Until I reached the end of my question, Jessica held that perfect, innocent smile. But as soon as I finished, she broke down and began sobbing, puss pouring out of her tear ducts instead of tears.
“I know this might make you hate me, but…I made a deal.”
My heart sank. “Jessica, what did you do?”
“Death isn’t anything like what people say. He looked like an ordinary man to me. And when I died, it wasn’t so bad, just like drifting through nothingness. But I could still see you sometimes. Sometimes I’d find myself standing next to you, watching you. And I could feel your pain. I wanted so much to help you…” She sniffled. “So I asked Death to let me come back. Just one more chance. For a long time, he wouldn’t listen. It’s against the laws of nature, he said. It’s not my place, not anymore. But…but then he saw your lifespan was shortening. You were supposed to live to be an old man, you were supposed to have kids and a full life…but instead, your life was getting shorter and shorter by the minute, like a candle about to burn out. It went from 80 years to 70, to 60, to 50, to 40…” she paused to look me in the eye. “That’s when he made a deal with me. He knew that if I came back, your lifespan would return to normal. He told me that our bond was too strong, we couldn’t be separated, it was a mistake to pull us apart in the first place. He told me I could come back. The thing is, though, I couldn’t let anyone but you see me or have any contact with me. If I did, I would have to die again. Dead people don’t belong in this world, but I wanted to be with you, no matter what the cost.”
At this point, Jessica was in hysterics. I did my best to comfort her, my soothing hand careful not to pull away the rotting skin. I spoke in a low, soft voice until she gradually relaxed. She cried herself to sleep and I placed her in our bed.
I’m writing this now because I want you all to know what I know now. Sometimes, love hurts. Sometimes it hurts the ones you love the most. My love for Jessica became her burden, and now she is rotting here in front of my eyes. I can see how painful it is for her. I can see that balance must be restored.
I’ve still got my dad’s old glock in the gun safe downstairs. In a moment I’ll lay down next to the woman I love more than anything in the world and I’ll restore the balance. At least, this time, we can go together.