// April 16, around ten o’clock in the evening //
“My death shall be beautiful…” was the line in the diary of an eleven-year-old girl that now on the inside of my eyelids blazing in the darkness.
For as long as I can remember, I have never been afraid of death. The feeling of walking on the edge, the nearness of the unknown and the end of the pain – I had always been drawn to take a sip from the cup of the Death Reaper. In a way, it was my dream to leave beautifully... and beautiful. I prepared for it for a long time, it took me a while to get there, and now it is clear that my every move, every action, every decision I made led to this moment. In the box in the bottom drawer of my bedroom dresser was an ampoule of poison – quick and painless.
I wanted to leave at sunset, sitting on a rocking bench in the garden, looking up at the sky, watching the stars light up. I wanted to breathe in the scents of wild roses and daisies growing haphazardly underfoot, listen to the birds in the bushes of bird cherry and just smile – insanely happy and easy, not worrying about tomorrow, not regretting the past in my last heartbeat. All my life I had planned for these last breaths to forget about the whole world, about duty and responsibility, about family and friends, about my mangled soul and broken psyche in childhood. I wanted to get lost and feel alive for once in my life. And then leave, feeling life itself without regret on my lips.
And now... I grinned, coming to my senses. I was dreaming some kind of delusion, like I’d been kidnapped, dragged into a dark basement and stripped for an organ operation... I opened my eyes sharply, but the picture didn’t change, it was dark and almost silent. The sound of club music and people’s laughter came as if from behind a very thick glass.
My throat was tightened by a wide garrotte, there were metal hoops on my arms and legs, and I seemed to be in a standing position, as my heels were already aching from the immobility and heaviness.
“Hey, can anyone hear me?” I shouted, but the question thumped deafly against the wall in front of me, not breaking through.
“I’m not in a coffin, am I?” I was thinking aloud, to put a calming note on the situation.
I tried to move my right leg, but my knee was chained, the velvet upholstery was tickling my skin.
“This is going to be the craziest joke of my life,” I laughed, wanting to chase away the incipient fear with this ridiculous action.
Yes, I wanted to die, but in the ‘dead suitcase’ I planned to be already lifeless. My heart beat faster, the panic hadn’t yet manifested itself, but my breathing was coming in quicker and wheezier than usual.
If this continues, how long will I stay? How much air is there?
With my head, the only part of my body I could move, I tried tapping on the back wall. But even the part of the mind responsible for meaningless and unfounded hope was categorically pessimistic.
I closed my eyes, relaxing completely. Despair was supposed to set in, but the hopelessness didn’t come. I was going to die anyway, so how was the suffocation from lack of air worse than the poison?
Except that the agony of death frightened me a little...
Sometimes I would slip into unconsciousness, losing touch with reality, but time after time I would wake up in the dark, in a cramped space. It was getting harder to breathe. I was thirsty and wanted to go to the toilet.
I cursed myself a thousand times for deciding to visit the dentist before dying.
Suddenly something subtly changed. The outside world grew louder, invisible shutters clicked, the front wall moved away. There were people around, the light of the lamps deafening the vision, but too loud music and laughs of the audience cut the ears.
“Who’s here?” I was approached by a guy who reeked of alcohol. Staggering around, he almost bumped his nose into my chest. It was only now that I realized that I was completely naked in front of the drunken party people, with only a small wooden sign covering my nipples, which were sharpened in the cold. “Oh, look, there’s something written here... ‘Be-e-wa-re ov the-e bo-mb!’ he spelled it out, causing the others to crack up in another burst of laughter.
Another taller guy with long blond hair stepped out of the crowd, squinted his eyes at me and ran his gaze over the inscription.
“Look, Grant,” he turned to someone I couldn’t see, “she’s quite good.”
“Not an atomic weapon, but it’s a small bomb,” the chuckles came from the cheering lads.
“More like a grenade. You wouldn’t mind throwing one of those after you’ve used it.”
“I like mines better...”
The company was getting more and more heated, making me blush and angry. I would have preferred never to hear those words and expressions. And I wanted to run away, but I still couldn’t move even my fingers.
“There’s a button,” the first guy tapped clumsily on the round plate next to my right shoulder.
The shackles came undone and I flew to the floor, hitting my knees painfully, but I quickly shifted and covered myself with my hands. I wanted to put my eyelids down and plug my ears, not to feel the drunken stares, not to hear the conversations. But I searched, dashing my eyes around my surroundings, for a way out, any exit, an opening for escape.
Suddenly the crowd parted and I found myself ten meters from a low platform in the center of the hall. There were other people sitting in the chairs, more serious, more sober, higher in status and position. Some were sipping whisky and smoking cigars, but all of them were also looking at me with idle curiosity.
I glanced up at the man in the middle chair, and he leaned forward to get a better look at me. He was still very young, light skin, thin wrists crossed under his chin. Narrow black eyes, hair a shade lighter. But when I caught his gaze, an electric shock shot through my soul. He stared at me silently, studying me, but it made me want to run away.
And I realized clearly that I would never be able to forget those eyes.
They pierced, drowned, and poured over me with indifference.
They were so clear and memorable.
It sent shivers down my spine.