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It happened in a blur, as if time itself had slowed down. The large wooden plank which had been held in my hands moments ago came crashing down from the roof, and along with it, my father. I stared in horror as they both fell from the six-story building I was standing on. One bone-crunching snap later, realization washed over me. I had just killed my father.
Feeling tired and sore, I opened my eyes. A sharp pain surged through my head after regaining consciousness. Had it all been just a dream? I surveyed my surroundings. Blank white walls, the stench of sickness, and a large “get better” poster told me I was stuck in a hospital.
Before I could ponder my findings any longer the door swung open, and inside came a nurse with a look of pity sewn on her face. “Oh hi Mel, I see you’re awake - good thing, too. You’ve been out for several hours now.” She casually tidied up the room, but I could see the tension in her back.
“Why am I here?” I asked in a shaky voice, “What happened?”
She stared at me for a few seconds, and then sighed. “You fainted, probably from the shock of the whole, well, situation.” She tensed more and I could see beads of sweat forming on her neck.
“Why did I faint?” I already knew the answer; I just didn’t want it to be true. I flashed her a panicked look and she returned it with one of utter anguish.
The words tumbled out of her mouth, “You were fixing the roof of a client’s house with your dad. Apparently he had asked you to help him carry a piece of wood to the edge. You accidentally let go, and he was knocked off balance. Your father fell…and died.” She muttered some sort of an apology and hurried out of the room.
Despair clouded my thoughts and my mind. He’s really gone and it’s my fault. All my fault. I should have known how foolish that was.
“You are no fool,” cooed a familiar voice. I turned to see my favorite pair of bright blue eyes and jet black hair. It was Doon , my best and only friend.
“Thank God you’re here!” I cried, running towards him. I attempted to hug him but he slipped right through my fingers. “Oh, that’s right,” I said shyly, “you’re not-”
“Real,” he finished, shaking his head, “Well in a way, I am. You are part of me and I am part of you. Just because I exist in your imagination doesn’t mean I don’t exist at all.”
“I’m sorry. You deserve more respect,” I blushed, slightly embarrassed, “But Doon, you won’t believe what happened!”
“I know your father is gone,” he said calmly, tapping his head, “I’m in your mind after all.”
“Oh Doon, it’s my entire fault! He told me I wasn’t ready for that kind of work, but I insisted. I’m so stupid!” Tears gushed from my eyes as fast as my words.
“It’s not your fault, Mel; it’s your father’s. He was enough of a fool to let you help. If you ask me he deserved to die.” His blue gaze pierced mine as I stared at him in shock.
“What are you talking about?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” He chuckled quietly, “He was trying to kill you.”
“That’s insane!” The momentary relief I felt disappeared.
“Is it really Mel? I mean, think about it. Why on earth would he let a 14-year-old girl work on a dangerous construction site?”
The thought crashed through my mind. “I - well I really don’t know.” My head was spinning in a mist of confusion.
“Exactly. There’s no other explanation,” he scowled and shook his head again. “It’s a good thing you got to him before he got to you.”
Before I could protest, footsteps stirred in the hallway and Doon vanished. The nurse walked in with my mom by her side, but something was wrong. My mom’s normally composed face was now drained of color, leaving her with a blank thoughtless expression. She looked right through me as if I wasn’t there.
“You’re mom is here to take you home,” the nurse whispered to me. She seemed to be aware of the disquiet pulsing from inside me.
“No,” my mom stated abruptly, “we’re not going home.”
“But, your daughter no longer needs the hospital. She is healthy now.”
“I know that!” snapped my mom, “We’re not going home. We’re going straight to that empty house we used to call home, when your father was still alive.” Her face was filled with unexpected hatred, as she now met my eyes.
“Very well then, if that’s what you think is best for her…” the nurse’s face was lit with fright.
“Come on, Mel. We don’t have all day. Get up and into the car!” Her voice sent needles prickling down my spine. I didn’t want to listen to her, but I knew I had to obey. There was a livid gleam in her eye that told me I was in trouble.
She snatched me out of bed and dragged me to the car which was waiting just outside the doors. People stared at the pair of us, but no one bothered to do anything. Feeling helpless, all I could do was climb into the passenger seat and pray that nothing bad would happen. The car roared to life and we zipped out of the parking lot. Horns honked at us as my mom narrowly dodged the surrounding cars. The world whizzed past us as we sped dangerously.
“Mom, please slow down! You’re going to get us both killed,” I pleaded.
She turned towards me and released a twisted laugh, “Well you seem to have done a good job of that with your father, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t mean to kill him!”
“Oh don’t give me that crap,” she shouted angrily, “You wanted him gone.”
Suddenly, we came to a screeching halt. We had approached a gas station.
“Give me a second, I need to get some more beer.” She grumbled, sliding out of the car. I watched her disappear into the building and sunk further into my seat.
“I killed my dad and now my mom hates me. She doesn’t even care about herself anymore. She would never drink and drive! Everyone and everything hates me.”
“I don’t hate you,” said a soft voice from behind me.
It was Doon, sitting nonchalantly in the back seat of the car.
“What should I do? I have nowhere left to go.” I said in a defeated tone.
“Follow me.” He replied bluntly as he hopped out of the car and sprinted away.
I had no choice but to listen to him. Swiftly, I unbuckled my seat belt and chased after him. He quickened his pace once I was out of the car, and soon I was gasping for air just to keep up. We ran together for what seemed a long time before he eventually stopped. I was more confused than ever when I saw where we were.
Beneath me was a shear rocky cliff, over-looking a churning black river. It spurted water menacingly, tearing through anything that dared cross its path.
“I bet you can guess why I have brought you here,” said Doon, crouching on the dirt, “I want you to jump.”
A new scene appeared in my head. I saw myself leaping into the river. But, it wasn’t just a river anymore. I was leaping into freedom. It was the solution to my problems. All my unhappiness would disappear into that river, and I would be able to roam the heavens in search of my father.
“That’s right Mel. It will be quick and painless. Then you will get to see your dad again.” I looked down at his kneeling body as he gazed back at me. Joy swirled within me like the river below.
“But, wait,” I said, shaking the scene from my mind, “You said that my dad tried to kill me? Now you’re acting as if he actually loved me.” I eyed him suspiciously, but this time he turned away. After a few seconds hesitation he looked back at me.
“Well, of course I had to say that Mel,” he replied, his eyes burning into mine, “I knew it was the only way to get you to realize what must be done.” The uneasiness in his voice pushed me farther away from the edge.
“You lied to me Doon!” I cried, glaring at him, “My father always loved me, and I loved him back! I didn’t kill him, it was all an accident!”
He glanced anxiously up at me, “Now don’t be rash Mel.”
“You’re telling me not to be rash? After you just told me to jump off a cliff? Why am I even talking to you? You’re just my imaginary friend,” I shouted, compelled by whirl of emotion, “No, not even a friend. You are simply the part of me that makes all the wrong decisions. You know what? I’m through with it! You cannot control me any longer!”
In that instant of comprehension, I looked toward Doon, but he was gone. I breathed heavily, and stared again at the cliff. I had come so close to killing myself, and now I was free. For once in my entire life, I was free. Doon was gone forever and I was in control. This new sensation flooded me. Tears of delight trickled from my eyes. I looked toward the sky and saw a single ray of light shining through the clouds.
“Thanks dad,” I whispered, and then walked home.