I do not fear death, for it is death who fears me.
Repulsed even by my silhouette, death has evaded himself from my presence many times before and continues to do so on this winter's night.
I should be dead, lying cold on the streets of London, within the clutch of his dead hands, but I find myself still breathing.
I lap my gaunt arm over my chest and grasp my side firmly, pressing my elbow deeper, praying that the pressure will sooth the pain,
however it grows sharper within each breath as the night drags on. Each cough, each swallow burns gravely but the mucus inside my mouth fuels my starvation.
My tailored suit, once fit to precision is now torn and clawed at the sleeves, while booth my waistcoat and shirt hang loosely over my body.
I burrow my head deeper into my collar, as the pouring rain turns thunderous.
Clouds of black smog eclipse the moon above, while the wind grazes over my cheeks, sheltering the only light that surrounds me. "Help.
" I croak through my closed jaw, "Someone help" though my voice is a faint whisper against the sounds of London.
Within the light, a goddess will emerge into sight and rescue me from the darkness that surrounds me. The goddess with the Red Umbrella.
I need a Doctor, one who will cure me from whatever it is I am suffering from, cure me from what is eating me alive, daily.
Each morning is a struggle, to lift myself off the ground, without feeling the burning sensation inside of me, wheezing like an old man who is on the verge of death.
I shouldn't be here, sitting uncomfortably on a potato crate, outside an abandoned pie factory.
I should be at university, finishing my years' work in law, a subject I have thrived in for many years, but I'm still here. My dream, my only dream, shattered.
My Father would have been proud, proud to see his eldest son pursue in the family business just like the many Richardsons that came before.
And what about mother? How could I forget her, her smile, her laugh, her spirit that filled each room with warmth wherever she went.
The smell of rosewater perfume tickles my nose slightly in memory and sends me into a deep and soothing sleep, as she tucks me under the silk sheets of my bed and kisses me gently on my forehead.
The darkness that surrounds me is frightening, as I feel my chest tightening a goddess emerges from the corner of my eye. She carries a Red Umbrella.
I flinch in agony and fall heavy onto the bricks of wet cobblestone. My hands, my feeble hands aren't strong enough to pull me up from the floor, nor is my determination.
I used to be healthy, one of the most athletically capable students in my class, but now look at me, a skeleton digging his own grave.
If my brother were here today, he would drag me from the damp floor and guide me along the pavement to the nearest hospital he could find.
He knew the city like the palm of his hand and could read every expression on my face like a book, although if he could see me now, he wouldn't be able to tell.
A man of very few words, but words that always held a purpose.
I always wished I were like my younger brother, always wished I was as dashing as he, and that it was me, the eldest who was always looking down at him.
Words on paper cannot describe my love for him, nor the power of my voice, for I will never be half the man my brother was.
From the corner of my eye, I cry at the sight of her standing before me, her expression faint. The Red Umbrella shelters her from the rain.
But no matter my family, for my true happiness was never found in money, education or even luxury...it was with her.
Those nights, how can I ever forget those nights, when we would slow dance around the dining room, hand in hand, while she rested her head against my shoulder, delicately swaying her feet.
I recall as she chuckles as I stumble over my left foot. Or those nights, when we would dine together, drink wine together and even sing together.
How I miss those nights, when the world seemed like a breeze...but a breeze slowly turns to a storm. I can't feel my fingertips, not the tip of my nose.
My jacket is drenched as are my trousers and now my boots are filled with rainwater. I wish to scream, to cry, but I find myself slowly closing my eyes.
Her expression is still, until I lift my head is shame. She doesn't draw back or startle...she smiles. The Red Umbrella slowly falls over my head.
I glace up, blinking multiple times to extract the tears in my eyes. The figure is a blur, but the Red Umbrella is vibrant enough for me to make out a shape.
"Could it be? Is that you, death?" I ask, tears streaming down my cheeks.
The figure, who stands motionless in the hallway faintly whispers "No."
"I am hope."