The last concrete thing I remember before killing myself was the phone call. Even as I pace the halls of my house, the echoes of the man’s voice on the other line still haunts these walls.

“There was an accident at the plant,” he said, “And Ivan is getting weaker by the minute.”

I didn’t have faith that he would survive. Only minutes later, news channels were blasted with incessant blabbering on the chemical spill, that something had gone wrong at the plant, that anyone who was in the area of the spill would soon be infected at best, dead in ten minutes at worst. Ivan and a few other men happened to survive, but they were in the hospital. I could only imagine Ivan’s features getting deformed by the minute, teeth rotting from his gums, eyes melting in his sockets as tumors grew idly on his head like they had all the time in the world. Doctors did their best, but their best was never good enough with the budget in our village.

I can still hear what the villagers say outside my house, especially when they first left their condolences. Like a few dead flower bouquets would help me now, much less the food they left outside. It was the kids especially that would gossip about my death. They always said I killed myself in my wedding dress, that I stuck my head in the oven, that I mutilated myself just to appear that I had been poisoned by a chemical spill. The truth is much more dull than that, but it did entertain me to hear what story the kids would come up with next. Sometimes I whispered Ivan’s name, or I scratched my nails against the walls loud enough for the kids to hear, just to give something back to them, a little treat for their overactive imaginations.

It was when they discussed why I killed myself, though, that always made me laugh. They always said that the grief was too much for me to handle. That Ivan’s deformities would make it impossible for him to get another job, and I was already too sick to work. That I had no one else when he married me, but now that he was gone, I was truly alone.

I remembered being alone when he married me, though. Anything of friends, family, or anyone else outside this little house is too faint for me to comprehend anymore. All I knew was his house, and occasionally the market when I was to make dinner. I used to think this wasn’t loneliness, though, because I had lived to serve him. I stayed in the house, for he feared other men would steal me away. I cooked him dinner first, and thought it was natural to go to bed starving if he wasn’t satisfied with the meal. I believed it was normal to forget the sound of your parents’ voices.

Technically, the kids aren’t wrong. I was weak when I died. There was no money left coming in to support me. Naturally, of course, I had no one else to depend on. I assumed I would fall asleep forever after death, or even go somewhere better, just like the elderly women would whisper under their breaths when they grew too weak to live anymore.

I woke up in my house after death, though, and eventually heard the news of Ivan’s slow recovery in the hospital. I had no clue when he would arrive home, because anyone who lives in the village will always die in the village. I wondered if he would die in the hospital, without the grace to tell me. All I know is that everyday I live like this, I grow stronger, much stronger than when I and Ivan were alive together. He will have to come home soon, because there is nowhere else for him to go. He will be weaker than me, in his state, but if anything, it’s only to my benefit. All I know is that when he dies, the villagers will blame his death on the aftereffects of the chemical spill.

For once, I anticipate his arrival home.


Ava Sharahy is currently a full-time student enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She is studying creative writing in hopes of one day working in publishing or education.