13. Live Dead Girl (5)

It’s funny how living moments can become friezes, stiff, like the past caught in the flash of a camera, like photographs.

What a fright, I thought.

Then I saw myself as he saw me: the girl—a once-dead one—standing naked upon a chair in front of her mirror.

So, I looked straight at him and I started to smile, but something about him disturbed me. I could feel the sides of my mouth drawing up and my lips pulling over my wet teeth in a feral expression. And then I heard it—the hiss. Where had it come from? My mouth, I think. And before I knew it, it happened again—another snake-shaped, spittle-soaked explosion of sibilants directed at the man in the doorway. He leered back at me then, leaned his skinny right shoulder into the jamb. Then, he smiled, a big purple-lipped, open-mouthed smile.

“You are in trouble,” he said. “Bad. Bad. Very naughty.” He spat the words at me, filled them with venom. “You’re supposed to act dead. Shame on you.”

What was he talking about? I had no idea, but something about him seemed familiar, upset me, made me want to leap from the chair and throttle him. I wanted to tighten my hands around his windpipe, feel it collapse, a flaccid tube under my grip. I wanted to shut him up, to destroy him.

“What’s the matter?” he rasped. “Cat got your tongue?” He leaned into the room, his head swiveling around till he saw the bag on the chair, the contents scattered around it. “Oh, too late.” He chuckled. “I came for the glove, but I see you’ve already found it.”

There was a racket in the hall.

“There he is,” screamed a nurse. “Mr. Takashita. Mr. Takashita, you must get off your feet.”

—DEAD LOVE/Chapter 13.5/Live Dead Girl