She looked through the window, grimy and dust-coated with all these years of neglect and hatred, scorned sorrow, deadly anger, and pressed a finger against the cool of the dirty glass, pulling the digit down and leaving a clear slit of cleanliness in its smooth wake.
Bending over, she peeked through and saw the world outside, burning in fire and the sweet reds of the autumn, and wished that it would all turn to January, to freeze into December, and leave sprinkling flakes of death and cold on the land.
She wished that she could see happiness consume itself, stuff one end of its colorful stream into its mouth, and chew away at its own life, chewing and snarling and biting away the wishes and hopes of children, to snatch away wishful dreams of women's romance and sparkling love.
She wished for the world to come crashing in on itself, the orb of shimmering fire closing in on its inhabitants and burning itself to bits, leaving nothing but death and the cold of the winter.
She wanted to die, to drag this inferno with her and leave nothing behind for the people of this wretched planet who dared to feel joy and happiness when she, she could no longer have anything but the numbing, blistering cold of the wind gnawing at her hands and fingers and leaving frozen blood on her cheeks.
"I miss you, child," she breathed against the glass, and it fogged up again, blocking away the fires of the grasses and the trees outside. "I wish that I could hold you now and cradle you. You're four tomorrow, aren't you? You'll like video games, then. All the children love video games nowadays. No more reading, just games. That's all they do."
She pushed her face into her pillow, smiled against it. "Tomorrow, you'll be four. Time to put away the baby toys. You'll be grown up--a big boy. No need for those."
Instead, she would buy him heaps of games, movies, all those disks and DVDs that the boys in the neighborhood loved. She'd spend a good part of her just-earned salary to get him what he wanted, what he needed. She only wished that he could tell her.
She stood up, bringing the pillow up from her bed, and she exited her bedroom quietly and headed for the baby's room.
Everything inside was dark, so dark and so cold, despite the burn in her heart and outside; she opened the window just a bit so that the flames of the orange city could flare inside the room a bit, cast dreadful, beautiful colour across the dusty rug. She coughed as her footsteps kicked up more of the dirt from the floor, sending it scattering like melting snow in this hateful heat.
She looked at the crib, at its emptiness, and the blankets that had not been touched in years. She looked at the shelves, with their dusty edges and corners that wrapped around and hugged the baby books and the toys that she'd put so much effort into choosing. She looked at the ceiling, from which the universe hung, all stars and planets swirling around in that great, blue-painted sky, the solar system dangling by a string, and settled down into the floor to think.
Everything was useless, now, wasn't it? For all she knew, it was already gone, spirited away by the ghosts of the past, descending upon her just as they'd descended upon her husband, leaving them in clouds of uncultured despair.
She gripped the pillow and inhaled the smell of sweet seawater, of palm trees and of the salty beaches. She gazed hesitantly at them and imagined sunshine streaming across the baby's room, illuminating his graceful, still form, and wanted to sink into the dusty carpet and die, rot away inside the floor where hundreds of years later, the house would crumble, and her bones would fall away from wooden planks, dirty and disgusting, and no one would want her then.
She'd be like broken glass, just like now, wilting away.
There was a jump rope on the shelf, she noticed. Yes, one of those flimsy, rubber-like jump ropes that looked as if they were made of plastic; they felt like it, too. She stepped towards the shelf and gazed at the neon green snake of plastic, ran her hands across the untouched handles. She'd taken so long to choose this one, years ago, for her gorgeous baby boy, for when he grew up enough to be able to stand, and, like all little boys, try to reach for the stars. But what would he do with it now? He would never be big enough for it, anyways.
Will it hold? she wondered, and searched for another jump rope. There were two more; she remembered buying three for the friends that her boy would surely have, because Francis and Gilbert were going to have sons, too; both were adopting little baby boys at the time, almost four full years ago, and now they would be almost four years old, and they would be standing and reaching for the stars, and she, she would be left in the darkness of the midnight sky.
Because her son simply could not touch the stars, like they could.
She hated to say it, but she despised how Francis and Arthur watched their blonde little baby boy stumble happily across the lawn, how Gilbert and Roderich's child gurgled with his little bright smile, his perfect violet eyes, and played his first notes on the piano.
How could God deprive her of a beautiful boy of her own, with tanned, olive skin and (eye colour) eyes, with tousled brown eyes and a little button nose, a boy that could have been one of her most treasured possessions in this universe?
Tonight, she promised herself, she would hang with the stars, and her little baby boy would wait no longer for her. She would hang like that sun that she hated so might, the one that shone through in these September days as if there were no wrong with the world, as if everything was right-side up; she would be the sun, and her baby boy the heavens, and they would grasp hands and cradle each day, forever, for all of eternity.
She would die to be brought back to him. Was that not a mother's duty? To love her child to no ends? Slowly, she brought the green ropes to her hands and began to grapple with it, to wind it and pull at it until it became a perfect circle. She held it towards the ceiling, painted a deep blue with all its planets dangling from strings.
She would have taught her son the name of all the planets, of the stars in the sky, and of the sun and moon, but she could not--not right now. But soon.
She knotted the jump ropes, ensuring they'd be strong enough to hold her, and stepped towards the hook in the centre of the room. She only hoped that the ceiling hook would hold on long enough for her to expire. Slowly, she dragged a large chair over under the hook.
Years ago, she could have watched her child sleep while sitting back in that old chair, humming the prettiest of tunes and admiring his serene face.
... Was it true that it took over fifteen minutes for a hanging person to asphyxiate? She'd always been scared of dying slowly, but now, her mind clouded with the heat's haze and her burning desire, she tied one end of the rope down on the ceiling hook and pulled her makeshift noose over her head. When she felt it encircle her neck, she gulped, hesitantly stepping up onto the chair.
Let yourself dangle loose, she remembered, and without another thought, she kicked the chair away, and her legs flew under her, writhing and swinging every which way and begging for her to be released.
How selfish of me to do this, she thought bitterly to herself, to build a bridge into eternal darkness for myself when I don't know who I might be leaving behind.
Yes; this was her own personal bridge of terror, hopelessness, grief. She'd built it herself, and now she prepared, eagerly, to plunge into its dark waters and leave this gloomy, colourful world behind for a greyscale universe bursting with darkness.
She could only let out a choked cry as the voice in her head screamed, (Name)! and suddenly there was the unsheathing of a sword, a sound she recognized so easily, a slice, and she was free, tumbling to the rug and gasping for air. The side of the chair hit her ribs, and she clutched at the ache, trying desperately to think.
Everything in her mind was a grey fuzz, her oesophagus feeling as if it might burst, a strange tingling flowing through her neck and throat.
Within moments, it faded, and she looked up to find glaring orbs of emerald shining angrily upon her, and she whispered, "I'm sorry," without a clue to whom she was trying to speak to.
"Why would you do this," whispered the familiar Spanish accent, and warmth settled in her bones as her husband embraced her tightly. "Why would you try to kill yourself..."
"Our son," was all she could choke out before burying her face into soft, lush brown hair that smelled of Shea butter and palm trees, salty sands and the red, hot sun, and Antonio murmured, "Oh, (Name)..." before putting a large hand to brush across her neck. He felt the impressions that the ropes had left and put his head on her shoulder, shutting his eyes. "I know that you are still hurting."
"You don't have a clue," she whimpered, pressing her nose into his strands of chocolate brown, smelling the shores of Europe and the breath of sunshine in those silky locks. "You have no idea what it's like."
He cupped her chin with her hand; made her look up at him, and when she didn't resist, he murmured, "Have you forgotten that I feel that pain, too, (Name)? Have you forgotten that I am the father of a baby boy who never got to stand on his feet, to even cry his mother's name? Darling, mi amor, I feel the same dread that you do every day: when I get out of bed, with every step I take, every moment, every hour, I remember our son. I cannot get it out of my mind, his still body, the eyes that never opened."
She wrapped her arms around him and cried, and he patted her back gently, sending shivers of hot and cold down her back, and he told her, "I would have wanted to name him 'Lovino', you know."
"... The boy that you took care of, years ago, isn't he?" she asked, withdrawing and placing her hand on her neck. She still felt the mark that the jump rope had left. "When his grandfather died."
"Sí," smiled Antonio, and leaned his head against her chest. "He was the world to me, before he left to go live with his little brother again, with Feliciano's caretaker; that was when he was four."
Four. My boy would be four right now, she thought, and he saw it in her mind.
"(Name)... isn't it time to move on? Wouldn't your baby boy want you to leave all this misery behind?" His eyes sparkled kindly as he gazed hopefully at her.
"I don't know," she said, hiding her face in her hands. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to have another baby, after what happened with our boy..."
"We could adopt. Like Francis and Arthur did, right? Didn't Gilbert and Roderich adopt their boy, too? Why not?" He cradled her in his arms as he would a child, and said firmly, "We will get past this, (Name). Do not worry."
They embraced as the flickering of the autumn skies, painted a dark spray of bristled red, splayed its shine across the room of the walls of their baby's room.
Somewhere in the lapses of her mind, the bridge to her baby boy's new world had started to crumble.