“Who else is going to love someone like you that’s marked for death? Who else is going to be with you when you breathe your last? Who else is going to take my place and hold and keep you safe?
You were right on time to break your head and make the death bed. You were right on time to crash those galaxies and flat-line. You were right on time to make the light inside of me a life. You were right on time to meet me, crazy love, and watch us die.”
Marked for Death – Emma Ruth Rundle
So you’re gutted like a fish, so you’ve heard it happen to madams and pimps before you (when you were some young Sheila, desperate to feel, with blonde hair nearly grazing your arse like Venus), but you never thought it would happen to you. You didn’t think yourself untouchable, you knew the game, understood the reign, and the cost to come. So, you dealt your hand. Played with your pawns until you sought closure and aspired for redemption. Something in you snapped and changed just a little too late.
That’s the sad thing about reality: you want to clean up your act when the moment’s lost in time, when the pipe burns your hand, when the fix ruins your life, when the kill unravels you completely. In this sorry state, you cannot play the role of Mary Magdalene. The Virgin Mary renounced you the day you refused your Confirmation.
You look your executioner in the eyes and witness no inkling of remorse despite all the tears you brushed away with your thumbs, every kiss to each ruddy, freckled cheek, every embrace as she cried the nights away in your lap, and every tryst that tore you farther apart.
Poor, sweet Lou was a means to an end. She meant something. They all meant something. Too many you let inside; you consumed and devoured them before they could do the same to you. When fucked up shit like that happens, people get hurt and you excelled at that game.
It would have been righteous if Karen sunk that shiv into you, full circle given your chaotic, tumultuous history. Were it not for the tears pricking your eyes, you would laugh at the fucked up state of irony. The two of you die the same way: on your back, in a puddle of your own blood, your life turned into a tragedy, a horror story, a cautionary tale.
Were you still hiding behind protectors and saviors, it would have been Ruby on the ground. Would’ve been Rita, if you played your cards right. Would’ve been anyone but you. Alone, now, you gargle out a warped version of a chuckle, your vision blurred, your eyes unfocused. The taste of rust tinges your lips. Your fingers curl, uncurl, hold onto something that isn’t real.
You see things – people, ghosts, memories – that aren’t really there. You make a note to ask Karen if she experienced the same, should you share more than a brief recollection with her.
You spy Reb with slouched shoulders and a boyish flip of his hair. Reb meant something to you, a replacement or a resurrection, you weren’t sure which.
Your abdomen aches; you wonder if this is how Zara felt when she professed her love for you, said she would die for you, knelt before you countless times (three: in prison and out of prison; you remember each moment vividly and you regret your infinite cruelty in the remembrance). You wonder if this is how Kaz felt, cold and alone, with her throat sliced wide open, a gaping wound reminiscent to when you gave birth to your beloved Danny boy, as fucked as you raised him to be. Wounds are funny like that.
It’s a sharp, stabbing pain reminiscent to childbirth, a reminder of the miscarriages before your darling boy was born.
In a warped way, the gear alleviated the guilt, made you numb until you realized that you’ve been numb for years.
You keep on remembering: you remember when you left Allie for dead once, you reflect on how you spun Allie into a mirror image of yourself to feel a little less lonely, to feel a little more needed. You remember when you laid beside her, with her, poured your life into her, until it was too much and you fled, you left her behind, strung out for a white knight like Proctor to step in. Despite all her rage, that women possessed a bleeding heart – the kind too good for men to understand, guarded and rough around the edges. Maybe you hated that about Karen: the need to fix others and never herself.
In reality, you gasp for air, all too aware that this is it. The room clears out, women scuttling away from the scene of your body laid out on display. It puts a crude taste in your mouth. Reminds you of your past, of your determination to claw your way to the top. Those days, you gave and showed too much of yourself. Maybe you should have revealed more of yourself to Lou, left yourself vulnerable and admitted, we’re horrible people, darling. But there’s no point in dwelling: you’re dead and you’re bleeding and there’s red all over the place. Your memories blur together, and in death, you see the women who overdosed in your arms, the women who sacrificed themselves for you, the women who hated you. Kaz is there, glaring with her neck split, her blue eyes wrathful and teary. Drago stands at attention despite the blood, the bruises, and you see her hold her hand out to you.
Once upon a time, you bound yourself to Drago’s loyalty. You reach out to her, but not yet, experiencing the pangs of icy regret, of every misdeed on your part. You dwell on what the two of you had: long night spent awake, passing back and forth cigarettes that tastes of ash and names the two of you cared to forget. You recall on the liquor, the shots, the glasses, that made your vision as hazy as it is now, the confessions that left your lips and when you cried in her lap after Danny, after he—Christ, fuck, you can’t forget that.
There should have been a time when you didn’t use her and there was and there is now.
Before you accept the grime and the gore, the revelation of your demise, you reminisce one more time:
“This is yours as much as it is mine,” you declared to Drago one night with her arms wrapped around you, her belly and chest flush to your back. You heard her laugh, the sound equivalent to a snort, a heavy intake of breath.
You never show anyone your back, the vulnerability of your spine, but for Zara, you did. Too many you have taken for granted, too many you have cast aside.
You thaw a little and take her hand, cold shoulder be damned. So, living is hell and death is a fucked up existence masquerading as living. You’re a ghost when the prison explodes, you’re a name in someone’s mouth, and in time, you’ll be forgotten.