My dad comes to see me, every day. Sometimes we read, sometimes I’ll play the piano for him, sometimes he’ll let me put on a record. He even humours me and lets me serve him invisible tea in too-small cups and always says “please” when he asks the pinned Goliathus regius to pass the sugar. Every week, we take flowers to my mom’s crypt and tell her about our days. I don’t get to play outside, but I still have plenty of stories to tell her. I might be sick, but at least I’m happy.
When it’s my dad’s turn to talk to my mom, I like to watch the cemetery through the window. Sometimes, a man who looks like a ghost waves to me. Dad tells me not to talk to strangers, but I can make an exception.
My dad is busy. I see him some days, but never at night. Sometimes he smiles, but he looks tired and like he doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t have time for manners towards bugs or tea parties and he won’t listen to records, but I still have to play the piano. We stopped going to the cemetery a month ago, but when he’s not home, I go by myself and still talk to Mom. I’m running out of stories to tell her. She knows I’m sick and I think she might know that I’m sad, sometimes, too.
The ghost isn’t a ghost and he tells me to call him GraveRobber, since that’s what he is. He has better stories than I do and, sometimes, he brings me treats. If I listened to my dad, I would have no one else to talk to. This was a good exception.
My dad hardly visits with me, anymore. The only books he brings me are for homework and he doesn’t want to hear me play the piano, but he wants to know that I’m still practicing. He yells at me to keep my gramaphone down. My bedroom door is always locked from the outside. Sometimes, I have the courage to ask him why and he tells me to take my medicine. I miss my mom and I miss my friend and I miss the cemetery. The only story I have, now, is about a sick, little girl locked in a tower and there isn’t a happy ending in sight.
GraveRobber reminds me that my door might be locked, but my windows aren’t. When Daddy’s at work, he sneaks in and always brings cake for tea parties even though the bugs that come are dead and we’re both too old for pretend. Sometimes we dance. He gave me my first kiss. I’m not always sad.
There’s a man who came to see me last night. He might have been my father, but I barely recognized him. The only music I have, now, comes from heart monitors and air filters and machines I don’t understand. I couldn’t play it on the piano or dance to it, even if I had the strength to get out of bed. I just want to get better and the man - my father - tells me the medicine is as strong as it’s ever been. So I must keep taking it or I will die like my mother did. My story is almost over.
The last time I saw GraveRobber, he sang to me and dried my eyes and held me through an attack. I’m still pretty without a wig, he tells me. And he tells me I can beat this. He is the only person I’ve ever loved and I’m about to lose him.
There’s a man who lives in this house who doesn’t bother to touch my body, after the life goes out of it. I don’t hear music, only his voice. Sometimes he cries, sometimes he talks about guilt, but never to me. The door to my room is still locked. I will never get better and I will never leave, not even to tell my mother the end of my story.
My grave-robber broke my window open. He cleaned up the messes I couldn’t help but make and put a wig back on my head. ”You can still beat this,” he tells the dead, little girl on the bed. ”He’s the one who lost.” He leaves before I can find the strength to move. Right now, it’s just a twitch of a finger, but he’s right.
I won’t let it end this way.