Jornada del Muerto
Spunky, Artsy Goth
Birgit was born in Stuttgart, Germany, but moved to San Clemente with her parents aged four.
Primary School passed uneventfully, apart from the time she asked “Mutter, why is there a storm on that man? He’s getting all wet!”. A terse reply, “It’s not, darling. It’s a beautiful sunny day”. Of course her mother would pass it off as childish fancy. Birgit was confused, but smart enough by that age to leave it well alone. She never mentioned the dark clouds to her parents again. She still had strange visions, though. Shadows in her peripheral vision, the faint halos, auras, clouds, whatever, glimpsed over someone’s shoulders before it vanished without a trace. Birgit wasn’t sure if what she saw was real, or if she was broken, but the recurring theme was depression. Every time she saw something, she knew the person under it was sad, and it rubbed off on her.
For the whole of high school Birgit was a miserable wreck on the inside, bubbly, spunky teenager on the outside. She made friends quickly and easily, and found her passion: art. She could always be found sketching something or someone, and it’s surprising how well a quick sketch will break the ice with a new acquaintance. Birgit kept most of her art to herself, though. She drew the person, the cloud, the emotion, and kept it in ever growing volumes under her bed, shown to no-one. She wrote a single word under each image, the sense of what caused the sadness: Loss, Relationship, Work, Leisure, Self-Image, Pressure. High school also marked an increase in her visions, her contact with sad people increased steadily with age. Presumably because small children have little to be upset about and forget within minutes, and adults carry the weight of their years on their shoulders.
So it went through high school, the sad clown: sad on the inside, happy on the outside.
Birgit went away to Los Angeles for University, and learned the online world more intimately while she was there. With her high school friends readily available online (and easily turned off at the wall), she settled into the darker side of her life without seeking new friendships. Flunking out of Uni was hardly a good use of her intelligence, but Birgit wasn’t idle. During two years of failed papers she started her own web design business, specializing in Goth clothing sites, giving her a steady income. Of course, with adulthood came further exposure to misery, and life in the big city is only fancy apartments, good food and good friends for a minority of the population. Here, a homeless veteran haunted by dreams of war, there an immigrant barely able to feed herself, let alone four children.
Then came bad news: her parents were killed in a car accident.
The loss barely registered; Birgit was numb. She moved back home to San Clemente, into the family home that was now hers. Rifling through the belongings of her parents, she found evidence of a long, unhappy relationship. Too soaked in her own depression, she hadn’t noticed her parents were in the same, gritty mire.
A month after the loss of her parents, Birgit is now resettled into San Clemente life. She hasn’t yet contacted any of her old schoolmates, they think she’s still in LA. It’s probably time for her to pick herself up and get going again, but the lifetime of depression, hers and others, is pinning her down.
The events of the 28th were a bit of a blur for Birgit. She tore home on her scooter, slammed the door and hid under the blankets on her bed for the longest time. So much death in such a short period was severely affecting her; as a rule everyone was impacted and felt sorrow, so Birgit felt it more keenly than most. The 29th passed fitfully, she spent the day watching the news, drawing the people she saw, trying to force it all out of her system.
The following day she wandered her family home, and found her childhood teddy-bear, Anna. It was small comfort, but it was better than nothing. She decided she needed to go and speak with Dennis, more openly this time. Gathering her bag and turning to leave, she saw Anna left on the couch, and on a whim Birgit grabbed her.
It was getting a little later in the evening, so she knew Dennis would be at his old townhouse. He’d owned the place as long as anyone could remember, and longer than he could. Of course, it being fitted out for the disabled helped; his wife and he were getting on in years. Birgit rode, thinking of her parents and loss. She should have known something was wrong. Her childhood hadn’t been particularly easy, and she was often neglected. It’s hard to focus on raising a child when your marriage is on the rocks, especially when she saw things nobody else did. The loneliness of Birgit’s youth had only been tempered by Anna the Bear, her only true friend as a little girl, the only person she could really talk to. She told Anna everything, cried herself to sleep hugging her tight, whispered her deepest secrets to the bear. Anna was-
Blinding light. Immeasurable pain. A thick, dirty screeching noise; metal on asphalt. A sickening crunch, and black.
“Hey, wake up. Wake up. Come on, it’s okay, you’ll [What? She’s-] be alright. Nobody will hurt you. I’m here, Anna is here…”
Birgit saw a small girl, surprisingly familiar…almost like looking in a window to her past. Dark hair, big blue eyes but…insubstantial. Looking at her directly was really the only way to see her, and details slid from view when Birgit tried to focus on them. The only thing that remained still was her eyes, the most intense blue Birgit had ever seen. Something else was wrong, though. The girl’s chest…felt hollow. Nothing was out of place visually, but the sense was there, like her center had been cut out. Searching more, Birgit found where the ‘center’ had been put: Anna the Bear positively glowed with emotion, thought, feeling.
“That’s it. Come [How did she-] on, come play!”
She spoke without moving her mouth, her face remained blank and emotionless. The girl was holding hands with a small teddy bear. Anna the bear hung limply, another emotionless face but somehow…excited. Birgit tried to nod understanding, but nothing happened. She couldn’t. The girl giggled, and toyed with her skirts. She was wearing all black, a tailored corset, a parasol over her shoulder and thick, flared, lacy skirts. White and black horizontal striped stockings and shiny black leather Mary Sue shoes finished the outfit. An emotionless Gothic Lolita child. A bear to show emotion.
“Don’t worry, I’ll help [Wait, she twi-] you. Here.”
A flash of black, darker than imaginable, noticeable even against the inky backdrop of unconsciousness, and Birgit opened her eyes.
She woke in a hospital bed, Anna the bear on her bedside table. And the little Gothic girl sat on the other side, swinging her legs on a chair, with her own Anna the Bear on her lap.