She was eloquently gut wrenching.
It couldn’t be said any other way. Languidly staring out of the dust-encrusted windows, the hazy afternoon sunshine filtering in through cracks on the caked grime. The dust mites did their peaceful thing, swirling in the slants of the lights, deceiving you into sobriety while the world burned outside.
There was nothing to look at, really. Everything was covered with white drapes, to protect the furniture from the same dusty decline that the floorboards had succumbed to. Termites, most likely.
She tiptoed cautiously around the holes, her boots making a suspicious crunching sound on the floor, amid, I then saw, mounds of sand, and small curled dead insect bodies.
‘I used to live here.’ I murmured.
She didn’t say anything. I stared at the ceiling; years of cobwebs interlacing each other, like an old, grey, time-worn wedding gown. The wooden beams arched upwards, meeting in a concave point high above our heads. When she stopped walking, the silence hissed loudly, pressing in on us, trapped and seething beneath the heavy roof.
‘Dina?’ she began, tentatively.
‘I’m sorry I lied.’
‘You told me you had stage four brain cancer.’ I said, shortly. The sign outside creaked ominously, breaking the hissing silence my words had left behind them.
She shrugged. Her eyes were unreadable. She would do it again, and again, and again. Who would her next naive, fully supporting victim be?
Her hands brushed gently over one of the white sheets covering something sharp. She made as though to pull it off.
She stopped, looking expectantly at me. When I didn’t say anything else, she pulled it off anyway. Her mouth was set and firm, and I watched with a smirk that etched itself on my face against my will as a swarm of wasps surged out from under the sheet and swarmed towards her, as the sheet drifted to the ground amid a cloud of dust and stray wasps. Her shriek was lost in the loud, swirling drone.
I backed away slowly, feeling the wall behind me until I was at the entrance, my feet scraping on the piles of dust beneath me. A force field developed around the obstacle before me. I was alarmed, yet a little excited. I wanted to watch, I wanted to help, but I also wanted to desperately to run away as fast as I could.
So I did. I shut my eyes and turned away, opening them to the dim, cobwebby hallway. I wrenched the front door open, the wood fat and swollen with rot, and it crumbled against the wall behind me as I raced out and through the empty street, my feet flying past the brown rubble and ash covered doorways.
The sound was deafening. The image of her vanishing beneath the swarm clung to my brain and tugged at the edges of my heart, or my gut. I don’t know. I didn’t look back. I kept going.