The Time Between Blinks (short story)

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The Time Between Blinks (short story)

Postby Blu » Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:32 pm

"Daddy!" I hear my daughter cry for me. My eyes fly open as I bolt out of bed. I stumble on the wooden floor in the hallway separating our rooms, banging my right elbow on the wall. My socks are no friends to me tonight.

I reach her door and it's already open. Her tiny nightlight throws two melded shadows on the wall. "I want Daddy," my little angel whimpers as she is cradled against my wife in my wife's right arm. I don't go into the room. I step back into the shadows of the doorway and stay there frozen. I must still be asleep. I'm dreaming. That's the only explanation. I can't be seeing what I'm seeing.

My wife can't be there.

She died weeks ago.

I close my eyes and see the accident happen again. We're driving back from my wife's company gala, required face time for employee plus one.It's an okay event. I'm not one for big gatherings. Usually I would use my daughter as an excuse not to mingle but baby girl's home with my wife's twin sister. In the distance, headlights weaved in and out of traffic, the opposite traffic going the other way. I'm not worried. A grassy median separated our lanes. I turned to my wife and made a joke that someone's had way more fun tonight than I did. She turned to me, then reached behind me with her left arm. She scratched the middle of my back and smiled the last one I'll see from her. When the lights illuminated her face, the smile turned quickly to a scream. I turned back and yanked the wheel. I closed my eyes and can only thank god that our little angel wasn't with us as my head snapped forward from the impact. Seat belts are a great restraint for the body but not the head.

I open my eyes again. I'm still in hallway in front of her door. I must have been dreaming. My baby girl is asleep, tucked in her favorite side of the bed. The right side. Because her mom used to sleep on the left but only some nights. Only when our little angel needs to be comforted. I hold my breath as my eyes slowly move from her to the left side of the bed. My eyes are trembling. But thankfully, nothing... no one's there. I walk to her bed. My daughter's little breath is slow and steady. I brush strands of her hair off her right eye and plant a light kiss on her cheek. Her right cheek because that's where the rainbow is. It's a joke we shared since she was two. At a state fair, she had her face painted with a rainbow and a butterfly. I told her I'll only kiss her right cheek because that's where the rainbow is; butterflies are yucky. I lay down on the left side of the bed. I'll comfort her tonight if she wakes up again.

I'm about to close my eyes when I notice that the hall bathroom light is on. The slit of light shines underneath the bathroom door. I probably forgot to turn it off after she brushed her teeth. I'll just turn it off tomorrow morning. Besides it was nothing. I think I hear crying behind the bathroom door. Just my imagination running. I reach over and squeeze her little hands as I squeeze my own eyes shut.

I open my eyes to the sounds of a TV show. I sit up in my own bed. I can't remember coming back to my room. But then again, I've been in and out of it since the accident. Things have been hazy for me, still is. I don't even remember coming home after the accident. But I do remember the funeral. Not distinctly and not even most of it. Fact is I can't remember much of it. I remember a crowd and my baby girl. She's the one I can see clearly, wearing a little black hat and wearing a black dress. I watch her standing and hugging her aunt's waist, crying into her aunt's dress. I break inside as bad as I'm broken physically. I can't comfort but at least her aunt is there. I think it's my wife's sister, well someone from her side. For sure, it's not anyone on mine. I'm the only one left.

I must've turned off the light in the hallway bathroom. The door to it is open. My baby girl probably left it open. I'm used to her dragging the sink's step ladder out to get her cereal on the counter. Her bowl's in a bottom drawer. And the milk's in one of those handy side compartments in the fridge. She's only five but has been making her own breakfast for awhile now, to let us... me sleep in. She's a good kid. I walk into the living room and see her at the kitchen table. She's eating her cereal, watching her kids' show. It's the one with those four colored, fluffy things doing the same things over and over again, in patterns of four. Well one of those shows. I walk to the kitchen table and come up behind her. I give a good morning peck on her right cheek. Her hand brushes at it and she smiles. She smiles like my wife. I have something in my eyes. I close them and turn around so my daughter doesn't see.

My eyes open slowly to a light shining through the living room window. I wake up on the couch, hugging a family picture. I look into the kitchen but the table's clear and the TV's off. I sit up and call out for my daughter. No one answers. I get up frantically and run to her room. She's not there. I look in the hallway bathroom. No one. I run to our... my room. Not there. I open the master bathroom door. Nothing. I stumble back and sit on the bed. I take a deep breath to calm myself. It's a weekday. She must be at school. I must have taken her and fallen asleep when I got back. It's happened before, waking up to an empty home. I hate these times the most, these empty times when no one's home but me. I lie down and close my eyes. I'll just take a little nap to forget how empty this place is.

I groggily open my eyes to the sound of the bathroom vent. I brush my hand across my wife's pillow. It's damp. I must've rolled over during my nap. I raise myself up to turn off the vent but the bathroom door is closed. Did I get up and close it earlier? I walk to the door and open it to a scent that reminds me of my wife. That clean, airy whiff of moisture and body soap, the smell of a shower just finished. I turn off the vent. I used to always have to tell my wife to leave the vent on after a shower. She never did. Is this her way of telling me this place isn't as empty as I think? I close my eyes and breath in the scent again.

I wake up and open my eyes to an empty house again. It's another weekday. Another day waking up on the couch, hugging a photograph. I could leave and head into work. But I haven't. Not since the accident. I'm still sore in my chest and my ribs feel tender. I can't lift my neck without a pinch of pain. I'm not even sure when work expects me back. I haven't gotten a call to come in. I could call but... where is my cellphone? I spend the next two hours checking under beds and behind the couch, tossing up blankets and unfolded clothes, and lifting up cushions and pillows. No phone. It's fine. If anyone needs to reach me, they know where I live. I fix the cushions but leave the rest of the mess. I'll clean up later. I just want to lay down again. Lay down and close my eyes. Take a light nap.

I rub my eyes open and see my daughter carrying folded clothes back to her room. I get up to follow her but stop and look into my room. The bed is made with the blanket neatly spread out and the pillows properly placed. The clothes are all gone. I walk down the hall to my daughter's room and stand in the doorway. Her bed is made too. She's a good kid, a real good kid. My daughter finishes putting her clothes in the dresser and climbs onto her bed. Her afternoon nap. I watch quietly as she falls asleep, her head buried in her pillow and her body tucked under her blanket. I slip in and sit on her bed. I brush hair off her right eye and realize it's damp and her cheeks are wet. My hand wipes my own tears away as I lean down and give her a kiss on the right cheek. It's a salty rainbow. Her hand brushes up to her cheek and she sleepily mutters, "Daddy..."

"I'm here honey. Just go to sleep," I tell her. But she doesn't hear me, she's already nodded off. I lay down and hold her hand in mine.

My hair stands on end when I swear I hear crying coming from my room. Instead of checking, I let go of my daughter's hand and drape my arm across her, pulling us closer together. My daughter sleeps through it. I strain my ears to listen for more sounds but can only hear my daughter's breath. Until I think I hear footsteps slowly coming down the hall. I shut my eyes tightly. I feel as if someone's looking at us through her doorway.

I must have dozed off.

I wake up with a start because my daughter's gone. Something's come and taken her from me. My head darts left and right. My breath galloping in and out. But then I hear her reciting her ABC's. And the shower running. I hold my breath and then release, returning slowly to normal breathing. My baby girl's always been a bit independent. Before the accident I was teaching her to shampoo her hair and use a wash cloth. She's a quick learner. I hear her start over again as I get up and head into the hallway. It's dark and the only light on is coming from the hallway bathroom. I'm only steps away when she reaches L. "M, N, O..." I say to join her. But she stops. Nothing's coming from the bathroom but the sound of the shower.

I step into the bathroom and I stop. My wife is standing there and staring at the doorway with shampoo foam in her right hand. None in her left hand; it's in a cast with her left arm in a sling. Her chin and cheeks have stitches here and there. Her cut lips are open but no sounds come out. There are still traces of a left black eye and her eyes are a little swollen. And I can feel them staring, not at me but past me. Staring for something and not finding it.

But our daughter stares right at me. And despite the shampoo in her hair running down her face, she stares at me with saucer eyes. Her right hand slowly reaches up, and she touches her right cheek.

I fall a step back out into the hallway. I can't breath. I feel the weight of the car on me.

I had turned right. I opened my eyes on impact and stared at my screaming wife. Shattered glass lacerated her face. Her left arm is pinned under me. I could feel it as much as I could feel our car door collapsed in me. I tried to say something to calm her but I can't. I can't even take a breath. She finally stopped screaming when she passed out. Her eyes closed but mine stay open.

My wife's not dead.

I am.
DoW FOREVER!
INACTIVE ..still
Kaos&Associates,Attorneys-at-Law "WE CARE because you pay us to."
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Blu
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Re: The Time Between Blinks (short story)

Postby Blu » Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:32 pm

erk! Revised...
DoW FOREVER!
INACTIVE ..still
Kaos&Associates,Attorneys-at-Law "WE CARE because you pay us to."
Hybrid Movement. It's time to stop the hate.
User avatar
Blu
Lost Soul
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:43 am


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