A Life with Death Anxiety

Empty blackness. It's coldness without the shivers. A sensation without the possibility to touch and feel. There's a trail of thought which never gets heard. Erased. Gone. Extinct.

The child gasped as she submerged from her covers, drenched in sweat and blood pulsating through her veins from the struggle for air. 'Are you here?' Chrissy called, clutching her cuddle pillow to her chest, 'I felt you. I knowyou.'
'I'm here,' a voice came from the dark.
'I don't want you here,' Chrissy's voice shivered and her eyes darted from one corner to the other at the sound of a shifting cloak.
'But I will always be here,' the voice wheezed beneath his breath, 'I can come after you, in the shape of a vampire, the boogey-man, a masked maniac...'
'That's just TV! I'll turn it off!'
'Oh, but I can still reach you. When you walk in the street. If you get sick. In a car -'
'Well, I'll never leave my room then!'
'- but I'm already here. I can visit you in your sleep...and you'll never wake up again.'
'No-!' Little Chrissy dived back under her covers, blocking evil with the comfort of her blanket and the protective love of her pillow.

*

'- no, no!' Chrissy gasped for air, kicked the duvet off and felt a sting of guilt as her Leopard teddy landed on the floor with a 'thump'. 'I'm sorry, Cleo...' Chrissy climbed down the bunk bed ladder in one-two; a few extra years had made her legs grow longer. She hardly needed the ladder. 'It's just safer on top,' Chrissy looked up at the top bed, then down at the bottom. A forest worth of stuffed animals were lined up and each and everyone had their tags still on.
'Chrissy, time to get up, we're going into town today!'
'Okay, Mama,' Chrissy looked after the wave of dark hair turning in the door-way and listened for the footsteps leaving a ghost trail of echoes as they faded away. The day had to go on, normal things had to be done.

'I can reach you here too, you know,' the familiar voice said. Chrissy looked up to her left, clutching her mother's hand to her right. A dark cloaked figure. A familiar silhouette. His voice mesmerized her. When he spoke, she couldn't help but obey. 'Maybe one day, you'll walk across-' he beckoned to the pedestrian crossings, 'and a car will hit you. I would make you stop breathing, just like that.'
Chrissy's gaze shifted and lingered at the crossing. The walking man went from red to green. A second of thought. Her mother started moving. Her hand was tugged. She quickly drew her breath and filled up her cheeks with air. She crossed over. No car hit her. She looked back.
'Why did you do that?' Death asked.
'You can't make me stop if I'm not already breathing.'

They returned home with a new friend; a new stuffed animal. First it was introduced to Cleo and then Chrissy found the scissor to take off the tag. The sharp blades were barely ready to hug the tag string when he spoke again.
'You know what will happen.'
She hesitated.
'You cut that, and someone will pass away.'
Chrissy's hand trembled. The scissor blade nudged the tag. 'Like your mother...Your father...your sister? Or...your grandmother?' her hand collapsed, the scissor fell to the floor. Cleo sat in Chrissy's lap, looking up at her new friend who remained earmarked. 'Hey, that makes a nice accessory!' The voice hid a laugh and drifted away. Chrissy placed her new stuffed animals with the others, grabbed her precious Cleo and climbed back to the top bed. The cover rolled over her head, the leopard guarded the entrance above her head, and air thinned like the feeble light from her room.

*

The years passed. Many pedestrian crossings were crossed with a held breath. The days seemed easier with age, although the nights never changed. Nightmares came in all shapes and forms, but he was the worst one. Something woke her up. She felt him near. She felt him when she walked onto the landing. Her grandfather passed her as if he didn't see them. Crying. Her Grandmother, wailing. She walked down. They didn't know what to say. Death put his hands on her shoulders. Weighted them down. Filled her with the spirits of ghosts.
'Your father, my dear, is dead.' Her grandparents said. She felt his cold gust of triumph. The ghosts wailed through her veins, but in her heart they lit a fire. A heat Death could not take. A blazing love he did not know. Death let go, his triumph was blown out. He disappeared and her world grew cold.

*

She spent years looking over her shoulder. He avoided her, but he left traces on her path. They lost more family members. Tears. Palms crunched into fists. Hearts hardened. She would go about her day. Her life. He would breath down her neck. She climbed a climbing wall once and heard with every step she took 'Your brother? Your mother? Yourself? Who's turn is it?'
She grabbed the highest hold and replied beneath her breath 'I will fight you independent of what comes next.'
Teddies' tags were almost all gone, not by her hand, but by someone else's.

*

Wast amount of time flies and then it seems so short. She was walking to towards her home when she saw him on the porch. His hands waved triumphantly. Her friend spoke indistinctly. Inside stood her grandmother waiting with tears running down her cheek.
'Chrissy, your mother-'
I know 'She is dead.'

*

'You think you've won, but I'll show you instead. You'll never get me, my soul, heart or head. If you think I'm going to cry, wither away, then think again because I'm going to live my life fully to the end.'

*

'Years have passed, I need you here; Mum, dad, why did you leave me?! I need you.' She closed her tearful eyes and listened for responses. A blazing hot memory of darkness and despair, of none existing feelings or breath of air. The thought of his world put hands to her neck; they tightened and strangled, but once she tried to remove them she caught her own hair instead. Her body shivered with despair. Her legs kicked in muffled protests. Her heart jumped down her arm like a rocket. She closed her eyes and let the tears run in silence.

*

Her eyes opened, the tears dried against a tightening scarf. He stood in front of her. 'What are you doing?'
'Everyone leaves. No one stays...I'm alone, I got no one!'
'I thought you made me a promise? To live life to the fullest? What battle is this, if you give up now? Are you not going to see all the things you planned to see?'
Chrissy let go of the scarf - of the loneliness, the invisibility, the abandonment - and got caught by a friend. She let the love come back to her again and chase the clouds from her sight.
'I won't ever give up, I got my friends.'

*

But new friends lied and stabbed her back, R.I.P. to the trust she had in her heart. She sat on the floor. An end in every direction, from the window to the kitchen. He put his cloak around her for protection.
'Are you giving up? Are you coming with me to be reunited?'
She picked up the phone and looked at him coldly, dialled a number of hope and life reflection. 'I'll never be like them; I'll be strong. Even on my own, I'll fight for my soul.'

*

Years passed and Chrissy turned into a young adult. Dreams built and dreams achieved. Sometimes she checks the oven once-twice-thrice so the house won't burn. Sometimes she checks the door once-twice-thriceso a murderer won't come. Lonely nights can be filled with whispers of all those independent things that wither; Alone, alone, what if she wasn't found. What if time ran out before she accomplished her goal. Her heart will skip beats; her arm will pulsate; her throat fills with a despair she can't utter. Then daylight comes and she knows she'll be fine. Looking at the world with death at her side. 'One day, I'm going out there.'
'On your own? Among murderers, rapists and human trafficking?'
'I'll make a change and bring down your chaos. I'll prove to the world that you don't matter.'
'Oh, but I do, I got you this far.'
A soft smile on her lips. 'Alright, I'll put a flower on your grave when you're the last enemy I've defeated*'

To this day, this remains true:

Death was her companion and her enemy,
from him she could never be entirely free.
How do I know?

Because Chrissy she is me**.


*Speech referencing to Lily and James' Potters tombstone in Harry Potter/ biblical reference. Interpret as (sacrificial) love being the strongest means against death because everything done in the name of love and compassion is remembered and so death will die in the shadow of a mere memory.

**Article to follow.

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