Such a beautiful thing.

The passing of a soul into another world, a place the living cannot go. The vanishing of a spirit, the leaving behind of loved ones. The loneliness...The deceased were always better off than those they left in their wake, crying, screaming, aching, hurting...

The dead were the lucky.

The living were the cursed.

A trembling woman tried to remember this as she gently took her daughter's tiny hand. Such small fingers...such a little palm...such cold skin...

The mother blinked back her tears. The daughter breathed a bit more weakly.

With each passing moment, the child faded a little more. One bit at a time. Each breath brought her closer to death.

"Just stay strong," the woman whispered, her voice cracking under the weight of too many unshed tears. "Stay strong." She was no longer sure whether she was speaking to her daughter or to herself.

The woman extended a shaking hand toward her child. With the gentle touch only a mother could have, she smoothed the girl's hair. It was so soft...The color of straw, she realized as she continued to stroke that pretty blonde hair.

But what were her eyes like? The mother wondered this, panicking. What color? What size? What if she forgot them?

As if feeling her mother's panic, the little girl opened her eyes. She looked so tired, so worn out...

Chocolate brown, the mother found. Beautiful. But tired...

The eyes slipped shut again.

Fading...She wasn't going to be here for much longer.

"Stay strong," the mother said again. Her grip tightened on the girl's tiny hand. She squeezed her eyes shut and moved her other hand to clutch her daughter's. "Stay strong."

Her entire body was shaking now. Every limb trembled.

One word stilled her, however. One whisper, one breath...

"Mama..." The child's voice was barely there, yet it had so much power over the woman.

"Baby?" the mother murmured, her eyes not yet opening. She was afraid. Afraid to see the face of her dying child, afraid it would break her.


The woman's eyes snapped open as the voice faded far too suddenly. "Baby?" she cried, frantic. "Baby?!"

The daughter's lips were still parted, as if she were still uttering that last "ma." Yet she made no sound, no move, took no breath.

"Baby?!" the mother cried again, leaping out of her chair. Her hands slipped away from the child's as she lurched closer to the head of the bed. "Please, baby! Please!" She took the girl's pale face in her trembling hands. Tears were threatening to fall again, threatening to make her weak when she was trying to stay strong.

Stay strong...Stay strong...

With a shriek of pure agony, the woman broke. She threw herself across her daughter's still body and began to weep.

"Baby," she sobbed, her hands tangling in soft, straw-colored hair and pulling a cold-skinned face to a trembling body. "Baby..."


Such a beautiful thing.

The dead are always the lucky.

The living are always the cursed.