The first night I dreamed of you, you died in my arms. We were in an abandoned Victorian manor house. The floorboards creaked beneath my feet, and I followed your broken sobs to a room scattered with debris. Anguish pierced you like shards of broken glass, salivating for a taste of bare skin. You were lying on the floor with bloody hands across your ribcage. You whimpered, “I just can’t do it anymore.” I sat by your side, wrapping my arms around you as you burrowed your head into my chest. Your tears pounded and poured down the thin walls sheltering us. Life slowly fled your decaying body.
You looked up at me. Your soft gaze reflected mosaics from the last time we spoke, when we’d been eighteen, and I had cupped your face. My eyes were filled with tears and questions; so many questions lingered on that dreadful September night. I could only ask, “Are you sure?” in a soft whisper. Your lower lip was tightly pressed against your teeth. Your head barely shifted, marking your final decision.
You were eighteen and in love, but with whom, I was not sure. He was twenty-five and debonair; he was a Hector, wore charisma and nobility as his splendid armor—just the type of man your parents wanted you to marry. I was no warrior with no man in line to be a future prospect. But I still hoped any ounce of love you had for me would stop you from taking his hand.
In the dream, your hand trembled, almost reaching for my unbraided hair.
My fingers traced your face—your eyebrows, your nose, and your cheeks. I kissed your forehead, wondering if my touch brought you the peace you once said it did. Your lungs exhaled the last seconds of life in your body and breathed their last breath. Your body, freshly plucked by death, collapsed into itself. I cradled your body into me. Anger clawed its way onto my back. My arms. My legs. It left its marks all over my body. I did not dare ask for help. Or cry. I merely held the corpse.
The heart you said I too often wore on my sleeve choked me awake in tears. I was tempted to find you, just to make sure you were okay, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Renata Perez is a Mexican American multimedia creative with a passion for sparking conversations and empowering others to use their voice. As Digital Media Coordinator for Subscriptions for Authors by Ream, they have created content that helps authors connect with their audience and develop strategies for growing their platforms. Renata is also a student copywriter for the Boston University Marketing & Communications Department and has explored various formats of storytelling, such as advertising, rebranding, copywriting, photography, editorial writing, and short documentary-style projects—increasing audience engagement by up to twenty percent of audience engagement. In addition to her work in marketing, Renata is also an editorial intern and creative writer contributing to the Hey! Young Writer Organization. They are currently pursuing a B.A. in English literature with a minor in advertising at Boston University, and her ultimate goal is to capture stories that bring representation to those seeking to be heard.
Featured Image by Anthony Tran