"Alla, the roses are brown." I went into the kitchen. She was washing the dishes. The roses were important to her.
She put down the plate and dishrag and trotted out the back door. Her roses were wilting in the hot sun.
"What's going to happen now?" I asked.
"We have to prepare." She ran upstairs to gather her things. She had a small black bag just for a case like this, wishing she didn't have to.
"We're going to the hospital," she ordered, "Now!"
There were no words of reassurance I could give. We both feared the worst.
She drove like a racecar driver. She was the careful, methodical type. She planned things well in advance.
She ran up the hospital stairs.
"I'm his daughter," she explained as I caught up.
We were ushered towards his room, but she rushed ahead before anyone could protest. There she dumped the contents of her bag onto the counter. He was unconscious.
She crushed some dried rose petals over his face. They were gathered long ago.
"Miss, I can't allow you to do that," the nurse said.
Alla grabbed a dark sphere from the counter, aimed it, and pushed the nurse back into the hallway with an invisible barrier.
The petal fragments seeped into her father's skin. She brought out a vial of shimmering liquid. If I didn't know better, she would have looked like she was practicing witchcraft - mixing more and more ingredients into her father's grave, for that was what it had become.
Hours and hours she went on, drawing other materials from a pocket dimension. She knew the formulas. She knew what to do. She was following them all step by step. The morning came and went. She was still hard at it.
I didn't think it was going to work anymore. By then the nurses had called the police, but they were unable to breach her barrier. I could see doubt creeping into her mind.
"This has got to work," she said, "I forsaw it. The chair never lies." She was angry and tired. "No, I didn't see this. We've gone off track. Anything can happen now. I'm not giving up."
I was trapped in there with them. A day passed and she still wouldn't let up.
"You can go," she said, giving me her sphere.
I left to get us some food. By the time I returned, it didn't matter anymore. She had drank the forbidden. Food was no longer relevant. That was when I knew this would become the grave of not one, but two people. She would sacrifice the rest of eternity in a sort of living death, trying to defy the inevitable.
Something had gone wrong. The chair had failed her, but she still hadn't given up. She never would.
Days become months. Months became years. I would still visit her at her father's hospital bed, but it was of little use. She barely acknowledged me, still trying various combinations of products and ingredients she was conjuring. It was unrelenting madness.
I had to mourn her life, even as she refused to mourn her father. Eventually I would only visit her once a year, the day we swept the graves of our ancestors.