Candy awakened me.
Her image pushed persistently past my pastel dreams and awakened me.
Candy was a childhood friend, the girl I walked home every weeknight after she’s spent the hours after school at my home.
Mother was long dead by then, we spent our evenings in childish games and ate sticky condensed milk right out of the xan
My dad would come from the mines, mumbling barely audible greetings, and collapse into the high-backed vintage floral chair. He would sit there, listening to the radio and giving his commentary on when and how the world would end.
Candy’s mother would call fifteen minutes later and we would set out into the obsidian black night.
We were twelve years old and those nights were twenty years ago.
I hadn’t thought of her much except the few times in therapy when my therapist asked if ever thought of how strange it was that I walked her home in those deep dark nights but I did the journey back all alone in the even darker night.
She said it had something to do with my attachment style and people pleasing but what did she know.
Candy’s image forced me to consciousness and I slowly opened my eyes.
I was on a train, a stunning train. The walls were rich, warm, wood. The ceilings were panoramic glass. The bed upon which I rested was beige and incredibly plush.
All the furnishing were edged in gold.
I brought my hand to my chest in awe and confusion.
I had fallen asleep in my Manhattan brownstone.
How did I end up on a train that looked to be the modern twin of the orient express?
I slowly got up.
Outside the world was white covered in snow in every direction with the occasional line of evergreen trees as the train sped along.
I had no idea where I was or how I got there.
I tried to remember last night but my memories ended with falling asleep with a book and a hacking cough in my Manhattan home.
I walked towards the door my fingers trailing over the backs of the luxurious perfect-shade-of-yellow chairs.
I tried to turn the door knob but it didn’t budge.
What the hell is going on I said out loud.
I looked around the room until my eyes landed on an antique brass desk with writing utensils and a pile of unopened letters.
I walked over and grabbed an unopened letter from the pile.
It was addressed to me.
I looked out the window, the room was deadly silent even as the train sped along.
My heart beat excellerated to match the trains’ speed.
I was scared, confused and excited all at once.
I ripped the envelope open.
Welcome to your last days. There isn’t anything else to be done. The only thing I can do is walk you home as you did for me so many years ago. I've never forgotten you, I have always watched over you. The school and your life as you knew it was courtesy of me.
I fell back against the chair with a gasp.
I hadn’t seen Candy since her mother had married her off to Clancy Dunhill, the richest man in West Virginia.
See, we had grown up in a tiny town, everyone was dirt poor and worked in the mine.
Our world hadn’t seen much progress, but it was our world.
it was hard to get out and make something of one’s self as they say.
The Dunhill family owned the mines.
Columbite-tantalite was the new gold.
It brought incredibly wealth to some but plunged other into unimaginable poverty.
Then there was us. We still attended school and ate most days but it didn’t seem like there would be much life beyond the mines.
Except Candy, she was beautiful in the most undeniable way. there was nothing relative about her beauty.
When she caught Clancy Dunhill’s eye, her mother quickly offered up her Clancy and Candy was taken away to a @woman's camp” where she was taught how to become the perfect wife to a man like Clancy.
We barely had a chance to say goodbye, certainly not the time to hold hands.
I trudged on excelling in school and trying not to cry when I ate warmed condensed milk alone at night.
At 16 years old I read of Candy’s grand wedding and wept.
Six months later I received a letter in the mail informing me I had won a scholarship to Phantagram college.
A mere miner's daughter gracing such hallowed halls, I was proud beyond measure.
I worked hard while staying on the periphery of everything.
This new ivy world was green and pristine but I couldn't shake the feeling of dirt.
Of that layer of grime that always seemed to follow father from the mine to our house.
I graduated with honors and statues my career.
I reached the highest heights and then I for the diagnosis.
Just like my mother, I had cancer.
It was that unshakable layer of grime that had finally seeped into my bones.
Now here I was on a train.
I opened another letter.
Welcome to the euthanasia states. We believe in your right to a beautiful death. This train will take you to a center where your last wishes will be fulfilled to the highest standards. Your last moments will be filled with pleasure. On behalf of your sponsor Candy Dunhill enjoy your beautiful goodbye.
It was only months ago The euthanasia freedom bill had passed but a gra states had adopted the practice.
Euthanasia was now available to most citizens and covered under Medicaid.
Despite the pain and my crumbling bones I hadn't given much thought to it.
As the train continued its journey I felt a calmness settling over me.
It was always me.
I was the one who took car of father, I was the one who walked Candy home and then tripped in rock all the way back.
This was different, someone would be holding my hands for once.
Someone would be making arrangements.
A large bowl of Omakase berries waited for me on table.
I popped one into my mouth and the explosion of flavor was almost orgasmic.
I opened another letter, I read the forms and signed my death contract.
I picked up the strawberries and walked towards the door again this time it opened with ease.
This next room held tables with all manner of exotic foods. There was glass on the sides and the roof of the car.
I took a painful step, another strawberry melting into my mouth.
I looked up and let the witness, shroud and usher me further towards, the end.