She felt so alone.
It was time, she knew. Her only child was grown and had a life and family of her own. But everyone else was gone.
She had always suffered from that irrevocable aloneness. It had come with many names, many different diagnoses... A myriad different names for something so ineffable, something so difficult to describe, but something so familiar, a friend who had always been with her when no one else had.
That friend: the constant companion of loneliness, emptiness, a sense of bleakness and difficulty to feel pleasure in daily life. The sliding of tears when others felt joy.
Such strange music. A dance she knew well. The slow hours of a day, the too-piquant drip of afternoon light at the windows.
She looked at herself in the mirror.
Baffling. She didn't look her age, she was still oddly pretty and youthful-looking, some strange trick or deception of the light. Perhaps the excess sleep she committed oftentimes to simply escape the perpetual sense of despair... But still, it didn't matter. It was time. Her very bones felt heavy with weariness and exhaustion.
She lied back in her bed and stared around at her bare apartment. Poverty and sadness went hand in hand, it seemed. And what was she hoping to find? Only silence greeted her, an empty silence, a silence without a voice, without any answers to all the questions that had plagued her during her many years of existence.
It was time to go. She knew she could slip easily into a dreamless sleep, like hands slowly moving over water. Like a song. But this time, she wouldn’t wake up.
No more of that sad, soft dripping of light at the edges of her peripheral vision. No more sighing during the endless day.
No more yearning. No more haunted, visceral longing. That terrible, soft, relentless ache which had exhausted her so, gone.
Everything was taken care of. Everything was clean, dealt with beforehand.
Everything was ready.
Except for one thing.
One unopened parcel delivered that day lay waiting on her nightstand. The only thing left to take care of. Open it, see what it contained, file it away. Be done with it.
As she would soon, so blessedly, be done with herself.
She reached for the parcel and opened it delicately and cautiously, afraid its contents would somehow deter or alter her plans. It contained a single object: a strange little black book, worn, with gilded edges. A threadbare black strap was wrapped securely around it.
She opened it to the first page.
"Christina, I'm so sorry I was never there for you," she read in what she soon realized was her father's handwriting. "I left you and your mother when you were such a tender age. The guilt of what I did has never left me. You grew up without a father, without someone to guide you. You deserved to have a father figure, and I robbed you of this. On my dying wish, I want you to have this journal, which I kept for you during my later years, and this money. Take it and make some happiness for yourself."
She stared down at the check that was creased and folded between the pages and slowly opened it with her fingertips.
A tear slid from her eye.
As the numbers danced in front of her, for the first time in her life, she felt something akin to hope. She thought of little birds in cages of a rainbow of different colors. Of a myriad things she could do with her hands. She imagined pretty pastel flowers in glass mason jars filled with fairy lights. And furry cats curled up like commas at her feet under beautiful hand stitched quilts.
And instead of sleeping, she put two feet down on the cold hardwood floor, felt warmth and joy infuse her being, and stood up.
Written by toniscales
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