I woke up in the morning, the cold stinging my bare arms. I shivered but didn't make any attempt to warm myself, to pull a blanket over me. All warmth was gone in my life, so why pretend. The water that ran above my bed flew here and there in torrents which I couldn't see, but I could feel them. My feet touched the floor, frail limbs flexing and aching, as I struggled to get to my feet. After about three more tries, I managed to stay on my feet, and I began to walk to the refrigerator.
My mind flooded with memories, horrible memories. They tortured me, tormented me, and I had no choice but to let them in.
"Hey, can we have some hot cocoa?" She asked, her voice hopeful and bright. I had passed out on the couch, without a care in the world. "Alright, I'll make some then." She started to steam the milk, but the noise was too loud. I woke up with a start, screaming.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!" I yelled, not caring about the anger I let seep through. I was too deep, too drunk to understand who I was yelling at. "I NEED TO SLEEP!! STOP MAKING THAT NOISE!!" I shook her with all my might, her whimpers for me to stop hitting a blank wall.
"Stop. No, get out!!" I whispered, ushering the foul thoughts out of my head. I wasn't going to even let that side of me in. Now, maybe she could see my remorse, from wherever she was. I picked up the pot, hands trembling, and poured some milk into it. Everyone had to start somewhere.
A few hours later, as I drank my self-pity cocoa, I thought of her. Every day I thought of her, every day, but that time it was different. That time, it felt as if she was smiling down upon me. As if that one insignificant deed had brought me that much closer to repentance. She had auburn hair. I had forgotten that before.
The door slammed behind me as I moped out of the house. What funny things doors were. They could herald the arrival of a loved one, an enemy, anyone. They could also symbolize the departure of a loved one. I remembered that night that she had closed the door. She had left as fast as she could, fed up with all the pain.
"Hi there, Mr. Whist!" My neighbor, Alyssa, was always trying to be cheerful. Alyssa had seen her slam the door, seen her rush out with her life in her hands. She forgave me. Why?
I fumbled for my flask, for relief. Alcohol had been both my savior and my damnation, from helping me through tough times to driving me mad. I didn't have a flask anymore, I realized. I would have to face my problems head-on. That realization alone made it all the worse.
I remembered her lovely attitude, her willingness to help me through all my pain. She had always cleaned my face up, washed me in the shower. She had been lovely, until she turned into a ghost, haunting my dreams. She had used to say hello to everyone on the streets, to wave, and to give them a sense of love. I remembered when I was on the receiving side of those acts of love. It felt like walking on a cloud.
"Hello, Alyssa. Good morning!" I forced my words out, trying to sound as nice as possible. We had been neighbors for over five years. Maybe she did deserve a wave every now and then. Her face contorted into an expression, something that took me a couple of seconds to recognize. Alyssa was smiling. Alyssa was smiling at me.
I smiled back as I walked through the streets. That had felt good. So that was why she was always so kind. To help make others kind too. Even though she was in heaven now, she smiled. At least, that was what I would've guessed.
Was she in heaven? I knew she had died because of the pain I caused her. I would bear that for the rest of my life. Perhaps there was no heaven. Maybe there was peace and quiet in death.
She had always loved the theater. I remembered because of the songs she would sing in the shower, melodious and strong. One of them would be upbeat, the other sad and introspective. She used to love one musical in particular. It was something about France, and a girl, but I had never been conscious for long enough to listen. A thought struck me, like a pin in a voodoo doll. I would go to the musical, whatever it was. She liked musicals, so I would too.
As I went to buy some tickets on the crowded, bustling streets, I heard a voice. A person whispering, pleading. It took me a little while to realize where it had come from.
"Please, Winston. Please, stop." The soft, trickling sound of her voice. Begging me to stop, to let go. I let out a sob, sinking to the floor and hitting my head, trying to oust it from my soul, but I would never be able to. Just like she would never forgive me.
"Winston, what are you doing? Stop, Please!" She yelled. She tried to grab my flask, tried to take it away, but I slapped her.
"Don't try to take it!! Just... Stop looking out for me!!" I screamed, dozing in and out of consciousness. Her tears mixed with my sweaty palm, and I realized what I had done. She ran, ran for her life. I tried to run after her, to bring her back, but she couldn't hear me. Her sobs echoed through the night.
I sobbed, convulsing in terror. The weight of my actions hit me full force, the pain too much to bear. It was like fighting an uphill battle against my horrible deeds. I would never be able to repent. Why had I even tried?