Out Of The Darkness
A short story
Weeks had past since the accident, and still I sat alone in the dark. My world had fallen apart, shattered like glass, and all because a drunk driver crossed the double yellow lines.
Pills, I thought. I had enough medications to kill a small elephant. If I swallowed a handful it should do the trick. But what if I lived? What if I drifted into a coma? Or worse, entered a vegetative state? No. I needed a guarantee. A solution that would ensure my departure from this world, my ascent into heaven.
I fantasized about lounging in a warm, frothy bubble bath. Flickering candles spreading a soft trickling glow over the water. I drew a long, thin blade from between the pleats of a folded towel and pressed it against the soft underbelly of my wrist.
The cold steel sent a shiver up my spine.
I hesitated, then braced myself for the pain.
The knife punctured my skin.
It stung, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. Determined to die, I drew the blade up my arms and splayed open the arteries.
Leaning back against a suctioned-cupped pillow, my palms facing up on the tub’s edge, I allowed my lifeblood to drain from my body.
Warm blood veiled my arms and hands.
I pictured it gushing from my wounds: crimson red, thick, the bubbles tinted pink. Within seconds, my thoughts became scrambled, my mind foggy from lack of nourishment. I felt weak, but content with my decision.I yearned to see Robert again. I missed his touch, his scent, his love. “I’m coming, honey,” I whispered.
The pitter-patter of Evaughn’s nursing shoes against the hardwood snapped me out of my reverie.
“Are you sleeping?” she asked.
I kept my eyes closed, held tight to my daydream, and didn't answer.
“Scarlet,” her hand clamped on my shoulder, “it’s time to wake up.”
“Why? Why do I have to get up? There’s no pressing meetings for me to attend. No one’s waiting for me. Not anymore, anyway.” A lone tear rolled down my cheek.
“Stop it. I’m not listening to another one of your pity-parties.”
“Evaughn, please. Just leave me be.”
“Now how would that help you? Besides, today’s a big day.”
“Today you take back your independence.”
That got my attention. I opened my eyes. “What are you up to, Evaughn?”
“Me?” she asked, as if innocent of my insinuation. “It’s time, Scarlet.”
I fell back against the rocker and turned away. “Time for what?”
Evaughn rested a supportive hand over my frail fingers. “For fun. You need some joy back in your life. I can’t watch you sit in that rocker another second! Besides, don't you want to go for a walk?”
“I don’t feel like going anywhere today. Just leave me be. It's not like I can even enjoy the outdoors anymore.”
“I don’t have time for your boohooing. Now, get up.”
Evaughn was tough but loving. She was hard on me because she cared. We’d gotten close over the last several weeks, so she didn’t have to pussyfoot around my feelings. She was a straight-shooter who told it like it was, and I respected her for it.
I also knew I’d never win an argument with her, so reluctantly I stood, my fingers white-knuckling the arm of the rocker.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Evaughn sang out. “The sun is shining, it’s warm, it’s a perfect day to get some fresh air.”
How could I argue with her? She’d been by my side since I left the hospital. I owed her at least that much, even though I had no desire to leave the house.
“Yay, another walk. Just what I need,” I grumbled, as I patted the walls and floor, searching for my cane. “Where are we going this time?”
“We aren’t going anywhere, you are.”
A lump formed in my throat. “By myself? Have you lost your ever-lovin’ mind!?”
“We’ve taken the same route every day for two weeks now. It’s time for the little bird to leave the nest. You are that little bird. You’ll be fine. You need to start doing these things alone. It’s important you learn to survive on your own and you can’t do that if I’m always by your side.”
She cupped my hand around her forearm and assisted me to the door.
I stopped short. “My glasses!”
“I’ve got them; don’t worry.” She slid dark tinted glasses over my ears, snapped open my walking cane and folded my fingers around the top. “I’ll be here when you get home,” she said, then gave me a gentle nudge out the door. “Have fun. And Scarlet, I don’t want to see you back here for at least a half hour.”
“What time is it?”
“You’ve got a watch. Use it.” She closed the door, but I knew she’d be watching. She was too much of a mother hen not to spy on me.
I lollygagged on the front stoop. I wasn’t ready for this. Why didn’t Evaughn understand? Lifting the protective glass on the face of my new watch, I touched the embossments-- the minute and hour hands and twelve raised dots-- with my fingertips. It’s two-oh-five. It’s only thirty minutes. We’ve walked this road many times. I can do this… I think.
With a straight arm outstretched in front me, the walking cane tapped side-to-side against the dirt road’s sandy edge.
The sound reminded me of a metronome atop an upright piano, but it didn’t lull me into tranquility. My nerves jumped like hot oil in a cast iron skillet. All I saw was blackness. Nothingness. A dark and scary world. A never-ending maw of evil waiting to quaff me up.
Turning back was not an option. Evaughn made that clear. I had no choice, so I soldiered on.
The sweltering hot sun scorched my skin.
A sheen of sweat gathered on my forehead, neck and chest. I plucked my clinging tank-top away from my body, fanned it in and out, and hoped to cool myself.
It didn’t work.
The flutter of wings high above my head made me forget about the heat.
I stopped. Listened.
A low guttural croak sounded to the right of me. A dog’s bark straight ahead. Children’s laughter echoed in the distance. And a slight whisper from a warm breeze whisked by my ear.
Maybe this wasn’t such a terrible idea, I thought. I resumed my stroll in awe of what I was experiencing. I stepped up the pace, my cane clicking faster and faster against the road.
My mind drifted back in time. A time twenty years ago when two high school sweethearts said I do under a fragrant flowered trellis. The birds sang that day, too. The sun warmed our faces. The champagne fueled our passion. Oh, how I wished Robert was here with me now. My grim reality: he wasn’t here. I missed his touch, his scent. My body ached for one more day in his loving embrace. He was my lover, my best friend.
How dare that drunk take him from me too. The only consolation I had was that Robert died on impact; he never suffered. Our last moment was one of laughter. We had just professed our love to each other when a drunk driver swerved into our lane and struck us head-on.
Anger and resentment boiled to the surface. Evaughn always preached, “Let go, let God.” Where was God when I needed him most? Where was he that night? And where is he now?
I heard Evaughn’s voice in my head. “Free the anger. Breathe…”
I inhaled a deep, cleansing breath through my nostrils, exhaled through my mouth, and tried to release the tautness in neck. I concentrated on happy moments instead of dire ones. And within seconds, my mind snapped back to the present.
Something was different. I couldn’t hear the dog barking anymore. The children’s voices trailed around the corner and vanished like vapor. There were no familiar sounds. The sun faded. And a coolness chilled my bare arms, sheathing my skin in goosebumps.
Sue Coletta is a crime writer who's authored two novels, short stories, and is working on book two and three in a series. You can visit her at: www.crimewriterblog.com
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