Kyle Straume

I slip carefully out of the hospital and into the cold. My hair is swept across my face in a brutal, freezing gust of wind. My fingers curl instinctively.

When I checked in the hospital two weeks ago, the doctors immediately sent me upstairs, not even bothering to look at my name. They all knew who I was.

Bleak, horriflyingly blank white walls awaited me. The same bleak blank white walls every time. The doctors told me that there was something wrong with me. Something terribly wrong. They lie, of course. I’m perfectly normal. They tell me I must eat small pills every day to feel okay. But I already feel okay. I don’t need pills to make me happy. I already have an antidote, embodied in Kyle Straume. He makes me feel more than okay. Better than the pills could ever make me feel. Can pills tell you magical words and make you feel loved and keep you company at night, sheltering you from demons? No, but Kyle can.

I don’t tell this to anyone, though. I let them fill me up with nonsense, lies, and little tasteless pills that leave a sour aftertaste on my tongue.

“I’m so glad they let me out of there,” I breathe, squeezing Kyle's hand. We walk alongside each other, huddled close for warmth. An old couple on the street turns back to look at me, and they start walking a little faster. How considerate of them. They must think Kyle and I needed some privacy.

It’s so cold, and each breath manifests itself in little curling wisps of smoke that travel through the air before disappearing. Kyle brushes back the hair from my face, looks at me with his reassuring calm grey eyes, and smiles understandingly.

“I missed you so much," I say, wrapping my hands around his smooth arm. "I felt like I would never see you ever again."

“I'll always be here for you, silly,” Kyle replies, a teasing smile on his face.

My stomach twinges comfortably and happily. He said exactly what I wanted to hear - as usual. I beam back at him, rejoicing in my fortune. I yawn, and realize how tired I am. Kyle takes my hand again, and we start running. My feet slam against the hard pavement again and again. Soon we are flying. I cannot feel my feet touch the ground, and I am soaring through the empty streets.

Seconds later, I am in my apartment, sprawled messily on my bed, heaving.

And I’m all alone.

“Kyle?” I call out. Desperation crawls into my voice. A sudden chill runs up my spine and I get up and turn around wildly. Is this a nightmare? “Kyle?”

“Relax,” he says, his voice coming from behind me. “I’m right here.”

And at once I can feel his presence, and my heart starts beating normally. Of course. He’s right here. He’s always here. Living without him would be like running without legs or breathing without lungs – impossible.

I’m exhausted. All I want to do is get some sleep. I snuggle under the covers and hear Kyle whisper good night right before I drift off onto a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

The next day is Christmas Eve. I spend the whole day with Kyle, decorating the same fake tree I’ve had for four years. I keep it, even though it’s shabby and occasionally sheds plastic needles, because it reeks of all the memories I shared with Kyle.

“What should I get you for Christmas?” I ask conversationally. Of course, I already have a gift for him, but I just want to hear his answer.

Kyle smiles. “You don’t have to get me anything.”

“But I want to,” I insist.

Kyle shakes his head, grinning mischievously. “Nah, it’s okay. I have a gift for you, though. It’s a surprise.”

I giggle and cuddle with him. "You're so sweet,” I tell him.

I have therapy today, so as soon as the Christmas tree is full of festive lights and ornaments, I start making my way to the clinic.

Kyle follows me. He’ll hold my hand and wipe away my tears. The therapist doesn’t mind him, although she has been quite rude, and does not acknowledge his presence. I can only assume she behaves like this because she’s jealous that Kyle is holding my hand, not hers. I can live with that kind of rudeness.

“What would you like to discuss today?” Dr. Greenwood asks me. She looks too old, too tired to be a therapist. She looks as if she might not even be able to get up from her comfortable armchair. I feel a jolt of vindictive pleasure for wasting her time.

"I don't know,” I reply helpfully. Kyle is sitting on the chair next to mine, being silly as usual. Right now he is attempting to balance a pencil on his nose.

“You have recently been released from the hospital,” she says. “Please tell me what happened.”

“Nothing happened,” I tell her, shrugging. “There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m surprised they kept me there for that long.”

“If there’s nothing wrong with you,” Dr. Greenwood says patiently, having said this many times before, “then why do you self mutilate? Abuse alcohol and drugs? Can you please tell me of any event that might have occurred recently that perhaps could trigger this sort of behavior? Perhaps in the past five years?”

I rack my brains. Nothing cames up.

“There’s nothing,” I say.

“Try to remember,” Dr. Greenwood urges me.

The funny thing is, I don’t remember anything. All I remember are days where I just sleep the whole day away, nights where I’m so intoxicated I get sent to the hospital for alcohol poisoning, the torturous long weeks spent in the hospital, and the neverending therapy sessions. And, of course, spending time with Kyle.

“There’s really nothing,” I say.

Dr. Greenwood purses her lips, looking disappointed. “Really? Well then let’s talk about your stay in the hospital. Are you aware that if you stop taking the medication, you’ll be charged with self neglect, and return to the hospital for further intensive treatment?”

“I am aware,” I tell her. Kyle rolls his eyes and sticks out his tongue at my therapist when she isn’t looking. I stifle a giggle.

“I see,” Dr. Greenwood says. She pauses. “Well, continue taking the medication at any rate. I must be off. My niece is getting married.”

“Really?” I said, trying to not sound too sarcastic. “That is so cool. Well, bye!”

She nods. We wish each other a merry Christmas. I am dismissed. I exit the room, using all my self control to keep myself from running. Running out of the room, out of the building, and back home.

I engage myself in a friendly argument with Kyle about life on other planets. The argument is heated, and contines even as we go into the elevator. My neighbor, a thin balding man who looks perpetually tired, is with us. He keeps darting odd glances at me. After a while, he asks, “Um. Who are you talking to?”

I am taken aback. Kyle is right in front of him, and he’s not a short and insignificant person either. He’s tall and has a way of drawing attention from everyone. I mean, I can understand if my neighbor is not attracted to Kyle like so many other girls are, but this was outright rude.

I open my mouth to retort, but close it, because all of a sudden, I can’t see Kyle either. A funny spasm seizes my left arm and my vision becomes hazy.

My neighbor gives me a funny look. I race out of the elevator, sweat pouring down my face, my hair flopping onto my cheeks like damp seaweed. It’s only when I’m in my apartment when Kyle shows up behind me. I ask him where he was, and he insists he was there the whole time.

I must have been dreaming.

I decide to stop taking the pills. They weren’t making me feel normal. They were making me feel like I was mental.

The next day is Christmas. At about noontime, Kyle exits the apartment. I follow him, my heart pounding in anticipation. Where is he bringing me?
I expect him to walk towards town, but Kyle starts running off into a completely different direction. I think he’s playing a game with me, so I sprint after him. Minutes later, he hasn’t stopped. My legs are aching and my muscles are screaming out for me to stop. All the while, his lean tall body is rapidly disappearing from sight. I feel myself break out in a cold sweat. I keep running, even after the sun has set and the stars show up.

I start slowing down into a jog. This place seems oddly familiar. Had I perhaps seen it in a dream? My dreams were getting increasingly more and more vivid. Sometimes, I could even swear that what happens in my dreams has happened in real life. I shiver involuntarily, not even knowing why, since I’m still feeling very warm after my long run.

There’s a gate in front of me. Something tells me Kyle and I have been here before. In a dream? In a nightmare? In real life? I peer through the dark sleek cold bars of the gate and see the dark elevated ground, the faint silhouettes of the gravestones, and the flowers, colored unnaturally by the moonlight.

It’s a cemetery. I wonder why Kyle has run off here.

“Kyle?” I call out softly. His name escapes from my lips and is stolen by the wind.

I shiver again, this time more violently. The wind starts to howl, and my hair flies everywhere. I grab for my hat, which threatens to escape from my head, and manage to drop my ring. It’s made of pure silver and has a black opal on it. Kyle gave this to me. A very long time ago.

In a dream? In a nightmare? In real life?

I bend down to pick it up, but the wind is blowing fiercely again, and the ring slips elusively from my fingers. I run all over the place, attempting to catch it, and failing.

I half expect Kyle to leap out behind me and start laughing at me and teasing me for looking like such an idiot. But there is nothing. Nothing except the corpses and I.

And all of a sudden, the ring stops skipping over the cobblestones. The wind is pushing it against a gravestone. I reach over and slip it back onto my finger again gently, but not before my hand brushes against the name on the tombstone.

Kyle Straume.





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dreamgazer12 said...
Oct. 14, 2011 at 11:52 pm
That was haunting and kept moving along. Your type of writing is almost sureal. I can relate. youve become one of my favorite authors.Keep writing!
 
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