we died first in small ways: where the tramping of our boots morphed into a hollow sound, curling beneath our ribs, unlucky, undeserved, until the darkness came and the blood dried-- sprayed across faces and hands, mouths painted red --beneath our nails, beneath our eyes, underneath our very skin,(more) and in the howling wind of a German autumn, we'd try to sleep, our minds infinite echo chambers throwing back screams and the gutsy, toothache of a noise that the rattle of gunfire made.
we died quick. we died screaming and swearing and hoping to god we'd live to see morning.
i watched men get beat to death-- no mercy for nazis, no mercy for a man like that --faces smashed in like that of a rotting watermelon, pavement sprayed red and oozing like the pain, like the anger that seemed to simmer in all of us.
i watched boys of no more than seventeen get slaughtered out on the front lines, faces still shiny and new like they'd just seen the world for the first time, heart beating until pounded straight through with lead and curled into my lap crying for their mamas.
i died so many times in so many small ways. i died wishing for something i couldn't have and praying to a god i didn't believe in.
"It's been haunting me," says Alexi, scribbling dark charcoal outlines down the side of the sketchpad. "For years. This dream." Her hands are shaking and her face is pale.
Her mother is bent over paperwork at her desk, and does not look up. "The one with the door?(more)"
"Yes," snaps Alexi. The charcoal snaps in half between her fingers, scattering black dust across the page. "THAT door. The one you want to find so unholy desperate." The dust smears; the paper turns grey.
This gets her mother's attention. The door always does. Holier is filthy hungry for wishes, the way a stray dog is hungry for meat without caring about its source. "In this dream," she asks, settling her chin in the cup of her hands, "what is behind that door?"
Alexi shrugs, scraping her heels absentmindedly against the floorboards. "I've tried to open it. Never works. Something always stops me." She remembers a thousand hands grabbing at her limbs, her clothes; dragging her down into the dark.
The hands are always very cold, skin the blinding blue of djinn. Like Donnie, thinks Alexi, bleeding primaries across her field of vision while smoke leaks haphazardly out of his mouths.
"I don't remember," she lies. "I've never seen it."