|India IV: Shiva
Author: Guede Mazaka
"I've got to make a decision," B says.
They're lying atop a roof, somewhere warm and sunny; O-ren stopped keeping track of places a few days after she discovered the limitations of her afterlife. What was the point, when she could only go where Beatrix went? She still notes the weather, but only because rain means unsure footing for B, cold means shivering muscles and slower movements in a fight. None of it affects O-ren herself. She's dead. By definition, she's unfeeling. Or she should be.
She does feel the tension in B's stomach, which lies under her arm, and the nervous jerking of B's head as transmitted down to the shoulder upon which O-ren is pillowing her head. And the rise and fall of the heat within the woman, always threatening to burn straight through the tissue-thin shell that cages in the warrior's spirit. Sometimes O-ren can feel herself kindling from it, buried emotions uncontrollably flaring through her, and then she thinks she isn't quite so dead, after all. If she can feel that.
"I chose. I didn't want her to have any of that, but Bill gave her a little anyway. And if she stays with me, she's going to get more." Even as it breaks, B's voice strengthens. With every tear that falls, she grows stronger. "Goddamn it, I love her. She can't-if she gets out of it now, it won't be too late. Everything will just be a bad dream."
"Then why aren't we?" O-ren holds her translucent hand up to the sun, watches it start to shimmer away. It's still stained with faint red, coating of blood weighing heavy on her effervescence. Pinning her down, just like the fingers that seize her wrist-suddenly, her entire arm is solid and flesh and bone.
They kill. They've kept killing. Bill had had more than one enemy, and when he fell, they'd come courting. And then they'd come murderous. The deaths could be considered to be wrought in self-defense. But O-ren thinks not. They're protecting themselves, true, but only barely. She wants to go, to strike out, and she can sense the same longing in B. Neither of them are innocent killers by any stretch of the imagination.
"She's leaving." B's voice doesn't shake when she says that. "But I can't."
O-ren had always wondered in a vague kind of way how long the Black Mamba would've lain quiescent, if her old colleagues hadn't gone after her. Not long, O-ren now decides. Bride, Beatrix, Black Mamba-they've all got that raw connection to the creation of death. Making as they unmake, shaping as they destroy. It's not the kind of thing they can shake. It's not the kind of thing they want to shake, when it came down to it. It's what makes B great, and what shoves B away from the rest of the world. Even O-ren had had memories of a time before bullets and blades, but somehow she doesn't think B does.
Wedding. That was the cinema speaking, saying the only way to withdraw was to make a new life with two kids and a white picket fence and a dog. Lab or retriever, of course. That wasn't what reality did. Vernita had gone off, with Bill's permission, to set up a drug-running organization with her smart doctor-husband. The kid had been a bit of an accident, and the façade had been purposeful. Guns in the cereal.
What B had done…reaction of one who had no idea how to adjust, of one who took her cues from realities as false as her change of heart. The mind might have chosen, but the heart never had. The heart thought what it wanted, and damned everything else. That was why O-ren had tried to crush her own out of her chest before it could betray her. Too late now.
"She's…leaving." B rolls over, buries her face in O-ren's hair, and cries. Loud, rasping, wheezing gulps of breath and floods of tears that water O-ren in salt and bitterness. "Oh, God. She's leaving me."
"I'm not." It's the stupid truth, but O-ren can't not say it. Because it is true.
She braces herself for the shaking, lets herself be rattled, and then she's shocked by the kiss. And then she knows that B will be fine, in her own way. Never whole, but she's going to get up and keep walking. And O-ren will be right there, next to her.