This story is by Nancy Heard and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Eyes wide open, lips a breath away.
She tried to grasp the image of the steely blue eyes that penetrated her soul. She revelled in the moment, while she clung to her vision. She knew with absolute certainty he was there with her.
What the Hell is that droning noise?
Again, she felt his breath on hers, as he became part of her, she of him. His wild eyes, wolf eyes, pierced through her like an obsidian scalpel.
That noise, make it stop! I’m drifting again.
A sudden light flashed, a wire sparked, then sizzled. Don’t leave me.
After her sense of surrounding had returned, Sarah knew what the noise was that had been disturbing her sleep, and got up to turn off the forced air heater. Drained, she climbed back into bed. She desperately wanted to feel him again. The craving was unbearable.
“Wake up Maggie I think I got something to say to you. It’s late September and I really should be…” boomed from the radio on the night stand next to her head.
Sarah bolted upright, reached over and turned off her alarm. What kind of a dream was that? Sweaty, cold, and clammy, she wrapped herself in one of the green fuzzy blankets, while its twin laid lifeless at the foot of the bed, where it had remained since Jamie left five years prior.
“Haven’t I suffered long enough?” Sarah choked and sobbed to the silent stillness of their bedroom.
She was devastated. It was everything Sarah could do to focus on getting ready for work, her only social outlet. She had intentionally set her alarm to go off early after she heard the previous night that there was a chance the weather might change. I’ll have to leave a little earlier than usual. The road is just too sinuous, and if it’s slick, it could be treacherous.
Sarah was grateful that it was the Fall Faire this weekend, the liquor store would be busy. Everyone in Ole’s Cove would be in at some point during the day to buy their booze. She welcomed the distraction. She didn’t want to think about her dream, it was too painful and only brought back memories of the life they once had.
She would never forget the first time she heard Jamie sing, it was as if she was listening to Bryan Adams, James Blunt and John Mayer all rolled into one. She had had no idea what to expect, but it wasn’t that. His lyrics were pure poetry. When they got married, she walked down the aisle to the first song he ever wrote for her. He was the kindest, most thoughtful and loving person she had ever known. He surprised her with piano lessons for her birthday one year after he learned that one of her lifelong regrets had been quitting to play when she was young. She supported his passions, while he did everything to encourage hers.
“It doesn’t seem that cold,” Sarah said, while she was getting into her car. She buckled up, turned on the ignition and then the radio. Damn it! The radio wasn’t working again. This had been happening more often than not, lately. She knew it would just be a matter of time before it kicked in, and decided to leave it on.
Still rattled by her dream, Sarah forced her mind toward the weather and the forty-minute drive north up the coast to work. Although the Pacific Northwest had a temperate climate, it was mid-November, a time when the weather could be dicey. It was also the time of year that held some of her most cherished memories.
They took full advantage of the crisp fall days until the changing of the weather guards when the trees became bare and grey. Time after time, they fell under the spell of the swaying branches of the majestic old growth trees that lined the walkway along their favourite seashore. They became entranced by the fluttering leaves, a painter’s pallet of blended yellows, oranges, and rusty reds, while they lazily danced their way through the swaying treetops. It was as if they were waiting for them to arrive to perform their opening night debut. The windy days were their favourite. It sounded like a deck of playing cards clacking through the spokes of bicycle wheels, until the invisible net of the wind would scoop the leaves up and scattered them out to sea, joining the synchronicity of the ebb and flow of the ocean surfs. They drank this in until the last vestige of the burnt orange sphere dipped below the ocean surface, signaling the day’s finale.
“Whoa! What the Hell!” It only took a split second. She knew she hit a patch of black ice. Her car picked up momentum with each switchback she did across the highway. Sarah briefly caught sight of an oncoming vehicle. She knew there wasn’t anything she could do, except hope they saw that she was out of control.
Her head was full of rushing air when her little red car catapulted off the asphalt and started its rolling descent down the bank and toward the ocean.
A sudden onslaught of branches whipped against the shell of her car. Glass was shattering all around her, intertwined with the sound of crunching metal each time vehicle met earth, nature’s diminished chords. Just as she was coming out of the second roll and was heading into the third, Sarah calmly acknowledged that these were her final moments on earth and thought, what is going to make this stop?
“You are listening to 91.7 Coast FM serving Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast,” a voice blurted from the radio, while she hung upside down, her body contorted to the shape of the bent metal roof of her car. Really. The radio’s working now! Confused, she switched the radio off with her bloodied fingers. She needed to try to get her bearings. She looked up toward the highway and realized she couldn’t be seen. She was too far down the bank. She knew she had her cell phone with her; it had been sitting on top of her bulging purse, next to her on the passenger seat when she left home. Both were out of sight, and she was far too disoriented to try to find them.
Just when the enormity of her situation was beginning to settle in, a new threat presented itself.
Doesn’t this happen with rollover accidents, sometimes? Sarah knew she was on her own to figure a way out, but it was far more than she was capable of at the moment. Still buckled in upside down, and while the heap of crunched metal settled into the boggy moss, Sarah did the only thing she could to do.
Just as an eagle’s cry pierced the numbing silence, a faint male’s voice entered Sarah’s awareness. “Are you okay?” Unable to get a clear view of him from her position, all she could see through the smashed rear window was two partial legs in denim. Incredulous that she had survived such a violent crash, it didn’t register with her that she knew this voice.
“I don’t think you’re going to be able to make it out of the front window on your side. There’s too much shattered glass and the front of your car has sunk too deep; there isn’t enough room for you to crawl through,” he said. “It looks okay back here, though. You should be able to make it out the rear window, where my voice is coming from.” Slowly, Sarah managed to get out of her seatbelt and made her way toward the soothing voice. He reached in through the shattered window, grasped her hand and extracted her from the tangled metal.
She felt her heart stop when their eyes finally met, this man she was about to thank for coming to her rescue. “Jamie?” she choked out in disbelief. With his gaze fixed upon her, he smiled and nodded.
“How is this possible? You’ve been gone for five years now,” she said as much to herself as to him. “I’ve been praying every day since the day you died that you would come through to me, that you would give me some kind of sign that you were okay on the other side,” she said, dumbfounded.
“That wasn’t a dream I had last night, was it? You were really there with me, weren’t you?” Again, Jamie smiled and nodded.
“Do you remember me telling you that if I died before you, I will be there waiting for you?”
“Yes, but I survived my…” as she took a good look at herself for the first time since she crashed, everything suddenly clear.
“I’m here for you now, my love.”