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"A Single Death"
Recorded by Ziska Ames

Author's Notes: This was originally going to be a happy Sailor Moon
fanfiction, but took a totally different turn. So, I rethought the
names and now you have it in its finished form.

* * * * *

"Mom, please. Stay there! You aren't well enough to get up."

"Jenna, get out of my way," her mother said as she attempted
to push herself up on her elbows and eventually out of the bed. "I
have to make dinner for you and your father."

"No, you don't, Mom," Jenna said quietly as she pinned her
mother's shoulders to the bed. "Dad isn't coming home, remember?"

For a moment her mother's face was an array of confused
emotions and tortured memories, but then it slid into peacefulness.
"Oh, yes. I remember."

"I can make my own dinner, Mom. And I'll bring you something,
too."

"Yes, Jenna." Her mother's eyes slid closed and her too small
hand dropped from Jenna's to lie on the bed. Jenna sat on the blue
cover and gently stroked her mother's face. She was paler than
yesterday and her cheekbones stood out in sharp contrast to the rest
of her face. Jenna stifled a sob, not wanting to wake her mother up.
Ever since the cancer had set in, things had gone downhill for all of
them.

Her father spent his off-hours at the bar. Her mother spent
all her time in bed, too weak to even get up to go to the bathroom.
Jenna had dropped out of school and was working as much as possibly,
till the bills were so high she had to dismiss the maid.

She'd convinced her boss to let her work at home, and she took
care of her mother as best as possible. Again she stroked the soft
cheek, before standing and readjusting the covers. With a sigh, she
left the room.

Her computer refused to boot up, eventually spitting smoke,
and Jenna sat on the couch with her head in her hands. She couldn't
even work anymore. A single tear dripped down her cheek before she
brushed it away. She stood up abruptly and went to her room. As she
passed the mirror in the hallway, she stopped and looked at herself.

She was even thinner than her mother, paler, gaunter. She
looked like she had cancer as well. Jenna put her hand on the mirror,
blocking the sight of her face from view. She turned away and her hand
dropped slowly to her side. She turned around and moved back to the
kitchen.

There was nothing appetizing. The cans of soup were nauseating
and the idea of a sandwich had her facing the bathroom. Eventually,
she gave up, collapsing on her bed. She hadn't eaten in four days.
When she did eat, she threw up. She was too worried to eat.

Her mother had cancer and she hadn't seen her father in two
weeks. He might even be dead. Jenna fell asleep with the light on.

* * * * *

Jenna's mother stared at the ceiling. Jenna stood in the
doorway, occasionally glancing at the clock. Neither of them had moved
for three hours.

"Jenna," her mother whispered eventually. Jenna's eyes met her
mother's and she slowly stepped into the room. She knelt at her
mother's bed and took a too small hand into her own. " Jenna."

"Yes, Mother," she whispered as her thumb stroked the loose
skin. "It's okay, mom. Everything'll be okay."

"Do you promise?"

"Yes." Jenna spoke softly as her mother nodded and her head
dropped back to the pillow.

"Be happy, Jenna," she whispered as her breathing slowed and
stopped.

Jenna didn't sleep that night.

* * * * *

Of course, it rained the day her mother was laid in the ground,
reflecting Jenna's mood with a perfection that bordered on being
ironic.

Her father wasn't there, but the doctor was. He sat behind her
chair as the preacher spoke and lead her to his car after the ceremony,
taking her back to her empty house.

Ten minutes later, she stepped out again, a small bag on one
shoulder, holding a tiny wardrobe and her meager savings.

The ground was wet as she walked through the cemetery and cold
through her jeans when she kneeled in front of her mother's grave. The
yellow roses were wilting and haphazardly placed on the tombstone.
Jenna traced the letters of her mother's name, then straightened the
flowers before standing up.

Her jaw ached as she walked away, but she didn't know how to
say goodbye, so no words passed her lips to relieve the pain.

* * * * *

As she sat on the curb, Jenna remembered the feeling of the
damp earth through her jeans as she knelt in front of her mother's
grave. The concrete was just as cold and unforgiving as the pure
ground had been on that day. Jenna still didn't know how to say
goodbye. She never went back to her mother's burial plot -she didn't
even know if she could find it- but every night she tried desperately
to put her feelings in to words.

Raised a Christian, she firmly believed her mother was now
residing in heaven. A prayer would be heard and her mother would know
what she wanted to say. But Jenna couldn't think of the right thing to
say. So she said nothing, wandering instead, looking for something.
Perhaps someone who could help her say goodbye.

* * * * *

The bed was comfortable and warm, but all Jenna could think
about was the cold pavement on the curb. The food looked okay, but
Jenna hadn't eaten much for weeks and didn't see a reason to start now.

"She's weak. I'm surprised she isn't dead yet, frankly. But
she won't eat."

"Anorexic."

"Yes, but not because she thinks she's fat. It's more like she
doesn't care. I looked her up in the standard medical files. Mother
died of cancer. Father's classified as a missing person. She won't
talk and she won't eat."

"What do we do?"

The voices faded into the background as Jenna drifted into
blackness.

* * * * *

The feel of hands on her arm, and a needle slipping under the
skin, woke Jenna. As she lifted heavy eyelids, she noticed the young
man in her room. He'd been there before, but he'd never spoken
directly to her.

"Good morning, Jenna. Feeling up for some food?"

She narrowed her eyes and glared at him. Why eat? Her mother
was dead, her father might as well be, and she had nothing to live for.

"Go away," her voice cracked from lack of use and she turned
her face away from him to stare at the wall.

"Why?"

Her head slowly twisted back around to look at him. "Why not?"
she asked in turn.

"Well, if I go away, you won't eat," he smiled at her.

"I don't want to eat," She whispered her throat already sore
from overuse.

"Why not?"

She closed her eyes and fell asleep. He didn't receive an
answer.

* * * * *

The next day, the young man came back and tried to make her
eat again. For twenty minutes, Jenna glared at him while he smiled
back. Finally, she reached out and tried to pick up the fork. But it
was too much effort. She collapsed back against the pillows and closed
her eyes. "Just let me die," she whispered miserably.

She didn't react when she felt a warm hand cradle the back of
her head. The man lifted the fork and placed it to her lips. "Please,
eat, Jenna."

With nothing else to do, Jenna opened her mouth.

* * * * *

Greg smoothed Jenna's hair as she slept and stood up, taking
the tray with him as he left. She would be a beautiful girl when she
regained her strength, Greg could see that. He took the tray to the
kitchen and checked in with his superior.

At the end of his shift, he found himself outside of Jenna's
room again. He started to open the door and stopped when he heard her
rough voice.

"I'm sorry, mom. I can't do it. Not even for you," he heard
her whisper.

"Can't do what?" Greg asked as he opened the door all the way
and stepped inside. Jenna's head rolled around to face him and for the
first time she smiled.

"I can't do it," she replied as she faced the window again.
Greg stood in the doorway and remembered the pain and sadness behind
Jenna's brief smile.

"I can't be happy," she whispered as she closed her eyes.

* * * * *

Greg stood over Jenna's grave and let the rose fall on top.
She'd died that night. Only a few days ago. His first real patient.
His first responsibility. And she could have been his first love. But
it hadn't worked. Greg smiled ironically. She couldn't be happy for
her mother. He couldn't be happy for her.

He turned from the grave and headed to his car. His job was
waiting.