One, two, three. How many would it take? I worried there weren’t enough to do the job. Should I look it up on the net? No, do it. Do it now, I told myself firmly. Gathering the little blue tablets, I took a deep breath. One, two, three, more. I swallowed each with Diet Pepsi. One nearly came out my nose when I giggled. Hardly a need for diet anymore.
Would it be too clichéd if I played music while I waited for… whatever I was waiting for? I barked a laugh. Who cares? I got my iPod from my desk while I could still walk straight. Sitting on my bed, I plugged the buds into my ears and cranked up some Norah Jones. Bluesy finish. Seemed appropriate.
My eyelids were heavy by the third song. Like, really heavy. They closed all by themselves and I lay down. My last reserves of energy tried to panic. Too late, kiddo. It’s what you wanted anyway. Right? Time to leave. I drifted into the dusk of evening filling the room, my bedside lamp the only light.
The bedroom abruptly became cold. I felt my breath rush out, chilled. Sensing more than seeing the presence, I feared Grandma found me too soon. None of her powdery perfume, though. Fear clenched my heart. With effort and adrenaline, I slit my eyes.
The vague outline of a boy about my age sat on the bed next to me. I could see through him to my bookcase. He was dark smoke. My breath was white frost. “Patricia,” I heard his low voice in my mind. “Poor, dear Patricia. So wronged by love and life at 16.” His fingers traced a cold line along my jaw. “Poor Patricia, leaving the world behind.”
My instincts screamed. Move, get away, this is bad! My body would not obey. The Valium had my limbs weighed down. A scream died as a gurgle in my throat, unsounded. I felt goosebumps on my skin from the frigid air in the room. My breaths reminded me of being outside in winter. I lay helpless, feeling the heat of a tear trail over my cooling skin.
He leaned closer. Darkness began to close in on me. Was this the darkness I’d wanted? No, he was too close. I pushed the darkness to the edge of my sight. He frowned, something I sensed rather than saw. His smoky apparition bent toward me, his mouth hovering over mine. “Life is precious, Patricia.” With a finger, he twirled the frost of my breath around and caught it. I felt weaker as he pressed it to his chest.
He became more visible. I could see his smile shining. Fear sliced through me. I was shocked when my hand moved. I went perfectly still. Defiance began to roar within me.
And yet I was still his to take. He proved it by leaning in and gathering my chilled breath, taking it to his chest. The lines defining him became stronger. No doubt he did as well. Despite the pervasive weakness, I feebly spat at him when he leaned in again.
He reeled back in shock. “What did you do? Patricia, this is not right. These were to be your last breaths. It only works that way.”
Angered, rebelling, I managed to raise my arm. I smacked him on his barely-there cheek. “Go!” I managed to mutter. He jumped off my bed. He was too solid to just disappear. As he headed for the door, I imagined taking the trail of my breaths back. Somehow, that silly thought made me feel stronger.
I lay back, my body still beyond easy use. I darted my gaze throughout the darkened room. First thing I was going to do when I could get up was turn on all the lights in the house. Grandma would fuss about the bill, but I needed to banish shadows.
I guess I didn’t take enough Valium. Thank goodness. What a weird hallucination, though. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was real. Pretty silly. I turned the lights on.
© 2011 JC Rosen
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