I turn to glare at the male nurse, except it wasn’t him who had interrupted me. The overly-tanned bowling ball with the neon orange mop on her head stood in the doorway, staring at me with wide, dirt-colored eyes and a slack jaw.
“E-Ethan wh-” she stammers then stops, closing her mouth. Her eyes portray a mixture of fear and disbelief.
Gritting my teeth together, I reach for the cane with my phantom hand. The swipe accomplishes nothing more than to knock the wooden cane over, sending it clattering to the white tiled ground.
I turn my glare towards the useless object, giving Beth a chance to escape. She doesn’t bother trying to help, instead choosing to disappear into the hallway. The loathing I possessed for her only grows. She doesn’t belong in our family and she doesn’t even try to.
I wish she had died in the car crash instead of our mother.
I am seated in a chair and reaching from my cane when my father picks it up for me, holding out his free hand to help me up. I take it without looking into his eyes. I don’t want to see the question Beth had poisoned them with.
Balancing all my weight on my functional leg, I replace his hand with my cane, leaning on it the second it hits the ground. Even though I hate the handicap, I can no longer imagine my life without it.
The car ride back is filled with absolute silence as though the car had become a vacuum– even the air within it is hard to breathe. I keep catching my stepmother’s eyes in the rearview mirror and I can see the question in them.
“What had you been doing in there?”
I just hope she can see the answer in mine.
“It’s none of your goddamn business.”
Even if I did try to explain, she wouldn’t understand. Nobody would. The would all blame it on grief– claim that I was hearing what I wanted to hear.
And I would probably believe them if it wasn’t for the dreams.
Those weren’t just nightmares. In fact, they weren’t dreams at all– they were real. I knew that now. They were Sylvia’s nightmares– the reality in which she was trapped. And I had to save her. I am the only one who can bring her out of her coma.
Only the dreams aren’t enough. She’s trapped in darkness and it’s much deeper than my “dreams” can go.
So I have to go deeper, to where she is waiting for me, trapped and alone. I have to save my counterpart.
I wait until long after the car engine has died and cooled. I wait until after dinner, when I know nobody will come bother me.
I wait until the dark world outside matches the one I am about to plunge into.
Upstairs and alone, seated on my bed in the room next to Sylvia’s, I take out the half-filled bottle of my father’s anti-depression medication and dump the little yellow and green capsules onto my bedside table. The smooth, plastic-like coating gleams in the golden lamplight.
I count them– sixteen pills should be more than enough, I hope.
Taking a deep, long breath, I scoop them all into my hand with the stump of my left wrist. They feel… Heavy, as though they are weighed down by the burden they have to carry.
Tilting my head back, I dump them all in and swallow, forcing them down before I can change my mind. The effort hurts my throat as the large mass inches its way down into my stomach. Any regret that could have manifested itself would have been too little too late but I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Because I don’t feel any regret.
Or anything else, for that matter. A numbness had replaced blood in my veins, consuming me from the inside out. I don’t even feel the hole anymore.
My head hits the pillow less than a minute later, my wide-open eyes gluing themselves to the ceiling. I feel myself slowly sinking into the mattress below me, like a ship filling with water one bulkhead at a time.
A shadow begins to creep across the edges of my vision as a sharp pain assaults my stomach and head. It feels as though someone has flipped my organs upside down with a burning spatula. If I wasn’t been weighed down by an unseen force, keeping me paralyzed in place, I would have curled into a ball and retched.
Then, the world around me begins to fade. The light above my head grows dim. The ticking of my wall clock becomes softer and softer until it disappeared into a suffocating silence.
The darkness closes in around me, wrapping around my limbs and pulling me down through the mattress, then the floor– straight down into the abyss.