Emotional short story.
Aia knew she was sick, so sick that she wouldn’t see the next day. The tell-tale red spots of the disease wiping out the village were spreading over her body.
It was late evening and the snow was falling quickly, adding to the snow already on the ground. The very snow her bare feet were making prints in. No one was about, all fearing the disease striking down so many of the residents.
She walked through the empty town square, her white night-dress flowing with her dainty movements, one foot in front of the other, soft step after soft step. Her breathing was laboured as the disease took hold.
She savoured the cold of every step, the pain of every stone burying itself in the sole of her foot, the bitter sting of the wind blowing through the village. Loving every last sensation she could draw from life. The very last gifts she would ever receive.
Aia’s feet were blue, as were her lips. As she approached the town fountain she brought her pale, withered, almost skeletal fingers to her long, jet black, curly hair and pushed it back from her face.
Placing one small foot on the cold stone of the outer rim of the fountain, she pulled herself up using the next tier for leverage. She walked around the edge of the circular fountain, slowly feeling her way, arms outstretched and eyes closed.
The usually noisy, bubbling fountain was frozen over, all life drained by the cold. She lightly placed her foot on the ice before pulling it back from the shock, her bright green eyes bursting open. It was far colder than anything else.
Timidly she stretched her foot out again, gently touching the tip of her toe to the ice. She loved how the freezing temperature made a shiver run up her spine, how it made goose bumps appear all over her body, how it cooled the itch of the blisters that covered her body.
Stepping down from the fountain, she moved swiftly across the main plaza in town. It was completely deserted. Not a soul was to be seen anywhere that day, nor any day since the disease began to spread. She walked down a small alley that lead off from the square.
She knew this alley well. She’d grown up in this town and this had been her favourite place to be before Aniki went. She could feel the memories flooding back to her as she paced closer and closer to the wall that blocked off the bottom of the alley.
Once she got there she rested her pale forehead against the red brick. Blood began to trickle down her face, running in small streams onto her neck, down her chest to stain her once perfectly white night-dress and she laughed.
She laughed her first true laugh in months; it was not the sweet, playful laughter she once possessed, but a bitter, hollow sound she barely recognised. She kept her eyes closed as she turned round and slumped until her bottom touched the snow and sunk into its depths. Snow gripped between her fingers, she sat there and her laughter died away.
Aia hadn’t returned to this alley since Aniki was taken from her and there was no way to stop the onslaught of memories that she had tried so hard to banish from her mind. His laughter, his smile, the way he held her hand, how she’d do anything for him.
But there was nothing she could have done for him when he really needed her the most. Everyone knew no-one survived The Last Sickness, a terrible disease of the mind that made you violently sick before going insane. She’d watched him go, in 3 days, from the boy she loved, her soul mate, the one person in the world who understood her, to a shell. He was no longer a person by the third day. He sat in a chair, rocking backwards and forwards, making inhuman noises.
Tears ran down her face, mixing with the blood that still oozed from the wound on her head. She did not cry for her life, what she was about to lose but for the seconds of life she’d have to struggle through before she was reunited with Aniki. The mere thought of his hand in hers once more made her sob out loud, a small, gasping sound, barely human.
Her time was approaching quickly, she knew that, but for her, it wasn’t approaching quickly enough. Her night-dress fluttered in the wind, briefly covering her face before falling back into its place. She was starting to fall to one side as sleep began to take over. She saw Aniki’s face before her eyes, before they shut and, with a last desperate sob, she slumped over.
As the heat left the body in the snow, the flakes falling from the heavens settled on It, no longer melted by the living warmth all people posses. It would not be found for several days, by which time the blood on It’s face would have dried, the tears that barely left It’s hollow, gray eyes, some how, would remain liquid, the last proof that Aia Emere had been human, that no matter how cheerful her fake laugh, she was grieving like anyone does who loses the one they love.