One-shot written for the challenge at The Domain.
Three or more themes included: Death of a loved one, halo, and life.
Characters: Plague and Rosemary.
If I made any mistakes about the characters, please don't kill me.
Plague wasn't always his name. Couldn't always be his name. He was once a boy, unaware he carried death with him wherever he went; unaware of the extra person walking in his shadow. Bizenghast seemed like a nice place to make a new life. He found a job, made friends, and even bought a second set of clothes.
And, in church that Sunday, he saw her.
The love of his life, his Rosemary.
Red hair, pale skin, and the preacher's daughter. The purest, most innocent girl a boy could meet. And he loved her almost instantly. Friends first, and in love second. She made him feel like a child again. Made him feel happy. She gave him faith in God, in people, in himself. She made him think that he was safer than he really was.
Marriage to Rosemary was his dream. To marry her, the love of his life, and have a family with her. To have a brood of kids and stay in Bizenghast forever.
And, after her father gave him permission to marry her, he looked forward to that moment even more.
He remembered the first time they'd said 'I love you' to each other. A clear day, and one of his first off of work. They'd wondered into the woods around the town for a picnic, and rested in the clearing. She twirled her favorite ring around her finger as he read from the bible, his head in her lap. Quietly, she fingered the small flower on the ring before brushing his bangs away with her hand.
"I love you," she had whispered. She, of course, had said his name in the sentence, but he has long since forgotten that.
After that picnic, he fell more in love with her than ever. His proposal was a small, quiet affair, right after church. She'd accepted immediately and leapt into his arms, nearly strangling him in a hug. His life had gotten better than he'd even imagined.
But he was not destined to marry her. No, she'd come down sick before he'd gotten the chance. Slowly, other's fell sick, too. He cared for none but Rosemary, the love of his life. The girl he was supposed to marry the very day she fainted. He'd cried and stayed with her through her sickness. He later learned it only made her suffering worse, he later came to regret coming to Bizenghast, later came to regret that the sickness didn't kill him before it killed his Rosemary.
And, later, when he sat at the edge of town, foraging off scraps from the town, he realized he'd essentially killed her.
Her death hadn't been gruesome or bloody, but it hadn't been peaceful. In just a few weeks, the sickness had withered her away to almost nothing. Gone was her beautiful hair, now withered and wispy. Her eyes had sunken into her head, making her look like a skull. After losing so much weight, her skin had stretched out over her bones like leather, and they poked out from skin.
In the end, it was hard for her to talk. Her body erupted in regular spasms that day as he held her hand throughout the whole thing. She could barely speak. And, finally, her eyes closed and her breath became shallow.
"I love you," she had whispered as she went. And, when her hand fell limp in his, he cried. Slowly, he had slid that flower ring, the one she loved so much, from her finger before the nurse gently coaxed him out the door, saying they needed to ready her body for burial.
Without Rosemary, his life has no point, no meaning. The sickness spread, and it was traced back to him. The first few cases had erupted in the people he'd spent the most time with, like Rosemary and the shop owner of the place where he worked. He was driven out of town and into the woods. He lived off of scraps, blaming himself for the death of others. All the while, he kept Rosemary's little flower ring, too small for him to wear himself. Instead, he looped a string through the band and tied it to his wrist.
Rosemary, the love of his life was dead.
The owner of the store where he worked was dead.
His new life was dead.
Countless others were dead, all because of him.
So why can't I die, too? he thought, huddled under a blanket.
And he did just that. On a quiet night, he stole a rope from a local farmer and ran into the woods. Clumsily, he made a noose and swung it over a tree branch before he tied it around the tree trunk. Standing on a log, he pulled it over his head and tightened it.
I'm coming to you, Rosemary, he thought. Please, please, forgive me.
And he jumped.
But he didn't go to Rosemary. No, the Lord wasn't that kind. Instead, when he awoke, he found himself back in Bizenghast, in his shelter in the woods. He tried, over and over to kill himself again. And, over and over, he failed.
So all he could do was sit and wait. Wait until, somehow magically, he could gain the halo and wings necessary to enter Heaven.
Then, on a day just like any other, a girl and boy appeared with a strange, green cat. They talk. They ask questions. He repeats his story, about the town, about his illness, and about his Rosemary. He doesn't mention a lot. Not his almost-marriage, not his discovery of faith, and not how he killed himself.
Soon, the male child falls ill, as ill as Rosemary. The nurse tells his friend, the girl, that the boy is dying.
And he can't help but feel guilty he's killed another person's love.
When the girl comes back, claiming she has a cure, he begs her to give it to him. Begs her to let him cure her boy. The nice girl lets her do it. And, as he shatters the glass and pours the sticky stuff into the boy's throat, he thinks he sees his Rosemary.
And she's smiling. She's well again.
He feels wings sprout from his back. He feels a halo–the halo that signified you were an angel of Heaven–form above his head.
"Oh, Rosemary! You're well again!" he said, looking at her smiling face.
And, in a shimmer of light, he was gone.
He was free.