What secrets they whisper behind closed doors, drawing the curtains to check the pathways of light; they think darkness inspires health, but I feel my spirit repining in these shadows. My breaths come at a dearer price every time. The clock strikes 11 in the mourning. I notice the rooster has finally stopped crowing, and I wait. And he comes.
He stands at the foot of my bed. His cloak is black, and inside is blacker. I cannot discern his face. I sigh as he sits by my bedside, kneeling over me as I feel smooth, gloved fingers grasp my own, the weight of the fabric from his sleeve resting on my waist. All other noises die away, all the hushed worries and pitying eyes. Only him.
“She will die.”
I shiver. His voice is older than the stones that fill the hills. A strangled sound escapes my throat. I compose myself, murmuring, “No.”
“Yes,” He says, unflinchingly. “What can you think to argue? You cannot deny me, so I will take her.”
My heart runs cold, for I know He never leaves empty handed. I clutch my little on in my arms, press her closer to me.
“Me. Take me.”
He grows very still. His thumb runs absently inside my palm, following the lines, as his hooded face gazes at the child I have barely known.
“Yes,” I breath. “Yes.”
Very carefully he bends over, pulls back the hood and kisses me. For a moment, half a moment, I am captivated by death.
And then I am gone, and there is nothing.