Your eyes burn, but you do not cry.


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