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  • Writer's pictureJulia Roscoe

Immortality is a bit$%

Life is unpredictable. The only thing one can be certain of is death.

Yeah, I used to think that too. But it’s been almost two hundred years and I’m still around.

After falling from a horse and cracking my neck, only to get back on my feet, put my head into its place and have to chase after the mother-fuc@#%* horse, I realized death wasn’t in the picture.

Nice, huh?

Well, not so much. Immortality can be pretty lonely.

To begin with, I started off this life all by myself. A train conductor found newborn me on a bench at the last station. There was no way of knowing who had left me there, after all, trains are known for meeting new people every day and seeing old faces by the hundreds. Believe me, I would know. About 75 years ago I tried to find my mother: I tracked down every single person I knew had taken that train on that particular day. Over a decade later, the hunt had gotten me nowhere.

But I didn’t exactly grow up without a family.

The conductor had a sister who was trying to get pregnant and was more than willing to take me as her son. She did her best to make me feel at home, while, on my part, I did what I could to behave.

It wasn’t easy. At school, teachers would get angry with me for saying things like: “death is not the end” and “the church is wrong, hell isn’t for sinners”. My classmates would laugh at first, thinking I was being funny, the class clown. I wasn’t. Somehow, these truths came to me and they were as easy to see as one sees the blue sky.

No one really got me. Hell, I didn’t get it myself.

Obviously, things got weirder after that shit with the horse. Luckily, no one was around to see.

Immortality is a lonely bit$%. Years after taking my for-all-due-purposes-mother, it was going to take the only person I have truly connected to.

“Promise me you won’t lock yourself up in your shell”, the old woman’s voice is husky. She clears it up and insists once more, “Promise me, Edgar”.

“I can’t do it, Celine. Not without you”.

Damn it. I can’t let her see me crying. Not because of that men-don’t-cry bullshit, but because I don’t want to make this harder on her.

Celine has been dealing with all of my crap for over fifty years now. She is the only one who knows my secret. And I’m the reason she didn’t have a normal life. After all, we could never stay too long in the same place or people would start wondering why that young man with an old man’s name isn’t getting any older. Soon, I went from Celine’s husband to friend and, finally, nephew.

I couldn’t give her any kids on the risk of them ending up like me. We didn’t make many friends. Well, Celine did, she is kind and compassionate that way, but relationships didn’t last, only long enough until we had to move again.

“I know that look”, she squeezes my hand, reprimanding and comforting me at the same time. “Remember, you were only happy once you let yourself be”.

“You’re right. My life didn’t start until you came along”.

We both pause to look back at the moment we met. It was in college: I had stopped fooling around school and was taking my second, no, third PhD. Celine was a freshman, already determined enough to know what she wanted and go for it.

I was the lucky bastard.

“I couldn’t understand how someone could be so mature and childish at the same time”, she remembers, proving we are thinking about the same thing. “It all made sense when you told me your secret”, she laughs, but her laughter soon turns into a coughing fit.

For the hundredth time, I look around, searching for something that can help her. There is nothing, nothing I can do.

“Remember that few years in Colorado?” She opens a smile when she is done coughing.

“You loved the mountain view. And hiking. The idea of hiking, at least”.

We both smile.

The doctor comes in. She is young, too young, but they all look like that to me. Checking Celine’s record, then doing a quick exam, the doctor’s expression isn’t promising.

She hides it well, though.

“Your nephew is a good man, Celine. It is rare to see young men like him looking after their family”, she speaks loudly, making sure the elderly woman will hear her.

Celine hates when people do that. Her hearing is in perfect condition. It’s everything else that is not.

Even on her deathbed, she is kind and smiles at the doctor, making small talk.

On the other hand, I want to send the doctor away and have the last moments alone with my wife.

Celine notices this and pretends to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence. She winks at me once the doctor leaves the room.

“I’ll miss this”, I suddenly say. “This” being all things related to her: her smile, her humor, her scent, even her complaints.

What did I say? Immortality is a lonely bit$%.

“Edgar, listen to me”, she urges and I can hear from her tone that this is it. “I’ll wait for you. Whenever you can, come to me. I know you will find a way”.

This is not the time to argue. Before Celine, I tried a way out of this life; it isn’t worth it alone and I had been alone for over a hundred years. Fire, ice, gunpowder, axe, poison, you name it and I’ve survived it. Without a scratch.

“Well, I suppose if something can kill me, it’s you”, I try to make a joke. Bad timing.

She doesn’t mind. Her smile widens and stays that way. A curve on her face unlike the straight line on the monitor.

I weep like a baby.

My sadness turns into rage and I scream at the nurses who come for her. They finally leave me be. And I shout to the sky, to the great beyond I was so sure existed when I was a boy.

“Take me, death. Take me instead. She can have this stupid gift. Take me!”

I don’t know how long I scream by myself, hours (maybe) later, one of the nurses comes back.

“Are you ready, Edgar?”

Her voice echoes in the room, which sounds strange so I turn to face her.

Like a bloody 90s cartoon, she is covered by a black cloak, hood and all. The only thing missing is the reaping hook.

“I am”, I mumble. “Take me. Take me in her place”.

Death shakes her head. “This is not how it works. Her life is finished. But yours doesn’t have to be. Are you sure?”

A simmering rage erupts from the depths of me.

“More sure than my mother was when she abandoned me to a life of emptiness and senseless searches”.

Sighing, Death pushes her hood behind, revealing her face.

It takes me a moment to get it, my mind struggling to grasp around a concept so out of ordinary. Well, my life has been nothing but extra. Ever since birth. Born of this… woman? Entity?

She sees in my eyes, the exact color and shape of hers, when I understand.

“I wanted to give you the chance of a full life before claiming you to me. I didn’t abandon you. I was always there. Every time you fell, I was there.”

Words are beyond me now as I have my questions answered. All of them.

“Celine is a beautiful soul. I can see why you want to be with her.”

My urgent concerns make me speak. “Is it possible?” I gaze from my dear Celine on the bed, lying still, to my birth mother, the Angel of Death. Can I have a chance in the afterlife?

“You are not going to Paradise, neither of you, not yet anyway”, my mother smiles and she suddenly becomes more like a person that way, real. “But I can pull some strings and make sure you meet in the next life. You’ll have to figure out by yourself from there”.

“Okay, I can do this.”

“Are you sure, Edgar?” She asks one more time, before stepping closer and laying a kiss on my cheek.

“Hey, toss me that”.

I turn around and see the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.

“Kid, the ball”, she shouts.

Down at my feet there is a red ball, which I pick up and throw back at her. Instead of going to the girl’s hand, it goes straight into the neighbor’s window and we hear something break inside.

The girl’s eyebrows reach her hair line. “Run!” She shouts again and I follow her down the street.

When we’re out of sight, she sighs. “That was wild. I’m Celine, by the way.”

“Edgar”, I reach my hand out like I’ve seen the grownups do.

“Nice to meet you, Edgar”.


João Menegale Barbi
João Menegale Barbi

You are writing better and better through each day. I am really proud of you!

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