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Zuppa di Morte
The old beach house was stuffy with heat. Danielle opened every window in the house letting the sea breeze wrap around her. She looked at the sea where she stood two months ago. She remembered the strange man and how he helped her that day.
For two months she has been okay. Danielle went to talk to Lawrence and decided to give him a second chance. Everyone deserves a second chance. As a thank you, Lawrence bought her this house right by the sea. He knew her love for it, but not the temptation she has. The temptation to walk out in the crystal blue water and just be enveloped by the waves.
She sighed looking out at the sea clutching the open window. Danielle turned from the sea walking back to the bedroom. Lawrence was still in bed with a cold. "How are you feeling today?" Danielle asked sitting on the side of the bed. She grabbed the wet washcloth soaking in a bowl of water on the nightstand. He grabbed her hands looking straight in her eyes. "I love you," he said. She smiled, "I love you too."
She left the washcloth resting on his head. She went into the kitchen to make him soup. When it was finished, she ladled the soup into a bowl to take to him when there was a knock on the door. Danielle wiped her hands on her pants walking to the door.
Standing on the other side of the door was a petite blonde woman wearing a tank top and Daisy Duke shorts. She had large sunglasses resting on her chapped, red nose. "Hello, Danielle?"
"Yes?" Danielle asked putting her hands on her hips. "My name is Adin Acerbi. You may know me as Addy," the woman said nervously biting her lip.
"Addy? You're Addy? My husband's ex-mistress?" Danielle asked glaring at her. The woman took her sunglasses off saying, "No. I am your husbands mistress. There is no ex. Look I am not here to fight with you, but I wanted you to know that I recently got engaged." Addy held up her ring finger that was sporting a shiny new diamond engagement ring. Danielle did not even glance at it.
"Well, anyway. Last week, I told Larry that I was done with this. It wasn't fair to you and to Jimmy," Addy continued. "Who's Jimmy?" Danielle asked. "My fiancee. I told him all about Larry and I. He's forgiven me, but he told me I should tell you," Addy said.
Danielle felt the fire in her belly starting to cool from the tears rising to her eyes. She refused, though, to let this woman see her cry. "When did you guys start up again?" Danielle stuttered. Addy looked away at the house biting her lip. "Well, you see we never stopped. How is the shower? Still dripping?" Addy hinted.
Danielle picked up the hint hissing. "Go away," Danielle quietly threatened. "If I can make a suggestion, Jimmy deserves better." Addy let a tear slip. "I know," she whispered putting her sunglasses on. Then left with the door slamming behind her.
Danielle was steaming. "WHO WAS THAT?" Lawrence yelled out with a spasm of coughing after. Danielle went back in the kitchen resting her hands on the counter top. She couldn't even answer. "We never stopped" was circling in her head. Danielle looked at the soup wanting to throw it in his face. Rubbing her hand across her eyes, she grabbed a spoon from the drawer. "Dani? Who was it?" Lawrence asked again.
"Just the boy scouts selling popcorn," Danielle said. A plan was forming in her head. The darkness that has not been with her since the day at the beach has charged right back in taking charge. Danielle realized that the darkness was never that far away.
She walked over to the sink turning the water on. Kneeling down to get more soap, she eyed the dishwasher detergent. Grabbing it, she straightened herself up. She went by the soup adding a large amount of detergent in not knowing how much would be enough. She put the detergent back and finished washing her hands.
Stirring the soup, Danielle walked into the bedroom seeing Lawrence reading a book. He looked up at her smiling. She flashed him one of her radiant smiles. He looked at her ravenously, "If I wasn't sick, I would kiss that smile off." Danielle just smiled bigger sitting on the bed. "Then we would both be sick," she said spooning up soup. "Yes, but then we could spend all day in bed together," he suggested before taking a bite.
His face scrunched up. "Is it not good?" Danielle asked making her eyes big and pouting her lips. "It's perfect," he lied accepting another spoonful. He tried to make excuses to stop eating, but Danielle would not have of it.
"You know who was really at the door," Danielle said as she collected the bowl of water with the empty soup bowl. Lawrence was pale and coughed violently hard. Clearing his throat, "Who?" Danielle walked into the kitchen putting the dishes in the sink. "Addy," she called out. She heard Lawrence gasp struggling to get out of bed. "Really?" he called out coughing.
"Yes, she stopped by to announce her engagement," Danielle said washing the dishes smiling to herself. "I am happy for her to find someone not married," she hinted to Lawrence. "Yes, good for her. Moving on is best," Lawrence responded. "After all, it is you I love." Danielle rolled her eyes finishing the dishes.
She walked back in the room to find Lawrence slumped over the side of the bed. "Are you trying to escape?" Danielle joked. "I just really do not feel well at all. It's like the soup made me worse," Lawrence said clutching his stomach in pain. She whipped the towel at him saying, "Don't make fun of my cooking. Come on let's lay down."
She laid him down. "Go to sleep. Maybe you will feel better when you wake up." Lawrence shook his head saying, "It hurts too much. Maybe I should go to the hospital."
Danielle looked at him with fake worry, "I thought it was a cold." Lawrence shook his head saying, "Me too. That is what Addy had last week." He realized what he said looking at Danielle for a reaction. She just smiled saying, "I know about Addy. Just lay down. It is probably from the detergent I put in your soup."
Lawrence looked at her surprised. "I thought we were trying again," he rasped. "You don't get a second chance when you never stopped!" she hissed pushing him down.
She locked the window pulling down the shades and locked the bedroom door. The rest of the day she scrubbed the house or went down to the beach to tan. While in the house, she heard Lawrence puking and gasping. She smiled at the torture, but worried about how long it was going to take for him to just die already.
After a week, Lawrence was still alive. His skin was patchy and his eyes teary. He could no longer speak. The only time he would open his mouth was to puke blood. Danielle cleaned the room to prevent flies. She also regularly changed the sheets. It got easier lifting Lawrence after two weeks because he lost a tremendous amount of weight.
Danielle was getting impatient. About a month after the soup's consumption, Lawrence was at the death's door just waiting for them to open it for him. Danielle noticed this and went outside to start working on her garden.
"Howdy neighbor," Mrs. Laguardia, Danielle's neighbor, waved. "Finally working on that garden?" Danielle smiled, "Yes. Lawrence is sick, so I have some time on my hands when he naps." Mrs. Laguardia smiled nodding, "Well, that hole is too deep for flowers." Danielle looked at it faking ignorance, "Oh my goodness, I was just so deep in thought. Thank you, Mrs. Laguardia."
Mrs. Laguardia smiled as Danielle began shoveling some soil back in the hole. When she was gone, Danielle dug the hole larger and larger. When the hole was big enough, she covered it with tarp looking at Mrs. Laguardia's house. Her neighbor has been nosy ever since they moved in.
She walked back inside dusting the sand and soil on her pants. Danielle checked in on Lawrence. He was still asleep. Danielle walked over checking his pulse. Not finding it, she smiled, "Finally."
Danielle picked Lawrence up putting him on the rug rolling him up. She then wiped down the bedroom as if Lawrence was never sick. She opened all the windows to get the stink out of the house.
When the sun set, she threw Lawrence in the freshly dug hole. She took the shovel throwing spil on top of the dead body. Patting down the soil and sand mix, she walked into the house not realizing the neighboring house's window curtain had quickly shut.
Danielle then took a shower. When finished she dried and intricately styled her hair. She applied a fresh coat of make up before walking to the closet. In the closet, she pushed all her clothes away grabbing for the dress bag in the back. In the bag hung her wedding dress. She stepped into the strapless wedding dress pulling it up, zipping it up as high as she could.
Leaving her feet barefoot, she walked down to the sea. The water lapped at her feet familiarly. "I am ready," Danielle announced to the sea. The waves grabbed at her hungrily as she walked in. They licked up her dress and skin. Danielle shook with sick pleasure a huge smile on her face. Before going under she whispered, "I do."
Lawrence woke healthy and refreshed to a man standing in front of him. The man was bald with a long silver beard. Behind the man was the brightest light. "Hello Lawrence Manco," the man said. "Wh-where am I?" Lawrence asked looking around. "Do not turn around Lawrence," the man said. "My name is Benedict and I am a saint." Lawrence looked at him shocked, "So I am going to Heaven?" Benedict looked him over not giving away anything.
"Lawrence, our Father is almighty and gives us free will. You have known the Father since youth, but acted against his Word. This is what we will do. We will give you a choice," St. Benedict snapped his fingers. Ten doors appeared in a circle. "Choose," St. Benedict said nodding.
Lawrence looked at all the doors before finally deciding on a door. It was the same as the other nine, but it pulled him to it. Lawrence drifted to the door turning the nob.
Danielle woke to two people standing in front of her. One was the stranger from the beach and the other looked eerily like Mrs. Laguardia.
"Danielle, good to see you again," the man said. Epipodius, the name whispered in her ear. She has not heard the whisper since the beach. "Yes, the whisper gives me crawls," Mrs. Laguardia said smiling.
"Who are you and why am I here?" Danielle asked. "You finally took the plunge," Mrs. Laguardia laughed. "Ezekiel," Epipodius snapped. Mrs. Laguardia just smiled.
"We know why you did it. We know how you did it. We even stopped you before," Epipodius said. "You stopped me from committing suicide," Danielle remembered. "Did I?" Epipodis asked.
Danielle thought. Would she have went into the water? Would she have done it? Was she plotting then to kill her husband? Danielle did not remember.
"We gave you a second chance," Mrs. Laguardia said. Ezekiel, the voice whispered reminding her. She shook away the voice gaining a smiling from Mrs. La-Ezekiel.
"Do you deserve another chance?" Epipodius asked. She stuttered over the question knowing the answer. Why should she be given another chance when she refused that to her husband? She sighed looking at Epipodius's sad face. He waved his hand exposing two doors. "Choose, but be careful which you choose."
She looked at the doors. They were identical, but she knew each door had a different location. Danielle felt no pull, heard no whisper, and the angels gave no hints.
She was given a free choice to choose a door. Danielle made her choice. She went to the door turning the nob. Before opening it, she heard Ezekiel repeat what she said to Lawrence, "You don't get a second chance when you never stopped."
Danielle took a breath opening the door.
Inspiration: A Look into the Writing Process
The Title: Zuppa is Italian for Soup. Morte means death. Di shows possession, so it literally means Death's Soup. I chose Italian because St. Benedict is Italian. Italian names are also used a lot in this story.
After writing Olivia's cameo in my last story, Blind Faith, I decided to finish Danielle's story. The Sea's Maiden has gotten a lot of views and feedback. I knew I really wanted to touch upon the Heaven or Hell conflict, but I do not know what happens after we die. So I played with it. For Danielle and Lawrence, they have two different experiences.
Danielle's experience she is only given 2 options while Lawrence has ten. Danielle does not feel anything, but Lawrence is compelled to a door. Lawrence has 1 guide, Danielle has 2. We will look at these in a second. Danielle is depressed and a murderer. Lawrence is an adulterer, only side seen in the stories.
Like usual, none of the Saints or Angels directly interfered. The only one to have seen to interfere in my stories is Raphael, an archangel. They did not stop the poisoning or the suicide. They just help.
Lawrence Manco: He was mentioned in "The Sea's Maiden," but this is the first we see of him. He is not healthy when we see him. He has a cold, hinted to be given by Addy who appears with a chapped red nose. Lawrence means to be "crowned with laurel." Basically he is a champion. Manco means "left-handed," once known to be the hand of the Devil.
Adin "Addy" Acerbi: "Adin" means slender or voluptuous. The shortening of her name shows that this is not the way she wants to be viewed not even knowing the meaning of her name. "Acerbi" means heartless or harsh. This woman knew that the man had a wife and yet she did not care. She was only there because her fiancee wanted her there.
Mrs. Laguardia aka Ezekiel: I have always been fascinated by how angels present themselves. This is the first time an actual angel has been introduced into my story. The others are angels, but they were humans first. Patron Saints in my eyes are Guardian Angels, not really angels but defined as one. Well anyway, Ezekiel is the Angel of Death. "Laguardia" means guard or sentry. This is important to know. What is Ezekiel protecting?
St. Benedict: He is the Patron Saint of poisoning, kidney disease, Europe, and schoolchildren. In this case, poisoning.
The whisper: The whisper is heard by Danielle before death and is heard by the Saints and Angels, as well as other characters. I am not saying any more of that.