I. When she's born, her parents let you name her.

II. She's four and when she goes to bed at night, she tosses and turns and comes crying down the stairs hours later, wailing about how she never wants her mama or you to die. (She would cry about her daddy, too, but he sleeps early because he's got work at six.) You comfort her by telling her that if she's a good girl you will never die.

III. She's still four and your favourite thing to say to her is, Let auntie kiss you, okay?

IV. She turns five and then you fly to Asia, and when you come back you bring pictures and one is of you hugging a little girl- your cousin's daughter- who's the same age. She gets so jealous she holds a grudge for days (but she's five so she forgets soon enough).

V. She grows up listening to arguments. You and your mother- her grandmother- fight, her grandma and her dad fight, her dad and her mom fight, she and her little sister fight, and sometimes you and she fight.

VI. She's ten when her paternal grandma dies, and you cried the entire time that your mother was in the hospital but when she finally died, you shed no tears. Your niece doesn't understand, but she never cried when her grandma was in the hospital, and she cries now staring at a pale dead body. You wish she would stop and see that her grandma isn't hurting any more, but looking at the body you feel a little tight around the throat as well. Because this was your mother, no matter how strained your relationship was.

VII. As she grows up she becomes more rebellious because that's what kids growing up are. Your favourite thing to say to her is, I miss when you were little. Because it's true. You wish she was still a good little girl who loved you more than the world.

VIII. She's twelve and her favourite thing to do is defy her parents- and you. She doesn't like practicing piano and she doesn't like going to sleep and she hates doing chores.

IX. She's fourteen and she starts smoking, aware of everything that could happen if she does, but she thinks there's so much shit going on that she can't handle all at once that she has to have some release, and if it's not sex, drinking or drugs, it has to be cigarettes. She knows you'd be disappointed if you knew but she does it anyways because she wants to feel the old magic that comes with black and white films, big cigarettes and thick white smoke. Those numbers counting down until the film starts. Five four three two one.

X. She's still fourteen when she begins wearing make-up- just mascara and sometimes, if she's feeling brave, eyeliner. Sometimes you can tell and you say to her that you don't want her growing up so fast. She laughs and the next day she wears no make-up at all and you get a nostalgic satisfaction from it.

XI. When she's fifteen you fly to Asia again because you've got family there and your brother (her father) doesn't want to go because he's tired. You go for all of May and all of June and you miss your niece's grade nine farewell. She pretends it doesn't really matter but secretly she sort of wishes that you were there to see her in a formal dress walking up to the stage to accept her awards. She just never tells you.

XII. She's still fifteen and she goes out at two in the afternoon and doesn't come back until nine thirty and everyone is angry at her (save her little sister, because her little sister knows she'll always be back home safe) even though she dropped at least four calls while she was gone letting them know what she was doing and when she was going to come home.


XIII. She's seventeen and now all she does is go to school, go out, go to her piano lesson once a week, and go out again. And even when her parents warn her about everything, and even when they tell her she should stay home once in a while, she doesn't. You miss your little girl with the bowl cut and the round cheeks and the cheery grin. You get an almost grown-up girl with long unkempt hair that you abhor, big raccoon eyes and a sneer attached to her face permanently.

XIV. She tells you she's never liked her name, and you know this because she told you years ago. But you still think it's cute. It used to match her face. Cute name cute face. Now it's a cute name with a hollow face that doesn't care for you any more.

XV. Your little girl leaves for university and she lives in the dorms- she's still in the city but you've never felt so distant from her. When she comes back for the summer she brings along a boy with long eyelashes, a beautiful voice and a leather jacket. You think you'd like him more if he wasn't dating your niece. But then, you don't think anyone's good enough for her.

XVI. She tells you she's getting married. She wears make-up for her wedding, of course, and does her hair and for once it's out of her face, and she slims up for the dress, and you can't help but think she's absolutely beautiful for once. You cry at her wedding and everyone thinks it's because your niece- whose life you've always been a part of- is getting married and your emotions are running over, but you really cry because she's growing up so fast.

XVII. Three months later she tells you she's pregnant- and you're the first one to know. You wouldn't be surprised but she's four months along, and she's been married three months. Neither of you say anything.

XVIII. When she's twenty-five she gives birth to a baby boy. It's beautiful- she's fresh out of university, her husband is bringing in chunks of money like nobody's business, and she's on maternity leave for a year or two until they get things together. She lets you give him his middle name. Your mouth hurdles a name that is two letters off of her own, and she smiles and kisses your cheek.

XIX. Over the years she spits out two more children- one boy and one girl, barely years apart. The three are respectively six, four and three when their grandmother dies. You don't even cry at the funeral, just think of the irony. She does cry at the funeral, and when asked to say a few parting words, she murmurs, No one never dies. Only the three- two, now- of you understand what that means.

XX. She's thirty-two and your favourite thing to say to her children is, Let grand-auntie give you a kiss, okay?

XXI. She's forty when you find yourself on your death-bed, surrounded by every single one of your beloved nieces and nephews and their children, your remaining siblings. They all come up and leave you wirth words of pure love and sorrow, and when she comes up, you smile and say, Let auntie kiss you, okay? She cries as she bends her face closer to you.

XXII. She never gets her kiss.

XXIII. When she was four, she learned that no one lives forever, but she let her mother and auntie comfort her with false words and she grew up with their words of immortality in her head, but no one never dies.

beyond the dash is pure fiction. which is kinda funny 'cause this is fictionpress, but haha.. .
yeah not funny.
aaaalso i realize that 'no one never dies' isn't proper grammar, but i feel like it gets the point across better. (maybe it's just me?)