Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Curse

Victor Habbick @ freedigitalphotos.net

The earth opened like the jaws of a giant monster, swallowing me with a force I could not fight. I was falling down, down, down, into the depths of darkness. Finally, I found myself standing in an open area ablaze with greyish light.  

“Grandma... please, take your hands off my throat!" I begged. She was the one who had awakened me and strangled me all the way down, and not for the first time since she had died two years ago.

The fog in front of us disappeared and there they were again, my departed relatives, including those I haven't met while they were alive. They were sitting on a giant escalator, every generation on their own stair. The escalator was moving slowly upwards to a shimmering white light far away in the universe. I knew that light was the entrance to heaven.

My relatives looked peaceful, because Death had given them a choice: they could forgive and forget and take their seats on the escalator to await their turn to enter heaven, or they could roam the earth, invisible with no power and dignity, treasuring, or perhaps suffering, all their memories of life on earth.
I recognized only some of the faces on the first four stairs. The rest of the phantoms I had never met in real life. 
“You are wasting time!” Grandma's voice was calm, but I could sense her fear that I might not be able to fulfill my duty. Why she had chosen me on her deathbed to be the one naming the next person to die in the family would always be a mystery to me. I was not her blue-eyed girl. To the contrary, I thought she didn't like me at all. Why the task was on her shoulders while she was alive, would also be a mystery. The fact that all families on earth had a traitor assisting the Angel of Death, would keep me in a secret state of shock for as long as I live. 
I tried not to think of my beloveds. I did not want their names in my mind. While looking at the faces in front of me I was hoping to remember the names of their children or parents. Only a name, that was all the Angel of Death wanted from me. Only a name.
My dearest father was smiling, happy and contented. He, too, had sacrificed all his memories. Yet, I knew he recognized me and was proud of me. Next to him sat Uncle Charlie with a sinister smile on his face. Maybe he remembered something about me - that something he had denied while he was alive. I had forgiven him, yet I was sad because he was on his way to heaven. If I had any power I would have sent him to hell. If only I could remember the name of his son! Down here in the darkness of the world beyond the grave, why was my mind always a blank without names? As if the Angel of Death was only pretending to be kind, with a name in his pocket I would be able to see and utter in order to keep my relatives happy and peaceful. 
“You are wasting time!” Grandma said again. Patience was never one of her virtues. "Vera, you are wasting time!"  
"Yes. Grandma, that's my name. Vera. You may have it." God knew I could not go on living like this, having to choose the next one to die. The burning sensation in my body was anger. Why did Grandma choose me to follow in her footsteps? I was asking myself again what would happen if I refused to give them a name? 

“No, Vera, not you! I will decide when it's time for you to come," she said  unrelentingly. There was no life in her eyes, no love, no hate. She was just a living phantom cursed with the task of assisting the Angel of Death.

If only I could remember the name of Uncle Charlie's son. But there was my cousin, Liza. Michael was the name of her eldest son.

chainat @ freedigitalphotos.net

“Noooooo... Noooooo! Not Michael!" 

I was screaming all the way up to my bedroom. Stumbling around in my bedroom I was still screaming, wishing I could go back to give them another name. 

A knock on the door brought me to my senses. “What's wrong, Mom?" came the voice of my son through the closed door. 

"Nothing. I had a bad dream."
He opened the door and looked at me. "You look terrible! Can I bring you some water? Or what about hot chocolate?" He was a  bridegroom-to-be, ready to love his sweetheart until death parts them. 
"No thank you, Michael, I am okay."

Writers Note:

English is not my mother-language, therefore I am grateful for any constructive critique regarding grammar presented by my readers and fellow-writers.

Thank you, Shauna Bowling aka bravewarrior for your most appreciated suggestions :)