The nightmares started the night after.
The first funeral I ever attended occurred three weeks ago. The preacher of a local congregation, Charlie White, died of a sudden heart attack in his sleep. Charlie and I became quite close when he came to preach at Clovis Church of Christ. We sat in his office and talked for hours on end. Even though our age difference dwelled in the large numbers, our closeness filled in the gap. At just six years old, I remember Charlie as he picked me up and carried me up the church stairs with Maggie, his two year old Scottish terrier who he brought with him everywhere, as she barked mad barks of rage when I took her position of attention. Laughter filled the building when he tickled me to no end. I loved him as a father and as a good friend.
But eight years later, our fun ended.
Charlie got very sick. Hospital stays became common in his household and hospital visits common in my household. My school grades dwindled and insomnia developed. I filled my nights with endless loads of laundry, journal writing, and hours of computer. My stomach handled no food so I grew thin. Stress hovered over me and my thought process became short. I missed my friend who helped me all the time. I missed my friend who helped me with math. I missed my friend who helped me understand Revelation. In short, I missed my friend.
A month passed and my straight A's dwindled to straight B minuses. I failed my tests and my English grade became a C. My school friends left me since I lashed out like an evil beast any time they tried to help me. Mom and Dad, who wanted not a depressed daughter, kept their distance. They told me one night at dinner, "It's just a phase, baby, he'll be fine", but they understood nothing! Charlie and I kept a bond which seemed impossible for others! Without him, my heart shattered and the pieces felt heavy in my chest.
Another two weeks passed. My grades now stayed at C's. Mom told me to talk to my teachers, to try and get extra credit or something. When Mrs. White, Charlie's wife, called me, I just finished up my conversation with a frustrated and rude math teacher. Infuriated, I answered the phone to hear Mrs. White's voice. My ears strained to hear what she said behind sobs and tears, yet I understood none of it. I told her, "Hang on, Mrs. White; I'll be at the hospital in a jiff". Without a second thought, I ditched Biology and rushed to Saint Agnes to find Charlie.
As soon as I discovered his room, I pushed the door open. Mrs. White rushed to my arms and sobbed on my shoulder. With a quick word of comfort, I asked the dreaded question, "What happened?"
"He…" Mrs. White sniffed; I noticed fresh tears formed at the corners of her reddened and swollen eyes. When her sentence trailed off, Mrs. White pointed to the bed.
I squeezed Mrs. White before I dragged my feet to where Charlie lay. I looked at the hospital cot and tears came to my eyes. A dam opened and I fell down to the sanitized floor with tears down my cheeks. Charlie lay on top of the sheets, stiff as a board with his green eyes closed. His skin looked like snow and his hair lost its color. No more monitor wires interrupted the smooth skin on his arm. I grabbed his hand and gasped at the cold. Charlie's hand seemed nothing more than a cold rock. I felt Mrs. White's presence behind me as she gripped my shoulder. The tears on my face fell on Charlie's hand and dripped down to the white floor.
My heart dropped to my stomach. Charlie died.
The next three days passed in a blur. I felt like a zombie. I walked through the world, though not in it. The night changed to day, but I knew no time. People tried to comfort me, but I heard words of unknown native voices instead of my friends. I became shocked at the people around me as they went about their lives. Shock turned into jealousy as I longed to dwell in their bodies and posses their happiness. Mom and Dad tried everything to help me, but nothing worked.
Three days later, Charlie's funeral took place.
The first funeral I ever attended happened three weeks ago. Charlie lay in the casket, dressed in his best Sunday suit and his bright green eyes still closed. In his clasped hands sat God's word with both his and Mrs. White's wedding rings tied to the ribbon bookmark. Mrs. White told me to say a few words after she spoke. As soon as she sat down, I sauntered up to the podium to speak.
When I looked over the crowd, I noticed my age seemed the youngest there. With a nervous cough, I began my spur of the moment speech. I spoke on Charlie and mine's bond, how we spoke to each other and spent our time together. With every word I said, Mrs. White nodded and dabbed at her eyes. I knew her heart broke with slow progression as I spoke. With a final flurry of memories and good thoughts, I stepped back from the podium and placed a picture of Charlie, his dog, and I in the casket.
The nightmares occurred after the night after the funeral.
When I closed my eyes, pictures flashed across my eyelids. Chances to save Charlie rose before me, but I took none of them. I crossed past them and kept up my speedy pace. Then a church popped up around me and I noticed Mrs. White in a pew with a handkerchief as she dabbed at her eyes. When I walked in, she turned around to glare at me and mouthed the word, "You". Her eyebrows furrowed and she grimaced as I walked closer. Once I got close enough to touch her, the church dissolved. A too-white room replaced the church building. A single bed lay in the middle of the room. I saw a lump under the sheets. I lifted my foot to walk, but I felt as if ankle weights hung around them. As I stumbled toward the bed, the sheets shifted and moved. Once I stopped close enough to the bed, I drew back the sheets to discover me in the bed. My eyes stared forward and my skin looked paler than an albino. My chest stayed still. A tight fist closed around my airways. I gasped for air, but found none. Spots dotted the corners of my eyes and my chest heaved as I tried to force air into my lungs. The spots came together and began to cover my pupil…
I woke with a start, covered in sweat and with my hair plastered to my forehead. My breath came in short spurts and the oxygen seemed not enough in my small room. I placed a hand on my chest to slow my breathing. Once I found air, the tears began. The dam broke again and salty tears dripped down my face. I sobbed with a loud voice for Charlie. Just for us to see each other again, to talk again. I clutched the sheets to my chest and curled my knees to my chin. My sobs grew softer and softer. Soon, only gentle cries escaped my chest. My head spun in circles and I tried to stand up. I fell back on the bed, but stood up again. With weighted feet, I stumbled into the kitchen to grab Tylenol and a glass of water.
This happened every night from then on.
For the next three weeks, this same dream occurred. Over and over again. By the end of the first week, I gave up on sleep. I kept myself awake when I sat in uncomfortable positions and kept my hands busy. Within a week I knit a red ski hat and part of a yellow sweater. I also finished two video games and memorized three movies.
Without sleep, my grades slipped even more and I started to sleep in class. Yet, every time I shut my eyes, I saw Charlie's body and Mrs. White's saddened face. I pushed away anyone close to me. My friends gave up on me and declared my situation "impossible to help". My parents knew not how to help. I sat in my room all the time and stared at the single blank wall in the room. I read passages in the Bible and tried to teach myself Revelation. I went to church, but found it difficult to listen.
So today, Thursday, I sit here on my bed with my spine on one metal bar as I try to stay awake. My yellow sweater lies at the foot of my bed, finished, but without a home. I place the red ski cap on my head, which makes my hair feather out at the ends. The sheets cover my knees which I curled up to my chin. Independently Happy by Blue October plays in the background. My lips move along to the words, but no sound escapes. The blue and purple polka dot lamp on my night stand emits little light from its failing light bulb. I brace myself for darkness as it flickers, but the light keeps up its job. The Playstation controller rests next to me, exhausted from the amount of exercise it gets each night. I glance at the spot where a poster of Johnny Depp used to hang, but now only the ripped remnants of the poster look back at me.
My eyelids droop, but I open them with a quick and fluid movement. Independently Happy changes to With You Gone and I feel a tear trickle down my cheek. I open my nightstand and pull out my childhood Bible. Inside the cover lies a message from Charlie.
Hey, Jeanne, keep up your daily reading. I wanna know how much you know every Sunday. I put in notes if you need help. Happy Birthday.
In Christian love,
More tears trickle down my cheeks. I close the Bible and place it back in the drawer. I place my hand on the handle, but notice a brown book underneath my Bible. With a shaky movement, I pull the book out. It reads, "Journal" on the front. The cover seems a smooth brown color with soft designs around the edge. A line divides the cover in half. I open it to see my first entry on the sixth of September. The first day Charlie got sick. The next entry looks as if I wrote it the day before Charlie's death.
My eyes scan the short five sentence note placed on the page. The handwriting looks horrible and to read it seems an impossible task unless I cock my head to the side and squint. After about ten minutes of this weird technique, I understand the gist of what I wrote.
The entry states to not feel responsible for Charlie's death as prayers seemed enough and I prayed in constant rounds every single night. My nightmare told me Mrs. White blamed me for her husband's death for she blames no one but herself. Yet, I still feel as if I myself brought this sad occurrence upon Charlie. Heart attacks happen because of stress or too much physical exercise. Maybe Charlie ran around with me too much. Maybe his death occurred because of me!
Yet, a voice in my head tells me our days together gave him nothing but pure joy and happiness.
I remember when I wrote the entry. Charlie's favorite song, Clair De Lune, played in the background. The laundry lay unfolded at the foot of my bed and my video game stood unfinished. Family and vacation pictures flashed by as the screensaver on my blue laptop. Many things called my name to finish their purpose, but I felt compelled to write. A prominent tug in my heart told me bad things lay ahead. I ignored the items which called to me to write a quick five sentence note. The note tells me, "Do not blame yourself. Charlie's death, if it occurs, is all part of God's plan".
I remove the ski cap from my head and run a hand through my unwashed hair. A loud ding comes from my computer, a sign to tell me someone wants to talk, but I ignore it. I stare at the journal page and give an exasperated sigh as I glance at the digital clock on my nightstand. I close the journal and place it back in my drawer. As I push the drawer, it squeaks and then settles into place.
A weight seems lifted from my chest. Air seems plentiful now and I put the two Tylenol, which I placed in a cup holder, back into the bottle which rests in its permanent place on my desk. I close my laptop and it beeps before it rests in sleep mode. I pick up the red and yellow knitted items and place them in a basket of winter scarves and sweaters underneath my desk. The music still plays as I try hard to make my bed. The room still spins as every night, but tonight it seems more like a spin to soothe not scare.
In the darkness of the night, I step out of my room and hurry to the back door. I let my dog, a Scottish terrier, in and she runs to my room to sleep for the first night in almost two months. After I lock the sliding-glass door, I stumble back into my room. Riley looks up at me as her tail wags at a hundred miles an hour. I sit back in the spot I sit every night. Riley leaps over to me and licks my face. I feel my lips move up and I realize I just smiled. For the first time in two months I smiled.
The lamp on my nightstand flickers and then goes out. Riley works her way under the covers with her nose to settle next to my right leg. I pat her head and lay down. The music player in the far corner of the room changes to Three Weeks, She Sleeps as my eyelids droop and for the first time in three weeks, I sleep a dreamless night.
A/N: Alright this is a short story i had to write for English. I personally don't like it, but I'm putting it up because someone asked me to. *insert eye roll here* So yeah, um just read and review I guess... Whatever you wanna do with it is fine.
As for other stories... I, um, am having difficulties... So probably nothing new for a while.
Yep, so thanks if you read it!