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All a Dream?
If it weren’t for the rain soaking the inside of my car, I’m not sure when I would’ve woken up. My eyes blurred as my body worked to gain consciousness, and cold hit me with a unforgiving fury. The rusted “St. Maria’s” sign swung over head, sounds of it’s hinges screeching brought my head buzzing back to life.
Around me, the vague silhouette of statues and monuments seemed to watch me, waiting for my next move. My parent’s would be worried, wondering why I never came home last night from the library. I suppose most of my trips end up this way, driving through town searching for my pleasant past in the faces of forgotten friends, only to end up back here in St. Maria’s.
Sophia lay but a few feet from where I sat in the old Jeep. Rain bounced from the window into my lap, but it remained open. I felt that if I closed the window, I’d miss something she wanted to tell me. Something that would give me the answers to what really happened that November day at the river.
When something terrible happens, I always thought you’d feel it before you knew it. A haunted feeling of pain would reverberate through your body, like that pain felt by amputees on their lost limbs. Maybe, you could sense the change in the air, feel the whisper of fate twisting, perhaps breaking a part of your life. That something will give you the notion that life will never be the same.
The day I got home, the day Sophia left, I was greeted by a cop car as I pulled into our driveway. My nerves twitched, feeling that something was wrong. Walking through the door, the same smells of my mom’s vanilla candles, and supper cooking in the kitchen comforted me. Nothing serious must’ve happened then? In the living room, my parents sat huddled in the middle of the couch. Neither of the two had tears in their eyes, there were no expressions of mourning; in fact to a stranger they would look rather... blank?
To myself though, growing up around them and reading every expression on their aging faces; I saw the faint flicker of emotion behind their placid expressions--relief.
From the random overheard segments of the conversation, I knew exactly what had happened to my sister.
“shallow water... steep drop off”
“Most likely an accident, Sophia always hiked that trail...”
“No evidence of other people, foul play...”
“Possibility of suicide...”
She was only two years older than myself. Sophia was always the one full of mischief and secrets, always making messes our family had to deal with. It’s not that she was trying to make mistakes, that was just the type of path she traveled. Always chose the slippery, steep slope; eventually it had to catch up with her.
The cold stabbed my limbs when I attempted to move and my cell phone vibrated in my thoroughly soaked jeans. Another voicemail from home, at least they made the attempt to worry now. Ever since Sophia’s death it seemed like part of them was missing; everything that they had put into worrying about my sister was now an empty void.
Leaving my window down I drove home, drifting in and out of the usual cloudy stupor that seems to be plaguing my mind these last few months. It felt as if I were on drugs, the only time I didn’t feel this way was when I was hungry. Mom had to start forcing me to eat.
Finally home, I drifted up the stairs to my room. The freezing, drenched clothes stayed on as i fell into bed and drifted off to sleep.
My bed was soaked, which I completely expected because of the state of my apparel, I didn’t realize I’d flood my room however. I slid off my bed into the puddle of water, thinking that the mess could be mopped up before my parents saw it. As soon as my toes brushed the surface of the liquid I was falling into it! Water rushed past me, turning black as I was sucked deeper into the depths. I could see nothing, my lungs screamed for air, and just as the blackness intermixed with blindness from oxygen deprivation, I was on the surface. Dragged up on a rocky shore--the opposite shore of the cliff Sophia had fallen from.
There she was, walking the trail which lined the edge of the cliff, expertly swerving between the trees. I knew exactly what was going to happen, the precise moment of the fall. This dream had tormented me ever since the accident; thankfully I always awoke right before her death.
This time though, I didn’t wake up. As Sophia weaved expertly through the trees, a hooded figure emerged from the foliage. It didn’t make any sense, Sophia definitely saw them yet showed no signs of fear at their sudden appearance. It wasn’t a natural occurrence to see someone else walking this trail, yet she didn’t seem even slightly apprehensive to walk towards them. As the mysterious person lowered their hood, I was able to see it was a younger girl. She looked similar to Sophia, a little shorter, more girlish in figure. Straining my eyes to look at her face, my nightmare took a sickening turn.
An argument had broken out between the two, and Sophia had been pushed to the ground. She rolled several feet downhill towards the cliff edge. Finally, a tree stopped her; catching her midsection and bending her at an inhuman angle. The other girl slipped downhill towards her, she grabbed Sophia’s wrists, dragging her from the the tree trunk. My sister lay lifeless from the fall into the tree, no struggle was made as the younger girl took her nearer to the cliff edge.
The stranger stood over sophia on the rocky edge, resting her toes on Sophia’s abdomen. I watched her swiftly twitch her leg, sending my limp sister off the cliff. Time slowed down, and the seconds she spent falling turned to hours. Robbed by a stranger everything she had wanted to be. A stranger that had been her own sister.
Sweat slickened my body and I was freezing as I was pulled from my sleep. Everything in the room was spinning, how could i have done it? I thought. It’s just a dream. You weren’t really there. A horrible.. horrible.. dream.
My stomach retched and yesterday’s dinner covered my nightstand. But where was I when my sister died? Why is it so hard to remember!? I was at school wasn’t I? No... I’d gotten home at six o’clock.
My stomach retched again, releasing nothing. Realization crept through my body like ice. I killed my sister. There was no way I would ever be able to put this out of my mind, I was a murderer.
In my parents bathroom, the sleeping pills were easy to find. I was surprised to see how long the effects took to kick in. As I stood infront of the cabinet, tears streaming down my face, a hazy dizziness clouding my vision; I read a few of the bottles. I felt the flutter of confusion through the numbing of my body as I read a label with my name on it. One for post-traumatic stress disorder. Blackness hit me the same time my body slumped to the floor.
An hour later, my mom came upstairs to give me my lunch; thinking I’d slept in. As she walked to the bathroom to slip the secret dosage of my medicine into my juice, she found me.
The plate never slipped from her grip, nothing in her seemed moved. No tears, no signs of mourning. Infact, behind her seeming blank, placid expression was a flicker of relief.