the Damned Deserve to Love
I had liked the slow drip of
the moss-laden water on the cold stone floor. It had been so
soothing. I had almost been able to feel the water sliding down
the patch of green crawling up the walls as it captured traces of
the plant life. That had been the best relief I could get.
Now, it didn’t help one
bit. Sweat descended from my troubled forehead and mixed with the
lingering blood on my mouth. I tried to bleed myself earlier to
get attention, and maybe, to get out. All they did was throw a
shred of raggedy cloth through the rusty bars of my cell.
I looked at the rag. It was
soaked in blood.
I remembered the bloody
sheets I found my father tangled in when I woke one morning,
merely weeks before. My reaction was only of shock when I first
saw him. Then I suddenly felt sick. He was still alive, slowly
That made it worse. I
remember wanting to die with him because nobody else would be left
after he was gone. And I knew he was going to die. Part of me had
He was telling me in his
wavering breath that a knife had pierced his side in his sleep,
and when he opened his eyes, the young man clutching it was still
shaking after he stabbed him.
And my father knew him. He
said his name was Philip and that he was an occasional hired hand.
In drowned stutters, he said that Philip was saying he was sorry
and didn’t want to do it.
I swore repeatedly. I was
standing, on my knees, up again, then on the floor grasping at the
roots of my hair. When I looked at the mass of red sheets once
more, it had stopped moving. I screamed and cried into a nearby
pillow hysterically. I didn’t even have the chance to say
goodbye, I love you, even good morning--it was still early in the
morning. I didn’t say anything at all. I just wept until there
was nothing left to cry. I was furious that I didn’t know my
father’s murderer. I had never seen him.
A new prisoner was announced
and my eyes stirred out of their stolid state.
My mind, which had fallen into a similar stagnant slumber,
soon followed in waking. It had been a while since I heard a human
voice outside of my head. I heard it again and my heart began to
I was to have a cellmate.
The fresh prisoner had nowhere else to go. I wondered if it would
be wise to make friends with him, to even talk to him. I was going
to die in a matter of hours.
As he first entered, it
seemed that nothing was special about him. I looked at him, up and
down, while he made his way to the opposite side of the confined
chamber. He wasn’t too far from me. My eyes were still coursing
on his features when he sat on the large bale of hay against the
wall. It probably appeared to him like I was sizing him up,
weighing him in.
The early judgments I made
were incredibly wrong. His face would have had anyone at his
mercy. The eyes were a smooth almond shape, of bluish-grey
tincture, like deep pools of murky water. His lips, though
weather-torn, were full and supple. They were as red as the blood
that had stained my own. The soft tresses on his head were brown,
so rich that they almost gave off a gentle glow.
He must have seen me
watching him intently because he looked away. Instantaneously, I
darted my eyes downward. For one reason or another, we both
laughed and looked up again. I saw him making his way to my side
so I shifted on the brittle bench I was sitting on. I was a little
worried that it would collapse if he sat.
“So, what did they lock
you up for?” he asked comfortably.
murder.” I answered succinctly, not wanting to add anything
“I’m in for murder.”
he said languidly, realizing that I wasn’t going to return the
I noticed that he was
staring at my broken lip. Without looking down, I pictured the
laceration and knew that there was blood still glazing the cut.
“What happened to your
lip?” he asked, his mouth slightly hanging for a response.
“I bit down hard on it.
Thought they’d let me out for a bit to fix me and I’d be able
to make my break.” I said flatly.
I thought he was going to
laugh, but I didn’t even see a mocking smile. His hand motioned
to my face. I made no attempt to back away. His thumb smoothed the
remaining blood off my lower lip. It was cool, releasing the heat
of my burning wound.
We looked at each other
In the next moment our lips
met, entwining in heat. I could feel mine starting to bleed again.
When we pulled apart, his mouth was redder than ever, bloodied by
me. I expected to see him wiping it away hurriedly in disgust, but
he didn’t. Instead, he took his hand, and with each of his
fingertips, dipped down on the shiny crimson fluid. One, two, three,
four, five. He suspended his hand before his face, which bore a look
of child-like fascination.
I opened my mouth to say
something but found myself pursing it closed in pain.
“No.” he said, seeing my
effort to speak. “It’s no fault. I did this, and I’m not
sorry. Are you?”
A smile crept up on my cheeks
as I shook my head.
Conversation echoed in our
cell in the following hours. Each word spoken was another step
nearer to the gallows. I failed to keep count.
We talked about random things,
each of us posing irrelevant questions. You never would have guessed
how arbitrary our chat was by how vibrantly it rose, quieted, and
I nearly started to hate
myself for liking this... stranger when I should still be mourning.
I felt so selfish. I felt like I was easily bought, and he paid me
with his kiss. But that was all erased every time I saw his face.
I was drawn to the same
setting. I became fixed on his lips. When we kissed, it was as if we
were weaving an invisible rope from the present to eternity. Neither
of us wanted to let go. We wanted to find out more about each other.
We wanted to remain connected even after death. But though our
meeting had been so sudden, it already felt so fulfilled. So as the
footsteps of the hangman grew louder, I had less and less regret
I kissed him for the last
“I’ll see you.” he tried
to smile. And then as the man was undoing the lock, he added “I
I caught a glimpse of his
My heart felt like it had been
wringed. I thought of my father and how he would have wanted me to
live, die. Before my thoughts finished running their course, the
hangman had let himself in and was binding my hands. I turned around
quickly and finally said “I love you.” I didn’t want to lose
After the executioner had led
me out and well away from the cell, I whispered, “I forgive you
ANNA CORTEZ is a 16-year old
self-proclaimed optimist who likes to consider herself an adult. She
is what you may call an "old young person." She is also
what you may call a "spontaneous writer." Her joys in life
are laughing, music, friends, and family (in no particular order).
And though it is sad to say that she has no affiliations with the
creators or actors of the brilliant movie Velvet Goldmine,
she has a rabid (and will possibly have a life-long) obsession with