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Just Like Rosa


When I married Silva, I knew she was the type of woman Father would have despised. She was witty, intelligent, more outspoken than any female figure I grew up around. By principle alone, she refused to hover over a stove with a round belly as her mother has done. Why would she when she had the face and body that should've been immortalized in oil paintings? My personal "Silva List" went on and on. Amen. Countless mornings, I'd let my gaunt reflection sink into the bathroom mirror -- sometimes, my eyes fell upon our bed, where Silva's body stretched like a boa by the Amazon River.

           She could've taken anyone. She is stunning enough. But she chose me. There has to be a catch.

           There was.

           It began when Silva's father finally moved to God's Acre. In his will, he left his only child a share of oil money and a beautiful home in the Hills, an area far enough from where we were. Unabashed tears drenched her cheeks and she was so beside herself with excitement, she embraced me -- something she never did in public. When we returned home, she disappeared into the kitchen while my tired frame crashed into an armchair. She reemerged from the room with a bottle of wine and two long stemmed glasses laced between her fingers.

           "This is fabulous, Jeffery. Absolutely fabulous!" She placed the glasses on the coffee table and, after filling them, helped herself to one. "Of all the things to give me, Daddy gave me the house and more than a truckload of money. Jeffery, why are you slouching? Drink up!"

           But I didn't even attempt to lift my portion. My concentration was seized by the cranberry redness within the slim necked crystal. The wine resembled liquidized rubies.

           "I'm not in the celebrating mood, Silva."

           "Jeffery, I don't think you heard me. We have money and a new house."

           "I know that." My eyes tore from the rubies to meet those of my puzzled wife. "The Hills, it's an hour away. I don't feel comfortable uprooting so suddenly, not when the chapel's doing so well."

           The perplexed look on Silva's face became one of aggravated shock.

           "The chapel? Jeffery, this is an opportunity for us to be better than who we are and all you can worry about is your precious business?"


           "---Jeffery, it and the bodies are still going to be there. What do you think will happen? It's not like they're going to get up and walk out of the freezer."

           "Don't be so crass."

           "Don't be so selfish."

           "Honey, how can you say that? You know I want you to be happy."

           Silva slid my glass between her olive fingers and stepped in front of the coffee table. She stood as a well dressed mannequin before sitting herself in front of me.

           "Then let's move to the Hills. It's not too far, so you can still drive to and from work." One glass was replaced by my knee. She gained my full attention with the soft greenish chestnut eyes that made me fall in love with her. "You know we don't belong here. You said that yourself. Don't you think we deserve a better life, Roi?"


           Roi: Silva gave me that nickname while we dated -- she said I "rule her heart." Once she'd spoken that word with such familiarity, I knew I couldn't resist.

           "I assume I can make a type of arrangement."

           My wife shone a healthy grin as she held my glass of rubies before my view. "Drink up, my love. Here's to the good life to come." I tipped my crystal to our good fortune, but as the liquid rushed down my throat, I contemplated how I would break the news to my clients.

"Oh, Roi! Isn't this house gorgeous?" Before I opened my mouth, she said, "When I was a little girl, the nanny and I would play hide-and-seek and we hid all around the house. One day, I hid in the basement and she couldn't find me for three hours. Daddy was so worried."

           As she went on about her childhood memories, I became lost in thought. We've only been in our new Victorian style home for two minutes -- literally -- and I already felt out of place. The house was too much for me; it left room for the worst to happen and that alone made me feel uneasy. The minute my steps crossed the threshold, the memories of my drunken father-in-law calling me "a pale-faced pussy" at the dinner table came flooding back.

           I hated the Hills. But I hated this house even more.

           But, after witnessing Silva's reaction, I didn't dare bother her with what she would call "bottomless claims."

           "Just give it a month of two, Jeffery. Things will be better and your feelings with subside."

           But that didn't happen.

           Since we moved to the Hills, Silva -- slowly, but surely -- transformed into the typical suburban princess. She wore the role of the glamorous neighbor like a second skin and, though it sickened me, I bit my tongue to keep her happy. Meanwhile, my funeral chapel was becoming my sanctuary. I realized it was more pleasurable to be surrounded by the deceased; they somehow made me feel needed and their silence soothed me. As Rosa has.

           Rosa Vespuchi was a fifteen-year-old girl who passed on due to a massive head injury. I've worked on many others who died from worse circumstances. But there was something different -- something special about this one. I could tell by the peaceful expression on her face she was a selfless person; a generous young woman whom everyone loved.

           "You were probably popular in high school." I made sure my voice was soft when I spoke to my new friend. "Many boys asked you out, I know it. Your hair is so soft. It feels like silk. I wonder what shampoo you used. You're a stunning girl, Rosa."

           She was.

           I couldn't stop staring at her pale blue lips; I had to know them. I caressed them gently with my thumb, but that wasn't enough. My hand stroked Rosa's icy mask as my lips united with hers. Deep within, I knew she felt my wanting to be a part of her. My last employee left for the day, so no one was on the premises besides Rosa and myself. I casted my eyes on the body lying on the examination table. Her face reflected a heavenly peace -- a beauty I couldn't begin to describe unless I was with her. My mouth found hers again.

           I want to know. I have to know.

           "Jeffery, do you know what time it is?"

           The maid was hanging my coat in the closet as Silva approached me with two glasses of cranberry wine in her grasp. She was so hasty, a couple of drops trickled onto her black stiletto heels.

           "It's seven-thirty."

           "You were supposed to be here by six, for we were having guests for dinner."

           "I was busy at the chapel. It completely slipped my mind."

           "The chapel. Of course. No wonder you look like a mess." Her tone was low and condescending.

           "I should've barrowed a suit from one of my clients."

           My wife was not amused by my disturbing humor. Her eyes reduced to narrow slits as she shoved a glass at me. "Take this and follow me. And try not to be an embarrassment."

           We both went into the dining room, which was already occupied by four of our neighbors. I cared for none of them, so I nourished my body in silence as Silva and her cocktail friends cackled about the unimportant. Then I became the topic of conversation.

           "Jeffery was at the chapel again." Silva sipped her wine. "It's such a sadistic business, yet he enjoys it dearly. I swear, Roi, sometimes I think you care more about those old stiffs than you do me. It wouldn't surprise me if you were screwing one of them." Silva threw her head back and laughed along with her friends. Hers sounded artificial, yet a layer of cruel intention spread thickly beneath it. A furious heat burned my face.

           "That may be the case, considering I'd rather be with them." All commotion ceased as I pushed myself from the table and stormed out of the dining room. I snatched my coat from the closet and, as the hanger clanged against the floor, I vanished into the night as an attempt to clear my mind. Buttoning my coat wasn't necessary; my anger generated enough fire to shield me against the winter chill. I circled the Hills for what seemed like hours before I deemed myself calm enough to return home. Other than mine, no cars cluttered the driveway, so I knew Silva's guests were gone. When I walked into the house, my wife was sitting in one of the living room armchairs. Her slender legs were crossed while her folded hands rested on her knee. Her nude shaded lips were firmly pressed together as if her mouth was glued shut and her eyes flashed a loathing, disrespectful glare.

           "How dare you humiliate me in front of my guests?"

           "I was going to ask you the same question. 'It wouldn't surprise me if you were screwing one of them.' What was the meaning of that?"

           "We were only having a giggle."

           "At my expense? What hurts the most is that you knew what you were doing tonight. I can't believe you took it there, Silva."

           "You've been around the dead for much too long, Roi. You have no sense of humor."

           "And since we've moved into this house, you've become disgusting and unbearable -- just like your father."

           Silva sprang from her chair and dealt an openhanded blow to my jaw. She stood her ground defiantly as my head whipped sideways, drips of saliva escaping my mouth.

           "Don't you ever degrade my father. This house was his legacy and he gave it to me because he wanted me to do better -- to be better. If you can't handle that, then I suggest you go live happily ever after with your stiffs. Only God knows why I married you -- to stand besides you is an insult to my family's name. You're not a man. You're a pussy -- a pale, spineless pussy. Now I understand why Daddy didn't like you."

           She turned her back abruptly and her heels clapped against the wooden tile as she went towards the staircase. "If you are fucking those dead bodies, they're probably more satisfied than I'll ever be." She practically stomped up the stairs, her steps muffled by the cream colored carpet.

           I stood frozen as if I had been stricken a second time. Silva's words rattled my frame to the point of numbness. I didn't even feel the beads of sweat sliding down my face like colorless blood. You're not a man. That phrase repeated itself in my mind like an audio torture devise. "You're not a man...You're not a man." I did everything I could for this woman -- even sacrificing my comfort.

           Yet I'm not a man.

           The internal furnace I previously walked off returned with an unstoppable vengeance.

           It's bad enough she never loved me. I won't let her take any more from me.

           It was half past ten when I crept into the darkness of our bedroom.

           Beneath the glowing white covers stretched Silva; she was sound asleep with an open Danielle Steele novel laying face down on her chest.

           The apocalypse couldn't rouse her. She won't feel anything.

           I picked up a pillow from the bed and, after crawling up to her, hovered over my wife. I pressed it against her face as hard as I possibly could to make sure she had no access to oxygen. At first, she just lied there as if she already dead. But when she realized she couldn't breathe, her body bucked wildly and muffled screams projected into the murder weapon as her womanly fists pounded against my chest and face.

           But I didn't want God and His angels to hear her, so I just pressed harder and I felt my hands beginning to cramp, as if they punishing me for committing such an act as this. Her blows became softer and softer, until she was nothing more than a lifeless vessel.

           I peeled the pillow off Silva's face; strings of her darks hair were invading her eyes and nose; her full lips were slightly parted, exposing her flawless teeth. I brushed her hair away with the tip of my fingers. Silva looked so breathtaking; her face had the same peaceful look Rosa had. Maybe because she knew she no longer had to impress anyone. I removed my shield of clothing and snuggled against my wife. I just wanted to love her; to be a part of her existence. Yet, for some reason, I was never good enough for her. But as my hands explored her naked cadaver, I felt as if I was all she had, as if I -- and I alone -- would be the realm of her happiness.

           My hungry mouth eclipsed hers and I instantly became lost in their softness. And so on and so on. And for the first time, I knew what she wanted. I knew who Silva was.

           I knew her.

About the Author (click here) © 2003 Shermeeka Mason, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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