AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 122

to me at 17.) Then after a few vodkas & cokes after school and long rides in that Mustang we’d park by the lake and talk for hours. My whole life was ahead of me. I never felt better.

She told me she had a boyfriend, Eduardo. They would never marry because he was a Catholic, ‘had a wife and kids. The wife “understood” but would never divorce him.

It was after one of those rides, as we sat staring out over blue waters, that she shared the dream. ‘Told me maybe I could be in it. It was the biggest thought I’d ever heard.

Her guy Eduardo was Mexico born (how they met I have no idea). But the vision they found in their love was a thought they shared. A “Rio d’ Entender” along the US / Mexico border (a river of understanding). Sweet idea. Travel stops along the border with exhibits and videos of dance and food and music. A celebration.

It was the 60s. Hope was alive. I was so in.

Then the plans rolled out and the dream began to grow. The three of us went to Mexico City, with Eduardo as our guide. There was Flamenco dancing and mariachi bands in the moonlight hours. Hot pink flowers at the street markets by day that poured out of mandarin orange paper mache vases. One day they bought me a souvenir bracelet with the charm of a burro. I never could roll those r’s, and it made Senorita laugh.) We climbed the pyramids and strolled the museums.

Senorita was killed the night she returned from Mexico.

That day we finished reading Don Quixote on a blanket at the beach. Vodkas and cokes. That night the three of us were to go dancing in Chicago – to celebrate the dream to come. I heard it on the radio. The couple killed instantly. Names revealed later. I had decided not to go.

●When I placed that yellow rose in your dead hand, I was careful not to let the thorns hurt your skin.

Summer of 2013

Eileen Blomberg

I remember everything happening just like it was yesterday... The numbing, the dread, my stomach dropping beneath me, and the anguish that hit me all at once when I heard the news. Before this tragic tale of woe, let’s open with a happier beginning.

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, checking my makeup and hair for the hundredth time in the last two minutes, my nerves in hyper drive. Would Blake think I looked cute or sexy? I was tired of being classified as ‘cute’.

“Can I come in?” My father peaked his head into the bathroom, his smiling face one of pride and joy.

“Camreigh, you look beautiful and all grown up,” he praised. I could feel the blood rush to my face as I blushed. Dad was always complimenting my mom and I when we were least expecting it. He claims that both of his girls should always be showered in love and compliments.

“Thanks dad.” A smile broke out onto my face when I saw a tiny little tear form in the corner of his eye. I giggled while wrapping my arms around his wide torso, squeezing tightly.

“Dad, it’s just a date. It’s not like it’s my wedding day or anything,” I joked. He squeezed back with a mutter that sounded a lot like “might as well be.” We stood in each other’s embrace for a few moments before I broke away. I looked up at my father and smiled and his teary face. He hastily whipped away the tears and straightened himself.

“Now… you promise you’ll call if this Blake kid does anything funny, right?”

“I promise,” I giggled, knowing well enough that my father was serious. Before my father could respond the doorbell rung loudly throughout the house.

“Well… let’s go meet this boy of yours,” my father exclaimed. Little did I know those would be the last words I would hear from him.

The date was going well when Blake and I received the phone call half way through. I clutched the phone. On the other end, my other was in hysterics, her words garbled and high-pitched. Heart attack. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dad. Daddy? The world was being pulled from beneath my feet as the words dead and dad repeated through my mind. My breathing became rapid as I clutched the phone in my hand, the other gripping the table. I was in denial. There was no way that he could be dead, we were both greeting Blake about an hour ago…

I could hear my mother hysterically crying on the line.

My body was shaking, the phone slipping through my grip.

The air not able to pass through my lips, my lungs denying oxygen.

Not being able to breathe made it impossible to think.

I hung up.

“Um… my dad’s in the hospital,” my voice wavered. “A heart attack. My mom was becoming hysterical so, I hung up?” The racing of my heart felt as if there was someone beating it as a drum. Sweat perspired on the back of my neck, a feeling of denial was settling in the pit of my stomach. Was I becoming hysterical?

“Oh shit. Get in the car and we’ll go to the hospital. I’m so sorry Cam.” Laying money on the table, we left. Getting into his car, we made our way to the hospital.

Why was he sorry? The worst has already happened. My mother’s words were finally sinking in.

“Cam,” She cried, “I need you to come to hospital.”

“Why? What’s happening?”

“Your father… he was fine and then he wasn’t. We rushed to the hospital- he had a heart attack. I’m so sorry.”

My world was crumbling.

My mother’s words were left on repeat as the feeling of dread settled in the pit of my stomach. My throat was swollen, beads of sweat rolling down the back of my neck causing chills to slither down my spine. No words were spoken between Blake and I. What could I say? “Dinner was great! Sorry that it had to end so quickly due to my father kicking the bucket. Can we reschedule?” I was falling over the edge.

Before Blake could put the car in park, I had flung my door open. I could hear Blake call out for me but without looking back, I was running toward the doors.

“Excuse me?” I gasped for breath. Not looking away from the screen of her monitor her nails continued to infuriatingly tap away on the keyboard of her computer as she snapped her gum in a disgusting manner. Not wanting to deal with the grotesque receptionist, I pulled my cellphone out of my purse and texted my mother, walking away from the desk.

Room number? Her response came in a matter of seconds.

415

Searching for the nearest elevator I felt a hand rest on my shoulder. I quickly spun around, expecting it to be Blake but was surprised when no one was standing there. What the hell? I scanned the reception area once more before pressing the button of the elevator. Once on the fourth floor I quickly followed the areas that lead to the ward where my mother and deceased father were. The quickening pace of my heart made my chest ache as I neared the closed door of room 415. It felt as if years were passing rather than minutes as thoughts of grief coursed through me. Now what? What’s going to happen to mom… to me? I could feel the first set of tears form as I placed my hand on the handle on the door. Knowing that when I opened the door, life wasn’t going to be the same. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, willing the tears to stop.

After another minute of deep breathing and composing myself, I opened the door.

Trapped

Gabe Lynn

1.

Black Ships Before Troy

People will ask me what I remember, if anything at all. I will want to tell them of how I lay awake at night listening to the water drip from the pipes and how sometimes if I listen hard enough it sounds like rain on the window. I will want to tell them how I hold my breath as long as I can, because I wonder what it would feel like to die. I will want to tell them how ever day you make me question sanity. But I won’t. I’ll look them right in the eye and tell them I remember nothing. Because that’s what you made me.

Even now, sitting on this scratchy blanket on this rickety cot I’m not sure who I am anymore. I get these glimpses, pictures of life before. I can remember the smell of a freshly baked chocolate cake. I can remember the sound of my dog barking loudly at a person walking in front of the house. I can remember the arms of my husband wrapped so tight around me that it felt like a constrictor. I can remember all of these things. What I don’t remember is what disturbs me the most.

I don’t remember what I enjoyed. I don’t know the last time I was happy. I can’t tell you when I felt the corner of my lips form a smile. There is this hole I can feel, deep in my chest where my happiness used to live. I’m not sure how to find it any more.

I take a deep breath. I can smell the must. The old cot. The dusty bookshelf. I breathe in deeper, taking in my surroundings. I pretend I’m sucking in the room till there’s nothing left. Holding it there, suspending my breath till my head gets light and I can feel the blackness coming. I focus on this feeling, the one right before I can’t stand it any more. I can feel the panic coursing through my veins. Every nerve in my body screams for air. I hold it even longer. The adrenaline comes now making my heart sound like a drum. This is it. This is what it feels like to die.

Letting out gasping puffs of air I collapse. I lay there, feeling my lungs grab for as much oxygen as possible, only one thing is spinning through my mind now; this is what it feels like to live.

Turning to my side, I focus my attention on remembering my husband’s face. I concentrate on his lips first. The way they always turned up when he looked at me. How soft they felt against mine. Then I move to his jawline, strong and chiseled. Next his crystal green eyes. Then his hands, oh god, his hands. Sometimes I could almost feel sandpaper hands softly running down my back.

Fuck. I can hear your stupid black shoes creaking on the steps. It snaps me out of my pleasant memories replacing them with thoughts of hate. I sit up rigidly trying to show my strength. I had resolved that I wouldn’t let you break me. I can hear the lock flip open outside my door.

“Henley.”

I cringed whenever you said my name. Your sour voice made it sound distorted. As if it wasn’t mine any more.

“I’ve brought you breakfast”

“I’m not hungry” I snapped.

You step forward with the gleaming tray testing how close you could get to me today. As my legs quickly drew back onto the cot you stopped.

“I don’t want to hurt you, Henley.” You murmured.

When I didn’t reply you clanged the tray down on the little nightstand by the cot. Frustration never shows well on you. I waited till I couldn’t hear your footsteps then I slowly reached for the tray. It was the same thing every day. Oatmeal. Toast. Hardboiled egg. Water. Plain, simple, keeps me alive. It doesn’t stop the hunger though. I can always feel the deep ache in my stomach. No matter what you give me.

After devouring my breakfast I picked up one of the old tattered books you left for me. It was my only solace these days. I flipped through the pages slowly feeling the gritty edges.

“Black Ships Before Troy,” I whispered.

Settling back on the cot, I flipped open the first page. Immediately, I was drawn into the world of Greek Gods. My eyes devoured each word as if it was the last thing I was ever going to read.

And for a moment, just one precious moment, I forgot I was yours. My mind was free, even if I wasn’t.