Bloody Ink

The ink falls with utter slowness to the floor. She hears each forlorn 'plop' as the ink lands, splashes, and sinks into the wood like a worm penetrating mud. The one who caused the ebony drops to fall watches intensely. She doesn't know what else she should do. She couldn't have stopped the ink from falling; if she'd tried, it would have seeped into her instead of the floorboards and would have left a rather nasty stain.

It was not from a pen or another ordinary utensil of writing that the ink had fallen. There are none of those around. The ink is her teardrops; dripped somberly from her dry and cracked face. How she longs to cry real tears, real salty tears that would leave wet, cold runs on her face, but she cannot. She lost that ability long ago.

The character rubs her hands together and they crackle. Not for the first time she thinks of her grave. Of the body there and the life it once had. Bitterly she curses her unfortunate fate. After death, her soul had not rested, as it should have, but it had meandered around the earth like a leaf captured on the wind. Until, one calamitous day, it floated to close to a sorcerer's spell and was accidentally swallowed up. After the spell was done and gone, she remembered waking up for the first time in what felt like hundreds of years. She remembered sitting up and feeling a little funny. She remembered looking down at her hands and thinking they looked different and incredibly strange. She remembered finding a cut on her arm and seeing ink bleed out of it. She remembered realizing her skin, which was unusually dry, was paper and not flesh. She remembered crying sable tears.

Wiping the last staining ink tears from her crisp cheeks, the character stands and makes her way, meticulously—so she doesn't rip her foot on a loose floorboard—to her mirror. When she reaches her destination, she blinks at the yellowy, blank face reflected there. The only feature it has reminiscent of her original face is the two currently despairing, chocolate-brown eyes. Gone is every other physical feature that made her her. The laughing smile, the brow that would furrow when given a hard problem to contemplate, and the high jaw line that whispered of an unpredictable determination, all gone. All gone and decomposing in a grave somewhere, replaced only by an expressionless expanse of parchment yielding only a tiny lump of a nose and a barely visible line for a mouth. A sigh flutters through the character's lips and catches a loose snippet of her lip.

There comes a loud, reverberating knock at the door. Two brown eyes wander from their reflection and up to that of the ancient, wooden portal into the room. It takes the character more than a few moments to pick her way across the room and an everlasting hesitation for her hand to seize the brass doorknob and pull door open. On the other side of the door is a person and he's alive. She always makes note of a person's liveliness when she sees them; her brain—or what qualifies for her brain now—seems to be more than a little fascinated by the state of being she no longer qualifies for, at least not fully. The character invites the man in and they sit and discuss things, things that would have mattered if she were still flesh and bone. She offers a small smile for her guest's amusement and cherishes the lovely memories his voice awakens inside her. Once, long ago, she was as in love with him as he still is with her, but she can no longer feel love.

Throughout the day other visitors come to speak with the person they once lost to death. Slowly, very slowly the character sees every last person she loved in her previous life. The girl she'd all but adopted, now full-grown and more sagacious than the character could ever imagine her becoming. Her biological son, who'd been but a few months old when her first bloody heartbeat ceased, sat across from her and was most excited to speak with her. At last came the one she'd died for, once a sick child in need of a transplant, now a healthy, growing young maiden. The character reminisces, her life could have been saved, but the odds were against the long, tedious process required to keep her heart beating. In her last days she'd refused the high-risk treatment in order that the girl, who now sat in the warm glow of her candle's light, got the vital organ she needed for her continued survival.

The day ends with the setting of the sun and the character's last visitor departs. She sighs, normally her loved ones don't all come to see her in the same day, but she made her wish clear to them a week ago. They understood, though the prospect she offered filled them with sorrow, and they had solemnly provided her with the tools she would need. None of them could stand to be there for the event and the character could hardly blame them.

She throws the lit match on the pile of kindling and watches the wood burn for a minute or two, the usual fear of her natural enemy creeping up on her. The character throws off the feeling and takes a step forward, shuddering as she can feel the heat of the flames on her foot. Another step forward and she swallows a lump in her throat. The fire cackles menacingly at her fear. Eventually, knowing she can never achieve true happiness in her current state, she steps into the burning pile of the wood and closes her brown eyes. The fire acts quickly and, before she knows it, the ink-blooded character is free.