This story is by Pat Kabot and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I have been contemplating the peaceful sound of nothing for quite some time now. Have you ever had such a sensation? Eerie quiet surround you? I find myself in wonderful peace, just to be followed by a sensation of danger. It is so silent that if seems something is wrong. It scares me. I don’t even hear the sound of cars speeding at the highway above the hills. I know that too much silence in the meadow means I am completely alone, and that means something bad must be coming. I know that because I already went through similar situations. I cannot remember exactly what, but I know it is there, somewhere in the memories of my troubled childhood.
The frigid winds embrace me while I try to reflect on what has just happened to me. The snow is accumulating quickly covering the lovely paths, hills and trees. Eventually the mountains will be gracefully covered in snow, and thick ice will form in the most hidden corners of this heavenly site.
The scenery is stunning. I wish I had come here before. Before I found myself in this solitude. Before the cold became my only companion. I was not like that before. I used to have friends, a husband, a child, a sister and my beloved grandma. Images of her love populate my mind, bringing back memories of the times she used to read books for me, prepare my favorite meals, help me with my homework, hug me tightly before I went to school. But I also have dark memories from my childhood. I prefer not to think of them right now. My situation is nasty enough to let pitiful reminiscences invade my mind.
I need to focus on something pleasant. Such as those mountains ahead of me. They are massive and cannot go unnoticed. What is life like up there? What would it be like to climb them to the top? I would not know. My life did not lead me to that path. I took many different paths, some of them to the wrong direction. Probably that is why I am here now, lonely at the bottom of this canyon, waiting to be noticed.
Days go by and I am still here in deep solitude. I lose count of time, but I think it must have been weeks or maybe months. Now the sun shines for longer hours gently warming up all around me and the snow melts away. I believe it is Spring. People start to come down here. They jog, hike or walk their dogs. One of them sees me. He approaches me, then runs away horrified. I am alone again, but not for long. Soon police officers come to me as well. They take me away from this beautiful meadow which has been my home during the freezing Winter.
I am surrounded by people now. But I am still alone. They talk among themselves, but never with me. I observe them quietly. Maybe it is better this way. I don’t know what to say. They keep me in a cold room by myself. People come and go, look at me, talk about me and leave. I lose track of time again. Sometimes I can see the window and I see the sun shining outside and the trees turning green. Yes, many weeks must have passed, and I think Spring has arrived.
Along with the Spring, a guest also arrives to see me. He is the first person who seems to take an interest in me. He looks at me for a long time. He touches my hair and my face and puts me in front of the light, so bright, I cannot see his face. He adjusts the light and brings in an easel, papers and pencils. I believe he wants to draw my face. Is that possible that this young man wants to draw my portrait? Never in my life I had my portrait done. Honestly, it seems to be more that a simple drawing. His gaze is reflective as if he wants to see more than my face, but my history. He studies my eyes, not just to see their color or shape, but to enter deep inside them, as if he wants to reach my soul.
He stays with me for a while, quietly, drawing and coloring… Than he stops and looks at his art, then at me again. This is more than art. I sense he wishes to unlock a mystery. The mystery of who I am, where I have come from, what I am doing here and why I am posing for his new masterpiece. He finishes and walks out without a word. They keep me here in this cold and dark room. I can hear them talk about me outside the room. I am again in my solitude, yearning to be in the presence of my grandma, my child, my family. I want this to end…
More time goes by, until one day I hear a lot of commotion outside the room. They are talking about me again. I try to hear carefully what they are saying. I concentrate so much on their voices, that I feel as if I am outside with them. Suddenly I can actually see them, and I am really close to them. Strange place. They all wear medical masks, even though this is not a hospital. I shift my attention back to their conversation about me. Something about a DNA match and a positive identification. The artist who drew my portrait is here too! A tall man in a suit says he needs to make a dreadful phone call. He and the artist walk towards the room where I am. They come in and the man in the suit picks up his cell phone, dials a number and turns on the speaker.
I recognize that voice immediately. It is grandma!
Can I speak with Mrs. Oliver, Please?” Said the man in the suit.
“This is she. Who is this?”
“My name is Detective Albert McCarthy, from Eldorado Springs Police Department in Colorado. I need to speak with you about Silver.”
“Yes, my granddaughter! I haven’t heard from her in months! She loses contact with us for long periods of time, but this is unusual! I haven’t heard from her since Christmas. I tried to call her, but her phone was cut off. Is she in trouble?”
“Mrs. Oliver… I’m afraid I have bad news. I am sorry to inform you that Silver is dead.”
Dead. The word is a blast in my ears. I find myself paralyzed, astonished. I am dead? Flashbacks of that cold night invade the gaps of my memory. I remember now. And yes, he is right… I am dead. Everything makes sense now.
The line goes silent for a moment.
“Mrs. Oliver? Are you still there?”
“What happen to her?” Grandma speaks while crying.
“We are still investigating the cause of her death. We know for sure it was not from natural causes. Part of her body was found in a ditch at an open space area near the Eldorado Canyon, covered by snow and ice, which tells us she must have died in the winter. The freezing temperatures helped preserve it. We haven’t recovered all of her body yet, however we are still searching.”
Just now I realize that my body is not complete… The man stops talking. I think he knows he has given horrific news about me to my grandmother. We hear her crying. After a few seconds of pause, she asks:
“You said you haven’t recovered all of Silver’s body yet? So… what exactly… do you mean?”
“We only recovered her head. The area has been searched extensively with cadaver dogs. Unfortunately, too much time have gone by since her death, and we believe coyotes and other wildlife might have dragged parts of her body away. It’s an open investigation, and I promise you I will get to the bottom of it!”
“So, you are telling me that someone decapitated my granddaughter?”
“By the injuries sustained in her neck, we believe she was the victim of a hit and run at Highway 93, located just above the open space where the head was found. I’m so sorry for your loss Mrs. Oliver.”
They leave the room while still talking on the phone with grandma. I don’t need to hear anymore. My thoughts are clear now and I remember everything. I think in a way I could never think before. It is like if a veil has been lifted and I understand now, what was so confusing before. It was a complicated puzzle, and now all pieces fell into place.
I am going home soon to the warm and caring company of my family. I will have a funeral and my remains will be buried. After that, who knows where my soul will choose to go… But I know for sure, that my days of solitude will be over.