www.whyville.net Nov 21, 2010 Weekly Issue

Senior Times Writer

Burn Survivors: Part 6

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Too much had hit me at once. I could walk again, yay!

But Jacob was dead. My dear Jacob. My life would go on, of course, but I did not want it to go on without him.

It was all too overwhelming; my body went limp while my mind raced. I couldn't handle it. I saw the floor getting closer, and then nothing. A loud crack. Then nothing at all.

For the longest time, there was nothing but floating through an endless darkness. There was no need to think or speak. Just to float. I don't remember ever taking a breath. I remember wanting to vanish and stay gone. I willed myself into nonexistence, if that makes sense. If nobody sees me, if nobody hears me, nobody can feel me, am I there?

Yes, I am. No matter how hard I will myself away, I'm there. Physically, at the very least.

And with that, the floating ended. I was in the middle of the woods, the air was crisp. Gold and brown was in heaps. A lovely autumn day. Somewhere between analyzing the grey blanket that had become the sky and the golden ocean of leaves, I'd started to walk. My endpoint had become an unknown one, but I walked for the longest time.

My eyes saw but didn't make any attempt to take in what they'd looked at. I found my lungs and my conscience, and then the lights in the house were on.

Jacob was gone. I could walk forever and never see his face again. I could breathe in and I could breathe out, and he wouldn't. Not now, not ever. This thought didn't hurt as much as I'd thought it should, yet tears threatened to drown my heart.

This heart, I didn't have anymore. It was in Jacob's palms in the hospital morgue. Most certainly not in my chest. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. Gravity wrapped its greedy hands around my wrists, my face, and I found myself face down on the cold earth.

"Michelle, stand up."

I couldn't find it in me to move. The voice sighed my name. "Stand up. If you give up, you're mine. I don't want to take you. Not just yet," the voice murmured.

So I stood and I stared into the face of death.

The one thing that immediately stood out was how he was so different from how we perceive him. There was no flowing black robe, no scythe. He looked like a critical lawyer, holding a clipboard. It was easy to tell who he was. The air was chilly, frightening. He had a certain sense of power with him, the aura of the person who never loses.

"You're right. I don't lose, ever. You're going to give me your hand, or you're going to keep walking. I'm following very closely. I've been watching you, and allow me to say that you have a very strong boyfriend. Walk for him or you're going to regret every moment of it." The words came out in a breath, and I began to run. Death disappeared behind me, and the trees ended.

So did everything else but my undying affection for Jacob.

And so it all ends here . . . I've lost.

But do I truly care when all I had to lose had already been gone?


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