Kiss of Death, a short story by Teodora Vamvu at

Kiss of Death

Kiss of Death

written by: Teodora Vamvu



One day, I opened my eyes and flew out of this world.

My deepest and most treasured wish: to escape this small-town life, to be in a big city, where my footsteps will mix with those of thousands others in a potpourri of shoe imprints. But as it is, I’m stuck in this hellhole of a place, at least until I graduate and can extricate myself from my family’s grip, although not from their expectations.

This is what goes through my head as I mindlessly wander the annual fairground, my little sister in tow, her blonde hair in pigtails and sticky bubblegum candy floss smeared all over her face. All around me, children and adults alike are queueing to spin the wheel or shoot at tin cans or have their futures predicted by a tarot card reader, gold coins dangling from her midriff.

“The High Priestess. You have a very strong connection with the divine, my dear. Your spiritual enlightenment journey begins now…”

Her practiced mellow voice travels to me in honeyed waves, and the recipient of the reading beams with pride, ready to tailor her daily decision-making based on a complete stranger’s theatrically declared truisms.

“Can we go on the Ferris wheel now?”

My sister is tugging at my shirt, bouncing impatiently, her pigtails flying about her head.

“Not now, Grace.”

“But you promised!”

At the end of the lane stands an imposing 200-foot ride, an intricate construction of ups and downs and nausea-inducing twirls. The Kiss of Death; now that sounds like something that’s worth a quarter hour of my time. And by the size of the queue, I can tell it’s not for the faint of heart.

“We’ll go on the Ferris wheel, but first I wanna ride this. You wait for me here, okay? Don’t move from this spot.”

“But… aren’t you scared?”

Scared is not what I am. What I am is hungry for a semblance of excitement, an adrenaline discharge, for a change of scenery, for getting out of this boring life.

“It’s okay, I’ll be right back.”

I buy the ticket, get into my seat, and the safety buckles tighten on my shoulders and around my waist. The cart slowly makes its ascent towards the cloudless dust-orange sky, on its way to the peak of the ride. We’re so high that when I try to spot Grace below, I can only see her as I can the other carnival goers: a colored dot.

And then we begin to fall. I close my eyes, feel my heart drop into my stomach, and smile. I feel my face contorting from the speed and from pure joy, and just as squeals of happiness turn to high-pitched hysterical shouts, a deafening sound pierces my ears. I feel everything turning on its head and hear raging screams travelling from below. I open my eyes and register what’s happening.

I’m flying. Right out of this world, right out of this life.

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