A couple of months ago, in the master’s fiction subject, they asked us to write an autofiction story. It took me a while to make up my mind, but I decided to write about the hardest experience I’ve had to face in my life, my face-to-face encounter with death. I think it’s about time I shared this with you.
As I said, it’s autofiction. By this I mean that I experienced this, only that it is somewhat dramatized to make it more literary, so to speak.
Seven lives has a cat. Marramameow, meow, meow. Seven lives has a cat… How many do I have?
It has been more than eight years since death marked me with its poisoned claws, but I remember that week as if I still was that fragile creature trapped in its crystal cage. A foreign country, a language that was not mine and a deadly disease that had taken too long to detect and that had decimated me in battle.
The hopes were scarce and I was so tired that I did not have the strength to fight anymore. But, against all odds and to the surprise of the doctor who treated me, I survived the terrible night of my death; or maybe I just revived in the morning. I think I remember seeing my guardian spirit watching me that night.
But death, a definite death, would have been more pleasant than what came next. Ten kilos of my weight vanished to transform me into a malnourished vampire who did not tolerate light, nor noise, nor food, nor water, nor movement, nor life, nor anything. Hundreds of needles pierced my skin and body in a cyclic torture that began with each dawn. Once on the back to show me what real pain was and relativize the martyrdom that was to come. Every day in the veins of my arms, alternating them to avoid the unavoidable, in an endless number of drippers and analytics that made me a pathetic android that needed a tube to survive. When the veins of the arms developed their unfathomable armour and the cold needles could no longer pass through them, the torture moved to the hands; but these veins were fragile and it did not take long for them to explode and create a lake of scarlet blood that spread like a plague under my skin leaving a faint violet mark that, today, can still be seen. The options ran out, the needle reached the neck.
I have never suffered anything like that and, for a thousand times I die, I doubt that I will suffer that much again. But the pain is something curious and now there is nothing left but a dull resonance that echoes in some hidden corner of my memory.
It was seven days that I felt like seven years, but I recovered. The glass cage exploded in a thin iridescent rain when I was able to walk again and the needles were no longer needed. My survival was not the only mystery that doctors refused to face as a miracle, there was also the absolute and unreal certainty that it had not left me with a single sequel. Or my guardian spirit worked to the maximum or death had only been able to take one of my lives, the second one.
Yes, the second one. Already outside the hospital, reviewing all the tests that I was been given, the hazy experiences of a few years ago made sense. The bloody spits every time it was cold, the nights I woke up coughing because I drowned with my own blood, my battered lungs covered with dark scars, that first time my guardian spirit came to visit me.
Meningitis, tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, typhus, Ebola, plague, flu and many more.
Seven lives has a cat. How many do I have?