It was better in the nothing.
My skin’s crawling all the time now that I’m alive again. It feels wrong. Feels like I’m out of tune with the world by just a quarter of a millisecond, but that’s enough. I don’t blink in time with the others.
No one understands. I thought maybe the undead would get what I’m feeling, what it feels like to be unnaturally extended in the world, to be out of beat, but no. That’s how I know no vampire is really still human. If they were still human, they’d feel it.
Spike pretends he knows what the hell I’m talking about. He talks about feeling different than the rotten, unresurrected pack of humans that pass by, but that’s not what I mean. He just feels superhuman or subhuman or whatever a vamp is. I can’t even pass a tree without feeling like I shouldn’t be, that I’m not quite real. And despite knowing that Spike’s strange and inhuman, too, he feels more a part of the universe than I do.
Funny thought. The demon takes over the instant the human is dead. There’s no gap, there’s no lingering spirit there trying to come to grips with the horror of it all.
Ultimately, that means every undead bloodsucking demon on earth has more of a right to exist than I do.
I’m alone. Out of beat, out of time, out of reasons, and I’m out of mind with no one to tell me what it means. Why did they bring me back? Didn’t they know I was better off dead?
It’s wrong wrong wrong in a way that makes me want to scream and curl up into a ball in the corner. Want to disappear. Want to die and never come back because this is wrong. I shouldn’t be here.
Goddamn them all, but not God-damn, because there’s no God. God wouldn’t let Willow fuss with the nature of life and death if He was an omnipotent, omniscient deity. He would know that this was wrong, that every cell in my body screamed to be decaying in the dirt.
I want to kill myself, but there’s no guarantee they won’t fix me up again. I meant to last it out and not come back at all. They had to call and call–
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
(When I’m alone, and I’m alone a lot, I read my books from last semester, when I was trying to be real Buffy, not Lady Lazarus, not the Slayer who knew that not only Dying, but Death, was an art. I have nothing better to do. So now, with Sylvia Plath, I can whisper, “I do it exceptionally well.”)
The worst part is that they’re starting to realize that it was a mistake to bring me back. Maybe I could endure this living out of time if my friends didn’t fade away every time I got close.
Even Spike, for all he’s trying to make good on a golden opportunity, pulls away. He wants to love me, but he can’t manage the same obsessive desire now that he’s mourned me and buried me in his head.
Worst of all, Willow’s eyes flicker with doubt every time she sees me. Maybe she can feel that something’s wrong, that this was not supposed to be. And that makes me wonder, because I’ve died twice (once only a little), and that can’t be right. There has to be some law, some rule, some consequence that comes from defying death like this.
Screw it, screw it, screw it. I always break rules, but it’s never gotten me like this, a screaming in the back of my head that only I can hear. Why won’t it stop? Why does it keep screaming at me?
Dawn keeps me alive. Being somewhat unnatural herself, she doesn’t seem to flinch whenever I hug her, whenever I pet her hair. When she tells me she’s glad I’m alive, I believe her. I try to hide the loneliness, the anger, the sick-to-my-stomach feeling I have every morning when I open my eyes to find myself still alive.
Funny thing is that in the morning, before I move and feel the first tingle in the air that reminds me that I shouldn’t be, I feel almost normal. I feel like the same old Buffy. I feel like myself and for some reason that’s worse than any other feeling I could have.
I know I shouldn’t be. They should take Faith out of that cell, or kill her and give the job to the next unlucky winner in the Slayer Sweepstakes, and I should be bones and a memory. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Buffy, the God Slayer (even though that was technically Giles). Slayer amongst slayers, another grand old story to tell young Watchers. I should be a legend now, sleeping in all those dusty books Giles loves.
Instead I’m Buffy, the unfortunate monster walking the world pretending nothing’s happened.
I keep walking. I keep living. I do it so it feels like hell.
I guess you could say, Sylvia, that I have a call.
Dawn’s coming home soon. I have to stop brooding. I brood too much now, she keeps joking and calling me Angel. Angel hasn’t come to visit except the once. When he saw me, he recoiled.
He said it was from surprise.
Then he ran off to Los Angeles and hasn’t called, hasn’t written, hasn’t even sent an enigmatic message via Cordelia. Funny again. Angel’s the only one honest enough to confront the wrongness that is me, and he’s a coward. He won’t tell me to my face, but only through what isn’t said.
I think I hear Dawn at the door.
The sun is shining on me, and I lift a hand to stare at it before I go downstairs, welcome her home, offer an afternoon snack.
A sort of walking miracle, my skin.
Pity I don’t want it. It’s not a miracle, really. But it’s alive, it’s glowing under the sunlight when it should be lining the wood of the coffin.
I should be grateful, but I can’t be. I can’t be anything except empty, because this shouldn’t be. This is wrong.
I close my eyes. I stand up.
I do it so it feels real. For Dawn. I told her that the hardest thing in the world was to live in it.
I didn’t know that I would have to live in it like this.
I open my eyes. I do it so it feels real.
For Dawn. For Dawnfordawndawnfordawnfordawn–