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The Coffin This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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As his eyes fluttered open, the darkness was even sharper than it had been when he was deep in his drug influenced sleep. He tried opening his eyes again and as the darkness persisted, panic overcame him as he attempted to raise his arms. A hard surface blocked his arms and in his hateful confusion he tried to get up, only to be knocked back by the same cold surface that obstructed his hands from being able to rub his eyes out of the reality that he was now facing as a fantasy. He could not remember how he got to this terrifying place or even what had happened the previous week. All he could remember was saying, “I do” at his wedding and nothing else. He was stuck in some kind of space which for all he could know was air-tight and his suffocation was imminent.

He had no sense of time, and the blanket of panic was covering every inch of his chilled skin as his mind got a firmer grasp on the inevitable fact: that he was helpless. He tried screaming but no response from the outer world, if there was one that could respond to his unheard cries. After a while, he realized he really was helpless, so all he did was feel around the space, try to see whether there was something else he could do. All he found was that the space was not air tight, but his breathing was getting harsher and harsher. Another thing that he found was that although he couldn’t move much, the padding inside the space was awfully comfortable, almost as if it was the inside of a coffin that had been sealed … and buried….

Laura woke up to a wonderful morning in suburbia, inside a room that had barely been touched by her lovely husband, but she did not know that. She woke up worry free with no reason to try to remember anything, only basking in the happiness of her most recent memory: her wedding; more precisely hearing her husband say I do. She slowly maneuvered her way out the satin sheets, which slowly caressed her skin as if it was a baby’s soft bottom. By now she had noticed that she was alone in the room with the only company being the distant zoom of all the cars passing on the freeway.

There was a large collection of blood red rose petals contrasting beautifully with the sheep white sheets on the bed. The rose petals were on the ground as well, leading into the hallway, so Laura decided to follow them. She exited the bedroom and followed the smell of the flowers out into the hall, but suddenly something struck her as very strange. The path led into the bathroom on the other side of the hall but there was no movement inside. This absence of life on the other side of the bathroom door lost her interest and the smell of fresh made breakfast downstairs captured it. She made her way downstairs and didn’t find any source of life. She wasted some of her breath calling for anyone who might have heard her inside the house, but no response followed. She entered the kitchen and found a full blown breakfast waiting for her on the counter with a small note on the side. It was heart shaped and when she opened it, there was no message inside.

That was when Laura started becoming a little shaky. She exited the house and went to knock on her neighbor Jim’s door. Jim promptly opened the door, and she asked whether he had seen her husband. Suddenly Jim burst into tears and grabbed her in a strong embrace keeping her in his arms for some time until she pulled away and asked what was wrong. His deep brown eyes, only conveyed a shocked misery when they looked at her, almost as if they were hurt by the question she had just asked, or was it the one right before that. She became impatient with his lack of response so she went down the steps from his patio and began to cross his yard when she suddenly stopped and turned around. He was still there and she yelled a simple inquiry to him, this one he was able to answer. She asked him for the day’s date, and he responded, “the thirteenth.” That’s when a cold drop of sweat dripped from the tip of the back of her neck all the way to the tip of her waist. It had been 12 days since her wedding and she couldn’t remember anything that had happened these past couple weeks.

She reentered her house and went to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water. As soon as her tender lips touched the freezing rounded edge of the custom shaped glass, her pocket vibrated. Out of shock she dropped the glass and it shattered into a million pieces. Ignoring the mess, she reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone. There was a newly received text message. It was from her husband. She opened it eager to see where he was, only to be hit by another wave of weird thoughts prompted just by the simple six worded question in the text message: “why didn’t you follow the petals?”

With this, she slowly made her way up to the second floor and into the cold white marble-floored bathroom. The petal path ended abruptly in front of a basket filled with magazines and newspapers. She reached in and took out the first one on the pile. It was the day’s paper turned to the obituaries. The first column displayed in big bolded text the death of Theodore Jackman, the name of her husband. She covered her mouth in shock, dropping the newspaper into the trashcan.
She turned to run downstairs to call the police, the funeral home, someone who would be able to explain to her what had happened. Making her way around the bend in the hallway leading to the house’s stairway, she slipped on one of the rose petals tumbling down the stairs into the kitchen. There was a loud thud that split the silence at the end of her fall. No movement echoed the incident, nor was there any scream of pain, just a fresh warm essence of blood in the air.

If only Laura had kept herself composed for a bit longer, she would have seen the next name in the obituaries: hers.



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