Today is Flashback Tuesday. Absolutely nothing exciting happened to me today, so I'm pulling an old short story I wrote EONS ago. (Like maybe 10 years?)
It's kind of funny to go back and read the old stuff. I did clean it up a little gramatically, but I didn't change much cuz I wanted it to stay true to it's original feeling. Which is rather melodramatic. I had a thing during highschool about death. I wrote a lot about lovers being parted by it, I worked hard to make the reader cry. Actually, I just wrote a lot about tragedy in general. I'm sure it was my form of therapy and I have to admit I think it helped.
So, here is one of my better pieces from that time period. Feel free to comment away and don't be shy about telling me if it stinks. I'm a writer, I'm used to it. :)
Final Good Byes
I sat on an old vinyl couch in complete shock. The dirty, white walls, ceiling and floor fade together to form a gray void that seemed to close in all around me. Voices and shapes drift past my mind, but I am only conscious of the all-consuming throb that flows through my body to the very marrow of my bones. Conscious of only one thing, he’s gone forever. Lost to eternity.
The night re-plays in my mind. I was alone when the phone rang.
“Rachel?” Josh’s father asks, his voice rough.
“Yes.” Dread tightens my stomach.
“Josh was in a wreck. It’s bad. We need you to come right away.” His voice cracks and I can hear the heartache in his words.
I threw on the first thing I found in my closet and ran. Rain pounded as I left for the hospital, and the windshield wipers squeak across the window of my car. Clinging to the steering wheel, I mutter the same heartfelt prayer over and over.
“Lord, I can’t lose him. Please, don’t take him away.”
I am so scared. Josh and I know that our relationship is special. The kind of love it’s hard to find and keep. The thought of losing that…well, I don’t even want to consider it.
I pull into the emergency room driveway, well over the speed limit. Tires squeal on the wet pavement as the car slides to a halt. I’m lucky I don’t cause my own accident, but I’m not thinking clearly. Instead, I scramble from my car as I shove it into park. Dashing tears from my eyes, I try to pull myself together.
“Lord, I love him. Please, jut let him be all right.” My whispered prayers continue. The emergency room doors slide open and I enter my waking nightmare.
Josh’s parents meet me at the door. His mom looks as horrible as I feel. Her nose is red and swollen, her eyes puffy, tears running down her cheeks. She pulls me into her arms and clings to me. She and I have been close ever since Josh and I became a serious couple. I’ve even started calling her Mom. I kiss her damp cheek.
“Hi, Mom, where is he? What happened? Is he going to be okay?” The questions pour out of me like the rain falling outside.
“He’s in the ICU. A drunk driver hit him. Please, Rachel, he’s begging to see you.” Her hands tremble as she leads me down the hall and leaves me alone with the only man I’ve ever loved.
When I walk into his room, the smell of death and sickness hangs heavy in the air. The tang of sterile cleansers and blood mingle and turn my stomach. Tubes run in and out of his body while machines click and beep as they take their readings. It’s dark in the room with only a small light over his bed.
I hate the ICU. It’s threatening to take my love and never give him back.
I walk slowly to his bedside and take his hand in mine. Holding it to my lips, I kiss his fingers and press my cheek against his palm. Tears slide down my face and across his bruised fingers.
“Josh,” my voice catches. “I love you. If you can hear me, open your eyes.” My voice is shaking now. “Please, Baby. Open your eyes.”
“Rachel?” Josh’s eyes flutter open. His small smile looks more like a grimace. He flexes his thumb and wipes a stray tear away.
“Josh! Oh, Baby, are you okay?” My voice is choked. “Do you need anything? Should I get the nurses?” I turn to get help but he won’t let me.
“Rachel, don’t go. Don’t leave me. I need to talk to you.” With the little strength he has left, he pulls me down onto the edge of the bed next to him.
“Josh, we can talk, but shouldn’t I get someone to help first?” I try again to stand but Josh catches my wrist. It hurts to see him this way. I just want someone to fix it, to make it all go away.
“It’s okay, Rachel. I don’t think we have that much time and I need to say some things.”
At this, I began to cry in earnest. “Josh, don’t say things like that. You’re going to be okay.”
He raises his hand and wipes at the tears. “Shhh, just listen to me, Baby. When that car hit mine, something strange happened.” Josh closes his eyes, quiet for a moment. When he opens them again, there’s a strange light about them. They glow with peace and inner calm.
“Rachel, I didn’t even see him coming. I just remember hearing the tires squeal and then feeling like everything around me had exploded. I don’t remember the ambulances or anything. I do remember feeling like I was floating. I heard a voice telling me that I could come home soon, but I needed to say good-bye first.”
I shudder as another sob breaks over me. “Josh, you can’t leave me. I need you. We all need you. You have to fight!”
“Come here, Rachel.” He tugs on my hand again and I gently lay down on the bed next to him. He holds me the best he can, despite the wires and tubes. His arms are warm, strong, and tender. I carefully snuggle against him, laying my cheek on his shoulder.
“Rach, you have to let me go. I don’t know where your road will take you, but I want you to know how blessed I am to love you. I’ve always been blessed to have you in my life.” He pauses to take a ragged breath. I can tell that just the simple act of talking is taking all his strength.
“I had a ring picked out.” He smiles. “I wanted us to be together, forever. You are everything that I could have ever wanted, and more.” He kisses the top of my head and then I feel his own tears mingle with mine as he kisses my lips.
“I don’t want to say good-bye.” I whisper.
“I don’t either, but promise me that you will live and love again. You’re too precious to lock your heart away. Lean on God, Rachel. Let Him work things out in your heart.” He pauses again as a shudder racks his body. It makes me shudder too, because now I know what it means.
“Take care of my parents for me. We’ve said our good-byes but you will need each other. And, Baby, no matter what happens, know that I will always be watching over you.” He cradles my cheek in one hand and I read the love in his blue eyes. I brush back a wave of dark hair and run my finger lightly over his bandage. Not even the cut on his forehead could diminish his good looks.
We kiss again. His lips are swollen and there is a cut on his lower lip. Salty from our mingled tears, they’re warm and familiar. At that moment it is the sweetest kiss I’ve ever known. He sighs and I feel his breath brush my cheek. I tighten my arms around his neck. We hold each other and cry, letting our hearts and our tears say what words can’t.
Time loses all meaning until I hear his monitor flat line. It’s a wicked sound to my ears and that is when things began to blur together. Nurses and doctors pull me from his room, and somehow I end up on the ugly vinyl coach. There I sit, pain wrapped around me like a fog and our last kiss still burning on my lips.
I know that most people don’t have those last few moments, and I will always treasure them. It’s in part because of those few precious moments that I was able to let God work towards healing my pain. Maybe I won’t ever understand all the whys, but I am quickly learning that they don’t matter as much as I thought they did.
God gave me a gift, a precious gift that I wouldn’t have missed for the entire world. I had the love of a wonderful man who cherished me, and I have a beautiful last kiss to remember. I’ve learned that the only way to survive the pain is to not reject it but embrace it. All of it. The good memories, the sad memories, and then in turn embrace God. His heart is big enough to hold all the hurts there are in this world.
I’m thankful for a lot, but most of all I’m thankful for final good-byes.
(c) April Erwin