Endling

 
Art by:  Livia Prima

Art by: Livia Prima

 

This is not the end. I see myself reflected in this field. My other self. The self I need to be, when I need to be. Sometimes stronger, sometimes wiser, sometimes more frail but more lethal. I remain because I must, but why I remain has become dull. I remember my life before, yes. That’s as clear as ever. But how I became this is not.

My parents grew and sold flowers. Buyers came from the city for the beautiful bouquets. As a child, I helped pick weeds in the garden. As I learned more about the trade, I was sometimes allowed to help with the arrangements.

Still remember the first time my dad told me I was going to handle a bouquet all myself. It was a small arrangement--I think it was meant to be a birthday gift. Only three flowers, it was all the buyer could afford. I went to the garden and knew I wanted one of the three to be a sunflower. We grew the most vibrant sunflowers, the colors of burning gold so bright I had to squint. When I turned around I saw my father stumble out of the home, his throat slit.

Two weeks before a trio of men had shown up, demanding payment. My father refused. The men said they’d give him time to reconsider his foolishness. I remember that making me angry, them calling my father a fool. He was anything but. They came again a week after the first visit, asked if he changed his mind. My father crossed his arms, lifted his chin, and said he’d never give them anything. I was so proud of him. My mother had tears in her eyes when she hugged him that day.

Blood running down his chest, hands grasping at his throat, I ran to him. Held him as he died. That’s the last thing I remember before…Before this. Before I changed. The next thing I remember is seeing me—my body—holding my father, and he holding me. And yet, I was looking at these hands, these new hands--yet not new.

I found the men inside, the same three, taunting my mother. They’d cut her, were prodding her with their weapons. She didn’t make a sound, wouldn’t give them anything whatsoever.

The first one to turn swung at me, but I didn’t feel it. Before he could draw back to stike again, his life left him. The other two…And I do not understand how it happened, but they killed me. They did, I know they did. I felt myself die, saw it happen—somehow I witnessed myself die a second time that day. But then I stood again and felt as if I’d woken from the most restful sleep. I felt stronger than ever. The men ran.

I caught up with them. I’m not sure how. Everything about what I am now doesn’t make sense in the way I used to understand things. But I was there, at their backs, my sword running them through. The garden drank their blood. The sunflowers turned their faces towards me, their golden pedals now a rusted hue. When I looked back at my home it was only a foundation, the bones of my parents long gone.

How long have I been standing here? How long will I remain? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is not the end.