Death speaks to me.
Sometimes quiet soft- delicate whispering- drawing me in to soothe and protect something so innocent and fragile. Death is like a child, sometimes.
Sometimes, Death is schizophrenic like me. Angry and yelling, so loud, so loud I can’t hear my own thoughts. Death, a steady blow to my head with a hammer or perhaps a bayonet. A bayonet, perhaps, because there are tools Death prefers to others. Scythes, knives, hatchets. Death will take whatever is offered, but there are certainly things that she prefers. Death is old-fashioned; Death has existed since Time herself. But Death would never hurt me. This much I know. We are friends.
I told everyone about Death, once, years ago, when I was so small I did not know better, before I felt any instinct to take care of Death, back when Death took care of me. I told everyone. I wound up telling it to a woman with a too-sweet smile, so tight to the corners of her jaw I thought it must cause the pain in her expression. So I talked with her, told her the things Death told me, the things Death liked and disliked, the arguments we sometimes had inside my head. Death hated the TV, I told her, but I loved it. I watched it after school for at least three or four hours, I told her, usually until Mom came home. Death would roar and scream at me then, angry, her words striking rhythmically against the front of my skull.
It took me a long time to resurface. The pills were like blankets, turning screams into whispers, words into white noise. Death and I into nothing, gone. nothing more than tiny echoes inside a tiny skull. A skeleton marionette: see Jenna walk, see Jenna laugh. See Jenna smile. Jenna is living, breathing, laughing. Jenna is a dumb stupid child, like any other. But she's okay now. Not sick anymore. Men in white coats, ladies with soft voices, they made her all better.
Jenna wants to be a real girl someday. She remembers- almost like a dream, only better- this is real. She could maybe swim back someday if she doesn't drown first. I could maybe swim back someday if I don't drown first. I maybe swam back someday. (I didn't drown first.) Living once upon a time.
And then, half smothered, I came up for air, skipped a dose, became myself once more. It’s hard to keep it a secret, even now that I am able to think and hear, to truly exist inside my head again. Despite everything the doctors did, all that's changed between now and then, I am still the little girl floating high above the rest. Still desperate to call down to everyone, tell them the secrets she can see from up there. But I keep them to myself this time, the magical words someone whispered to me:
Death lives on