My mouth was dry and my heart beat so hard I thought it would burst. Then the tears began to fall. Slowly at first but then faster; hot sticky tears rolling down my cheeks and clouding my vision. But I couldn't un-see the sight in front of me. The scene was but a few moments old and yet I knew the sight I was looking upon now would forever be embedded in my mind. The tears were catching up with me as my breath came out in long, ragged gasps. I had gotten to the gulping-for-air stage of crying. I didn't often cry. I could only be described as apathetic, seeing but not quite feeling. I labelled people who cried often attention seekers, rolling my eyes at their sudden displays of affection. Of course I occasionally cried. I wasn't a total robot. But I preferred it to be a private affair, not something to be done in public. Anytime I had cried in the past the tears that had fallen were full of anger, fury, positive frustration, times when I was angry at the world and at those around me. Anytime I was angry at myself I found myself in a dark room, headphones jammed into my ears, some trashy grunge singer screeching into my ear, pretending to be Kurt Cobain. But these weren't tears of frustration, not even the scarcely seen tears of self hatred. These were tears of shock and despair, uncensored as I realised my current situation. I let out a low whine, one full of pain and sorrow. My mother always told me I had an answer for everything. She said it with fondness, her eyes sparkling, shaking her head in mock despair. If only she could see me now. I had an answer for everything right? So why didn't I understand what was happening right now? I began to back away, slowly at first but then with more purpose, suddenly intent on getting away.
But I had always been clumsy. I was small and blonde with pale skin, my long hair cascading down my back I looked graceful, fragile even. Easily broken. But my illusion of grace was broken, shattered like shards of glass as I accidentally tripped, fell and damaged my way through life.
As I backed away my feet tangled and I was brought to the ground with a thud. The coldness of the floor spread over me, making me shiver. But I did not try to get up, I didn't try to run away. Instead I brought my knees up and hunched over almost as if I was trying to curl up inside myself, to disappear, to dislodge myself from the scene. I wrapped my thin arms around myself and rubbed my arms, suddenly freezing, occasionally catching my fingers on the bones of my elbow joint. I made no attempt to get up, only resting my head on my knees, my long blonde hair forming a silky curtain over my face. I was beginning to stop crying as I rocked backwards and forwards, slowly but persistently. I became aware of how crazy I must look but dismissed the thought. All was silent around me and it was obvious I was alone in the house. Besides, at that point I felt crazy.
Sniffing away the last of the tears I dragged an arm past my face wiping away drying tears on my tear streaked face. I had mostly stopped crying because of the shock like a crying baby being shaken into submission by an inexperienced baby sitter. The absence of my crying suddenly made me realise how quiet it really was. Too quiet in this dark basement, eerily quiet. I felt as though right there and then in the dark basement real life didn't exist for me anymore. I felt as though the house had swallowed me up, as though the shadows had a hold of me, silently pulling me away from the real world, sufficating me with their power, dragging me down, drowning me with their black air, slowly killing me. Sitting alone in the basement it felt as though I was forgotten, as though I didn't exist. The first floor of the house could be reached by a small staircase, old and creaky with age, the white paint flecking off in places but still perfectly usable, the banister long and narrow, worn with age, never to be touched again as though one tiny bit of pressure might bring the whole thing down. Even with the staricase a few feet away from where I was hunched I felt as though there was no way up to the ground floor above, as though I was destined to dwell in the dank basement for eternity, the musty smell of damp hanging low in the air. I felt as though I was a young kit hiding in my earthy burrow, my small white tail flicking in the air and my paws scrabbling, scratching the earth and scattering soil as I run from my hunter, the fox. My mother and my father the buck nowhere to be seen as I camped out in my earthy burrow, heart hammering, praying my hunter would not seek me out a second time.
I gazed around the small room I was in trying to get my bearings straight as though seeing what was around me would help me better understand my situation, as though a minor detail, the decor of the room, anything brought to my attention might suddenly clear my head. As if it would all shift into place and solve the situation, cease the banging in my head brought on my too much crying and too many questions with not enough answers. What I saw around me didn't spark any inspiration. It was the same dark basement of the house I had lived in with my parents for barely six months. Old pieces of furniture no one wanted anymore, books of all description and boxes littered the floor, crammed into every space until like my bedroom not much of the floor could be seen and one must pick their way through the chaos in order to reach what they desire.
I looked up, lifting my head from my bony knees, my curtain of hair lifting up through the movement, my neck suddenly sore from being bent for so long. I stretched my gaze towards the ceiling and watched a small spider make its way along the space where the wall and the roof meet, slowly and steadily towards a huge damp patch spreading through the circuference of the ceiling. I took a deep breath and tried to process my thoughts. My mind was racing as my breathing making shallow once again. I pushed the palm of my hand onto my forehead as if the pressure would make the thoughts go away. I tried to calculate how long I had been in the dark attic room, how long it had been since the sight of what was but a few feet away had made my blood run cold. It must have been but a few moments ago and yet it felt like hours. I dug my sharp nails into my forearm, biting my lip until I felt blood gush over my tongue, trying to work up enough courage to face for the second time what was causing me so much distress. My head swam as I pulled myself upwards, my legs weak and faltering as a result of being sedentary for so long. I shook my head, scattering my thoughts as I made my way over to the corner of the room, head still reeling and suddenly it was there in front of me, unmistakable.
It wasn't clear how long the body had been there for but it looked like a while. Blowflies buzzed around the body, some landing on the neck, the arms, the legs, the tangled hair. Some even landed on the open pair of eyes, cold and staring, seemingly void of any emotion as though the person they belonged to could never have been alive. The sound of the buzzing was deafening and I realised the blow flies had been ever present, their loud drones overpowering. I realised the spider I had seen earlier was not making its way over to the damp patch on the ceiling but to the corner of the ceiling where in a long, complicated, lacy web a lone blow fly languished, struggling to break free. And that's when it hit me. The stench of the rotting corpse was overpowering, making me cough and gag, gasping for air. I was rooted to the spot, fixated with the sight in front of me. I wondered why the sight of the blowflies and the stench of the corpse had only just hit me when it was so unmistakable one could never ignore it. It was almost like reverse apathetic ism, like in my grief I was clouded, feeling but not seeing. Swallowing vomit I looked upon the body seeing clearly for the first time the pale skin that was turning almost blue in places. I looked upon the hands that seemed to be gasping for something. For another person? For life, for breath, for air. I looked upon the long blanket of wavy blonde hair. I looked upon the mouth, open as if the last thing this person had ever done, had ever tried to do was scream. Or sob. I looked upon the clothes I knew so well. The thin cotton dress, long and flowing reaching well over the knees, the black converse, old and worn, laces trailing, one lace slightly blackened as a result of one long summers day in the park when a friend had tried to set it on fire for a joke.
I stared down at myself, at the same cotton dress, at the same Converse shoes with the trailing laces. I stared down at myself, my cold, dead body laying on the floor, tears once again welling in my eyes and dripping down m cheeks. A million questions swam through my mind as I touched my arm, disbelieving. It didn't seem real, paper thin. I felt as though I was part of a game someone was playing and had given up on halfway through, a doll abandoned in a corner, eyes rolled back in my plastic head, limbs splayed about all angles as though broken. By this time my heart was hammering, beating faster than ever before. I was crying hysterically, screaming and yet I had only just noticed. I was dead, unmistakenably dead and yet I didn't remember dying. Hell, at this point I barely even remembered being alive. Yesterday felt so long ago I wasn't sure if it had even happened. It felt as though my whole life had merged into one long never ending day. I stepped back and found myself one the floor once again. I dragged an arm across my face once again and shifted around, my fingers catching on something. I blinked back tears and focused on what I was holding in my hands.
The banister. The old, worn banister from the stairs, the same banister my mother had told me never to touch just months ago for fear that the whole thing would give way. From my position on the floor I glanced upwards and caught my eye on the staircase directly above me. One rackety, dusty old staircase, white paint flecking away, and worn with age, minus one old banister that wasn't to be used under any circumstances. My body lay feet away, a small head injury clearly visible from where I was sitting, a head injury big enough to kill. And it did kill. It killed me. It killed me. I had fallen from the stairs, banging my head. I pulled myself from my position on the floor, pacing the floor, keeping away from the body on the floor. My body.
I looked at the staircase, at the door. I made my way up the short staircase, steadily, one step at a time. I reached the door and suddenly burst into tears, grabbing the hanging and yanking it up and down, screaming to be let out but only silence greeted me. No one could hear me. Of course, I didn't understand. I didn't understand anything. I looked down at myself wondering how any of this could even be real.
I was a victim of circumstance, my death a stupid mistake. But none the less this wasn't how I'd pictured it, this wasn't what I wanted. I wasn't a body mutilated and bloody at the expense of some deranged serial killer. I wasn't a bloody head found floating in the river. I wasn't a body lying lifeless on the road, a driver sobbing and running his hands through his hair by my side. But I wasn't old and withered, slipping from the clutches of life in my bed seventy years from now.
I was dead in the basement a faulty banister putting an end to my life. A faulty banister, a cold, hard concrete floor, a small trickle of blood dried on the floor. I was dead. I was trapped. I was simply a corpse. A corpse with a beating heart.