Charlotte

A short story written about a girl with a strange ability.

This was written for a short story contest, and the theme of the contest was scary stories. It's definitely not my usual genre, but it was good enough to win first place. Keep in mind that it is very dark, and kind of depressing.

Charlotte
by Mariah Grey

Death walks with me.

I remember the first time I met him. I saw him standing next to my grandmother’s hospital bed. My grandmother was dying of cancer, hooked up to all these machines. I was young, not yet old enough to understand Death completely (but then, who does?). He was standing, simply standing, waiting. My grandmother coughed, and he laid a pale hand on comfortingly upon her forehead. It was at that moment that I realized my grandmother was passing from this life to the next. I began to understand, a little.

 “Why?” I asked Death’s shadow, not wanting to look up and meet what I was sure would be a horrible gaze. I felt that cold hand on my shoulder.

 “All things die, Charlotte of the Crooked Sky,” he told me. And then he disappeared. I wasn't exactly sure what had just happened, but I did not ask why my sky was crooked. It was only natural. Or, in my case, unnatural.

 

 The second time I met Death, it was when my father died, three years after Grandmother left. He and I had been out running errands, when out of nowhere a large truck plowed into us in the middle of the intersection. Our small car was demolished, I later learned. As I laid among the twisted metal and scattered groceries (I don’t know for certain how I got there), I saw Death again.  He was kneeling next to Father, who had blood running down the side of his face. Death touched Father’s chest, and Father left this life. I understood, a little bit more. Death then came over to me and held his hand over my head.

 “No,” he said in his dark, whispery voice. “It’s not your time yet.”

 “Why?” I asked of Death again. “Why was it his?”

 “Because all things must have an end, Charlotte of the Broken Heart,” Death replied, and disappeared. I did not ask him why my heart was broken. I already knew.

 

 My mother started drinking after my father died. Her life slowly started going down.

 “You are such a disappointment to me, Charlotte,” she said when I told her what I had seen. “I have lost your father, and now you are losing your mind. Such a terrible disappointment.”

 “I’m sorry, Mama. I lost him, too,” I said to her. She scoffed at me.

 “You’ve lost him? Don’t talk to me about losing people. I’ve lost my husband, my brother, and my parents. I’ve seen more of death than you have, Charlotte.” I doubted that, since she didn’t believe me.

 Now I see Death everywhere. I see him standing behind Mother sometimes. Once I saw a squirrel get hit by a car, and Death was there for a split second.

 I have come to realize that Death is just another part of Life, a very real occurrence that happens to everyone, no matter who they are, how old they are, or what they do. In a way, Life is Deadly.

 My mother is dying. I see it in her eyes, aside from the fact that Death haunts her back. Her spirit has been broken, and it seems to be beyond repair. It is only a matter of time. The only question is, when? When will Mother leave this life that is so full of sorrows and joys? I have tried to ask Death, but all he says is, “It is not for you to know.” It aggravates me. A lot.

The last time I asked him this, he sighed and replied with, "Soon, Charlotte. Sooner than you know." And, predictably (who knew that you could predict Death?) he disappeared. I hurried home.

Sometimes I wonder if my life is actually death.

 

It happened a week later. I got home from school late on a rainy day, and instantly knew something was wrong. As I entered the living room, I saw Mother, the one who had taken care of me for all of my life, sprawled out in the middle of the floor. I rushed to her.

 "Mama," I whispered. "Wake up." No sign of Death yet. She opened her eyes.

 "Char... Char, I'm sorry," she rasped, her voice dry and barely above a whisper.

 "There's nothing to be sorry for, Mama," I answered her honestly.

 "I'm sorry ... for doing this ... to myself," she said, "And... for leaving you...." Death had finally arrived.

 "No, Mama," I said, even though I knew it was useless. Death was here and not to be denied. I looked up at him, then down again. She smiled a little.

 "Do you see him, Charlotte?" she asked. I nodded, unable to speak, and a tear escaped my eye to fall, uselessly, onto my shirt.

 "I... love you," she said, and for a second, I saw her spirit reaching out to take death's hand. Then they both disappeared.

 I slowly stood up and walked to the door. It was still raining as I walked to the cemetery. Death was waiting for me there.

 "Why?" I asked him, one last time.

 "Because, Charlotte of the Crystal Heart. Because." I did not ask him why my heart was crystal. I just knew.

 "So is that it?"

 "Is what it?"

 "Is this the end?"

 "Only if you want it to be."

 "I do."

 "Are you sure? There is so much more to this life than what you have seen, so much more that you could do or be." I could have. I could have lived out my life, without my family, without love. But even death sounded better than that. I reached out my hand.

 "You realize that if I do this, there's no return?" he asked.

 "Yes," I replied. He took my hand.

 "That's my Charlotte."

And we flew through the air.

 

 

End.

The End

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