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In Death I Dream of You Yet by Christian Fennell

See me dying, withered and decaying between crisp white sheets. I wait for the prick of the needle—it comes, the warm reprieve taking me again.
    I run. Dark and empty city streets. I stop, my heart pounding and resounding in my head, and I watch the thin pools of water gathered upon the road beginning to ripple. I look behind me, an immeasurable distance back to the birthplace of darkness itself.
    I turn to run again and a two-headed dog with massive jaws that foam and drip sinks both sets of jaws deep into my face. We fall to the cobblestone surface, my faceless head lulling forward. The dog takes it, the heads fighting to enter my red dark hole. They hollow me out. They rip and consume the skin from my bones and they eat the bones so that all remains of me is a scull dripping in blood from a scalp that is nothing more than a few splotches of dark hair.
    And now I see you, sitting at the end of our bed, wrapped in your heavy white bathrobe, your skin fresh and pink from a warm tub. And even with the stain of this life worn so heavy upon you, you are beautiful. Your blue eyes, long black hair, lips that crave red lipstick, still all shine, despite the fog that settles at the front of your brain, goes away, comes back and settles again.
    I wake in the dark, the room silent and heavy with the smell of my pending death.
    I open my eyes—where? I remember and close them again.
    Together on the porch stairs we lean back, the sun warming on our faces, and we watch our four young children walking down our long, shaded driveway. They walk and talk and play and stop to see the horses come to the post and rail fence to see them off. The horses’ tails flicking at flies, the school bus honking and waiting.
    We smoke and we talk and time passes in our words like a faint breeze across our world—a world that was ours for the making.
     You wore faded and ripped jeans and a white tank top and we laid back flat against the warm porch boards and made love in the sunlight.
    That night, you drank a bottle of red wine. You took another one with you, and you drove away. You drove down a dark country road. You drove onto an irrigated field of beans and you ran a jagged piece of green glass across your wrist. They said you wouldn’t make it. That’s what they said. But you did. You stayed.
    And now the children are here, standing before me, so beautiful, still and quiet, their sad young eyes filled with such fear and uncertainty.
    The needle comes and I go again.
    You wake from a late morning nap and walk to the chair by the small side window and sit looking out at a cool autumn day without sun. You watch for a while, crisp red-brown leaves whirling and tumbling down the vacant road. You look at me, and I can see it, the very same as if it were an object you held in your hands before me. Your wellness has surrendered, betraying you again, our hopes held tight beneath warm sheets in the night—gone, fallen away again. A pain harbored in a darkness so utterly whole, you know it must come from somewhere beyond yourself. It must. How can it not? And it won’t be put off, not by doctors, not meds, not me, not you, not by the letting of your own blood. It will come.
     You draw a warm tub and drink a glass of red wine. You lean your head back and cry, long and silent again. You put on your heavy white bathrobe and walk to our room and sit at the end of our bed.
    I dream that I wake and see you there and you are beautiful.
    We talk and we laugh, twenty years warmed by the sun breaking through the open window, and we stay like this—for a very long time. Somewhere in the house the kids yell and scream. One of us should go. Please, I hear myself saying, stay. The tears that come now are mine.
     I wake and think back to that day not long after we moved to this little house in town. I wasn’t sick yet. I went down into the basement. I can’t remember why. I came back up, and you were gone. And it wasn’t like at the farm, there were too many places for you to go—too many side streets, dead-end streets, parks and strip malls.
     They found you alone in the night parked behind an empty building. Gone. Empty bottles squeezed tight at your feet.
    I wake, unaware I’ve been sleeping. I’m confused and unable to distinguish myself from the darkness. A warm touch upon my face. A whisper. In the guardianship of perfect silence, all shall be known.
    Your eyes come, so blue and clear and there’s a breeze. Your long hair swaying. Your red lips before me, our feet are entwined, twisting and twirling in soft white sand on a vast empty beach I have never seen before. And we dance. A dance of time. All our moments spent.
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