I want to show you a picture of me, before. When I was young, well truth to tell maybe not so young but oh I was a looker, a real looker. I bet you won’t believe it was me and you’ll think how did she end up like this, now?
Ha, I guess you can say it was greed did it, or just plain wickedness. Yes, to be fair it was greed. I just wanted more, more of everything really but mostly time, but even that wasn’t enough. I wanted time that was unspoiled, without the slow rot. So there we have it, everything has a price, and a time comes to pay and so it did. I’ll tell you now, just what it was like.
The first thing was the cold, horrible, shivery cold. Even before I opened my eyes I just felt chilled and weak. I remember thinking, damn flu, I was sure I’d caught a bout – but. Well, it wasn’t. The only way it was like flu was the shivering and weakness. Then the other thing, I felt thin. Yeah I know you’re thinking feeling thin is great. Time was I’d have agreed but this was different, I didn’t just feel thin I felt depleted. All this flitted through my mind in moments, as I tried to drag myself from sleep. I hadn’t even shifted under the duvet. And then I did.
Bloody flu I thought. Stiff legs, sore arms and my shoulders; the pain in my shoulders was horrible. I remember now wondering how long it was going to last and how much hassle I’d get from work because I knew, I knew right there and then that I was going to have to take at least the day off. Hah, if only eh.
Anyway, I blinked my eyes, they felt cruddy and watery and I couldn’t focus. The room was swimmy and misty. I got scared then, thought I was going blind. It seems so silly now that I didn’t realise and that I panicked about my eyes. I rolled into a ball and tried to get warm, comfy but it just didn’t happen and after a bit I knew I’d need to do more. I needed a hot shower and a drink and then to ring the office.
I threw back the duvet. Oh God, I threw it back and there it was. Me. My body. I can’t tell you what it was like that first glance. There are no words to make you understand. I had felt thin, under my hands, a starkness that felt odd but those bony limbs the sagging breasts, deflated balloons, the belly, my belly all wrinkled. Imagine, I slept naked and so there it all was grey, sagging and horrible.
Ha, now I can look back at a distance and sneer at that me. That stupid, ignorant me.
I remember the confusion but now it’s hard to understand it, really impossible to recreate it. You would have thought I would realise, immediately and think “Ah, so here we have it. It’s to be now”. Since then, with the bit of time I’ve had for reflection and to acknowledge it all I shake my head at that stupid girl, woman – whatever. But at the time, well I cried, I sat there and cried, looking down at my ruined body. I still thought it was some horrible disease and in the middle of all the confusion and fear I was searching for something, anything that would tell me what had happened. But of course there wasn’t anything, no horrible new strain of flu, no ghastly new disease sweeping in from Asia, nothing. This was just me. Me and a nightmare, but there’d be no waking, not then, not ever.
I remember I dragged myself up, creaking and groaning, lowering stringy legs to the side of the bed, wrinkled, flappy arms shaking as I pushed upright. Huh.
Of course the next part was the worst, I should have expected it but somehow hadn’t. I had made no connection and was unprepared. I staggered to the bathroom, holding onto the chair the dresser, the wall and went in to the sweet scented space. All jars and bottles and shining tiles and of course there on the wall the full length mirror. How I had loved my mirror, how I had indulged my vanity. A whole wall of reflection, the sags and bags and pouches and my face, this face. Christ.
My hair, my beautiful hair gone. Just a thin covering of grey strands over my skull, dull, dirty straw. My eyes lost behind the pouches, a sagging jaw, wrinkled cheeks. Ah, it doesn’t matter, none of it matters now but then…
I know I screamed.
Then of course, he was there, behind me, the shade and shape of him. With his smooth skin, his thick shining hair, the black of a bats wing, the sheen of silk and his eyes, his searing eyes and I remembered then alright. I remembered after all those years the bargain, and the trade off and the truth.
It’s nearly over for me now, the days are short the nights are cold and my heart can barely pump the blood around these clogged up vessels and so I write this to you now, this story of the day that he came to collect. It’s my warning.
Deal with the Devil, bargain for your youth and vigour and life, long, long life, bargain if you will but know this – He will come and you will pay and when you do the cost is far more than you can ever have imagined. The sudden, shocking loss of youth, the loss of beauty and then above all of that the loss of your immortal soul.
I am going now to gulp down some pills, some liquor and then some more pills and by the time you read this I will be lost in the circles of hell but I had to try, before I went, I had to try to warn you.