If's and Only's

8 Jan 2012

“Katie?” Even whispered the sound of my name jolts me awake. I shift a little, blinking away the blurry edges of sleep. I’m not lying in my bed; I’m sitting in a chair. Did I fall asleep doing my homework again?  I blink again, then twice as I realise my face is pressed against something soft and spongy; a cushion? I lift my face slightly off the fabric, noticing that it’s a deep, deep blue; like the sea.
          “Katie? Sweetheart?” A hand lands on my upper arm as I slowly push myself upright. I slowly raise my gaze to take in my surroundings; the dreary grey-white walls, light blue bed-sheets and metallic grey cabinets of the hospital room glaring back at me. I slump; the events of the previous day rushing back to me. My eyes drift close, the flash of light and the high-pitched screech of metal and grass twisting together once again flooding my senses. I let out a hesitant breath, but it comes out more of a whimper.
          “Honey?” The hand removes itself from my arm and the couch shifts as the owner settles down beside me. I force my eyes open again, if only to get away from the horrified faces. Dad’s face replaces them. He looks sad, mournful even. His eyes are red-rimmed and puffy, his hair in total disarray.     
          “Daddy?” I manage, before leaning forward into his arms. I can’t remember the last time I’ve called him Daddy; maybe in fourth grade when my hamster died and I asked Dad to bring him back. He couldn’t bring back what was already gone. Not then, not now.
          “Mum?” I whisper, fearing the answer. In a way I already know it. Some people believe that when someone close to them dies, they know it’s happened without having to be told. It’s as if a part of them dies with their loved ones. A single tear escapes my eyelash and trickles down my cheek; I feel like I’m dying all over, if not already dead in places.
          Dad strokes my hair gently, brushing away the hot splashes of his own tears.  “She’s gone. She…” His voice breaks painfully and I bury my head further into his arms. “She passed in her sleep; she didn’t suffer.” He’s whispering now; like he wants to believe his words. I don’t; I know she suffered. If not in the final few minutes then when time paused and the world turned into a entangled puzzle of metal, plastic and glass. Mum’s face crowds my mind; covered in blood and twisted, breathes coming in short gasps.
          If only I had been on time to leave for school. If only I had eaten breakfast quicker instead of flipping through my magazines. If only I had made sure all of my textbooks were ready yesterday instead of rushing around this morning trying to find them. If only… I block out the thoughts, the accusations, the guilt. If’s and only’s aren’t going to help my mother now.
          “You should be in bed, Katie.” Dad starts to stand up, gently scooping me up with him. He lifts me like I’m seven again and I’ve fallen asleep at dinner. Moving slowly as to not jolt my broken arm and bruised ribs Dad carefully crosses over to the bed and settles me down, pulling the blankets around me, tucking in the edges. I want to tell him I’d rather be in the chair; that being tucked up safe in bed is too much when my mother is chilling in the morgue; that I moved to the chair because I was afraid of who else slept in that bed and didn’t walk out, but nothing sounds from my lips.
          I’m tired, so tired.
          “Dad?” I say, slurring the word; eyes already drifting close.
          “Yes sweetheart?”
          “Don’t leave me.” I feel like I’m five again, lost and disorientated after a bad dream. But this isn’t a bad dream, this is a nightmare and there’s no waking up. A hand clasps itself over mine, dwarfing it in its size. It feels so warm against my skin. I feel so cold, like I’m frozen.

          I'm not going anywhere Katie." Dad whispers in my ear before gently kissing my forehead. "I'm not going to leave you." The world's growing quiet and fuzzy like it's floating away but I don't care; Dad's by my side, Dad's not leaving me. As the world finally grows still and dark, I feel a little bit warmer inside.

2 comments:

Seth-Riley said...

Good.

Anonymous said...

That's sooo sad!! Did Katie die in the end of the story? And was it a car crash!?

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