“I know what you’re thinking. ‘Verochka, you’re killing yourself doing this.'”
Two smooth digits cradle a burning cigarette as it ascends to a pair of red stained lips. The pouty mouth embraces the gold wrapped filter; her cheeks dimple as she inhales the rich tobacco. She purses her lips, allowing the smoke to dance in her lungs momentarily then exhales in a slow and steady fashion.
The smoke floats upward, past her pure white locks. Her silvery irises reflect the sway of the white vapors as it dissipates and fades into the absence. She closes her lids as the early light peaks through the crack of the drawn curtains in the room. For a few precious seconds, she basks in the warmth of the sun, then reopens her eyes and shifts her focus to the pupils of the man starring back, next to her in the bed.
“Do you want to know how I feel about dying? Relieved.”
Verochka slides over closer to the man and presses her back against the dark leather headboard while maintaining the gaze.
“You know what growing old means? It’s being the last one at the party when the host just wants you to leave. You’ve worn out your invitation and it’s time to depart. There are no rewards for being old because truthfully, no one cares.”
Verochka pauses, takes another puff and then continues speaking with her undeterminable accent.
“Death is a way to let a person hold onto their dignity. Until that day comes for me, there are adventures to make, travels to take and sexual pleasures…to fake.”
She smiles, holding back a laugh, and then proceeds.
“When I cannot do these things any longer, there is no point for me to stay. I am well aware that one day this will kill me. You see though, I welcome death and this…this is my insurance policy.”
The gentleman stares at Verochka blankly. He makes no effort of any kind to respond to her peculiar statements. Verochka laughs and reaches out her right arm and strokes his face with her slender fingers. She continues slowly, past his stubbly chin and down his neck. She reaches his trachea, she stops and presses gently against the side of it with her first two fingers.
Her eyes peer into his…his blue, dilated, milky, dull and lifeless eyes. She removes her hand from his body and secures the dwindling cigarette back between her lips and crawls off of the bed. She takes one final drag and reaches over to the ashtray, extinguishing the embers of the cigarette. Verochka reaches down to the floor and grabs her black dress and quickly pulls it over her head and down her body.
Slipping on her heels and with her bag clutched firmly beneath her arm, Verochka proceeds to the door. As she turns the knob, she looks back at the body one last time.
“It seems that I was your insurance policy.”