By Lisa McCourt Hollar
The woman on the stage was captivating. I found myself staring into her eyes while she sang. They were a pale blue. Everything about her was pale, except for her lips, which were ruby red and her dark hair, which framed her face, accentuating her eyes.
Never a dancer, I was surprised to find my toes tapping to the music. Before long my legs joined in. I felt her eyes on me and everyone else faded. It was as though she and I were alone in the room. I was performing for her and she for me.
After the show she invited me back stage. It was on the leather couch that she whispered her name to me, Lilith, and then a sharp pain in my neck followed by darkness.
I opened my eyes, confused. My wife stood over me, her hair in curlers, wearing that ratty pink robe she insisted on wearing all day, every day.
“What…” I covered my eyes and squinted through the cracks in my fingers. Why was it so bright?
“Your boss called. He said if he doesn’t see you walking through the door in fifteen minutes not to bother coming in. Ever.”
“Shit. I overslept?” I sat up, knocking a pile of beer cans to the floor. “Why didn’t you wake me?”
Joan snorted. I knew the answer to that. I don’t think she’d been up before one in, well, over a year. When our son died. That was also when I started sleeping on the couch.
I was wearing my clothes from the day before. I smoothed out the wrinkles. If I made all the lights, I could make it to work within the fifteen minute time frame.
I got stopped by every single one. Twenty minutes after leaving the house I was walking through the office doors. Maybe I could smooth things with my boss.
The elevator doors opened and she was inside. Lilith. She stared at me, her blue eyes searching my soul. The pain of losing Alex came back, Joan distancing herself from me, the drinking to forget… my heart screamed for release. I closed my eyes and begged for death.
When I opened my eyes I saw Joan staring at me, her gaze cold, uncaring. I was in my living room again, on my couch. My clothes were stained and I smelled like death.
I sat there while she packed her bag. I didn’t do anything to stop her. I popped open a can and drank my sorrows away.
I was in the club again, dancing for her.
“Who are you?” I asked.
She answered, “Death and Life.”
We danced. A dark man played a cello… or was it a double bass? I wasn’t sure. I only wanted to dance and feel her in my arms. I could feel my heart beating with the music.
I looked into her eyes and saw myself as I had been the last year. I was alive, but I wasn’t living.
She whispered into my ears, “I can show you how to live.” She kissed me and my heart slowed. The music faded and I only heard the rush of my blood as she drank.
When I woke, she was still with me. I’d accepted the gift she had to offer. I looked around my living room one last time, then took her hand and went out into the night. It was strange… I was now dead, but had been reborn. It was time to start living again.
Word Count: 593