An Immortal’s Suicide
He watched, agitated, as they died around him. Family after family, loved one after loved one, it didn’t matter. They would grow old, get sick. Always the same. Always by himself at the end. Their deaths lingered in his mind. He wouldn’t forget them; he couldn’t forget them. He sat beside their beds as they calmly entered the void. Grasped their ruined frames in the middle of the street. Spent hours pushing upon their chests in a futile attempt to get them breathing again. With each small victory, a surfeit of failure was never far away. Always the same. He could save some but what was the point? At the end of the day, and as years passed, they would perish and he would be left with nothing. He had buried enough children, wives, husbands. It was too much to bear any longer, no more. It was crucial; he had to get away. He spent years of his life isolated in a cabin high atop a mountain. He needn’t eat, sleep or shit. He exhausted his time staring blindly into nothing. It was just he and the darkness, with only his cruel memories to keep them company, never again would he get hurt.
It was chance to blame when the woman came stumbling through his door, collapsing to the ground. The sight of her prone body freezing on the hardwood brought tears to his eyes. It’s happening again. Quickly he ran to the door, shutting it nearly all the way, leaving only a small crack ajar. The sight of the snow and the harsh glare of the sun was an insufferable blur of light but he would need some of it. She was bundled tightly in her climbing gear, a puffy jacket, thick pants, large boots and gloves on both hands. Yet even wearing all of her equipment the complication was noticeably brutal. You broke your leg. Wickedly her right limb jutted outward from her, his tentative prodding causing her to cry out in pain. Her face was red and weather-beaten; evidence of frostbite was on her fleshy cheeks.
“Please,” her voice was strained and weak. “Help…”
He had nothing for her. No supplies to wrap the bone and no way to stop the bleeding. There was a bitter truth to her injury — she was better off being dead upon impact. Now she lay doomed on a deranged man’s floor. Her blood continued to welter from her leg and spread along the wood flooring. Kneeling beside the woman, his knees soon became saturated by the essence of her dwindling life.
“Stay awake — I’m going to find you some help,” he said, though he knew it fruitless. The shine of outside was nauseating; the cold wind enough to kill any other man. He trampled throughout the desolate landscape for hours upon hours without finding any other sign of life.
Pushing open the door to his secluded cabin, he had long prepared for what was awaiting. She had long since lost the battle for life; her eyes open and directed toward the doorway. Horrible, dark and accusing. “You left me to die,” they silently screamed. And she was right. He had left her for dead. The determination to search for help was fueled by the need to get away — he would not get attached to another, especially one as ill-fated as her. Even so, he wept. Wept as he had so many times before. He wept both for her and for himself. He had known her only a few short minutes but, as he looked at her body, he knew that he had loved her.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
He wanted to join her. He wished for the relief of death. So many years, so much despair, so many people he wanted to see again. As gently as possible, he reached down and grasped both of her arms; as he pulled her body along the floor, a thin trail of red followed. He left her outside to be at the mercy of the elements. He propped her body up into a sitting position and directed her head in the direction of sun. She had died in darkness but he would leave her in the light.
Inside the cabin, he barred the door by pushing his dilapidated bed against it. She would not be the last to discover his hidden cabin of purgatory. But to them he kept his door shut, his ears plugged. No matter the amount they begged, he would not answer. Without failure, the babbling of their pleas would dissipate. He tried his best to imagine them discovering sanctuary elsewhere. Isolated in his cabin, he celebrated every year that passed without another frantic cry outside his door. Some force refused him death, but — alone in his bed — he couldn’t help but smile, for he had discovered an immortal’s suicide.
more by FRANCISCO LEYVA
photograph by Ales Krivec