“This is where they buried her,” Anna said to me, pointing at the ruined grave.
I didn’t want to look at the empty hole. Neither did I want to hear about her friend who’d been buried in it.
I stared at her, my eyes feasting on her sensuous lips, dark eyes, jet-black hair, unblemished skin, and the soft, delicate marks that ringed her slender neck. Her voice rang in my ears and echoed in my head like psalms sung in praise of angels and goddesses.
“Imagine I wasn’t told about it until she returned to me,” she continued.
Her jaws moved with grace, and her lips, so inviting and succulent, pulsed as if to the rhythm of my own heartbeat.
“Are you listening to me, Pete?” she asked, focusing her black eyes on me, and making furrows on her forehead.
She looked gorgeous with those creases on her forehead. I was standing very close to her. Her scent was redolent of heaven.
“Yes,” I said. “You weren’t told Isabelle was buried here until . . . Did you say she returned to you?”
“That’s right. Imagine falling in love with your best friend,” she said. “Someone who understands you perfectly.” She maintained eye contact, and I was slowly melting in her gaze.
“You were in love with her?” I asked, not taking my eyes off her. I touched her shoulder-length hair with my left hand. It felt silky. Soft and silky. I loved that feel. I twirled a strand around my index finger and let it linger there forever.
“It went deeper than that,” she said. “You see, we were born five hours apart. Our families were best friends. Isabelle was the older of us. She was my sister, Pete. The only sister I ever had. My twin sister. We grew up loving each other, and when we were fifteen, we fell in love. We grew closer as we matured.
“One Saturday six years ago we were in Thunderstorm when this skookum guy strutted over to our table and took Isabelle’s hand. He wore a black raincoat and his face was hidden beneath a wide hat. He had this weird-looking beard. It looked like a tail. A tail of a goat, but longer. He asked Isabelle to dance with him. She agreed. I watched them from my seat. I did not want to take my eyes off Isabelle. And the more I watched them, the more disturbed and jealous I became because they seemed to be getting very comfortable with each other. Plus the man’s beard seemed to be coiling and uncoiling on its own as he danced. Isabelle seemed to be in a trance, and at some point they kissed. A long, groping kiss like that between those who’ve known each other for long.
“I jumped, and I was going to pull Isabelle away from that guy when he looked at me with his left eye, and I froze. It wasn’t an eye, you see. It was a tiny moon; yellow with a black spot at its center. Isabelle wasn’t seeing it. Her eyes were closed as she kissed him passionately. I was going to scream for her to stop when the man’s beard curled around her neck like a snake. At that instant it resembled a black snake. Not a tail. Words froze in my throat.
“They started walking towards the exit, and that’s when I screamed Isabelle’s name. She did not hear me, and they kept going. I charged after them. I was angry at Isabelle. She couldn’t do that to me. She couldn’t go with a man. I also feared the man. I wasn’t sure about what I’d seen in his eye, but I was sure about the snake coiled around Isabelle’s neck. Another thing which bothered me about him was why his face was concealed underneath that insanely broad hat.
“I was right behind them when they exited the building, but when I stepped out, they’d vanished. A car started in the parking lot, and I knew then that I could do nothing to stop them. I returned to our apartment and cried. I felt betrayed. I stopped thinking about the stranger and concentrated on Isabelle. How could she do that to me?
“Four weeks passed without a word from her. Every time I thought of calling her brother to ask about her whereabouts, something told me I’d find she’d married the man. I was bitter and it stopped me from inquiring.
“Then one Friday evening she came back to me. I was reading a Joshua Reed novel when someone knocked on the door, and it was Isabelle. She looked beautiful. God, she did. I forgot about my bitterness. I did not ask her where she’d been for five weeks. I just wanted to hold her in my arms, and hold her forever. We hugged. We kissed. We went to bed.
“That was the best weekend we ever had. We both wished it never had to end.
“I was going to work on Monday when I met her brother. His name was John. He regarded me somberly, and told me that he was sorry about what had happened. I thought he was talking about our ephemeral estrangement with Isabelle, so I said it was alright since such things happened all the time. But then he added that there would be a burial the following day.
“Who’s burial? I asked. He looked surprised by this but I think he saw genuine naivety in my eyes because he told me that Isabelle had been found dead in an alleyway in T-Estate the previous evening. She’d decayed. Someone had jerked off her arms and clobbered her with them to death. Her eyes had been gouged out.
“My mind whirled. I did not tell John that at that very moment Isabelle was in my house, lying naked in bed and reading the Joshua Reed paperback I’d given her. I returned home immediately and found a decomposed corpse in my bed. It was bloated and green with pus and mold and maggots. It rose when it saw me. Graveworms writhed and dropped when it moved. It stank and barely shambled along.” Anna paused.
“What did you do?” I prompted curiously.
“It entranced me. I couldn’t stop staring at the empty sockets now packed with squirming graveworms.”
“What did it do to you?”
“It killed me!”
“What do you mean?”
“You can’t see?” she asked, and outstretched her arms. “I’m dead!”
Anna was a corpse. Its face was a mask of gangrene. It was stark naked and its belly was sickeningly distended. Its navel was hollow and a viscid greenish liquid dripped from it and ran along its belly towards its legs. Its lips dangled in shreds at the corner of its mouth, having decayed and detached from its jaws.
It grasped my neck with its wet, putrid hands and drew me against her. As it did this, its breasts squished, deflated, and squirted a dark liquid.
“Kiss me!” it ordered. Its voice was a gurgle of churning graveyard poison.
As I leaned in to kiss it, my tongue fell off and my cheek peeled out, ruining my good time. Damn!
©Peter Nena 2010
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