Five Stages of Grief
Author's note: I have a had a fair share of grief in my life, as I'm sure all of us have. I was inspired to... Show full author's note »
DenialThe bed is cold.
Goose bumps cover my skin, and I shiver underneath the white linen sheets. The small amount of light escaping from between the blackout curtains lands on my nose. The rays warm it and the bright light reflects into my eyes. I scrunch up my face and roll over to face the other wall. My ears gradually start working, opening up to the world until I can hear the ticking of the alarm clock on the bedside table. The steady thrumming of running water pounds from a bathroom. Birds chirp relentlessly outside the thick glass window, aiming to keep anyone and everyone awake. I burrow deeper into the blankets and shut my eyes tightly, willing warmth into my body.
The water from the shower shuts off. Light footsteps make their way over to the bed, and the covers lift. He slides quickly into the sheets next to me, pressing against my skin. I turn around and hold myself against his warm chest. A halo of damp hair falls around my head.
I hold my head up for him to kiss me- it takes a moment’s hesitation, but he presses his mouth roughly to mine. I open my eyes. I stare.
I don’t recognize the man lying next to me. I have never seen him before in my life.
I jerk back so quickly from his touch I fall off the bed. A jolt of pain shoots through me as my head hits the corner of the table, and I feel a bead of blood trickle down through my hair. But I don’t stop scrambling backward until I am standing up against the wall.
My eyes are fully open now, and my head jerks back and forth as I take everything in.
I am in a hotel room. Dull paintings of flowers hang on the cream popcorn walls. The curtains are still mostly closed, but I can see clothes strewn on the floor, and a slept-in mattress with covers piled up on the side where I was sleeping.
And I see him- the man with no name.
“What the hell is wrong with you, Eve?”
I flinch; I almost look around to see if he’s talking to another girl behind me. But I have a gut feeling that the guy is talking to me, only to me. Except Eve isn’t me, isn’t my name.
I plaster my body against the wall as he abruptly gets up off of the bed, stopping when he sees my reaction.
He looks confused, maybe even irritated, and doesn’t answer me. He ruffles his hair absentmindedly, staring at me with a mixture of confusion and curiosity in his gaze. The guy looks at me solidly, scrutinizing my body like he’s seen it before- like he knows it.
And it dawns on me. Like the rays shining through the blackout curtains.
No. We didn’t, I didn’t…I couldn’t.
A deep cold grips me, turning my flesh to ice and setting my teeth chattering.
I know I can’t stay. I have to get out of here-home. But I stare at my going-out clothes lying discarded on the carpet, and I can’t move. I can’t breathe. I can’t think.
My mind desperately grabs for an answer.
“Hey? Did you hear me?”
“I have to go.” The words come out strangled and high, my lips barely moving to form them.
I bolt. I lunge for my clothes and rip them on as he stares at me, yelling at me to tell him what the hell is going on. His voice steadily becomes quieter and farther away as the buzzing in the back of my head engulfs all my senses; all I have is sight and static.
I slam the door to the room on his figure, not looking back as I run towards the street.
I know this place; it’s a rundown motel only three miles from home.
As I stumble forward in my strapped sandals, pieces of the night come back to me. I try to push them away with anguish, but flashes of the last twelve hours run through my mind.
I was at the bar on Tenth…I don’t remember why, I was crying…four beers…his name was Ben…my name was Eve…
His hands were rough.
But nothing happened, I keep telling myself. I repeat it so many times, it becomes a chant that never ends, an eternal circle that goes around and around like a broken record- the images in my head scream one thing, while I chant that it’s wrong, all wrong. I almost believe what I’m saying by the time I end up in the driveway.
The spare key is in the cubby behind the mailbox, and the door opens silently. I tiptoe quickly up the white carpet stairs, keeping my eyes glued to the ground. The eyes in the photo frames watch me, burning into my wrinkled clothes, and I wrap my thin coat around me protectively. I make it up to the bedroom and lock the door.
I collapse onto the bed- the blankets are dark blue, downy and deep. My mind jumps back to the hard relentless mattress of the motel, and I cringe.
My gaze flicks over to the dresser next to the bed. The deep cold that thawed a little during my run comes back, worse than before. A thin band of plaited gold sits alone on the wood dresser, a ring- my ring.
The turn of a key in the front door latch tells me that Ryan is home from the night shift.
I am running from the truth. As hard as I can for as long as I can, I deny the past and the memories. I deny them the satisfaction of engulfing me, of taking my tight shell and cracking it open, so that I may see the evil I have shut off. The evil I have cut and torn from myself and locked out. It scratches on the windows with dagger-like nails, and I shrink back from the agonizing sound. I know it will eventually get in- maybe I will let it in. But right now, I curl up into myself, close my eyes, and rock back and forth. I chant to myself while the nails scrape in the background – anything to forget.