AIDS: A Love Story (Hannah B. Ragland)

Hannah Beth Ragland is an aspiring artist, writer, and designer. She is currently studying creative writing at Florida State University, working odd jobs, and running an etsy shop. She collects old books and houseplants.

AIDS: A Love Story

We were sick, and we were in love. That was how it was supposed to be – sipping on wine that neither of us enjoyed and whispering secrets until midnight. It did not matter that we wouldn’t live to see forty or that your mother had written you out of her will. We were happy, and I sang you songs that fell in tune with your teardrops.

Here, we lived in the city. You would tell me stories, and I would hold out my hands so that God himself could see the scars on my fingertips. You told me that lightning happens whenever soul mates kiss. We created lightning storms every night, and as the thunder rolled, we would zap out the electricity in entire cities. For once, we left everyone else in the dark.

During the last weeks, you grew cold. The sickness that you had passed to me was violent. It began to devour you. The days were spent sitting in doctor’s offices, and under the fluorescent lights it was hard to grow anything at all. These days you were strangely beautiful, pale, and mangled in your own misery. You said you were going to hang yourself, that there is no point in living only to die.

“But would death make things any better?” I begged to know.

You said yes, and I never believed that you were serious.

At night, you traced my fingertips. “You are a living murder victim.” You told me again and again.

I cried, because you were wrong; I was a living suicide victim. I had known you were sick but I still undressed. I had done it all on purpose. Now life was awful, and so was death. There was nothing left but you.

On the last night, you baked a cake. In icing you wrote “GOODBYE.” The letters were so sloppy I couldn’t understand it through my tear-blurred eyes. Your suicide note wasn’t sweet; it tasted salty like tears, and it was as heavy as my heart, but I ate the whole thing anyway while you swung silently next to me.

Your neck was broken, and blood had dried around your lips. Poisoned blood: you had always wanted it to be this way. Your hair fell around your face, messy like it had been after the nights we spent exploring one another. I ate the whole cake and then called the police. Finally, I felt like a murder victim. Finally I felt afraid.

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