A Mournful Transition
Eyes opened and breath whooshed down into the gaping chasm of his lips, wheezing down dusty passages to find his lungs. The organs creaked and expanded like they hadn’t felt breath in hundreds of years. He tried to lift his head, but it was deadweight.
The room was slathered in dust, grey in the weak morning light. He batted his eyelashes, spraying dust into the stagnant air. It made him choke, his ribcage heaving and rattling like the body of a freight train.
A monochrome hand pressed to the dull ache in his chest. Something fluttered against his fingers. At first he thought it was beating wings, a trapped butterfly or moth, but then he realised it was the feverish beat of his heart.
He coughed, scattering more dust into the air.
Could it have been a dream? He turned to look at his watch, finding cobwebs wrapped around his wrist and stretching across the room as veils of torn silk. A dead spider lay dried out on the back of his hand. He tried to swallow down his disgust but his throat was desert dry.
He blinked, checking around for the source of the echo. His legs almost gave away when he tried to stand, unused muscles protesting. One step was as far as he got before they fell beneath him, bringing him crashing to his dusty knees.
“Daddy! Daddy! They’re coming!”
The voice petered out into nothingness again, leaving the cold house ringing in the wan air. Brown eyes looked up from the floor. The filth was inches thick, smearing his hands now. He tried to cry out, but his throat was cracked and dry, squeezing his voice into nothingness.
Adrenaline forced through him, pushing him to his unsteady feet. He ran to the door, clutching on to its crumbling frame. His eyes passed over the corridor, his breath expelling in plumes of white. A memory of sunlight and happy voices ricocheted through his mind. His fingers snapped down over his eyes, holding it in like it was going to spill out and seep away. It was too much to cram into one mind.
And then he remembered the girl. He remembered his little princess.
The voice echoed, he straightened up, shoving himself along the passageway. Sunlight and memory and the pink of her dress bled through his mind. He stumbled down the corridor, almost blind from the pain of remembering but not remembering it all. His outstretched hand connected with something solid and cold.
Surprise forced his eyes open onto the mirror.
She was standing there, beyond the glass, but she was older than he remembered. Shattered images staved through his head. He looked at her sad eyes, the dark circles, the black dress…
His little girl…
He looked around him. It was like the house had… His gaze fastened on his hands, re-examining them. They’d seemed so normal but now he could see how translucent they were, how translucent he was. He looked back at the girl in the mirror surrounded by light and life and sun, and the last memory slotted into place.
He kissed his fingertips and pressed them to the glass, remembering the accident and how he’d left her.
Remembering how he’d died.
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