Fiction by Ada Pelonia

Beyond Periphery

Blood pools in the sink, and Brie flumps onto the tiled floor. Her whimpers echo around the large bathroom, bereft of joy and dancing footsteps that used to fill every room in this apartment with glee.

She tips her head back on the bathtub’s ledge. Swirls of pitch-dark clouds circle on the ceiling. A sliver breaks open into a crevasse like some gate, and a scythe materializes from thin air with Death’s bony figure looming above.

Hey, I thought I’d see you face down on the ground now like you promised,” Death says, and Brie recognizes the familiar low timbre in its voice. But you’re not all mushy and gore. I kinda expected your brain splattered all over by the parking lot.” Disappointment is evident in its tone, mirroring hers. Turns out heights isn’t Brie’s strong suit.

31st floor is high, yeah? That’d do it,” Death says, glancing at her wrist and shaking its skull.

Please shut it.” Brie huffs, twinges of pain shooting from her left wrist. Will you take me now?”

Death billows around her. Depends. Do you have a pumpkin we can use as a makeshift carriage?”

Funny, Death. I didn’t peg you for a comedian,” she says, her voice quivering amid waves of discomfort.

Fortunate for you, that’s not in my job description, else you’ll die crying from laughter.”

As if that’d matter.” Brie sighs, her mind an endless reel of tormenting fragmented memories. Her parents muttering encouragements in the backseat, her trembling hands holding the steering wheel for the second time, blinding light, tires screeching. Guilt churns relentlessly in her gut. Please just take me.”

But Death floats around and moves past a towering laundry in the hamper before flicking the shower curtain with gusts of wind and settling on the empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner on the shelf rack.

Took you longer this time.”

Brie averts her eyes, This isn’t a joke, Death. I’m dying here.”

I bet,” Death says, its remark probing as if privy from the details in every nook and cranny of her mind.

Brie darts a glance across rivulets of blood running down her fingertips. She tries to clench her fist, but the numbness takes over.

Got someone to call this time?”

She glares at the hollows of Death’s eye sockets, rage lancing through her weakening frame. Oh, You tell me. Maybe you can conjure my parents so they can speak to their only child, thanks.” Wavelets of fury settle in the pit of her stomach as she lets out a cry. Please, just this once,” she says, her voice breaking as the wrenching grief spurs a stream of tears.

But Death only tilts its skull and scratches it, I already told you that’s not how this works, right?”

Silence fills the room until Brie snuffles. Then how does this work?”

People always see me, but I’m not hooking them by their collar just because I appeared in peripheral vision or the subway window for a second. That would be rude, no?”

I don’t get it.”

This is the longest conversation we ever had, Brie,” Death says.

A montage of memories appears in her mind. Death looking at her by the bedroom’s threshold as she coughs up a lot of phlegm while tugging at the noose hanging low on her neck. Death floating over her bed as she throws up the amalgam of pills that she took from the medicine cabinet. More recollections follow, and Brie squeezes her eyes shut at the surge.

I should probably get the pumpkin now,” Death says as it floats by her body, untangling the knots in her hair with its index phalanges.

Brie whispers gibberish, barely audible as pain and exhaustion shroud her vision. Death wipes away her tears before its hollowed-out eye sockets focus on the dark mildew at the ceiling.

Ada Pelonia

Twitter: @_adawrites
IG: @_adawrites

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