I do not hear my dog, and I do not hear any cars rolling down the street, but I just heard something that woke me.
The silence around me is crushing, save for the fan I hear nothing but the dull rumble of my own heard shooting blood through my veins. My eyes still cast dim reflections, spots from the back of my mind, from the nightmare that I just woke from.
I was there again. I could smell the terrible odor of burnt rubber, stale in my nostrils, the moist, sweet scent from the rain that had fallen only an hour ago, puddle around my feet, my hands, the figure in front of me. Red pooled, mingled into pink in the puddle to my left.
The window of my bedroom still glowed with the Christmas lights from across the street. I see spots of blue and white most distinctly, they stand out among the others, staring in on my blinds, sliding slyly through the slits and raking across my ceiling, just beyond the reaches of the swishing ceiling fan blades. For a long moment I sit there and stare, wondering why they were so distinct, and what I had just heard.
I listen for a long time, if nothing else, then just to get that picture out of my mind. I have to get it out.
My shoulder is shaken, I can feel a hand there, I can hear someone talking to me, but it seems like it’s from a long tunnel, so far away. There’s a mutter of conversation behind it, but farther away, quieter, spoken by a crowd that sees what I’m seeing, but doesn’t feel the same way I do. They can’t. They won’t.
I unclench my fist; I did not realize I was clutching it so tightly. My hand is on the verge of cramping I was clutching it so tightly. My fingers feel like they had just been rolled over by something quite heavy. There’s a scent in my nostrils, it’s salty—I think it’s sweat, but I’m not sure…I can only hope.
The blinking outside my window, leaking in slowly, flickering back and forth, these not like the sunset but like the cold light from my dreams. From the ones I try to hide from, the one I just left, the one that I hate.
My eyes are adjusting to the darkness, they are gradually becoming more accustomed to it, I can make out in utter vagueness the features of my bookshelf off in the corner, lined with close to two hundred books, somewhere around that. I had about as many on my Kindle, maybe more, I can’t remember.
I see the dull reflection off of my Maglite—the big one—on my nightstand. It sits like a silent guardian where it usually does, waiting for the moment it’s needed. As an LED flashlight, it certainly puts out more than enough light, though I’ve hardly ever used it.
A picture sits on my nightstand, right next to the Maglite—one I’ve looked at every night for two years, one I can’t stop looking at—one I can’t stop loving. I could probably put the picture back together from memory if I had to, but I stare at if for I don’t know how long every day anyway. I guess I’m afraid that if I don’t I might somehow forget.
I can’t forget.
I turn my gaze back at the lights, lost in the intricate dance they are performing, the popcorn ceiling curves and bends in the shifting illumination, as if it were alive, and carefully following the rhythm of the decorations.
I feel like my heart is following that same rhythm. Fast and irregular, weighted down…tired.
I see it again, but I don’t want to. I push it away. I hope it will fade into the blackness like all of the rest, I hope it will just go away. I don’t want to look. I don’t want to see.
The picture. I think of the picture.
Still that burning on the back of my eyeballs, still that stunned vision of shock, of anger, of sorrow and of pain. I see it. I feel it. I live it all again.
White line, thick and proud, stained by red, dotted by pink, splashed by a clear white, contrasted by gray, colorless to me. Everything, except for that blue and white, swimming in pink, dull and hot, a former red, but thriving death—I know what it means, but I don’t want to believe, I don’t want to see, I don’t want to understand.
Why do I still dream? Hasn’t it been long enough yet? Haven’t I dreamt enough dreams? To tell you the truth I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I try to think of somethin else. The service at church from the previous day comes to mind. They were talking about how they had seen a lot of Blake and Mikayla, a brother and sister who had been coming to the services a lot lately. They had quite a past apparently, but they seemed to have been doing very well in the Bible study groups and in regular attendance.
Blake seems like a really cool guy, he works as a mechanic, and he’s got the handshake that would make a wrestler wince. Mikayla seems to be quieter than Blake, softer spoken, I guess. She is almost always right beside him, and he seems to watch out for her a lot, I kind of wonder how long they’ve been like that. In truth I admire that, and I wonder what made them turn out that way? Was it their raising? Something they just naturally picked up? I wish I knew.
I’m happy that they’re coming, I really am, but I don’t know them. I kind of wish I did know them better, especially since I’m up in the middle of the night thinking about them.
Blood. The white line reflects, the puddles soak my knees, my feet—the smell of the moist concrete is more than I can bear. The sight in front of me more than I wish to think about.
Make it stop.
But I can’t. I stare at the lights, the blue and the white, that glow that seems to illuminate my dreamscape, covering everything—infecting everything.
I don’t think I’m going to get to sleep for a while. It’s three in the morning, I’ve only been asleep for a few hours, and I don’t think I will see more sleep this night.
I wish the dreams would stop.
End of Part 2