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And Then it Was Done
Kayla stared out the window and through the falling rain, watching her dad drive away from the house. Her pale green eyes were fixed on the silhouette of the car until it disappeared into the darkness. She kept still for another few moments, gazing down at the empty driveway before turning back around and sitting on her bed. His mom's house, she thought to herself, that's where he's probably staying for the night. Turning her head again, the young girl stared at the clock on her night table and watched as the hands moved in sync to point to 12.
And right then, almost as if the moment had been anticipated, her mother's wails exploded from down the hall and flooded the house like water would a bathtub. Kayla closed her eyes and clasped her hands over her ears. She had never been able to get used to her mother's cries. They had filled the house almost every night for nearly a year now, but they always managed to shock the little girl. But tonight was different. They weren't the frustrated, I'm-still-trying-to-hold-on sobs that struggled out of her mother's mouth every night before. Tonight they were louder and longer, and seemed to shake the walls of the house as if it were a rattle. The young girl pulled gently on her blonde pigtails as she always did when she was confused, and slowly tiptoed out of her room and down the hallway to the master bedroom.
There laid her mom sprawled out on the bed, crying out to the ceiling and shaking her head violently. She seemed to be trying to make out words between her screams, and as Kayla strained to listen, she realized that her mother was crying out: "I'm done, I'm done!"
"Mommy?" The young girl whispered, sauntering to the bed and sitting down next to the woman's shaking body.
The woman stopped crying for a moment and turned her head to look at the daughter, her vision blurry from the tears in her eyes. "Kayla..." She replied in a hoarse whisper, reaching out and stroking the girl's cheek gently, "Go to your room, love. I'm done; I'm sorry."
The young girl sat there and watched her mother through widening eyes, shaking her head gently. "I'll stay here with you, Mommy." She had no idea what her mother meant. Done? Done with what? Done with crying for the night? Done with crying forever? Was everything going to be normal again? Would her father stop leaving in the middle of the night and come back in the morning to leave again later? Would her brother wake up and come home from the hospital so they could be together as a happy family again?
"Go!" Her mother said loudly, sitting up and grabbing Kayla's shoulder to drag her out of the room and slam the door behind her.
The soft click told Kayla that the door had been locked, and with a deep sigh she walked back to her bedroom and closed the door behind her. Only a handful of minutes had passed since 12 o'clock. She laid down on her bed and pulled the blanket over her head, closing her eyes and trying to escape to that place where she went every night in her dreams. The place where everything was okay, where her parents were smiling together once again and her brother was teasing and playing with her like he did before the accident. Before the accident. Everything was okay before the accident.
Kayla sighed and opened her eyes again, staring up at the plastic, glow-in-the-dark stars on her ceiling. She was too exhausted to sleep. Her thoughts lingered away from her dreams and back to reality. She thought of her family, how it was falling apart at the seams and how she didn't have the power to stitch it back together. And before she could even acknowledge them, tears spilled from her eyes and ran down the sides of her face. Sniffing angrily, she reached up and wiped the tears away. When her brother had slipped into the coma, she made a promise to her dad that she would stay strong. She wouldn't let these tears get in her way of keeping that promise.
She sat up and hugged a pillow to her chest, looking at the clock and sighing when she saw that it was only 12:20. Why was this night going by so slowly? The question circled her mind for a few moments, and before she could come up with an answer, the phone rang. Who could be calling at this time? Jumping off her bed, she walked to the hallway telephone and answered the ringing with a soft "Hello?" She plugged her finger into her other ear, as her mother was crying again, and it was rather difficult to hear the other person on the line.
"Hello, Kayla. This is Dr. Richmond." A deep, familiar voice replied. This was the voice that had told the family about her brother's condition. It was the voice that soothed her when she saw his almost mummified body and tried to run out of the room. "I'd like to speak to your mother, dear." His voice sounded anxious but forced, like he didn't want to speak to her mother at all.
"Yes, hold on." Kayla said, then walked across the hallway and knocked on the door. "Mommy? Carter's doctor's on the phone. He wants to talk to you." She stood there for a few moments, and the door slowly creaked open. Her mother's thin, trembling arm reached out through the crack and took the phone, then shooed the little girl away.
Pressing her ear to the door, Kayla tried unsuccessfully to decipher the low murmur into understandable words. It was her mother's sudden scream that made her jump back, stumbling over her own legs and falling to the ground. Sitting there, she listened to the screams and a sudden thump as her mother threw the phone across the room at the wall.
"Mommy?" Kayla called out softly, trying to turn the doorknob to see that it was locked. She knocked on the wood of the door and shook the doorknob.
"Go to bed!" Her mom screamed back through the door.
Something in her voice told Kayla that the door was not going to be unlocked any time soon. Hanging her head and looking down at the floor, she walked slowly back to her bedroom. But instead of going inside, she sat down at the doorway and leaned against the doorframe, staring at the door of the master bedroom and trying to figure out what had just happened. Had Carter finally woken up from his deep, unmoving sleep? Had he gotten worse? Was it possible for him to be worse?
She must have sat there for a full hour before she finally heard the soft click of the door being unlocked. Standing up slowly, she called out into the dimly-lit hallway, "Mommy?"
And then she heard a thud as some kind of furniture was knocked over and a loud gasp. What was happening? Too scared to move, she stood at her doorway for about 20 more minutes before finally taking a deep breath and walking towards the door. "Mommy?" She whispered, turning the doorknob and slowly pushing the door open.
A pair of pale green eyes stared down at her. The eyes that told everyone whose looks she took over. The eyes she had looked into all those years before and made her feel safe and secure. They were unblinking and wide; they were dead.
"M-mommy?" Kayla whispered again, her small, frail body trembling gently. She stepped back and took the whole picture in. The noose around the woman's neck, the ghost of her last sob etched into her face, her pale, green eyes still staring down. A chair lay below her feet, helplessly toppled onto its back.
A new scream filled the house. But it wasn't the screams the neighbors had learned to get used to. It was higher, full of even more grief. It was Kayla's as she scrambled out of the bedroom, away from her mother's dead, empty stare. So this is what her mom had meant by "done". She didn't mean anything about this mad circle of grief and sadness. She didn't mean anything about Carter waking up from his long sleep. And then it hit Kayla. Carter was dead. He had slipped into the longer sleep, the one that never ended.
And Kayla was done, as well. She was done listening to her mother's screams and watching her father drive away in the middle of the night. She was done wiping her tears away and putting on that mask of strength and determination. She was done waiting and wishing for everything to get better.
"I'm done!" She screamed at her mother's dangling body. She glared violently into those familiar green eyes and screamed the words over and over between sobs and uneven breathing. She screamed until her voice grew hoarse and nothing else came out. Standing there panting, she looked up at her mother through a teary vision. Her mother's dead gaze seemed to be growing stronger, slowly but surely drilling a hole deep inside of Kayla's soul. The young girl screamed again, turning and sprinting down the hallway to her room. But the sight of her mother's empty stare was already carved into her mind. Turning and staring back across the hall at her mother's body, Kayla slowly backed away. Chills rushed through her already shaking body, and pained cries exploded out of her mouth. "I'm done..." She finally whispered, leaning back as she felt the window sill bump into her waist. The darkness engulfed her as she stumbled out of her window, the rain splashing over her face and disguising her tears.
The pain only lasted a few minutes as the cement driveway broke her fall, greeting her skull first and then the rest of her body. A small smile crept across her lips as she gazed up at the cloudy night sky, raindrops showering her body and blending into the blood rushing out of her head. And then it was done.