The snake that winds through me is generations long, its tail now buried within the dust of my ancestors, sprung from one of them like the demigod it is. Child of a god, come to slither its way through my family tree. Strangling the roots and killing us one by one until one day I woke with a darkness over me, a shadow over my mind, and I knew.
I knew it had finally come for me.
I went to the doctors and she didn’t find anything so I went to another and another and another and none of them could see it, see it for what it was.
Of the five doctors I went to each gave me a new reason as to why I was going through what I was going through and what ailment they thought I might be facing.
It hid in plain sight from them.
Coiled around a half dozen symptoms and slithering out of view just as they seem to get close to it.
It was there though, and I knew it and as the fog settled in thicker and thicker I knew it was just a matter of time until the moments there was fog were more frequent than the moments of clarity.
When the shadow finally found me in full, the snake sinking its teeth into my chest until its poison was drained, it had been three years since I first guessed it had found me.
I had gone to sleep at ten in the evening, lying alone in my bed and staring up at the white sky of my ceiling.
I woke on my back, strapped to a gurney in a hospital scream, scream, screaming for my mother who was long dead.
The snake had taken my mother as it had taken her mother and her mother and on and on, striking down the women of our family and only managing to skip sisters, taking only one, its singular act of kindness.
My sister was there to sit with me and calm me as she explained that I had been found walking down the center of a highway three miles from my apartment.
More testing and the tests lead to medications and to assurances that we had caught it, whatever it was that was eating away at me.
After the third time I had been found my sister held my hand and said nothing as the doctor’s whispered to one another. She knew the snake, maybe not as well as I did but she knew it, and she knew it had come for me.
It was why neither of us had married.
It was why neither of us had had children.
Because the only way to kill the snake would be to starve it, even if it meant the end of us.
My sister got me out of the hospital with the promise she would look after me and get me the help and treatment I needed but it was a lie, only one of the many we had both told in our lives, this one woven out of love though, and for that I was grateful.
We spent the last hours of light on her porch, holding hands and looking at pictures from when we were kids. As we sat there the children in the photos became strange and unfamiliar and I suppose that was when my sister knew it was time.
When I came to again it was night and I was scared and cried for some time before I was clear enough to remember where I must be and why I was there.
And now it’s just me and the snake as it feasts on me but I know soon, very soon, it will starve.
It will starve and I will laugh at it as it does.
Laugh until the vomit comes, until the black clouds settle, and until I am long, long gone.
That was the last gift my sister gave me, as she settled me here in the grass of the woods where we used to play.
Three little pills that would let me choose darkness over the gray.
And when I was finally gone she would have me collected, and buried, and with me would be buried the snake, our inheritance, and the last of our family curse.
I lived not a great life.
I lived not a bad life.
I lived a life.
A life that was far too short for how very long it was.
So much I knew that was gone.
So much forgotten. .
Once my sister was gone there would be no one left to remember me and it was a black, bitter thing that life is its own sort of snake, that strangles the memories from all of us and all of those we love, strangling the world itself until there is nothing left of any of us but dust and forgotten dreams.