Dipak showed the signs of the poison first. The fever came and sent his body into uncontrolled shivering. They wrapped him in heavy blankets and propped his head up with a pillow.
“Should we move him from the table?” Kam asked.
“He might be more comfortable on the couch,” Heather offered.
Gytha went into the living room and moved the dark, shriveled Ama into a chair. She then carefully carried Dipak to the couch. She sat on the floor next to him. When Heather brought in a bowl of cold water and a cloth it was Gytha who stroked his forehead with it.
Heather watched the way that Gytha tended to him. Her movements were mechanical, but careful. Was there love behind her efforts?
“What do we do now?” Kam asked.
“We wait,” Heather said.
His lips, eye lids and finger tips had taken on a green cast. Thick saliva drooled from his mouth. Muttering, he tossed his head. His eyes flicked open and his voice was suddenly clear.
“I will die a thousand times and I will know you,” Dipak declared quietly.
“What does her mean?” She asked.
“I don’t know,” Kam said.
“It’s the promise he made to Raven,” Gytha whispered after a pause.
Heather put her hand over her mouth.
“How long has he known my son?”
“They have lived many lives together,” Gytha said, looking up at Heather. “He loves your son deeply. Even if he dies this day, he will be reborn and he will seek your son out in his next life.”
“Amser is dying. I need help getting him onto Miyu. He needs to go back to Enaid,” Dipak whispered.
Heather looked over to Kam and then to Gytha.
“He is living another time,” she said.
“You have known him along time then,” Heather said.
“Yes.” Gytha brushed the damp hair out of Dipak’s face.
“So, you’re reborn with him and my son?” she asked.
“No, I have just lived a very long time,” she said.
“I’ll remember this aid,” Dipak said as he reached out and took Gytha’s hand. He clutched at her tightly.
“That debt has been repaid,” she whispered it close to his ear.
Then the convulsions began. His back arched up and his jaw clenched. Blood frothed out from the corners of his mouth. His arms came up as his did his knees, then for a moment they relaxed back down only to jerk back up again. This lasted a few moments before his body went limp. His hands wandered aimlessly; picking at the blanket and grasping at the air. Gytha looked into his mouth.
“He bit his tongue,” she reported.
Using the cool cloth, she washed away the blood and continued to run it over his flushed face.
The seizures came and went. Between them his hands wandered and he muttered. He made weak efforts to rise but Gytha easily kept him on the couch. During this time he started to have episodes of vomiting which Gytha cleaned up as if to wash away the evidence of his sickness. Heather carried away the dirty water and brought back clean. Gytha never left his side. She clicked, hummed and whispered to him.
Then Heather began to vomit. She knew it was her turn to face the poison’s torment. Pulling the cushions from the empty chair, she laid herself down. There was nothing else to do. Kam knelt beside her and she took the hand that he offered her.
“If I die, take Jacob to Enaid,” she said.
He nodded. She was glad that he made no protest and had offered to bullshit about how it wasn’t possible that she would die this night. There was no way for them to know that. But she did. She had hugged her son for the last time.
Their night was the same. Fever flushed their skin. Green hue crept over their bodies. Seizures came in waves. Between the seizures they spoke of past times and reached out their hands grasping for nothing. They vomited until the stomachs were empty and then kept trying anyway.
Heather was the first to die. Her breath had become ragged and then had stopped. Kam ran his finger tips down her face to close her eyes. He carried her into the kitchen and laid her onto the table. Her son would not see her soaked with vomit and sweat. It was the only thing that he had to give her. He pealed of the soiled clothing and he washed her body and hair.
From upstairs, he retrieved clothing that was similar to what she had been wearing and he dressed her. But he refused to hide her beauty. He braided her hair and draped it over her shoulder so that it’s gold could catch the morning light. He gently touched her cheeks with red blossoms from the field, giving her ivory skin a light blush. Bringing her hands up across her stomach he folded them together as if in a quiet prayer. She looked peaceful. But that was a lie. He hoped it was a kind lie. A lie that was kinder then her death had been.
Dipak had not outlived her by long. While Kam tended to Heather’s body, Gytha had sat next to Dipak’s and had continued to stroke his forehead and hair. She had no tears to shed.
When Kam returned to living room, put his hand on Gytha’s shoulder. She shrugged him away.
“Gytha,” he said.
She glared up at him.
She said nothing. One hand continued to hold the pale, limp fingers while her other pushed the hair away from his face even though it was already smoothed back.
The sun was bringing a weak, gold light into the room and Ama was beginning to plump up again. She would wake to a strange new day. The Life Spark had been extinguished.
“We must bring him home,” Kam said.
Gytha nodded. Now she allowed Kam to guide her away from Dipak’s body. Kam started to gather Dipak up into his arms.
“No,” Gytha said.
She gently pushed him away.
“Tell me what to do,” she whispered.
There was enough room on the large table for them to lay Dipak’s slender form next to Heather. Under Kam’s guidance Gytha washed Dipak. But she refused to dress him in the bloody jacket and stained pants.
“We have nothing else to put him in and we can’t bring him back naked,” Kam said softly.
“Angerona,” Gytha said.
The spider had long ago dropped from Gytha’s back and had been unnoticed by Kam. Now the spider brought forward a white silk suit that Gytha dressed Dipak in. It was simple, almost as plain as the attire that Heather wore, but it suite him. Kam nodded.
They pulled up two chairs, one on either side and waited with the dead.
Jacob was the first to come to the kitchen.
“Mother?” he whispered.
He stood at the door, holding onto the frame. Kam stood and went to him. He took the boy’s hand and silently led him to the table. What could he say? There was no good way to explain what had happened during the night.
Jacob said nothing as he reached out a trembling hand. Large tears rolled from his huge blue eyes. Running his finger tips across her cheek, he sobbed. He stood that way for a long time before his tears ran dry. But they came anew when he went around the table and touched Dipak’s hand.
Ama was at the door, watching the boy grieve. Kam met her gaze, but they kept their silence. This was the boy’s time.
Then he went to the stove and began to make tea with trembling hands. Kam got up to make the tea for him, but Gytha caught his arm. She put her mouth close to his ear.
“Let him have a little normal,” she said.
Kam nodded and sat back down.
Jacob brought around the steaming mugs and even the small bowl of milk. Then he brought out bread and cheese. They had their breakfast in silence. Once they had all eaten, Jacob gathered and washed the dishes. He left the kitchen clean when he followed Kam out of the house. He sat in Kam’s lap in the front of the car. Gytha wrapped the bodies in blankets and carefully placed them in the back seat. She sat in the back. Ama sat behind the driver’s seat.
Quietly, Gytha asked the car to return them to Enaid. It obliged the request.