Distorted Thoughts (Short Story)

Close your eyes and picture your death, have you ever done this before? Your answer is  probably “no”. Unlike you, Alberto feels in his heart that his death is near. It is known to us all that we’ll die someday. For it to be understood why Alberto feels this way, you have to go back to the day of his birth on October 23 in 1992. Alberto was born about a month after the 18th of September, which was his original due date. When Alberto was born he suffered from a failing heart that felt the need to accelerate. His skin was a purplish black unlike the brown skin of his Mexican parents. The extra month inside of his mother’s womb led to a lack of oxygen that brought about an imminent death. According to the negligent doctor, death “was no more than two minutes away”. That event is stuck in Alberto’s mind, it leaves him with a feeling that he is running out of time.

Alberto is the son of Ramiro and Antonella, two illegal immigrants that came to Chicago at the age of 17. At the age of 9 Alberto got a gift from his 89 year old neighbor Adelina. Adelina lived alone and was never able to have any kids. She was married before but her husband died when she was 30. Adelina loved Antonella as if she were her sister and loved Alberto as if he were her own. On a rainy day in the month of September, Adelina gave Alberto a beautiful gold bracelet. This bracelet resembled the crown of thorns that Jesus had worn when he was executed by the Romans. When Adelina handed over the bracelet to Alberto, she kneeled on her left knee and whispered into his left ear “this will keep you safe, don’t ever take it off”. After hearing those words and without giving them any thought Alberto ran outside to play with his cousin Domenico. Those words were the last ones Alberto heard from Adelina; she peacefully died that night. Alberto was distraught and saw this as a sign that his death was near.

As the mourning for Adelina had passed, Alberto’s fixation with death kept growing. In his mind Alberto has seen the many faces of death before. Death, through its many agents presented itself again in a brutal way. It was in the month of May, it was a beautiful cloudless day. Alberto was at the park with Domenico. The two played for hours and imagined themselves to be the leaders of different countries waging war on each other. Disaster ensued as a White Oak Tree fell and instantly killed Domenico, leaving Alberto in a state of dismay. Death had been less than an inch away and Alberto was the one it wanted to take. Alberto observed as his cousin was resting dead on the floor and held his bracelet while feeling guilt. Alberto knew that he was the one that Death wanted to take, that same night an agent of death kept Alberto awake. This went on for three months straight, she tortured Alberto by relentlessly whispering into his ear the words “your cousin took your place”.

Alberto was a smart boy but his endless thoughts of death controlled him. He went from being a student with straight A’s (well he had a C for conduct as he had always been rebellious) to being a student with average grades. Confusion arose within his teachers because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Here they had a kid that could speak in such a hypnotizing way that it seemed like the world was his to take yet his intelligence didn’t translate into good grades. As a result of their frustration many of Alberto’s teachers declared to his face that he was a waste of genius. They wanted to send him away from Chicago’s delirious air but the problem was not the air, the problem was Alberto’s tortured mind.

Death had relentlessly tried for many years to take Alberto with it, but something kept Alberto from dying. As time passed, death and its agents came around less and less. Eventually Alberto’s mind came to be at ease, on his senior year of high school he met Natalia. Natalia, a beautiful girl with hazel colored eyes who he had never seen around. Alberto was instantly drawn to Natalia, her aura called upon him. Alberto quickly walked up to her and introduced himself. It was an instant connection, they spoke as if they had known each other for years. It was love, Alberto was in love! As the weeks and months passed their love for each other grew. This newfound love inspired Alberto to follow his dreams. The thought of death being near was still in Alberto’s mind, but these thoughts were not as abundant as they were before. Alberto wasn’t scared of the thought of death anymore, he learned to not hate it.

On a night in the month of June, Alberto was resting in his bed while thinking of death. As Alberto visualized his many encounters with death he started to see Natalia’s face. This occurred for 10 days straight and on the 10th day Alberto felt the need to tell Natalia what he was seeing. He called her and told her to quickly come to his house. Natalia quickly arrived but before she could set foot in the house Alberto told Natalia what he had seen in his mind. Alberto started questioning Natalia about her past, she had always been reluctant to speak about her past. As she cried Natalia begged for Alberto to stop asking questions. Alberto did not stop, he wanted answers and he needed the truth. As she cried she responded to Alberto’s inquiries by saying “you won’t like the truth, let this be our truth”! Alberto kept pressing her for answers and after listening to Alberto endlessly ask for answers, Natalia responded and unleashed the truth; “I am an agent of death that was assigned to take you, but something kept you from dying. As I stuck around you, I learned to love you. In my oath as an agent of death you are the only one I haven’t conquered. I have gone against my oath and stopped chasing you, I’ve been stripped from my powers and have kept this human body because my love for you is true.” While listening to Natalia’s words Alberto knew that her words spewed truth but he felt betrayed. As Natalia finished speaking, Alberto started to fiddle with his bracelet. Alberto was blinded by his madness and went against Adelina’s words of advice which were, “this will keep you safe, don’t ever take it off” and took off his beautiful gold bracelet. Alberto removed the bracelet Natalia rushed towards him and hugged him, they hugged each other for what appeared to be an eternity. While they focused on their hug and tried to come to terms with this discovery, an agent of death came around and touched them both. As Alberto lay dead, a note fell from his pocket that said “I’ll let you take me when I’m in love.” Alberto’s fate came to be exactly how he wanted it to be.

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