Seeing Double

March 6, 2010
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Chapter one: The loudest silence

I'm crossing the street past Old Mill Run. The sun is hiding behind the clouds, and the smell of fallen rain is everywhere, mixed with the smell of smog and humid air from the lingering traffic all around me. I'm all buttoned up in my black rain jacket, hiding under my virtually useless umbrella, overly patched from all the holes. I haven’t parted with it. The old thing brings back memories even in its tattered and torn state. These pumps I could do without though. They have got to be the hardest shoes to walk in on a rainy day. You don’t wear pumps to work –ever. Why? Because you end up like the water on the street, splattered across the floor, spread eagle.

I groaned thinking to myself how today just had not really been my day. Staring up at the light urging it to turn red for me to cross, I felt in a hazy daze. How many Ads had the paper sold today? Was the article for next Tuesday finished? Had Jeremy refilled the printer yet with ink? Questions and answers danced around my foggy brain, way too many at once for me to handle. All five foot one of me were run purely on willpower, no caffeine involved.

My feet moved forward without my consent or direction. When I turned I realized where I was, wobbling forward almost like a drunken woman. I was in the middle of a one-way road, and a car was heading my way, so close I could feel the vibrations from the music blasting inside it. I saw it swerve and I heard the screech of the wheels. I felt the blood drain from my face. I ducked my head into my arms expecting contact, expecting to die.
Murky sewer water splashed upon me and I felt my head slam into the sidewalk. My head must have split open - there’s an incessant pounding in my ears that won’t go away. My arms scraped the gritty road and I felt the sharp sting on my arms.

I looked through all the dust at the car that almost took my life and saw for the first time it wasn't a car; it was a white limo.
Three boys were already rushing out of the limo even as the rain decided it was another great time to fall. No, I didn't want the rain to fall, when it rained…

"Are you alright?!?"

The curly headed of the three, and the shortest, reached me first.
I hadn't yet bothered to stand; I was just on my knees, slowly getting drenched in the rain. I looked into his face, and the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen struck me. I swayed a little, somewhat dizzy still, and he grabbed hold of my shoulders, keeping me from falling.

"Nick! Is she Ok?"

"I dunno she's conscious, but it's like she can't hear me."

Another face appeared in the spinning crazed world around me. This one was different from the other boy, he had straight hair and had a pair of Ray ban's in his outside pocket. I could tell even in my sub world state.

"Maybe she's in after shock."

The third popped into view. This one looked older than the others; he had sideburns and curly hair too.

I knew these three…but where from? A story? A Friend?

"You're the injury expert Joe."

The straight-haired boy- Joe wasit?- took hold of my hand and looked up and down, searching for any major signs of injury. He moved the hair from my face and pulled his fingers back, almost like he was burned when he noticed the red wetness trailing from my arms and trickling down my forehead. The third of the trio saw it too.

"Rob! Call the hospital! Get an ambulance here stat!"

The third called back their driver, a big black man with a tough, deep voice.
The rain was matting all their hairs down, water dripping from the ends. Like wet angels in front of me- they hovered. Was I really alive, or was I dead and three angels had come to get me? I saw a crest with wings on their shirts,
but the words under it were impossible for me to read. My vision was getting blurring…

"Already on it, J!"

I looked around at the three of them, who were exchanging panicked glances. I dared opening my mouth, my voice and weak.

"Who are…how did I?"

I looked down at the blood on my arms and felt the back of my head. Looking back at my fingertips, there was blood on them too. Tears were rolling down my cheeks and I didn't even know why.
I wanted them to stop but it was like there were too many to drown them out.

"Don't cry, I won't leave your side. Won’t say goodbye."

Even in the rain somehow the first boy to reach me knew I was crying. What had the other called him?
Nick.

"Her name is Rain Mandy Lovanti." Joe said.

"How do you know?"

He held up my wallet and showed him my Id for the Lifetime Newspaper.
The tallest looked at me suddenly with recognition.

"Mandy…"

At the sound of my name something in me snapped.
When it rains, it pours…
I shoved Nick back and tried to stand and keep them away.

"Ugh!"

He fell back hard onto the wet road scraping his own hand.

"Hey, stop! Can't you see you're hurt?" Joe said, helping his brother.

Why was he yelling at me? This wasn't me, this wasn't my fault.
Anger. Pain. I felt that and nothing else. My heart was going to break, that’s how much I was aching.

"Get away…"

My voice came out hoarse but it was all I could muster. I held my throbbing head in my hands and shook violently.
Rain; why did it have to go and rain?
The middle one jumped up and tried to wrench my hands away from my head and sit me down.
Didn't he see I was trying not to let her out?

"Kev, a little help here?!?"

He turned and grabbed the back of his brother's jacket and wrenched him off me.

"Stop."

"Stop? She's freakin bleeding! I doubt tearing at the hair on her head is going to help her any!"

"Don't you remember her?"

"Remember her?"

"She was the one who met us at the CFTCF (change for the children foundation) remember? She'd been writing the story on it for us to get word out."

"…Wait, yeah. You're point though? She's still kind of tearing her hair out. Remind me why stopping her is bad?"

"Think Joe. Doesn’t this look familiar to you?" he said, looking at my shaking figure, convulsing and writhing in pain. I was fighting my inner self, and losing the battle.

"She'd taken a pill halfway through the interview remember…"

"It was..."
Nick began slowly. He vaguely remembered seeing the little red pill. Then it hit him.

"It was the same one as mine." Kevin said, his voice flat.
Understanding dawned on both their faces mixed with terror.

"Ahhhh!"

The pain was getting worse and I could feel HER forcing her way out.
Kevin turned to the youngest again.

"Go get my pills from the limo, and fast! She doesn't look like she can hold it much longer."
He nodded and darted back to the white limo.

From where I stood it almost looked like a chariot but then, right then nothing looked as it was. The world was spinning, and I might as well have been living underwater, my eyes were so full of tears.

"Rain…when it rains…"

My head was spinning and the sound of the falling rain hitting the road was making me break faster than ever.
Joe heard me muttering and tried to reach for me but I smacked his hand away.
Kevin tried to as well. He took a step towards me and I cringed, taking a step back.

"Keep away..."

"I'm not going anywhere."

His face was as serious as the dead.
He took one big step and pulled me forward into his arms, causing me to virtually explode. The pain was unimaginable; it had never gotten this bad before.

"Stop!! Get away!"

My hands reacted, grabbing his shoulders, my nails sinking into his bare skin.
He winced but held me ever tighter; he whispered in my ear in a soothing voice.

"You're going to be fine, I promise. Just wait a little bit longer."

Tears pooled from my eyes. He said to wait, but how much longer could I keep HER at bay? I was slipping into the lava; it was so hard trying to keep from going under...

"Fight it. I know it burns, I know it hurts."

Huffing and out of breath, Nick came back with a bottle and, shaking, he popped off the lid, pouring a little over a dozen into Kevin's hand.
Gasping for breath, my blood and heart rate already far past where it should be, I shook my head, refusing to take the medication. SHE was flickering on and off now between me and HER…

"Sorry Mandy, but you're taking this one way or another."

He popped the pill into his own mouth and collided his lips into mine.
My hands dug deeper into his shoulders and I felt him twinge at the minor pain but he didn't part. He forced it down.
The pill slid down my throat and almost immediately I felt it take its effect.
My heart slowed and the pounding ceased, my breath suddenly came rushing back into my lungs.

"You…How did you…"

His breath was ragged now too.

"I...I'm like...you."

Nostalgia suddenly overcame me and dizziness surrounded me. The street lights were a blur in all the commotion blinking red and yellow. There were sparks of light flaring around me and blinding me. The rushed slur of voices crowded my ears as one voice meshed with the next. I knew what they were because I was one of them- media vultures.
Newscasters, reporters, mobbed around us crowding and screaming questions at wildfire. My face would be on the front page of every magazine and newspaper in the city in an hour.
*No publicity is bad publicity.*
The thought shot through my mind- and I realized how much of a lie it was.

“Make the flashing stop!”

I felt my feet lose control and my knees buckled.
Falling forward into Kevin's arms I felt safe, if only for that moment. Safety…I felt safe surrounded by the three.
Loud sounds echoed just as suddenly as the pounding had stopped. Blaring, an alarm rang and red and blue lights flashed in my vision.
I felt someone else's arms take hold of me away from the safe feeling. My eyes opened and saw men dressed in white pulling me onto a stretcher, tying me down like a dog to a chain. I could barely move.

I looked over at the other two pleading for reassurance.
Nick stepped forward.

"Just hold on, we'll find you."

How can they find me if I can't even find myself?
I shut my eyes seeing the three disappear as the two ambulance doors shut. I heard nothing and felt nothing.
Who knew silence could ever be so loud?





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Phantom_Girl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 29, 2010 at 11:11 am
Very nice. I really like the imagry. I can really see the story.
 
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