There was water boiling over the pot on the stove the night my niece died. She told me she was craving wheat noodles, so I stopped everything I was doing to satisfy her. I heard the water sizzling as it leaked over the scalding edges of the pot, and immediately ran to turn off the flames. “I’m hungry!” she kept yelling. “Please tell me you did not ruin dinner!” “I’m sorry little love.” I chanted as I rushed the noodles to the sink. I let cold water run over them, but it was too late. The noodles had burnt up and were sticking to the steel. I could see the shadow of her bowing in the doorway, her tiny body shuddering with hysterical sobs. I scratched out the charred noodles and handed them to her. “Wipe your tears.” I whispered. I was crying too. She grabbed my leg and cuddled it when she noticed. I leaned against the wall like a ghost watching his loved ones play on without him, expression doleful and hateful at once. I knew she was drying when I felt her grip loosen around my limb. “It’s okay dear. Go ahead, die. I cannot take care of you the way death can.” Her body dropped from me, carefully sprawling across the floor. I stared at her, face white with grief, eyes bulging as if I despised her, and kneeling at her side, I lifted her over my shoulder and carried her upstairs.
Her body rested on the bed while I sat in a wooden chair by the window. It didn’t hit me how alone I was until I howled for over an hour and heard nothing except my violent pulse. “Mercy!” I moaned. “I let her starve! I am a monster!” “No, you are helpless.” I heard a feminine voice. I couldn’t believe someone was talking. I felt dizzy with misery. “No!” the voice suddenly growled. “Look towards the bed. I am ahead of you.” I busted out laughing when I saw a huge bottle of Merlot standing beside of my dead niece, its fingers stroking her hair. “I am in a dangerous state of heartbreak.” I said. The bottle stepped forward, maroon liquid splashing from its head. Its arms looked like overgrown vines, extremely long and thorny. My eyes were so large with horror it felt like my eyelids were ripping; and when the bottle abruptly wrapped its arms around me, I screamed so loud that the reverberation cracked its glass. “That’s not a problem.” It whispered as it swung my knees over its elbow, attempting to carry me. “I’ll spill enough of my toxins to numb you from this ugly grief.”
The bottle lifted my head to where its heart should be and told me to drink from the crack my scream had made. I gulped the wine until my brain felt like it was dying. An intense feeling of fatigue began to overwhelm me, and with it came devastating hallucinations. My niece was running into the kitchen, her ribs showing through her shirt. “Uncle, I want cake! I want it to be my birthday one more time!” Tears drained down her face. They looked silver in the lamp light. I chased her, weeping, knowing I was helpless to give her what she wanted.
I grabbed her, raising her high above me so she and I could see into each other. I wanted her to see my spirit, how guilty and sorrowful it was for her suffering. “Happy birthday, my disheveled baby. I am a mess too.” She closed her eyes and whispered “Just one slice would have been enough before I die. I cannot remember a good taste. My whole body has forgotten the pleasure of indulgence.”
The bottle was almost empty, but I kept drinking, even when it sighed, “that is enough, I am almost dead.” Severely intoxicated, I fell from its arms. I was laughing like a depressed man having visions of happiness, desperately and a bit madly. “Are you going to pass now too?” I asked, noticing the bottle stumbling against the wall. “I might, but it is okay. You’ll be lifeless with me. At least you get to have a taste in your mouth before you die.” Its remark was so sly and hurtful I roared until I made its entire body break. The bottle lay in shards, its arms still moving as if it wanted a hug from someone. I still tasted Merlot as my mind began to drown in loneliness, and eventually in death.
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