A blessed death By Alexandra Molloy

“There was a candle that my grandmother would always light each night in October. It would be sitting on the top shelf above her empty fireplace. When I must have been, I think, four at the time, I remember reaching for that unlit candle one night. My grandmother would always read a thick, black leather-bound book before lighting that candle. I remember hearing her walking into the room with that black-leathered book, her thumb stuck between a couple pages to keep her place, muttering some words under her breath. She walked through the doorway to see me stretching my little grasping fingers toward the candle. I didn’t understand it then, but, when I heard the book drop from her hands and heard her horrified gasp, I stopped reaching for the candle. She sputtered something about the devil, and….”

“And what, Stevens?” Dr. Phillips urged in a placid tone as he scribbled down words onto his notepad. A large breath filled my lungs before slowly exhaling through my open mouth. The images of that night came back to me like a slow, cumbersome wave rolling its way toward the shore.

“...and...and she closes the book and grabs my thin wrist reaching for the candle. She…” I paused for a moment, closing my eyes. “...She hurriedly pulls me off the antiqued chair I used to help me reach the candle.” I stop and reopened my eyes to look at the nearly balding Dr. Phillips. His scribbling on the notepad ceased. The wrinkles around his grey eyes crinkled as he gave me a small twitch of a smile to urge me on. Another large breath sucked itself into my lungs and pushed its way out through my mouth. My eyelids fluttered as the words flow out. “As she dragged me off the chair away from the candle, she said ‘Macaria to be forgotten.’”

“Macaria to be forgotten?” Dr. Phillips inquired, crinkling his eyes. “Yes,” I nodded, focusing my attention on the twitch of a frown that barely registered on his aged face, “my grandmother said ‘Macaria to be forgotten.’” Dr. Phillips stood up from his red-cushioned, wooden stool, and placed his notepad and pen onto it. “Macaria, hmmm,” he mumbled, limping toward his desk piled with a chaos of papers pulled from different notepads, maps and books. I sat up from the beaten forest green couch. “Is something wrong, Dr. Phillips?” my voice finished, an octave higher than normal. My left knee drummed up and down.

Forgotten is Macaria.

Dr. Phillips cleared his throat. As he did, the crinkling around his eyes returned to their normal, jovial wrinkled form. “Everything will be fine, Stevens. Now come here, I have something to give you.” The drumming of my knee ceased as I rose from the couch. I made my way over to his desk and stopped in front of it. As he shuffled through his chaotic desk, Dr. Phillips pulled out a yellowed, sealed envelope and handed it to me. My quivering palms ceased as I took the envelop from him. “What’s in this? It feels heavy.” I gave it a slight shake.

Dr. Phillips cleared his throat again, suppressing a chuckle. “It’s a letter.” I furrowed my eyebrows at him. “This seems to be a little too heavy to just be a letter, Dr. Phillips.” At that, the wrinkles around his eyes almost displayed a kind of malevolence, showing a missing front tooth. “It’s a long letter, Stevens.” I gave him a chuckle and an eyeroll. “Whatever you say, Dr. Phillips.” Pulling my phone out of my pocket with my free hand, I checked the time. My eyelids stretched wide. “Uh, sorry Dr. Phillips, but I need to go home now!” I turned away from him and the desk and raced toward the door. Just as I opened his creaking back door, Dr. Phillips stopped me. “Stevens! Before you go…”

I turned my head back toward the elderly man now sitting behind his desk. “Yes, Dr. Phillips?” He gestured to the yellowed-vanilla envelope clutched in my right hand, pointing his boney finger. “Read that letter before you light the candle.” He gave me another smile, this time revealing a bottom front tooth missing instead of a top one. That was weird. I blinked away my confusion, giving him a thumbs up and a slight giggle before exiting. The run home went by in a blink of an eye. The sun faded away and the moon shined high through pockets of the cloudy grey sky. I situated myself, sitting crossed-legged in front of my grandmother’s empty fireplace, her black-leather bound book in my lap alongside the envelope Dr. Phillips gave me in my hands. I tore the envelope open, revealing a thick pile of stained papers. Lifting them up, I began to read aloud, “Macaria is the daughter of Hades in Greek mythology who…”

Some letters are better left unread and untouched

Thirteen hours later…

A breaking news report flooded the news stations. “We have just got reports stating a young teen by the name of Angela Stevens was found dead in her apartment last night holding an empty envelope and a broken candle by her feet. We also just got news confirming the death of Dr. Aides Plouton Phillips…” In the far-off distance of the town, a figure stood high upon a hill under what appeared to be a near-dead willow tree. The figure seemed to be holding a helmet of sorts. The figure slipped on the helmet and disappeared from sight.

Alexandra Molloy can be reached at amolloy@umass.edu.

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