13: addiction

My fingers dip into colored water as I fish out my egg. It comes out dyed purple, the color is vibrant and makes me want to smile and frown at the same time. Purple had been Kaela's favorite color and I wanted to decorate this egg for her. It's stupid and pointless, I know. And honestly, I'm not sure if it makes me feel comforted or melancholy, but I can't seem to stop myself anyway.

"Painting eggs was always my favorite part of Easter," Nat chirps as she takes hers out, the egg a pretty light blue. "I love blue," she sighs and sets the egg aside to dry.

The blue egg reminds me of a certain pair of blue eyes I hadn't seen around often lately. But I shake that image from my head because I don't want to think about it.

Lately I've been experiencing a certain . . . itch. I often find myself feeling dissatisfied and frustrated.

"You have a lot of purple over there. I didn't know that was your favorite color," Nat says, distracting me from my thoughts.

"It's not," I frown, but decide I don't want to tell her that it was Kaela's. I find that I don't want to ruin the cheery atmosphere. I want to cling to it and absorb it into my own being. Maybe that will dispel all of the negativity festering in me. "My favorite color is gold," I say thoughtfully, tilting my head up. "But there's no gold dye here, so I figure, why not purple?"

Nat giggles. "We have yellow though. Here," She picks up an egg and puts it in the cup filled with yellow dye. "I'll make you a yellow egg and decorate it for you." She looks at me with curious eyes. "I thought your favorite color was green? I mean, your car is green and you wear the color kind of often."

"I do like green," I nod. "But it's not my favorite color. There just aren't a whole lot of gold materials to get, minus jewelry. It's definitely easier to find a green car than a gold one . . . that would be cool to have though . . . I haven't spotted many gold clothes either."

"I bet you just like the colors cause they're made of money," Nat grins and I return it.

"Damn. You found me out."

"What can I say? I'm sharp as a fox." She taps her temple and winks. One thing I love about Nat is her ability to make me feel at ease and turn everything into a joke. There's nothing heavy with her and I need that.

Even though I know it won't last, I smile at her and relish in her company and the light mood.


Sitting back on my bed, I close my eyes and listen to the music blaring out of my radio. My pillows are propped up against the headboard as I relax against them. I'm wearing black windbreaker pants and a black bra. I don't want to get up to put a shirt on. Besides, I'm in my room with someone who's already seen everything anyway. Death is sitting on the window sill, looking outside at the next door neighbor's kids playing hop scotch. He looks as bored as I feel.

My mother's gone off to her therapy session. I'm glad she's getting help and she does seem happier. After she came back from the hospital, I kept waiting for her to pull back into herself, but that hasn't happened. With each day, I allow myself to relax a bit more and have cut back on the hours I spent at work, though I don't want to give up my job entirely. It gives me a place to be other than home and can be a good distraction.

Even with the distraction though, my mind still ponders the months following my sister's accident as well as my mother's sudden recovery.

"You know, I've been thinking about something . . . I think I've got it now," I say with my eyes closed and my head leaned back. I wonder if I look relaxed to him. I don't feel relaxed, just…tired.

"Hmm?" Death hums, not sounding very interested. I wonder if he's still watching the neighbors. The song changes and I can hear the volume turning down, no doubt Jake's doing.

I bite my lip. The only time I openly call Death Jake is when we're having sex, any other time I still refer to him as Death. Sometimes I wonder why I named him in the first place. Maybe I probably just haven't gotten used to it yet. It doesn't matter. He doesn't care what I call him, or so it seems. If he does care, he doesn't show it.

"I was thinking about my mom, about how she had appeared like a zombie, but since she . . . hit her head . . . it's like she's snapped out of some spell and is back to normal—minus the therapy."

I open my eyes and look at him. His own eyes watch me. I wonder if to see if there's any emotion left in me or if I'm just worn out from it all.

"You did that. You made her like that."

"I did," he confirms, then goes back to looking out of the window.

I frown, my shoulders slumping. "Why?"

"It would have been less troublesome."


"I was going to take you from her, she was going to die last . . . I figured that if I made it seem as though she had already died—"

"What? I'd get used to it or something?"

"—that maybe when she really did die, you wouldn't be so affected," he finishes as if I hadn't said anything at all.

"Ah," I fiddle with the fabric of my pants, "So why did you break . . . whatever you had done to her now?"

"Maybe after seeing how much you still cared for her still, I thought it was useless."

"You're not going to kill her, are you?"

"I'm not planning on it."

Before I can question him further on this, the door opens and my heart skips a beat when I look over to see my mother in the doorway. She smiles at me, and I look back towards my window to where Death is supposed to be only to see that he's no longer there. Sighing in relief, I look back at my mom and force on a smile for her.

"How was therapy?"

"Refreshing. I felt like I haven't talked so much in ages."

I know the feeling.

"That's nice. So what's up?"

She shifts uncomfortably and her expression turns a bit sad, but I can't help but take in how much healthier she looks now. Her skin's gotten its color back and she doesn't look so . . . thin and frail.

"I'm going to visit Kaela's grave. I was wondering if you wanted to come with me."

I stiffen.

Kaela's grave. I haven't been there since the funeral. I feel guilty for it, but I just . . . I can't.


"I . . ." I look down at my lap and notice that my hands are shaking. I grip my pants, balling the material in my hands and close my eyes, controlling my breathing.

I don't want to go there.

I don't want to see, knowing that she's right there, right in front of me under all that dirt, and that I can't touch her, talk to her, listen to her, be annoyed by her . . .

It would be too painful. All going there would do is remind me of who and what I've lost.

"You don't have to go," my mother says quickly, noticing my struggle. "I was just going to go there, to put some flowers on her grave, and I just thought that you might want to go too. I wasn't thinking."

"No, it's okay. I'll go with you, but, just . . . another time . . ." I avert my eyes from her, not wanting to see if she's disappointed or worried.

I hear her whisper, "okay" and then leaves, not closing the door to my room, though I can hear her close the door downstairs, telling me she's left the house. I remain motionless on my bed, still not looking toward the direction of my doorway. Soon I hear her car start and then she's gone.

I feel the bed dip and look up to see Death sitting on it.

"Have I gone too far?" he simply asks.

I don't answer him, instead I grab the back of his head and press our mouths together, showing a certain need that would embarrass me any other time. But I need this. I need to scratch this itch, to forget everything emotional and focus on something physical. He doesn't respond right away, but that's okay. I don't care. I don't care. I need this.

Jake's hands are in my hair, gripping on to the locks and keeping me to him. I moan against his mouth and move my own hands to his shoulders, tugging on them, trying to pull him to me while leaning back so that I'm laying on the bed with him over me.

He follows my lead and as soon as I'm able to, I wrap my legs around his waist and allow the new feelings to take over, replacing the pain with physical sensation.

His hands run up my sides and behind me, unclasping my bra and tossing it aside. I arch my back until our chests meet and shudder, bathing in the feeling threatening to overtake me as his mouth devours mine.

It feels so good . . .

Much better than going to Kaela's grave would have felt.

I need this to feel good. I've become dependent on this. It's almost more effective than a friend's sincere smile. Maybe it is. Soon my head becomes foggy and I can't think much of anything. I just feel.

Soon we're both bare, flesh rubbing and moving together . . .

So good.

And just like that, the pain is gone.

For now.


Later that night, I wake up with a start when I hear sirens. Getting up from my bed, I look at my window, red lights entering my room through it. I peer outside, across the street, and see the ambulance and immediately know what has happened, and why Death had been watching the neighbors so closely.

I quickly close the curtains, not wanting to watch more children get taken from this world. I turn around and sink to the floor, my back pressed against the wall.

Who died? Was it one of the kids? Was there another mother left behind, another sister?

Did anyone there make a deal?

Did he feel nothing for that person who died, except for after it was too late?

Does he watch everyone who's about to die? Why is he here? Is he here for me, to keep our deal, or . . .

Is he waiting for my mother's death, or my own death?

I don't understand him.

I don't understand why everything still hurts, like the wound is still fresh. I want to ignore it, to push it in the back of my mind and be okay again. I want to go back to Nat's house and smile, even if it's fake. She would smile back at me though, a genuine smile, and that would be enough.

But no. What I'm left with will not be a friend's sincere smile, but Death's sadistic smirk.

Instead, I crawl back to my bed and grab my sister's teddy bear, clutching it to my chest and curling up under the covers.

When I fall into unconsciousness, I dream of my sister.