|posted on 30-Dec-2002 4:43:37 AM by Meagzie|
Title: Edge of Fate
Rating: Uhh… R.
Summary: Lisa said not to give one. I always listen to what Lisa says. (I think she’s the Easter Bunny! Also known as the Un-Fruity-izer.)
Warning: Reference to rape and death.
Author’s Note: This story actually came about after reading the book The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. (AMAZING book… it’s just so… tragic and just so… good.) I started writing this about a month and a half ago (yes, it took me that long to finish). I just want to say a MAJOR thanks to my always wonderful betas Cath and Lisa. They never fail me! Plus Jen who helped me with ideas when I was completely stuck. And of course, E who made the bee-yoo-tee-full banner and listened to me whine at 2am when I couldn’t write anything.
Enjoy! Posted in 2 parts.
FYI, the title came from Samantha King’s song “Wherever You Are”.
Have you ever seen the face of grief or felt its bitter hand against the softness of your cheek? Would you recognize the taste of throbbing sorrow without a moment’s thought? Could you let go of a devastating moment when all that consumes you is what has occurred?
It’s been three months, two weeks, and twenty-four days.
I watch him all the time, and I worry. I worry about them all. Sometimes I wish to reach out and touch them, let them feel my love and devotion wrap around them despite their uncertainties. He likes to sit in that chair of his, the one we bought for him on his thirty-fourth birthday. It creaks whenever he sits down in it, a sound that echoes vociferously through our once peaceful hallways.
He sits there for hours now and stares out the front window, as if he were waiting for me to appear before him in the University of New Mexico sweatshirt he had given me and the pair of jeans I still wore despite the large paint stains I couldn’t get rid of after we painted the guest room together. Sometimes when I watch him, I see him pull out the last few items I had worn and observe as he grips them tightly between his clenched fingers, just imagining that if he holds on a few moments longer, I just may emerge from whatever shadows I had become hidden behind.
It’s odd here, peculiar even. Unfamiliar to me, but still common to my new yet novel senses. It confounds me, in spite of everything, that I can only find serenity with the sight of them when I am surrounded by glory itself. It’s everything you imagined it would be, and everything other people considered it to be. It is anything you want it to be, from a floating, mindless pillow of cloud to replaying the scoring goal of the biggest soccer game of your life. It could be a quaint town filled with quaint people who went about their quaint lives. It could be a dreamless sleep, like so many nowadays imagine it to be.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t even expecting to end up here. Every so often I don’t even think I believe I belong in this place. But here I am with a relatively easy passage in and an unattainable way out.
I didn’t even know who he was. I do now though. His name was Mr. James Hendry and he lives by himself on 65 Redwater Road. He fell in love once, but the woman left him for an older man whose pinky finger was worth more than the whole of Mr. Hendry’s life. I have yet to reach the conclusion whether this was the deciding factor for his cruelness, but I can no longer concern myself with that. My hands, my heart, nor my emotions can no longer touch him or anyone else for that matter.
I was walking home from the bus stop, as my newly purchased, midnight black ’87 Camaro was parked in our garage yet again for some problem or other. The several wrappings of my fleece scarf around my head warmly covered my nose, though it still ran despite its seal from the biting coldness outside. The snow had been falling heavily that week, and my heeled boots were surely not helping me in my pursuit to return home quickly. I didn’t even have my standard black purse at my side, like I usually did, too fastidious about how it would no longer compliment the dazzling blue of my winter coat.
I had decided to cut across the back alleys in my neighbourhood, knowing I did not have the patience to take the longer route home from the stop. Night had fallen peacefully early, as it usually does in the winter. For some reason, I adore the sight of a winter sky. Perhaps it’s the dark yet vivid colours that illuminate the looming space, colours that imprint themselves into my mind so I could never forget its brilliance. Or maybe it was the knowledge of something so beautiful out in space, something that could spare a soul its plight if only for a staggering moment or two.
He always said I was much like my mother, discovering the “finer” things in life and holding them near and dear.
My decision to remove my presence from civic eyes had decided my fate, I’m sure. For if I had not stepped into that dark, sinister alleyway, I would be safe beneath my lilac covers and perhaps even snoring with Lily curled up beside me.
Mr. Hendry struck quickly and quietly, with as much force he could muster from his heavyset body. My weak womanly figure had never been blown with such strength, much less the back of my fragile skull. I collapsed unwillingly to the unfriendly earth, a double impact to my head as it clunked disgustingly against the wintry ice. Every single moment until the final breath of my life, I heard the repeating sound of my sickening thud to the ground within my red, frostbitten ears.
James Hendry took my clothing off as quickly as he could, whispering sadistically into my ear that he didn’t want to prolong this any longer than he thought I would have wanted. My mind had simply ceased to work, yet at the same time, I could not quiet the plaguing thoughts and replaying them within. Mr. Hendry had a knife to make his process much quicker and easier for him, tearing along any piece of fabric that had previously kept my body warm. Now he used this discarded fabric to stuff into my numb mouth, in fear of any sound escaping from me. None would ever again.
I wonder still if I had concentrated enough, perhaps if I had struggled harder I may have been able to collect some strength, whether it be little or not. Maybe I could have even used what little power rested within my olive blood, and forced off his efforts.
But I didn’t. He proceeded. It seemed as if hearing was the only sense I had left within my pitiful body, and one of the echoes was the sound of his trousers being unzipped. I couldn’t comprehend though, I simply couldn’t. Maybe I didn’t even want to, too horrified by the possibility of my situation.
This sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to a girl like me. To the watching eye, I was a normal teenaged girl, going through a normal teenaged life. I had just made it onto the honour list that semester, and I was dating someone who was magnificent in every way possible. My parents loved me, although they were sometimes overly affectionate towards each other, I loved them too. I even had a dog, Lily, whose golden fur against my skin gave me the sensation of eternal security. My entire world consisted of love for the people close to me, and wonderment to things I had yet to explore. There were still so many things I had yet to explore.
I felt him, I felt him push into me. It was painful, more excruciating than I could have ever imagined. If his guttural grunts weren’t enough to desire a final parting from my life, he managed to work himself into a repulsive, filthy sweat regardless of the arctic-like weather. He kept sawing the very pit of my soul from inside me, taking it for his simple, insatiable pleasure. He used my young breasts as handles, fleshy handles that were his alone now, for his to grope and mold to his liking.
My father had always told me that I would know when the time was right. I would love the man, and he would love me greatly in turn. That the love of my life, my soul mate, much like he considered my mother to be, would be able to bring me insurmountable pleasure without even touching me. I wanted to feel this love, this overwhelming affection and devotion so desperately that I yearned for it with every ounce of my young soul. My patience would come in handy, my mother would tell me. It is simply a virtue that is vital to any relationship.
I had no patience with my rapist. But I also had no strength against him. So I did all I could do. I lied there, enduring his brutal thrusts and hoped with all my might that he would end soon and leave me be.
It wouldn’t be that way, of course. It never went the way you would hope it would go.
After Mr. Hendry finally finished, he pulled his deflating member from my bloodied, burning core. I willed him away, wishing beyond hope that he had gotten what he came for and that would be all. Or perhaps I would suddenly be pumped with a surge of energy and surprise an attack on him. I guess I was just foolishly thinking that he was done and I would be able to go home to the strong, protective arms of my father.
Of course the surprise was to be mine, as he lay heavily on top of me. I felt his hand slide to my stomach, and I cried uselessly through the wet cloth in my mouth. I couldn’t endure him again, my spirit could not take anymore of this emotional beating nor could my body take anymore of this outright abuse. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Hasn’t he broken me enough?’
Rapidly, my skin beneath his palm began to heat to excessive measures. So scorching was the heat he was inflicting on me that my once vivacious eyes were now large, round with a lifeless characteristic. It burned, oh god, how it burned. I remember trying frantically to pull his hand away, but my effort was unsuccessful. The heat was soon consuming other areas of my body and it simply felt like I was being warmed to death.
He leaned in against my ear, licking his rough tongue against my lobe. Whispering to me in a dark, haunting voice, he pushed his hand more harshly against my skin.
“It’s nothing personal, princess,” his throaty voice sounded through my skull. “I just do as Khivar tells me.”
My father’s worse enemy, an enemy whom he no longer concerned himself about since he had long ago given up any pursuit of gaining the Antarian throne. My father had fallen from the sky decades ago, alongside my aunt and my uncle, supposedly created by a distant planet to regain the throne of Antar after it’s overtake by Khivar.
The tale goes like this:
“Hey Aunt Maria,” I reply back with a grin. She’s taking a quick look at my outfit and I know she’s fighting back a smirk.
“Your parents let you out of the house like that?” I shake my head.
“Nope.” I take a quick glimpse at my skirt that I’m sure is much too short in the mind of my father.
“Wore that long jacket I bought for you?” She guesses.
“You bet!” I respond with great enthusiasm.
There are some things that only my Aunt Maria understands about being a teenager, things my parents will never understand in a million years. She knows that sometimes I just need some freedom, and that my parents need to loosen their firm grip on my life.
“Ethan’s out back, if you’re wondering,” she informs me in a seemingly careless manner, but I know her better than that. She’s dying to hear what’s happening between her son and I, as she is privy to the advancing relationship between Ethan and I. I refuse to utter a word though, not until I know my father won’t lose his mind at the news.
“Thanks, Aunt Maria!” I quickly make my way to the bathroom for a speedy makeup check. You can never look too perfect.
As I’m making my way to the backdoor of my Aunt Maria and Uncle Michael’s house, I hear the rising voices of my parents in the kitchen. It strikes me as odd, since I think I’ve only heard my parents argue twice in my life. I slow my steps and press my ear up against the door between the kitchen and I.
“Max, I said no,” states my mother’s stern voice. I hear her viciously chopping some sort of vegetable.
“We can’t hide this from her forever.” The silence my mother maintains chills both my father and I, as she is ordinarily a soft-spoken, kind woman who doesn’t have a wicked bone in her body.
“C’mon, Liz, think about it,” my father pleads again. “We can’t tie her down for the rest of her life!” I hear a loud, audible sigh from him. “You saw her. This is only the beginning, Liz. She’ll want a tattoo, maybe a nose ring, then perhaps she’ll start going out with older guys that -” My father stops. “We just have to warn her that’s all.”
“Warn her about what?” she snaps quickly. “He’s gone. He promised us. We won’t ever see his face again.”
“Do you really believe that?”
Both of parents become deathly silent, and I press my ear harder against the door. Just at that moment, I hear my Aunt Maria enter the kitchen from the other entranceway.
“Hey R and J, what’s up?”
“Right.” Pause. I imagine her pretending to check her watch. “It must be time for the annual fight. What’s the topic up for arguing about this year?” A mock laugh. “Oh, stupid me. You two don’t fight about anything other than Khivar.”
“Maria,” my mother warns sharply.
“No, don’t Maria me. Every year around this time, you make a big hissy fit about whether or not to tell Mikayla. Make up your damned minds! Even Michael and I don’t brood this long about shit.” I hear Aunt Maria take a crunching bite of what must be a carrot.
“Either decide to tell her, or decide not to tell her, but just decide. You can’t leave that girl hanging on a string, a string that she doesn’t even know exists.” I hear Aunt Maria leaving the room. “Think about it!”
“Daddy?” I call out as I start making my way to bed.
He turns to look at me and smiles his silly father smile. “Yes, honey?”
“Are you sleeping on the couch tonight?” He nods at me, and although he’s trying to show that it doesn’t bother him, I know it does. Mom and him rarely fight, only once a year around October, like Maria had stated earlier. I don’t know why, but suddenly I’m compelled to find out.
My parents have always been honest with me, from the birds and the bees talk to my “otherworldly” status. It bothers me that they’re hiding something when they’ve spent my whole life trying to convince me that honesty is the only way.
“Daddy?” I say again, sitting beside him on the couch. He instantly curls his arms around my shoulders and pulls me close.
“Mikayla, you know I love you, right?” His eyes are so full of undeniable affection for me, and I’m sure I can even spot a touch of tears.
“Yeah, dad,” I reply softly. “I know. I love you too.”
He leans towards me and places a fatherly kiss against my forehead. “You don’t know how it good it feels when you say that.”
“Daddy, who’s Khivar?”
He turns his face towards me, and I realize that there is no shock, or anger at my mention of the forbidden name. Just confusion. “How do you know about that?”
I look away from his gaze, and mumble quietly, “I heard you, mom and Maria talking about it.”
“Oh” is all he says to me. Then, “I think we’ll have to wait for your mother for this discussion.”
I nod silently, knowing he won’t tell me much without my mother’s blessing. I kiss him gently on the cheek and move towards my room, with much on my mind.
“We’re still on for this weekend, right?”
I grin flirtatiously at Ethan. “I’d be upset if we weren’t.
“Good.” He nods his approval, smiling back at me. He places his oh-so-strong hand on my cheek, and leans over in his seat to kiss me. It’s not one of those long, drawn out kisses, but short. And sweet. Definitely sweet.
I can’t hide my giddiness, since my red cheeks are expressing it to the entire world. I place my hand on the door handle, and slowly make my way out. “Thanks for the ride, Ethan. I’ll call you later, okay?”
“I’ll be waiting by the phone.” He winks at me, and patiently waits in his Jeep as I walk to the door to make sure I get inside. Ah, the sweetness of budding romance. I’m sure once my father realizes that Ethan and I are truly falling in love, he’ll allow us to date. The fact that Ethan is a year and a half older than me won’t matter.
As I kick off my shoes at the front entrance, I call out to my mother to see if she’s home.
“Mikayla? Is that you? Can you come into the kitchen, please?”
I pause at my father’s voice, wondering why in the world he would be home. He should be at work. This worries me.
I quickly make my way into the kitchen. “Daddy?” I notice both of my parents sitting at the table, and my heart rate triples. “What’s wrong?” is my immediate question.
“Nothing’s wrong, honey,” my mother responds, patting the seat between her and my father. I slowly and somewhat reluctantly sit down.
“We just need to talk about something, all right?” Dad tells me. I simply nod at him.
My mother takes a deep breath, and puts my hand in hers. “This happened a long time ago, honey. I know you asked your dad about it the other night, about Khivar, and we think it’s time to tell you who he is and what he did.”
“Well,” my father continued for my mother. “You know how your mom and I met, how I healed her in her dad’s café. And you remember me telling you about how Isabel, Michael and I came to Earth, and about being recreated -”
“- from the essences of Antarian royalty. Yes, I remember,” I tell him.
“Khivar was the one who killed them,” my mother says in a hushed tone. “He’s been sitting on the Anatarian throne ever since he overtook the kingdom. He never knew that the three of them had been recreated and sent to Earth. Not until our first year in college.”
“Your mother and I had just moved into our own apartment, and were attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.” I see my father glance over at her, and I can’t help but feel content as he smiled affectionately towards her. There’s something infectious about their love.
“We both had classes and part time jobs so we could afford to live on our own. Our free time was down to nil, and whenever we could, we’d steal a moment to ourselves.” I notice my father’s eyes turn a dark shade of red, angry yet with a tinge of sadness. “I had come home one afternoon after classes, and I knew Liz would be home. Yet when I called for her, she didn’t reply. I knew something was wrong. Liz always got home before I did, and we had already planned to spend the only free hour that week we had together.”
I feel as mom’s hand snakes behind my back and reaches my father’s arm, but looks at me while she talks. “Khivar had come to Earth as soon as he had discovered that the three of them were somehow alive. He felt it was a great threat to his throne that they were living. His plan was to just get rid of us all, but once Max showed up, red anger and all, he realized that it wouldn’t be such any easy task.”
“Aw,” I reply sarcastically with a grin. “My daddy, the knight in shining armour.”
“Don’t tease him,” my mother lightly scolds. “He did save our butts that day, and somehow convinced Khivar that we wanted nothing to do with his planet. He could do whatever it was he desired with it, as long as we were not involved in anyway. I think Khivar was more shocked than anything that we were willing to give up anything he thought we wanted.”
“But that selfish bastard,” my father spits out rudely, surprising me with his language, “he couldn’t let us be, it was all about his damn throne.”
“Max,” my mother says softly. She looks at me and smiles. “Khivar wanted to insure that no one would ever have his throne so he – well – he did something to my body, something to my uterus so I couldn’t ever have children. Max spent weeks trying to heal me, but it didn’t seem to work.”
My mind begins to work. If my mother couldn’t have children, then what happened with me?
“But -” I interject.
“We don’t know,” my father cuts me off softly. “You were a miracle, I guess.” He grins as he runs his hand down the side of my face. “Our little angel.”
“All we know is that months later I was pregnant and would never be able to have children again,” my mother tells me. She pulls me close to her, drawing me into her classic motherly embrace that I adore so much. “One thing we had decided on was that we would always love you and we would always protect you.”
“That’s why we’re telling you this, Kayla,” my father says as he rubs my back. “I know you think we’re – well, protective freaks. It’s just this threat of Khivar, it’s always going to be on our shoulders. You come first in our lives, always.”
I glance at my parents curiously. “Why are you telling me this now?”
“Because we’re starting to come around to the idea, although not completely fathomable, that we can’t protect you forever. You need to know, Kayla, you need to know the dangers in everything you do.” My father sighs, and leans into my mother and mine’s embrace. “We can’t stop you from doing things, baby, but we can let you know the facts so you can be smart about your decisions.”
“I will be, daddy, I promise.” I smile at them and kiss both of their cheeks.
If only I had known.
If only I had known those three years ago as I sat with my father and mother in our kitchen that I would be breaking that promise and suffering my own cruel death. Sometimes I think I feel guilty and execrable as if I had broken this life-shattering promise to the two people I loved most in that world, but then I realize that They don’t allowed awful emotions like that up here.
I died ironically that night of my rape. I was scorched to death in the freezing weather, by an alien nonetheless. It’s an anomalous experience, your soul parting from your body as your time slowly expires on Earth. Comical if you think about it. People spend their lives wondering what happens after you die, but once you do, you want to go back. And you always do. Want to go back, that is. There’s no hurt or pain here – but neither is the novelty of love, nor the fresh scent of rain after a storm. Something is always – missing.
As I finally and completely left the body I had become so attached to in my seventeen years of breathing, I felt this sense of dying all over again. No longer could I smell the fresh fragrance of flowers or even the repulsive stench of the cigarette Mr. Hendry was lighting up. I couldn’t feel the ground beneath me either, as if my awareness of touch and smell were suddenly absolute strangers to me. I was horrified.
My death was final.
So there I was, standing as a – what? An angel? A ghost? I don’t know. Perhaps a spirit. Whatever I was, or am, I watched as Mr. Hendry pulled out the large, black garbage bag he had kept in his jacket pocket. He threw my body into the bag as if it were a piece of dirty laundry. I wondered then, was that all my life had amounted to? A body that no longer had worth? I had spent my life trying to be a good, honest person and studied for tests, never missed my curfew, made dinner for my parents every once in awhile, never did drugs, I was even waiting to have sex with my boyfriend. And this was all that it was for? So I could have my body thrown into a dollar store garbage bag, and rot wherever this guy would be taking my body.
I followed Mr. Hendry as he walked down the block and down towards his car. Carelessly he threw my dead body into his backseat, and I couldn’t help but follow him, so I joined my once breathing vessel in the car. Maybe it was sick, twisted somehow, but for some reason I needed to know something about this man.Anything. Like somehow knowing would set my soul free from the chains my now previous life was holding.
So there I was, sitting in a car with my murderer and my dead body as he drove to 65 Redwater Road. Surreal is one way to describe it. There was something pulling me away from this horribly morbid scene but I couldn’t. I hadn’t been ready to leave that life, nor would I have ever been. I needed closure of some sort, and despite whatever was attempting to draw me away, I was determined to find my closure.
He pulled up to his house and into his garage, which really wasn’t that far from my own. Haphazardly, he threw the bag with my body in it over his shoulder and strolled carefree into his dwelling. It angered me. How could he act so lighthearted about this, about him murdering me? He took my life, he took everything from me and stripped my parents of their daughter! Yet there he was, almost as if he were ready to start whistling a merry tune.
Mr. Hendry threw my body into the exceedingly large pantry in his kitchen. For one single man, he had a rather large house. I couldn’t hold myself back from exploring his house, and maybe I was even looking for something. A symbol of even just a fraction of humanity, something to prove that he was not the wholly evil man I envisioned him to be. But his house was just like him. Emotionless. Cold. The large white walls extended far into each room, but nothing masked the dreariness, no memories or passion painted the walls. It shivered my body even though the impenetrable wall between living and… me.
I brushed my hand against the ledge atop the fireplace, but to my horror, my hand swiped right through the ledge. I could no longer grip anything. My body was nothing but a transparent vessel, somehow transcending typical life and death.
“I did what he wanted.”
I turned towards the man, watching him clasp the phone tightly between his fingers. His face was stony, and his voice was even frostier. I pushed the appalling fact of my actual loss of life, and stealthily moved towards him, listening to his conversation.
“I don’t give a fuck where the hell he is! I kept my end of this fucking bargain, now he leaves the hell alone. – No. I won’t do any more jobs. I just…” There was a sudden break in his voice, and I saw a crack in the mask on his face but he quickly concealed it again. “No, I don’t fucking care who the girl was, and I don’t want to know. – Just let him know that she’s dead, so now he can’t bother me while I’m on this fucking planet. Someone can pick up the body at the designated spot tomorrow morning.”
I stared at the man as he slammed the receiver down with rage, jumping at the sound of it. His breathing was harsh and fast, and suddenly I found whatever I had been looking for.
I walked until I was just in front of him, though I knew he couldn’t see me. I peered into his eyes as he stared heatedly at the phone. I caught a glimpse of emotion on his face, and oddly, it settled something within my body. There was something in him that ached much like I was, and bizarrely, I felt akin to him in an uncanny way. I reached out with my hand and brushed my fingers against the roughness of his face. Of course, my fingers made no contact, simply fading in against his skin.
But Mr. Hendry must have felt something, however small it may have been, because his head jerked abruptly when I attempted to touch him. He brushed his hand across where I had touched with my own transparent fingers, as if he were wiping something off.
I stepped back suddenly, realizing what in the world I was doing. I was feeling… compassion for the man who had just raped and killed me. How could I do that? How could I feel that? That man had stolen everything from me. He had carelessly plucked whatever he desired, and threw away the rest for the dogs of this horrible, horrible world.
I had to get out of there.
[ edited 2 time(s), last at 30-Dec-2002 2:54:15 PM ]
|posted on 30-Dec-2002 4:44:43 AM by Meagzie|
| I fled as quickly as I could, not even bothering to acknowledge the fact that I literally pass through the door without opening it. I needed to get out of there. I needed something comforting. I needed to hang on. My mother always told me if I really wanted something, and felt I could not do without it, I just needed to keep my desire in place and I would receive it. Well, I wanted to live again. I wanted to stop the overwhelming ache in my heart, an ache I couldn’t seem to deal with or ignore. I just wanted to be in the strong, warm arms of my father or kissing Ethan’s sweet lips.|
I ran that night. I ran faster than I had ever run before. Yet not once did I feel the normal throbbing in my calves or the harsh sensation of heavy breathing. I could have ran forever if I tried, I’m sure, but my feet led me to the one place that never failed to keep me safe.
I slipped through the door of my home, and found my mother sitting quietly in the front room with her legs curled under her and a warm mug of tea in her hands. Another mug, this one with hot apple cider with a touch of Tabasco, sat beside her on the coffee table. My favourite drink.
My mother’s head perked up at the sound of my father’s voice, and she gave him a stressful smile as he entered the room. She didn’t respond though, and returned her eyes out to the front window, sipping her tea silently.
“Liz?” My father repeated, taking a seat beside her. “What’s wrong?”
She gave him another false smile, and just shook her head. “Nothing, sweetheart. How was work?” My father held her gaze solidly, and my mother broke. As she stared into her mug, she said quietly, “Mikayla isn’t home yet. I know she’s supposed to be at the library studying for an exam, and I’m just being overprotective, but I can’t help it. This is just who I am, and if you don’t like it, then you can just – well, you can just go into the other room!” My mother kept her eyes on her mug, never daring to look at my father.
“Liz,” my father said with a small grin. He tilted her head towards him with his index finger, forcing her to look at him. “It’s okay. If you’re worried, I can go and see if I can track her down. I’m sure she just got held up at the library or maybe Ethan decided to pick her up.” My father paused, thinking for a moment. “Have you called her cell phone?”
Mom nodded. “Yeah, and there was no answer.” She sighed heavily, and turned to my father, falling into his arms. “I just feel something in my heart, Max. Something’s not right.” An unexpected tear slipped down her cheek, and she choked back a sob. “If anything happened to her, Max, I just – god – I don’t know what I would do.”
“Hey, hey,” my father consoled her. “Lets not jump to conclusions, all right? I’ll take the car out and find her. I don’t want you to be alone though. Why don’t you call Maria and Michael up, and he can come looking with me?” She nodded again, and picked up the portable phone beside her and dialed my Aunt Maria’s number.
As I stood there watching this scene in front of me, I felt a wound deeper than I ever had before. I collapsed to my knees, and began to scream at them, telling them I was right there. I was with them. I yelled at my parents, trying to let them know I would never want to leave them, they were my life. But my words went unheard, and only my mother’s upset sentiments bounced off the once warm walls.
I crawled painfully towards my mother, but her eyes never even flickered towards me. I’m sure if I had been graced with the sense of touch, I would have felt the salty river of tears down my face, but no, I was doomed to the rest of eternity to only feel internally. I moved until I was right beside my mother, and I laid my head down in her lap, but neither one of us felt the touch we so desperately needed.
About ten minutes later, my Aunt Maria and Uncle Michael entered the house. Taking one look at my mother, Maria fled to her side and embraced her in the warmest of hugs. That was the funny thing about Maria and my mother. They just knew what the other needed and were not slightest hesitant to give it.
“I’m sure she’s fine, Liz,” Uncle Michael told my mom in a comforting voice. My mom only smiled passively at him, though I knew she was grateful for his attempt. Apparently, having a wife and child had softened Michael since my mother first met him in high school, that’s what mom always told me.
My father leaned in against my mother and kissed her affectionately, an act that was oddly sweet even in my eyes. “We’ll be back soon, okay?” My mother just nodded and moved closer to her best friend. Michael and my dad left after that, and I couldn’t help but follow them to the garage. I knew that wherever they would be searching for me, they wouldn’t find me. And at that moment, I wasn’t sure if they would ever find me nor was I sure whether I wanted them to.
I watched as my father opened the driver’s side door, but he paused before getting into the car. His eyes had locked on a pink bicycle that had frilly, purple strings hanging from the handles. He had bought that bicycle for me on my eighth birthday, and I had been adamant about never riding it again after crashing into the large bush in front of our house and scraping my left knee.
“No! I don’t want to ride it!”
“C’mon, Kayla, it’ll be okay. I’ll be right beside you and hold on longer this time.”
“No! I don’t like falling off. I’m never, ever getting back on that bike in a million, billion, TRILLION years!”
“Sometimes we fall off our bikes, baby, but life is all about getting back on. Show me what a big girl you are, and we’ll learn how to ride this thing. Together.”
After I finally got the hang of it, he couldn’t get me off that thing. I had shed so many tears when I had outgrown my bike, but dad was there to ease me on to a new one, a “grownup” one.
“Are you coming, Maxwell?” Michael asked impatiently.
“Yeah,” my father replied quietly, jolted out of his stare at the bicycle. “Yeah, lets go.”
My dad sat in the driver’s seat for a moment, his eyes settling back on that bicycle. He could feel it too now, I just knew it. The emptiness that consumes you, the missing piece of your heart that has left you without your permission or knowledge. The present was so crushing, devastating, but what would the future hold for us? An eternity of never really living but still enduring life for me, and a tumbling downfall of events for my father? What would be the point any more?
And then we asked ourselves the same question.
Who was going to help us get back on that bicycle this time?
“She’s okay, right?”
Michael looked at my father, and by the expression on his face, I knew he wasn’t sure as to how to answer that question. Taking in my father’s ghastly tight grip on the steering wheel, he just replied softly, “Yeah, Maxwell, she’s okay.”
Dad nodded and turned on the car, letting Michael’s words soothe him for the time being. Oddly I stayed at the door, but my arm was reaching out towards them as the car began to draw farther away from me. I stood in the doorway, staring painfully at father’s face through his rearview mirror. I could have sworn that he had seen me, that our eyes had locked in an emotional embrace, but after both of us doing a double check, we realized that our imaginations would never transcend our reality.
I stood uncertainly in doorway for a few minutes. What now? I didn’t want to be here anymore, it was like a callous form of teasing. On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave. But I wondered, what was keeping me there? Did I truly want to watch the tragic ripping of my mother and father when they found out I was dead? Raped and abused at the hands of a lackey of their most hated enemy?
Yet I couldn’t move myself to leave. The persistent pulling at my soul terrified me. I didn’t know what it could mean for me. Would I be met with the golden gates of Heaven or the fiery pits of Hell, both leading me from the place I wanted to be the most.
I slowly drew away from the door, guiding myself back into the house. I peered into the front room, surprised to find Maria with the phone pressed against her ear. My mother was still sitting on the couch, her hands firmly attached to her mug of tea.
“May I speak to Ethan please?” Maria gave my mom an encouraging smile, which flies right over her head.
“Ethan!” Maria exclaims. “Thank goodness,” I hear her whisper in a relieved tone to her son. “Ethan, I know you’re at work, but would you happen to know where Mikayla is?” She nodded as he talked. “Yeah, the library, that’s what Liz said. What? No, no, honey, everything’s okay. She just hasn’t come home yet, and Liz was worried.” Aunt Maria made a funny face. “Ethan, you’re supposed to be working which means you’re not supposed to leave, so don’t you dare come over here. Everything is F-I-N-E. I’ll call you later, all right? Bye.”
Maria went to put the phone down, but quickly brought it back up and told him, “I love you.”
Ethan. Oh god, Ethan.
Aunt Maria was convinced things were all right, perhaps I had just taken the wrong bus or maybe I went to get some food before I came home. But no way could I have been harmed in anyway. Mom and Dad had sacrificed too much, had protected me so hard to have anything happen to me. No, Maria wouldn’t believe it. I was perfectly safe.
I wish she had been right.
I couldn’t stand the emotions vibrating through the room anymore, so harsh they were that I was sure I was choking to death with all of it. I stumbled away from them, and tried desperately to find a sanctuary for myself, somewhere to clear the horrible tremors shaking my body. I quickly climbed the stairs to upstairs, and literally fell into my room. Though my door had been closed, I staggered right through it and onto the floor.
Taking a deep yet unnecessary breath, I raised my head to find my faithful companion lying sadly on the bed. Gazing at me – straight at me. Lily’s golden head was bowed sorrowfully between her front paws, as if she already knew that our goodbye would be final this time. Never again would I leave for school and come back home to sneak her food from the dinner table, or would she be able to allow me to reluctantly fall asleep against her soft fur as I attempted to study for an exam. It was over, and we both knew it.
I crawled towards Lily, and her eyes followed me. I knew for sure that she had seen me, but wondered why she wouldn’t jump at my presence as she usually did. I steadily made my way towards the bed, placing my suddenly aching body upon it. I reached for Lily with my hand, though I was certain I wouldn’t feel anything nor would she. Much to my surprise, my hand didn’t pass through her body but was solidly petting her luxurious fur.
My whole being was immediately revived, and my mind was running to discover the sudden change in my ability to touch. Perhaps this all had actually just been a nightmare, something I had horribly dreamed up after eating a bad pear. I placed both of my hands on Lily’s body, and she responded hopefully, moving her body to lie right next to mine. My heart leaped at the possibilities that this could lead to. Another chance a life? A chance to rediscover my priorities and my invaluable worth within the world? I would have given anything to experience life again.
I thrust my face into her fur again, twisting my head every which way to allow every inch experience the sensation. Nothing had ever felt this wonderful, this magnificent, this freeing in the last few hours I had been enduring. Only the desire for wanting more of Lily against my skin had halted me from fleeing downstairs in utter glee. She even began to lick my face, and I know I could feel that she was smiling inside too. She thought I had returned home.
So had I.
It was then that I heard my window slide open, an exit that had been privy to only two people. Ethan and myself. No longer than a moment later, my charming prince clambered into my room. My heart was completely caught in my throat as I stared at him. He was so beautiful in my eyes. His hair was hanging about his face in an alluring mess, and his eyes were shining luminously, but it was what I saw underneath that took my breath. His golden heart and boundless spirit, both of which left me caught in the whole charisma of his character.
I was afraid he couldn’t see me, my body hidden slightly by Lily’s body. I could feel again, something miraculous had happened! And just in time for Ethan’s grand appearance. I bounced off my bed, and made a running leap for him, my arms already poised to wrap tightly around his neck and never leave. In my haste, I never realized that not once did Ethan’s eyes meet with mine.
My whole body fell through his as I began to descend to the ground. Confused, I glanced back from my fallen position on the floor to look back at him. I noticed an equally mystified expression on Ethan’s face, as he began to look around him, in front of him, behind him. He had felt something as I had traversed through him. The chill of my soul, perhaps, or the silhouette of my desire for him.
“Mickey?” Ethan whispered quietly his nickname for me. His eyes narrowed and he inspected the area once again.
“ETHAN!” I screamed as loud as I could. I crawled to his feet, my shaking hands flying about the place, attempting desperately to make contact with him. “Ethan, I’m here! I’m right here! Look at me… please…”
My cries faded into the dead of the room, Ethan not hearing one of them. It wasn’t fair, it just wasn’t damn fair. I loved this man, and I knew deep inside that I needed him. We were going to get married one day, we had planned it all out. Me as his blushing bride, and him my handsome groom. It was going to be the happiest day of our entire lives, being secure in the knowledge that we would be forever fastened together. We had dreams together, dreams we had full intentions of fulfilling together. Those days were lost to me now, only the shadow of them imprinted on my mind.
“Hey Lily,” Ethan said to my golden retriever as he pulled his mind away from what had occurred. “I brought you a treat as always.” He pulled out a small piece of Pup-Peroni from the bag in his pocket. Lily greedily stood from her spot on my bed, pleading for Ethan to share this wonderful treat.
“Calm down, girl,” Ethan laughed as he took a seat beside her. He offered the treat to her and Lily instantly took it in her mouth. I watched the corner of his mouth rise as he sat so comfortably on the bed. I wanted nothing more than to sit beside him, and feel his arms around my now trembling shoulders. Teasing me, that’s what They were doing. Trying to make me realize that this life wasn’t mine anymore.
“So how are you today, Lil?” Ethan joked as she laid her head down in his lap. Ethan tenderly scratched behind her ear, Lily’s favourite affection. “I have to say, I’ve had the weirdest feeling all day. Like – like – like an impending doom!” He laughed boisterously. “I sound like a comic book.” Ethan shook his head with a small smile on his face.
“Honestly though,” he continued on a serious tone. “I think something’s wrong. When mom called me at work, I just – I knew something was wrong. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach.” He suddenly grinned at Lily with a sparkle in his eye. God, I loved when he did that. “Mickey’s my life, Lily, you know that. She’s just - wow. She’s beautiful and smart and funny and – and everything.
“You know what’s the best thing about her though? She can answer any math equation in all of three seconds, but she can’t cook anything except rubber pancakes. Or that she can dance with the grace of a ballerina but the only thing that flows from her pen is a crooked stick figure. She’s not perfect, and that’s what makes her perfect.” Ethan smiled. “I love her.”
I felt a sob in my chest, listening to this horrible torture. I felt the same way about him, yet the cruelty of fate would never allow me to tell him that. We were destined for each other, and we all knew it. Even my parents recognized the depth of our affection and devotion. But now our time was over, ripped from our naïve hands.
“I’ve got a secret, Lily,” Ethan told her in a low voice. “I know Mickey’s only graduating this June, but I can’t stand just seeing her late at night, or just the few hours on the weekend. It’s not enough anymore.” He paused for a moment, his eyes pensive. “I found a ring, Lily, and it’ll look so beautiful on her finger. A ring! You know what that means, don’t you, you smart little mutt! I’m proposing to her right after she graduates. We’re going to be engaged. It’ll be perfect, just like she wanted it, like we planned. We’ll have our own little apartment for a few years until we both finish college, and then we’ll have the biggest wedding ever!” Ethan cracked a huge grin. “I just can’t wait to put that ring on her finger.”
Ethan stretched out and began to lie down on my bed, resting his head down on my pillow. He threw an arm around Lily, burrowing his head against her soft fur. “I must be crazy, Lily. I thought I had felt something earlier at work. Like a – hmm, like a hot feeling on my stomach. Like I was – maybe burning or something. I thought it meant something, but it couldn’t have. No, I was just working myself up from this stupid feeling I’ve had today. I know Mickey probably just stopped at a pizza place for food or maybe Chinese food, and she probably saw one of her friends. She’s okay. I know it.” Ethan closed his eyes and his words became drowsy. “She has to be, and I’ll be here when she gets back. Yeah, Lily, I’ll always be here.”
No more. I didn’t want to witness anymore. Ethan was right, he would always be there. But I wouldn’t. Not ever again. And I don’t think I could handle that. It was time for me to go, and I knew it. Perhaps my body had passed on, but my soul and heart hadn’t, and right then, they were aching from the weight placed upon them.
Surely with tears in my eyes, I made my way to Ethan. I knew I wouldn’t actually feel anything, but I pressed my lips against his, forcing myself to imagine how it would feel. It was over, all of it. My life, my love, my sanity. Gone.
“Goodbye, Ethan,” I whispered sadly. “I’ll always love you, and hopefully I’ll be around to see you. Don’t let your heart mislead you, Ethan – you’re going to find happiness one day. Maybe not in my arms, but you’ll find it.”
I stood up, and gathered the last of my dignity. Making my way to the door, I stopped to look back at Lily, who had been watching me the whole time. I smiled at her, and blew her a kiss. “You take care of him, all right? I’ll see you soon.” I may have not seen it, but I knew she nodded back at me. She understood what I had meant.
I passed through my doorway for the last time, only to be met by the silence of my house. I noticed my parents’ bedroom door was closed, as it hadn’t been earlier. I sneaked my way into their room, knowing I couldn’t leave before seeing them one last time. I moved into the room with the light only coming from the pale moon outside the window. Its shadows were pulled over my mother’s face as she lay silently on her bed. Tears were wetly falling, making an ignored pile on the pillow behind her head.
“Oh, mom,” I whispered as I kneeled down beside the bed. “I love you, mom. I love you.”
The bedroom door slowly swung open, revealing my father’s disgruntled appearance. I watched his face plummet as he took in my mother’s appearance.
“Did you find her?” she asked quietly, rising to sitting position. My father shook his head silently, and my mother let out a small cry. Dad quickly moved to her side, pulling her desperately into his arms. Though they wanted no more than to feel each other’s warm security, there just wasn’t enough comfort for their looming loss. There would never be enough comfort.
“She’s got to be somewhere, Liz,” Dad told her in whatever reassuring manner he could. “We’ll find her, I promise.”
My mother gazed brokenly into his eyes, tracks of tears marring her face. She stared for long moments, almost as if she was trying to draw strength from the depths of my father’s eyes. Eyes that were unerringly like mine.
“Max,” she whispered. Her lips suddenly crashed against his, her arms circling around his neck. Once tender, her lips were fraught with grief and forceful, seeking for anything that would calm her turmoil. My father, surprised by her abrupt action, was frozen for a moment before letting himself fall to her beauty.
Their hands became frantic, sensual, moving with every opportunity against the other’s body. Clothes were quickly being discarded, thrown carelessly on the floor. I wanted to turn away, to stop from see this. This moment was much too personal for anyone to be observing, much less me. But its poison had captured my eyes, the long lasting effects of my death finally settling in. My parents were reaching for each other in anyway possible. I couldn’t help but hope that they would find at least a fraction of the comfort they were looking for.
“Liz,” my father breathed heavily. “We shouldn’t be doing this.” He shook his head, trying to clear it. “We… don’t – can’t…”
“Max,” my mother whispered tearfully. “I need you. I need you more than I’ve ever needed you. I need this.” She pulled him down for another kiss, much more affectionate and tender this time. “You have to hold on, Max. You can’t let go.” Her voice broke violently. “Promise me you won’t let go of me, Max.”
I had never witnessed a sadder sight than this.
I couldn’t stay any longer, too heartbreaking for my eyes and heart. It was time for me to leave, and I knew it. I no longer wanted to stay, for it would always be something for me: too much or too less. My time had ended hours ago, and it was time to confront that reality.
I made my way stealthily through my house, pausing to see my Aunt Maria and Uncle Michael huddled quietly together on the couch in the front room. I gave them a small wave, and finally walked out of the house forever.
I didn’t know where I was going, or how I knew where to go, but I just followed wherever my feet were leading me. I had made my choice and now I would have to die with it.
And so here I am, encased in Heaven’s gentle hands. Gentle for some, but much too rough for me. I still watch them from up here, wondering if I would actually recognize them years from now. Life’s changes have everlasting effects on a person, transforming a person in indescribable ways. Some days I’m not even sure I recognize them anymore now, even just three months since my parting. My strength can only extend so far, to hoping and desiring a safe path for those who I love. But my hand does not guide the way of life, so I shall just watch, wait, and observe.
Destiny may have been obscure for my parents, but it was fate that threw me. My father always said we make our own destinies, but unfortunately, it is fate that makes us.