Death has always been someone to follow those who never expected it, and at times even those who did. Regardless of the awareness one would house when it would be in concern, it never did seem to come from its wait without a proper reason to; Serena always knew that, yet she always kept it buried deep within. Even with concern of her overprotective husband--not to the point of him harming another, but far enough so that he cried so harshly for her several times since her diagnosis of having tuberculosis in her spine--she never gave up hope on her life, aside from those days where she would break and do nothing but slumber; she refused to eat or move her body from one side to the other.
She lie stationary over one thick blanket and beneath another with a little less weight to press down upon her; she didn't care for the extra weight, but it seemed to soothe her at other times rather than to serve merely as a nuisance. Her thin, trembling fingers ran along the seams of it, burning her flesh in the places where a bit of loose thread had wriggled free of its binding. She sighed and looked towards the open window where she noticed a few people walking around as if not a care in the world. She rolled her head back finally and, having taken in enough of the drab room around her, closed her eyes once more as they had been for the past few hours.
She would admit that she got lonely often; not being able to be near Stephen, her husband, greatly bothered her. She missed the days when they could sit together on the sofa and chit-chat about things they'd done during the day; when they could have dinner together and lie together--during the night of course they would engage in other things when their daughter Marina was asleep when those moments seemed to strike so suddenly. Those memories would replay in her mind like a film recorded to make her sob and bawl, but she never did; she had to maintain herself as best as she could so as not to frighten her family any more than the members already were, which of course excluded the three-year-old child who still clung to her innocence like a toy she treasured over anything.
She didn't move even as she heard the door creak open. "Serena? Are you awake? I've brought some soup for you. It's vegetable; it's good for you. Here, sit up now." She slowly opened her eyes to lock them with her husband's silver hues, of which she could see his kindness and concern clearly reflected. She moved her arms as if she were going to set herself erect upon the mattress, but she didn't. Instead, her limbs fell limp and heavily down flat again. He made his way to her, setting down the bowl with caution upon the nightstand beside her. "Come now, I'll help you." He lowered his hands and wrapped them around her from under her arms. He tugged at her, raising her thin, frail body until he could position her against the headboard. "There. Here, try to eat this."
She opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. She closed it. Her eyes roamed from his face to the bowl of the appalling contents that he called soup. She then looked back with her eyes glazed over; they looked glossy like glass rather than a pair ofeyes. She opened her mouth again, making a sound more like a shriek than the beginning formation of words. "I'd prefer to not have to look at it. Honestly, nothing much matches my fancy nowadays, love. I would love for it to be opposite this truth, but it isn't much to mine own dismay. Would you, with my asking and your permission of course, be willing to abide me? Give me this wish of not forcing me with this consumption that nauseates me so?" She looked at him with saddened eyes that held her innermost pleas to him to spare her another day of nothing more than sickness that always seemed to result from her eating and drinking anything.
He sat down beside her with a dismal aura about him. "I see...Still nothing positive? All this negativity is still clinging so fiercely? Nothing will help you, I feel that; I also feel as if you wish not to get any sort of healthy with this plague. Why do you hold on so strongly? Do you wish to leave me? Marina? What would we do without you? Her mother and my wife?" He raked his fingers through her silky hair. "You hold such a lovely scarlet curtain upon your head. Where does it come from? Is it from God himself?" He smiled. "Of course it does; only He could grant such beauty."
She looked at him for a short moment before her eyes averted once more to the blanket of lilac that she'd inherited from her grandmother on her mother's side. She'd known the woman few years before her death, yet she somehow housed love for her in a deep familial way, one that'd never expected as she didn't even feel that bond with her father, but that was only to be expected; he’d never been any blood relation to her. She groaned loudly at the thought, which seemed to upset Stephen as he reached down and placed his hands firmly upon her shoulders, moving her body in sideways motions slowly and tenderly, yet strong enough to wake her up if she were to faint on him. "Do not concern yourself so; I know my limits love and the sound that I make; that sound, it comes simply from mine own memory, not from something that pains me even more."
He bit his lip and fidgeted just a bit. "I only wondered if you were experiencing--"
"New pain?" she asked, halting his words and making him cringe at her, seeming, read of his mind.
"Yes, that. I only concern for you, Serena. Do not take my words and actions in another light; you must learn me, dear."
"I do know you, but I cannot think clearly these days, you know this. It is rather difficult when you have many a thing on your mind, yet you somehow house nothing there at all. Do you understand?" She closed her eyes tightly as a harsh pain struck through her abdomin then her spinal area, of which she'd long become used to.
He nodded his head, the concern in his eyes never daring to move nor vanish in the slightest,let alone entirely. "I see...I believe I understand, yet I feel not to the degree that you do; as they say, experience is the only way in which one can truly understand anything in this world without holding diving knowledge in one form or another."
She moved to nod, but she couldn’t quite, so she made due with grunting. "Yes...'tis true, dear, but you must understand this: I do my best to ensure you can know as much as you can with this concern of mine. Yet, you must also understand this: I do not wish for you or another to fully understand this extent. No, not one man in this world should shoulder this burden at all; do not confuse me with being greedy in concern, but you know this as well. 'Tis much larger of a burden than I make it seem, so you must realize that I know more than I can explain to you." She drew a long breath and turned her head opposite him, her eyes that rest in slits moving up the bits of chipping paint in the wall.
He sighed heavily. "Of course I understand this, but will Marina understand the death of her mother? The person who she clings to most in her life?" He scoffed and thrust himself to his feet, his body not daring to turn any portion to look at her limp and weakened form. "No, I shall not speak another word; dedicate another breath to this travesty, this tragedy that dares to take you from me; to try and ruin this life we have established together and the time we have sworn to this dedication of our life! Why does the evil curse me!? What wrongs have I cast upon this world!? And you...And you have done nothing, so why this punishment!?"
She looked at the back portion of him and inhaled deeply, her body daring her to make a motion as pain strew throughout ever fiber that God had used to shape her. She didn't desire to heed its warnings of her movement, so in her decision of committing her tyranny against it, raised her hand and touched the seam of his trousers, making his body flinch very minimally. "Dear, do not leave me so. I fear, I greatly fear this, but I choose to not worry you; I wish not to bring upon this pain that I know lies even dormant upon your heart; this great burden that makes your body tremble at night and the very words you speak to me come forth with the utmost care and caution. I misunderstand why you practice so what you shall speak upon my ears. Come forth, I bid, and speak unto me exactly what you wish for me to hear or not hear; release this fear that you withhold against me and this plague given by the darkest of beings, or perhaps by the one who is so gracious and will be as to release me of this."
He spat and stepped ever so slowly to the door, placing his hand upon the handle to open it for his escape from the oppressive air that surrounded her and expanded into the space around them, or so he deemed it as. "No, I do not heed these words of yours; it is by no means His fault! You, you have sinned; that is only the explanation befitting you with something of such severity! What have you done!?" He turned back, his body keeping its position while only modifying its angle. "Tell me! Why must you, the witch that you are, curse me like this and place such a hex upon yourself!? Tell me...why do you break this fragile jewel in my breast? What tragedy is this that a man must lose what he had based his existence upon? I love you, but know there is nothing that I can do but pray; day and night I will and must for you to come and be mine; to not leave and take this entirety that I have created with you and thus end this life."
"Speak not such rot," she spoke tenderly, yet with a commanding tone ringing throughout. "Speak to me of your heart, not of the blame that you wish to inflict upon me and those who hold innocence in this." She looked at the doorway, her eyes looking through him rather than at him. "Speak; tell me of this in concern to our darling. Speak, leave me not hanging here with no knowledge of her heart. Grant that unto me; grant this time with her that I may reveal my heart to my daughter; forget not that I house love for you and her, the ones nearest my heart that shall forever remain upon the strings that line it, making their own melody that is so pleasing to my ear. Bring her, the one who makes the sweetest and most innocent of music upon her heart's harp." She raised her arm and opened a palm, her fingers pointing to him. "Please, grant this and your presence by my side. The only thing I ask of you is this; be not so sinful that you without this greatest blessing before mine own passing to be with my Father, the true Father of my being who be not of flesh."
He hesitantly nodded and opened her door, stepping from the confines of her room that she was forced to reside within. He stepped out and, as he made steps down the hall, she could hear the sound of his shoes clicking against the floor. Fainter and fainter they grew until she could hear them no more. Her eyes fluttered closed again, but she felt her consciousness remain. She then heard them returning with another smaller sound keeping pace with just a bit of rhythm being unsynchronized at certain intervals. The door opened and in stepped the small girl with her father following closely behind, his face aimed towards the ground rather than at either of them; she assumed his eyes were averted in the same direction rather than being rolled to face anything else. "Momma?" the girl spoke timidly, her hands crossed over her lap; they didn't move regardless of how ever many steps she took towards the bed.
Serena opened her eyes to look at the innocent child. She could see her younger self in every portion of the girl, and it tugged at her heart. She felt tears stinging the corners of her eyes. She raised her hand and ran her thin fingers through the child's damp hair. "Marina," she whispered, her voice growing softer with each syllable that passed her parched lips. "You realize that momma loves you with her heart?" She nodded. "And that everyone goes home when they pass? When their bodies grow too weary to move?" She nodded again. "Yes, you are a smart child. Know this: Momma always loved you and papa, okay? You will take care of him?"
Marina tilted her head to one side, confusion prominent in her shimmering eyes. "Uh-huh, but what is it you say? Momma, you are not leaving me, are you? Papa and I need you!" She threw herself forward, wrapping her arms tightly around Serena. "No, stay with me, momma! I need your love; your hugs every day; your kisses and warmth! Momma, no...."
Serena could hardly feel the warm, moist tears that fell upon her cheeks; she could hardly hear the voices of her dearest family--her husband and daughter--that came forth, knocking on her eardrums and that could not get in to register in her mind. Her eyes felt heavy and closed as if someone had tied a piece of lead to them and let go, forcing them to fall. Her mind could understand nothing. A curtain of black fell over her eyes, making it impossible for her to see. Suddenly, as she could see nothing, a sliver of light--a golden light unlike anything she'd ever seen before--cast upon her face, grating her momentary vision. It looked as if she was seeing candles, yet she could see no form but the flickering of the golden flame. Her body grew cold; she saw ice surround her. Darkness and cold...She felt nothing more as she heard a voice call out, "Momma!" and another call "Serena! No!" Suddenly, one final voice rang in her mind rather than in her blocked ears: "Serena, come home with me..."
Great light sprang forth from the darkness, bathing her. She looked and saw a large hand extending towards her. She, throughout, kept hearing the muffled cries of her loved ones, but she couldn't see them or speak to them. She, instead, turned her head to look behind her. "Goodbye until I see you again." She then looked forward and began walking towards the hand, her own extending towards it. "As for you my Father, I shall see you now..."
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