Have you ever felt so strongly connected with someone that you feel their pain when they suffer? What if that connection could actually be a literal occurrence? If and when you say, “I’d die for you,” and it were to actually come down to that, would you willingly accept the fate?
*** Reader discretion is advised: Traumatic events involved in this original literary piece. Some imagery may be too gruesome for some readers. The following is all fictional and is an original short story by Elle. ***
“Kiss them good night for me,” he told her in a humbled voice. He sounded tired over the phone, and she imagined him sitting at his desk, rubbing his eyes. “I’ll be home before midnight,” he reassured her before ending the call.
She held the phone to her cheek, the dial tone buzzing into her ear. “I’ll be home before midnight.” She clung to his words as a shiver made its way up her spine. It was their first Christmas as a family of four, and she couldn’t imagine Christmas morning without him. Dropping to her knees, she took a deep breath and prayed, the phone still clasped in her hands, “Lord, bring him safely home this Christmas Eve. I’m scared something bad’s going to happen. Please, if anything were to happen, don’t let it happen to anyone but me.” As she began to say “Amen”, the lights flickered, and she took it as a silent response.
As she tucked her son and step-son in their bunk beds, the wind rattled the windows. “Holly,” her step-son, Jaden, whispered as his eyes stared at the window. “Is it gonna storm tonight? The weatherman said we’re gonna get snow and ice tomorrow night, but do you think he got it wrong, and it’s gonna happen tonight?”
She brushed his hair back from his face and nudged him to lie down before responding, “If you’re worried about your daddy, he’ll be all right. He’ll be home soon.”
“How do you know?” Both boys asked at the same time.
She smiled as she kissed Jaden good night. “We spoke while you two were brushing your teeth. When you wake up in the morning to open presents, he’ll be sitting in his spot, drinking coffee.” She ducked her head under the bunk ladder to kiss her own son, James. “Get some sleep. Santa won’t leave you anything if you don’t sleep.” At the door, she took a final look around the boys’ room, listening to the wind howling against the house. Please keep the boys and Aiden safe tonight. If anything were to happen, let it be to me. With a deep sigh, she turned off the light, closed the door, and stepped lighting down the hall.
She managed to finish the dishes, set a plate of leftovers in the fridge with a note, saying:
The boys were hungry.
This is all that was left of dinner.
There’s beef stew in the freezer if this isn’t enough.
When sleep suddenly began beckoning her to bed. Turning on the porch lights and setting the house alarm, she peeked out the window and what she saw made her heart heavy. The snow swirled and twirled in the air before sticking to every inch of uncovered ground, and the street in front of the house was nothing but white. Even the cars in their driveways and on parked on the curb were so covered with snow they were barely visible. As she turned away from the sight and slowly took to the stairs, she silently prayed again. Please keep Aiden safe and bring him safely home tonight in this storm. If anything were to happen, let it be to me.
Across from the stairwell, the grandfather clock chimed its rhythmic song, announcing the arrival of the eleventh hour. With every step and chime, her worries grew heavy in her heart, and as the final chime sounded through the house, a sharp pain stabbed her in the ribs, and she heard her own voice whisper under the clock’s echoing ring, “Let it be to me.” She forced herself to a stagger and made it to her bedside table in the master bedroom. Shakily, she pulled out a pad of paper and pen, and as the pain grew and grew, she wrote:
I fear the worst has happened.
I’m not sure exactly what’s gone wrong,
but I know that you and the boys will be safe from this storm.
I pray that the 3 of you will find comfort in knowing that
I will be with you always, no matter where you may go or
how far apart you 3 may be.
Give the boys all the love you gave and would have given me.
I love you all forever and for always.
Setting the pen down, she picked up the note and kissed it. Returning it to the desktop, she whispered softly, “Bring Aiden safely home, oh Lord, and let whatever was to happen, happen to me.”
The pain in her ribs exploded as she rose from her chair. She faltered and fell onto the bed in tears, as her shirt became stained with her blood. Her face ached and broke out in bruises and scratches. Her left wrist snapped and her blood trickled from a gnash on her head. As she let out a muffled, pained groan, she silently prayed. Bring him safely home to the boys. Please, whatever would happen to him, let it happen to me. Suddenly, her neck jerked back into the pillow and a crack rang in her ears, and a small, gentle sigh broke free from her lips.
Snow continued to fall as she laid on the bed covered in her own blood, battered and bruised from an unseen battle.
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“It’s eleven o’clock and well below freezing, and the snow’s really coming down now,” the DJ announces on the radio. “If you’re out in this white mess, be careful and take the roads slow. The plows haven’t gotten out yet, as far as I’ve been told.”
The snow was definitely coming down. It was as if he was driving warp speed in outer space the way the snow was falling. Christ! He hissed his breath through his teeth. I just want to get home. He slapped his windshield wipers to full blast, as he continued to keep the speedometer at 25MPH. He glanced at the car clock: 11:01, and before his eyes could redirect back to the road, he’s jerked to the right, as a pick up truck slams into the driver side, T-boning his car.
As his car is flipped over and over and over again, he feels the seat belt pressing against his ribs. The airbag deployed, bruising and scratching his face and popping his left wrist that tried to instinctively block the initial pop of the airbag. He shut his eyes tight and felt glass shattering and something sharp slashing at his head. As the flipping stopped and the car began to settle, he discovered that he had been holding his breath and released the air in one giant sigh.
He heard the sound of people running and shouting as he hung upside down in his broken, battered, and shattered car. He slowly lifted his trembling hands to his face, expecting to find it covered in blood and glass, but he felt no wetness or pain. He held his hands out and examined them, remembering how his left wrist had popped and ached that he feared it was broken, but he flexed and squeezed and wiggled each hand just fine and found them both without a scratch.
“Hey!” A voice called out, and he saw a pair of boots outside his missing window. “Driver! Can you hear me?” He opened his mouth to shout but coughed instead as he took in a lungful of cold, crisp air. “I think the driver’s alive!” The shout rang out, and the person in the boots came into full focus. “Hang in there, man,” a man in a thick leather jacket said to him. “Help’s on the way. Are you hurt? Are you bleeding?”
After sucking in another lungful of winter air, he replied, “I’m not hurt at all. A little dizzy, but I don’t think I’m bleeding at all.” He stared up at the leather-coated man and shared his shock-filled expression. “Do you think you can help me get out?”
“Uh, yeah, sure,” the other man responded, curious and in disbelief, as he pulled out a pocket knife and cut the seat belt free. “Let’s take it a little slow, man. We don’t know if you’re bleeding on the inside.”
He gripped onto the other man’s arm as he was pulled out of the wreckage. “Thank you,” he said, slowly getting to his feet. “But I think I’m actually all right.” He patted himself from head to chest. “I could’ve sworn I broke some ribs and had gashes all over my face,” he confessed to the leather-clad man, as he continued to pat himself down to his knees. “But I feel fine. Is that weird?”
“It’s a Christmas miracle,” the man in the leather jacket stated, as he scratched his head, looking him up and down. “Maybe we ought to have you sit on the sidewalk until the cops and help arrive,” he suggested. The pair inched their way to the sidewalk, where they both sat as several bystanders brought over blankets and asked if any assistance could be given.
“Do you know your name?” One lady who had introduced herself as an off-duty nurse asked. “Do you know what day it is? How many fingers am I holding up? Where you were going?”
“My name is Aiden Peters,” he said slowly, trying to keep his teeth from chattering against the cold night air. “It’s Christmas Eve. December twenty-fourth. Three fingers. I’m heading home to my wife and kids.” After answering all the answers correctly and in complete certainty to the satisfaction of the nurse, his eyes wandered to his upside down car, and his eyes began to water. “How did I survive that?” He pointed to the dented, shattered, and broken glass and metal in the middle of the road. “How did I walk away from that without a mark?”
Several people mumbled, “It’s a miracle,” while others simply shook their head in disbelief.
He pulled out his cell phone from his pocket, as sirens and flashing lights drew near. Holly’s probably asleep by now, he thought as the phone clock lit up announcing the time: 11:05PM. This wreckage, this destruction that nearly took his life occurred in a little under five minutes. This’ll be a story to tell the boys. He tucked his phone back into his pocket as EMT’s and police came jogging towards him.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
TO BE CONTINUED ….