By Mackenzie Pedersen, Staff Writer
… She was slumped at her kitchen table. She realized that the clock on the stove read 4:42 a.m., and that she had wearily stayed up all night, her tear stained face somber and puffy. She had spent the entirety of the evening reminiscing about him. She could feel the soft brush of his hand across her cheek mixed, with the soft pressure of his lips against hers and with the sweet sticky scent of his coffee-stained breath. As the soft light of the sun rose over the bitter darkness of the fleeting night, she was drawn to the window. And it was in that solemn and quiet moment that she knew… her heart was breaking.
He was gone… and as every dreadfully slow moment passed, she could feel the tightness of her heart like the slow creep of glass cracking. A ball of suffering was forming in her mid-section. She could swear her lungs were collapsing as she gasped. Suddenly her eyes began to swell, and just as her heart finally shattered, tears began to flood. She collapsed to the floor.
She couldn’t believe that this was happening to her… What had she done. She braced her shaking hands against her boiling temples and wailed in agony. And flashes of that horrific night played over and over in her head. Her and her fiancé had only discovered the calamitous news of his disease a few months prior. It started out as some stomach pains, and then led to something more serious. The doctor only gave him seven months, at most, to live. They were devastated, and he knew that what was to come next would be too much for her. He didn’t want her to see his agonizing pain as the days went on and the disease progressed. He wanted her to remember him while he still had some integrity… So he devolved a plan. A plan that still haunts her.
She can’t scrub that atrocious, terribly shadowy night… the gun shaking in her grasp, pointing at him on the other side, tears streaming down her face, as she begs him not to make her do it. He steadies her hand, reassuring her that it’ll be okay and that this is the best solution. He shhhhs her in hopes to calm her, as he adds pressure to her trigger finger until… his heart was punctured and the warmth of his blood trailed down her torso as she caught him, as he whispered through his last gasping breath, ‘thank you…’
Her tears fell harder as this haunting memory lingered in her cerebrum… Until a crash abruptly awakened her from her destitution. She staggered her way to the kitchen to see her coffee mug shattered on the floor in a pool of what was was left of her coffee. ‘I must have left it too close to the edge…’ she thought to herself as she went to grab the broom. As she began sweeping up the broken shards, an eerie tapping on the window caught her attention – as she turned her head, she sliced her thumb on one of the shards. She quickly dropped everything, ran to the sink, and stared as the water mixed with her blood. She convinced herself that it was just sleep deprivation… she couldn’t even remember the last time she slept. Was it the previous day? Or the day before that…?
Suddenly, she felt a hand forcibly grab her shoulder. She turned around, and her horror turned into a shriek of fear and confusion as she laid her eyes upon a familiar face. It was a distorted version of her late fiancé… And she was stunned, terrified. ‘He’s been dead for the last two weeks! How is this possible?’ she thought to herself. She had watched them lower his casket into the ground, yet there he stood. Or at least what was left of him… The flesh of his face had begun to decay, a few of his teeth were missing, and his eyes were glazed over in a milky haze. It didn’t seem real to her… until he groaned. The raspy groan of a person who hadn’t breathed the breath of life in weeks. And in a twisted realization of what she had so recently imagined, his cold, dead, disabled hand brushed softly against her cheek and he leaned in, lips dried and flaky; the scent of death reached her nostrils…
She shoved him away from her and into the kitchen table as she scrambled out of the room. Her heart was pounding so loudly that it was all she could hear. Sweat began to trickle down her face as she floundered in her panic, and her breathing shallow. She ran up the stairs to her bedroom and started grasping frantically at the boxes that were piled in her closet. From behind the clutter, she grabbed the same gun he had given her on that horrible night just a few weeks ago. Weak from panic, she slumped against the wall as his walking corpse entered the room. Everything went silent as she shakily pointed the gun directly at his chest. She took one more deep breath, and the room slowed down. She felt her finger squeeze, tears streaming down her face, and as the pin hit the bullet in the gun….
Her eyes flew open, and she was on the floor underneath her kitchen window.
She shakily got up and looked around, and realized: it had all just been a nightmare.