How to Mourn

Written by Ava Krahn

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

It was the brink of night when Ariadne died, between sunlight and midnight, when the moon was a circle of candlewax against a cobalt sky. She stung her finger on a kerosene lamp on the way down. Tumbled off a paisley armchair she’d claimed since childhood. Landed on the creaky pine floor that she’d tiptoed on her entire life to avoid the squeaking. You tried to wake her at first, listened for the tremor of a heartbeat, a whisper of breath, but there was nothing.

A year later, you water your plants and celebrate the anniversary of your sister’s death with a tear it took twelve months to weep. Your family always accused you of not caring, and you always told them it was a grief deeper than tears. You left shortly after, packed what you could fit into your school backpack, and vanished. Before sunlight braised the sky, laced through curtains and miraged on floorboards. You borrowed Ariadne’s car, never brought it back. It wasn’t like she needed it anymore.

And now you’re here, tilting a tin watering can over the windowsill, hoping the water reaches the plants but watching it dribble to the floor instead. You haven’t thought of Ariadne for months, you’ve hardly thought about the family you left behind. To you, they’re just faces with frayed edges, hazy in your mind, like you never knew them to begin with. Maybe you never did. You fleck water against the window, and it mimics the raindrops that nibble the glass.

You wonder where Ariadne is now, how far she’s gone and if she’ll ever come back. Maybe she’s in Africa or Switzerland, travelling the world like she always wanted to. Drifting into the night and blurring with the northern lights, chewing mouthfuls of dandelion fluff, stealing wallets and watches and wedding rings because no one will ever catch her. Or maybe she’s suffering more than you are, wandering the halls of the house you haven’t set foot in since you left. Maybe she’s a lost ghost tangled in the roots of an ash tree, maybe she isn’t a ghost at all.

Sometimes you wish you could see her again, talk to her again. Even about something mundane like the weather – the raindrops that fritz on the window, the sunlight that scalds concrete, the shadows that gauze your kitchen floor. You want to speak, maybe she would listen if you called for her, but the words are like a dragonfly wingbeat on your tongue, and you hold them in.

You let the watering can clatter from between your fingers, and water flutters from its spout and pools around your ankles. Ariadne always used to do that, when she was angry. Dropped whatever she was holding and hoped she wouldn’t have to clean it up after. Maybe that’s how she died, letting go of something she shouldn’t have let go of. You’ve never wanted anything to do with her before, but something calls you to join her, and it both terrifies and fascinates you. Maybe the space of a year was sufficient to distance yourself enough to care about her again. You wrench open the window, let rain tsunami into the kitchen, coil on your skin, soak the plants until they wilt, fill your eyes and lungs and nostrils until you suffocate or grow accustomed to the pain.

Maybe you’ll let the rainwater drown you. It’ll clog your lungs, seep through your chest, and this quiet house will be your resting place. You can see it clearly, the freedom of drifting out the window and tangling in mist. You’d meet Ariadne somewhere on a mountain slope and let a hurricane frost your marrow, or on a desert island where you’d eat mangoes and bury yourselves in sand.

You settle on the cold tiles. Even now, the water trickles between your fingers and mingles with your hair. Maybe if it rains all night, you’ll drown here, and be on the news in the morning. A face underwater, a girl with a watering can, dead but still alive.

Ava Krahn

Ava is a teen writer from BC, Canada. She writes literary fiction and enjoys very pretentious, flowery prose. When not writing, she is probably having conversations with herself out loud, reading half-attentively, or scrolling through Tumblr. She prefers to do all these things when everyone in the house is asleep.