By Nathan Grabowski
~*Chapter I*~ The Bridge
It was one of those days that tested people’s patience, the sky a nice hint of grey which could bring a smile to anyone who loved a peaceful rainstorm. Unfortunately, Drake was not that type of person, the quiet pattering of the small droplets of rain against his windshield making undisclosed emotions rise up within his chest. A familiar song came on the radio, but the words were meaningless to him and soon his hand turned the dial of the radio to the left until an audible click was heard and the music stopped indefinitely. The only noise heard now was the rhythm-like sweeping of the windshield wipers against the patter of the rain.
The best way to describe Drake was a hopeless romantic. Since he was a little boy he had the image of a feminine princess being his bride, a woman who would love him no matter what, someone he could reassure and would be modest of how great she really was. His physical features were none too glamorous, although he was modestly handsome with dark hair, soft facial features, and standing taller than most at about 6 feet even. His true beauty however, was inside of his physical shell. He was an emotional, considerate, and affectionate man, the rare type whom could melt the heart of the coldest woman. However, life is a cruel monster and he had not one girlfriend he actually cared about, just one failed relationship. Maybe it was the rain, or maybe it was the fact that it was the weekend and he was alone, that he began to ponder if he would ever be happy or meet anyone. Just like magic, old man Irony decided to play a game, and as his coupe pulled onto the grating of the Marquis bridge its tires screeched against the film of water that the bridge was painted in, coming to a complete stop. Quickly, he unbuckled his seat belt and opened his car door, slamming it shut behind him and as he put a hand over his brow the droplets splashed off the back of his hand as well as his vulnerable body. Had he seen what he thought he did? In a very uncommonly loud voice for him, he called out to what appeared to be a woman, sopping wet from the chilling rain. Hearing Drake, the woman slowly turned her head to face him, her hair matted to her face, and by the look of her Drake knew that it was her salty tears that made her mascara run down her pale cheeks, not the rain. He was too far from her to notice anything but the shape of her body; she was no super model with a firm muscular frame, but rather skinny and starved. However Drake didn’t notice any of those superficial attributes, what he did notice, however, was that this woman was on the wrong side of the railings of the bridge, her knuckles white and shaking as they held on tightly to the rail. Slowly her head turned to face away from him, glancing down slightly to the watery abyss below as she exhaled a quaky breath of nervousness.
“E..excuse me?” he said in a less firm voice, quickly running to toward the poor trembling woman, only to be halted her innocent, terrified voice. “Not a step closer! Please… please don’t..” With that, Drake slowly raised his hands up and shook his head slowly. “I’m not.. just please don’t do whatever you’re thinking. Will you please just come back on solid ground?” he pleaded with his soft voice and unspoken facial expressions. There was not another car on the road, not even this woman’s. It was a Saturday morning and it seemed no one had plans on this side of town this early. “Just leave me alone, you have no idea, no one understands, just get back into the car and drive off!” She sobbed. He crept closer to her, his shoes softly thudding against the slick ground as he outstretched a hand. “Please, just talk with me, that’s all I want.” The closer he got to the young woman the more he began to comprehend how beautiful she was, her eyes although teary were a beautiful blue hue, her skin was pale but flawless, and he had already heard her angelic voice; troubled but beautiful. Dear God! How he wanted to help this woman. She was in need of help and he knew that if she would give him the chance he could make her happy, please give him the chance. “My name is Drake.. Drake Murphy, but my friends call me Dray for short.” He said in the calmest voice he could muster out, trying to lighten the mood. “Alexia…” came the timid, mouse-like voice, “Please.. don’t come any closer, you make this all so much worse.” Slowly his hand reached into his heavy rain coat, pulling out a lighter as well as a soaking wet pack of cigarettes. “I’m sorry.. I..I just can’t leave you here, Alexia.” Although he had been quite bold, in reality Drake was just as shy and timid as a four-year old, it was all part of his charm, the charm that his friends all told him he had, but no other girls that he had adored had seen in him. Placing the small, white stick into his mouth he slowly flicked the spiral of the lighter, producing a small spark. The rain prevented any chance of a flame from being produced, but it did not stop him. Relentlessly he flicked the lighter’s ignition as his cigarette only became more drenched, the soft grinding noise causing Alexia to look over at him slowly. A flame was then produced after the fourteenth attempt, and he placed the tip of the tear shaped flame to the end of his wet cigarette, nothing seeming to happen. Then the second miracle of that day occurred, a soft jingle of bells was heard, causing Drake to whip his head over to the woman, witnessing a smile on her face. From the corner of his lips the wet tobacco product fell to the floor and a small smile played upon his lips. That picture perfect image of a man standing in the rain, attempting to light a wet cigarette had just been odd enough to trigger Alexia to laugh, funny actually, how the human mind works. “Ok, now we both are uncomfortable, so will you please just come over the railing so we can go get a cup of coffee? I’ll treat.” The shimmering orbs of blue slowly eyed the man before she slowly parted her lips, but only to close them and nod slowly. “No, I don’t want any coffee..” It was a bittersweet moment, she had finally decided to not take her own life, but instantly rejected his act of kindness. “But if you would offer me a cup of tea, I would be most grateful.” She said quietly, stepping over the rail, one leg swinging over at a time. Their hands gripped one another’s tightly , his own digits at least a whole half inch larger than hers, as he assisted her over the solid floor of the metal bridge.
~*Chapter II*~ The Diner
Shy and awkward glances were exchanged at the table of the small diner as the two enjoyed their preferred drinks. Soft metallic clinks against the porcelain mug echoed as Drake stirred two spoonfuls of sugar into the steaming hot cup of coffee, his eyes raising once more to gaze upon Alexia’s. Blowing a whisp of steam from the surface, he took a quick sip and cleared his voice before speaking to her, “I know you might not be ready to tell me yet, but why were you on..” he was cut off as she foresaw the question and skillfully changed the subject. “Thank you for the tea, it’s warming me right up.” she said in an almost cheerful voice, her eyes sparkling fictionally. “It’s not a problem..” he whispered, taking the hint and cupping the mug of coffee with each palm. Was it his rain drenched body that made him feel so chilled, or just the silent atmosphere? It wasn’t the pleasurable moment he had hoped for when he offered the lady a drink, there was no giggling, no talk of jobs and family, no love by first sight, and most disappointingly no thank you for saving her life; this was much more a cruel reality. In her eyes he could tell that she was already cursing herself for coming with him and not jumping off that damned bridge, and this hurt him worse than any actual words she could have spoken. His brows perked slightly as he let a toothy grin appear through the quiet melody of the diner music and whispered, “Scones..” She tilted her head to the side ever so slightly as she repeated him in question, “Scones….?” Nodding softly he added, “My friends and I used to come here every Thursday after class for a cup of coffee and a scone. You know what a scone is, right? A pastr..” only to be cut off by an indifferent voice “Yes, I know what a scone is.” His eyes lowered to glance at his own reflection in the dark, bitter liquid; in the back of his mind he just wanted to be back in his car on his way home and no longer suffering this cruel self inflicted torture. In a spontaneous gesture he quickly raised his hand to get the attention of the nearby young waitress. “Excuse me; can you please bring me two scones?” Alexia looked to them quickly and shook her head cutely, like a young girl too embarrassed to accept an extravagant gift. “No, no! That’s fine; the tea is enough, thank you.” Putting away her pen as she noticed the order was simplistic, the waitress looked down at Drake and waited for his final order. “Just one then please.. thank you.” The waitress walked off, her heels clicking against the tile floor, leaving the two in her wake, the tension almost instantly returning. Not a word was spoken until the scone was brought to the table, set in between them as if the waitress deliberately wanted them to offer it to one another. Before he could even offer her the first bite, she pushed it over toward him gently, her eyes lowered to her lap as she did so. “No, please, won’t you even try a small piece?” he asked her politely before a pseudo game of tug-of-war began as they playfully pushed the saucer toward one another until he gripped the fork and impaled a small piece of the pastry with the four prongs and aimed it toward her lips while stifling a laugh at his own comical action. She raised a brow challengingly, before shifting in her seat as if getting ready to make a quick movement to parry his next action. “Come on, I don’t want to forc” this time he was not cut off, but instead he made a quick motion in mid sentence, pressing the fork past her lips rather gently and slowly, the flakey crust of the treat leaving a slight residue against her plush skin. With a soft metallic clink, he pulled the fork back quickly, a look of amusement upon his face as her cheeks revealed her slow chewing. “Well.. how is it? Personally I think these are like a drug, I just can’t get enough of them.” A slender finger was raised to brush a few crumbs from the corner of her own mouth as she nodded, swallowing the first bite she had had in about two days. “You’re right, it’s very good!” She chirped with a completely new sense of jubilation to her voice. “I told you! Didn’t I tell you?” His own voice matched hers with a smile to summarize how he felt at that very moment.
~*Chapter 3*~ The Ride
The rain continued to pour down from the looming grey sky as the two exited the diner. Using his heavy coat as a makeshift umbrella, he lifted it above both of their heads as they began to trot toward his car clumsily. Trying to avoid the puddles of rainwater, holding the coat above each of their crowns, and quickly pulling out his keys from his pants pocket was a difficult multi-task which caused quite a humorous scene for a non existent audience. He wrapped the soaked coat around her body as he steadily reached down and opened the passenger side door for her, closing it quickly as she sat down on the seat and instantly dampened the upholstery with her body. Alexia reached over and unlocked the driver side door for him, letting a smile creep over her lips reluctantly as she could no longer hide her new found feelings. Grateful and surprised by this, he quickly opened the door and sat down behind the wheel, slamming the door shut as he slid his key into the ignition and gave a slight quake of his body, allowing a few drops of water to cascade down his forehead. The car was put into reverse, and soon they were on the road again, driving the way they had come. It was no longer awkward for either of them, and being in the company of each other was rather soothing for Alexia. They crossed the Bridge only a few minutes after leaving the diner, and slowly Alexia’s hand found its way to Drake’s which was instinctively resting on the handbrake, her fingers lacing with his own and giving a tight squeeze of anxiety. Blinking a few times, Drake looked down to their entanglement of fingers and let out a soft sigh of contentment before returning his gaze to the road. “Alexia, I just realized I don’t know where to take you.” A sharp breath was released from her lips as she quickly turned to face him, a soft hue of pink coming to her cheeks. “I.. I.. don’t have anywhere to go to. It’s not that I’m homeless, it’s just that..” She frantically tried to explain her situation to him, but only stammers and high pitched croaking was heard from her. A gentle hand was offered, which stroked the back of her neck in a soothing motion. “Shh, it’s ok, you can tell me everything later, my place is just thirty minutes up the road.” Most would see it foolish for Drake to be so trusting with the stranger, but in turn Alexia felt foolish accepting all this kindness from someone she did not know. He could easily be a rapist or serial killer, but luckily he was none of these things. As Lady Fate would have it, Drake was a loving, overly generous and affectionate man and Alexia was an overly trusting, gracious woman; the two were more compatible for each other than they would ever know. As he continued to drive her toward his apartment, his mind began to wander at the possibilities of the woman’s true situation. Could she in fact be a homeless woman? Or maybe she was a prostitute who owed her business client money? In time he would know, and that was the only thing he was sure of at that moment. He turned the volume dial to the right until the soft din of music could be heard just above the rainfall. “Do you have a favorite station? I don’t really listen to the radio all that much.” While keeping his complete attention on the road he began to switch through stations with his free hand until he just gave up and pressed the C.D. key. As the disc loaded a soft answer came from her, a simple “No, neither do I.” Although her comments were still abrupt, they now had feeling which he instantly detected, and appreciated. Soon a love ballad began to play through the speakers of the car, causing Drake to clear his throat nervously as his face began to grow heated in embarrassment. “I guess my sister had the car last..” his unimaginative excuse was given almost immediately, but that did not stop Alexia from seeing through it. “Uh huh..” she teased in a sweet voice, her slender digit poking him in the ribs adoringly as his cheeks began to reveal a soft pink shade. The feel of her prodding finger made him wince and emit a soft laugh as his hand reached out to turn off the C.D, but it was soon met with her own hand which kept him from touching the radio as her fingers once again locked with his as she rested her cheek against his arm, whispering against it. “Don’t… I like it….”
~*Chapter 4*~ The Apartment
By the time the silver colored coupe arrived into the parking lot of the small apartment complex, the rain had finally stop plummeting from the sky and the shy sun showed its beaming face through a jungle of grey haze. Alexia had fallen asleep against his arm, holding it tightly to her body as if it were some kind of plush animal. Looking down at her with nothing but admiration glistening in his pupils, he observed how innocent she was as she slept. The image of any woman resting was a beautiful sight to behold, any past sin she might have committed melted away with soft heaving of her chest, the gentle coos she would make as she regained vigor with shut eyelids, and she would instantly become an angelic creature in anyone’s eyes. It was no different for Drake as he intently watched the sleeping beauty whom clinged to his firm arm, his whole body still save his chest, which heaved in unison with Alexia’s. With the car’s engine turbine no longer purring and the sound of rain ending quickly in harmony, her eyes slowly fluttered open as she glanced up and blinked a few times to gain focus of Drake’s facial features. With a soft purr against his bicep she let her eyelids slide close once again as she spoke against his shirt’s sleeve in a half drunken ecstasy state, “Are we home..?”. Something about the way she asked that made his heart jump against the restraints of his chest, a few hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. It just sounded so right, ‘home’. “Yes we’re home,” he repeated joyfully as he became rather excited to show her around his quite average housing. The driver’s side door was opened with a slight pop of the handle, his clothes rustling against the upholstery as he gave a slight struggle to get out of his seat while not disrupting her sleepy state anymore than he had to. Gently, he pulled her from the car the same way he had exited, allowing her a short time period of about two seconds to adjust to a standing position before excitingly giving her a gentle tug toward the stairway of his apartment. Her fingers slowly released his arm as she made her way back toward the car and shut the door which he had left open in a fit of capricious excitement. A soft giggle escaped her lips as she thought to herself how cute and childish he was acting, and funnier yet, she couldn’t help but feel the same way whenever around him. Soon their hands joined once again as he led her up the stairway in a steady incline, stopping at the third floor. Their damp shoes made shrill squeaks against the slick floor as Alexia obliviously wandered down the hall behind Drake, not knowing which room exactly to search for. However, just as consistent as routine, he stopped in front of room number 317 as he had done so many times before and slid his key into the lock, opening the door with a slight nudge with his shoulder. The door creaked open slowly, assisted by a soft applied pressure of his hand; outstretching his arm into the darkness of the room as if welcoming her inside. Slowly she let her hands lower to her thighs and made her way inside, a few strands of her silken hair brushing against his chin as she passed him. As she stood in the middle of the dark room her heart began to pound gently against her chest as she began to grow nervous, had she been too trusting with him? Soon the door clicked shut behind her, causing her to turn and let out a soft gasp, her eyes widening in the dark. Frightening images and tales began to swim in her mind, images of rape which she had seen in movies, stories in the paper.. they all came swarming until light flooded over her and washed the imprudent thoughts from her mind. Once Drake had flipped the light switch her heart jumped in relief to the sight of him and she timidly made her way toward him, wrapping her arms around his torso she rested her head against his stomach, making a personal promise then and there to never doubt his intentions ever again. With his lips parted slightly to speak out in inquiry he decided to just savor the moment, his own limbs cradling her against his body tightly, he would never let go of her and she would know by the warmth of his body that she could always turn to him for comfort and companionship. As if these ideas were manifesting from her own mind she slowly looked up to his eyes with her own teary pools, standing on the tips of her toes to place a soft, passionate kiss against his shivering lips.
~*Chapter V*~ Reflections
Two years sounds like such a long period of time upon fist consideration, but to personally live it and look back on the time spent, it is easy to become lost in the chosen moment and drift along thoughtlessly. Distinct thoughts and recollections could instantly make one’s mind revert to the past like it had only been but a few hours ago.
As Alexia quietly lay awake in bed, she cradled Drake’s dormant body close to her own. The sunlight filtered through the cinnamon colored curtains leaving a sun-kissed color of gold to pour over her nude figure as well as his defined back. A down comforter blanket covered his lower body as well as her own; and the weight of his body on top of hers gave Alexia a soothing feeling of his warm flesh and gentle contact of his skin to hers. Her fingertips slowly made their way to the small of his back and began to run up and down his spine, her head tilting to the side to observe his profile as a smile crossed over her crimson lips. What she saw was nothing out of the ordinary, just the face of the man she had been living with for about two years now. But she saw something more in one glance of his face then anyone could have. She didn’t just see shut eye lids, but rather beautiful eyes that were hiding in rest. That wasn’t just a nose that was emitting a gentle purr-like snore, it was the nose that he had so many times ran along the side of her neck, before sweetly telling her, “you smell nice”. His lips were pressed together firmly as he rested, and she was tempted to place a loving kiss upon them. The sweetest reward he had to offer her was the knowledge that he adored her as much as she did him, and by sweet coincidence he was thinking of her at that very moment, reflecting on their past.
It had been just about two years now that Alexia had been staying with Drake, and it was almost on an inferred unspoken agreement in which she moved in with him, not bringing anything but what was on her body. On the agreement that she would move out as soon as she had become stable, she moved in that same day she had first kissed him in the dark of his apartment living room. They both knew better, however, and although she had gotten a job as soon as just a month after moving in, she still stayed with him. Working days at the florist shop just down the street and coming home to a loving companion each night was a better routine than she could have ever yearned for. And only a year ago she had began to sleep in the same bed with him, he remembered the smile that was plastered to his face as he woke up next to her the first time. Other memories flashed through his mind as well: That one night she opened the door to a candle lit, home made dinner; the sincere look upon her face was beautiful. Their fist Christmas together when she had met his family, they all loved her of course, he knew they would. They drank so much wine and eggnog they had to stay at his parents’ house, too drunk to make it to the hotel, falling asleep in front of the fireplace. Good times like those never left his mind and he constantly replayed them in his mind. Her twentieth birthday had also been emblazoned in his memory, inside of that neatly packaged box hid a little puppy that he had spent endless hours searching for. She told him that she had a tiny chocolate Labrador puppy early in childhood, and the moment he had seen this puppy, he knew he would be perfect, and when she saw the face of Cocoa she let out a squeal of delight. One event stuck in his mind more than any, however, the time he held her tightly to his chest in a caring embrace as tears spilt from her eyes, that time she quaked in embarrassment as she quietly confessed with glazed pupils, the time she had told him …
His eyes slowly fluttered open as he felt her fingernails scrape softly against his scalp, and comb through his hair. Her voice softly humming an angelic tune as she spoke out in her beautiful voice, “Time to wake up, honey..” He quietly whispered against her neck without moving an inch, “I’m already up….”
~*Chapter VI*~ The Lost Harlot
Gentle scrubs of bristles against enamel were heard from the bathroom as Drake began to groom himself for the day. In bed, Alexia sat up and began to gather her hair into a ponytail, slowly slipping her feet into two soft, pink slippers. She chewed on the side of her index finger as she crept up on him, slipping her arms around his waist with a soft, high pitched giggle coming from her lips. She had surprised him, causing his body to rise slightly as he jumped, his mouth full of toothpaste suds. “Mmey!” He said with an overbearing smile, tilting his head forward and expelling the white concoction from his mouth. He wiped the residue from the corner of his lips with the back of his hand and turning into his girlfriend’s embrace. “Mornin” He said softly as he bent forward and they shared a passionate kiss. She slowly pulled back with a glimmer in her eye, licking her lips to remember the taste. “Dray, sweety, I have to go out today, did you need anything?” He simply shook his head as he reluctantly released her from his grasp, “You know, I was dreaming about That One Night..” He said off topic, watching her face closely for any reaction. Her face winced as a delicate finger raised to her lips, only to be chewed on nervously. “Y….yeah?” He nodded slightly, smoothing his hair back with his bare hands and turning to face the mirror as he spoke out, “Do you remember my promise to you?” She began to scrape the material of her slippers with her toes, whispering “Yes…” How could she ever forget his sweet words? How could she ever forget his promise to make her happy? To never forget her like everyone else did? To never use her or treat her like property? She had been honest with him, and in turn he had been kind, even when she confessed to him that she had been a prostitute. His response to this was so touching to her that she would, forever, be his. A tear slid from the corner of her eye as she tightly hugged him from behind once more, sobbing into the crevice of his back. “I don’t deserve you! I don’t deserve this..you’ve given me too much..I, I just..” He quickly pivoted on his heel and placed a finger over her lips, shaking his head slowly “Don’t.. please don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re the one who has suffered..” His lips ran along her cheek, resting as they pressed against her ear. “You deserve nothing but happiness, and I’ll see to it that that’s the only thing you shall have.”
Poor girl, she never saw that she was the victim. Her parents had separated when she was only eight, and she was forced to stay with her mother whom was jobless. Unfortunately, the only place affordable was in the slums and when you live in those conditions there is only one thing to do to escape the harsh reality. She remembered how disheartening and gloomy life had been for her, even when she was but a little girl. It should never be like that, a little girl should not have to watch her mother die in front of her, a needle protruding from her arm as she sweat and rot away. She ran as far away from the desolate hell hole as she possibly could, but what did she have to offer? There was only one answer.. her body. She had no home, yet she was not homeless. She was lost and forgotten; used and abandoned. But now she had Drake and for once things were looking up for her, it appeared.
~*Chapter VII*~ Heartbreak
As he drove down the road he slapped the steering wheel in gently before shifting his weight to one side and taking out his cell phone from his right rear pocket. He dialed home and placed it to his ear, listening to the artificial sound of the ringer, until he heard his girlfriend’s lovely voice. “Dray? What is it..?” He smiled slowly and whispered, “I love you, I forgot to tell you before I left. Oh, and have a good day shopping ok?” A tear slid down her cheek as she chewed her lower lip, unable to speak. She had become so emotional these past few days, she had began to love life and it was due to one person, him. “Alex.... you there?” She nodded as if he were able to see her, “Yes, I’m here.. and I love you too.. I love you so much. Have a great day, baby..” She then hung up and placed the phone against her chest tightly, letting her chest heave out in a sigh of satisfaction.
The day seemed to drag on for both of them as if the end of the day yielded a special untold surprise for both of them. Drake sat at his monthly company meeting, his eyes in lingering slits as he watched the clock as a young school student would do. Alexia tapped her foot against the hard floor of the grocery store, waiting in line impatiently. He’d be home in only ten minutes! She wanted to be there so he could surprise him, make him happy for once. As quickly as her small frame would allow her, she piled her groceries on the conveyor belt, already preparing her credit card to pay for the purchase. Likewise, Drake pulled all his papers into his briefcase, batting away an aggravating strand of hair that continued to tickle his eyelash. Once gripping the handle to his briefcase he bolted out of the office, smiling to his accountant and trying to give an explanation to the scene as briefly as possible. “Alexia!”
He began pacing back and forth in his living room, shaking his head in anxiety. He had never been this worried before in his life, and as he began to chew on his fingernails nervously the phone ringer went off. He spun around almost full circle, trying to decide which phone to answer before just jogging to the kitchen and snatching the phone off the hook. “…………. Hello?” He finally spoke out timidly. An innocent voice of a woman was heard, a voice he would never forget. “Is this 751-891-5546?” A sigh of disappointment as well as relief escaped his lips as he replied indifferently, “Yeah?”. “Thank goodness, do you know an Alexia Mandagora?” His heart stopped, a smile coming over his lips as he still was unaware of what was happening “Yes! Yes I do, who is this? Where is she?” He said impatiently, gripping the phone so tightly his fingers began to ache. “I’m sorry, but there has been an accident. She’s at the Blue Acre Hospital, do you need directions?” There was a loud crash on the other line, the phone sliding against the floor as he quickly ran out the door, leaving his jacket strewn across the floor.
~*Chapter IX*~ “… Can she come with me?”
The sights and sounds of the emergency room were far different than any television show or movie Drake had ever seen. There were no crying families, there was no screaming, and the smell of disinfectant clogged his nostrils. The tips of his fingers were calices and raw now as he continued to chew at the flesh anxiously, waiting until a nurse ushered him into a room. Her room. She laid there like a saddened angel, but there was no blood, there were no scars, scrapes, or bruises. She was a fallen angel and he was her mortified guardian, punished by having to watch her falsely sleep before him, unable to awaken and show her beautiful eyes. His hand brushed across his face, shutting his eyelids and contorting his face as he muttered out in a shaking voice, “Doc, what’s wrong with her?” The reply was simple and crushing at the same time, “Although you can’t tell by looking at her, she has suffered brain trauma. A car crash it seems.” He pulled at his hair; in a way he was trying to punish himself through bodily pain. “So…w..when does she get better? I mean… is this permanent? Doc!” The doctor laid his soft hand on the troubled man, trying to offer professional comfort as he wept openly, his tears dripping past his cheeks only to cascade to the floor. “I’m sorry Mr. Murphy. The mind is very complicated… we d..” He was cut off curtly as Drake parried backwards toward the wall and snapped, “I don’t want to hear any medical explanations! Just tell me when she’s going to be ok!” The doctor took in a deep sigh and looked down at the pale figure who slept peacefully on the bed. “I’m very sorry, but we don’t know if she will ever wake up. It could be tomorrow, or … she might not ever wake up. It’s a tragedy, a damn tragedy, but I cannot predict her well being in this condition.” Drake slid to the floor, cradling his head against his knees as he continued to weep, not feeling sorry for himself in anyways, just so ashamed he could not help her the way he had been for so long now. He couldn’t tell her how sorry he was. She might never again smile, say I love you, feel pain, enjoy a sunny afternoon, taste her favorite food; she was in her own world now, one he could not intervene in. The doctor swallowed a lump in his throat as he spoke out once more reluctantly, he didn’t want to continue but he had to, “We do know one thing for certain…She will never be the same. With her head injury.. she most likely has lost most of her memories. Names, places, dates and times, faces.. hopefully it will just be short term memory loss..” the doctor droned off as if she were already dead. As he heard this, the crying halted, his puffy, red eyes looked up to the doctors face and he stood up, a look of lost hope seemed to take him as he stood as overbearing as Death himself. “…Can she come with me?” He said as more of a demand then question. “In time..” came the grim response. The professionalism between the men had faded as they began to share a single emotion, despair.
That was a year ago. The times changed, but the situation had not. She remained in a false sleep, her body cradled in her bed still being pampered by one who cared for her wellbeing. “Happy anniversary” he said sardonically to his would be bride. God, how he had changed in such a short time. It took a little over two years to make him one of the happiest people one could come across and only one year to bring him to the bottom of the barrel. His once pampered looks had been lost; he was no more handsome now than he was a mess. His hair was long and uncut, covering his eyes and hiding his ears from view. His skin was cut, scarred from self afflicted judgments, his face in stubble as he had lost the will and purpose to shave. One could feel sorry for him for God knew he felt nothing for himself but hate, despair, and disgust. “I’m going out baby, you just get your rest….” It was touching how he treated and talked to her as if she could still comprehend words, as if she still loved him through sleep. He never left her side for more than 5 hours the whole 8,760 that had past. He kept her pampered and kissed her forehead every night before sleeping next to the bed, sitting upright in his chair. He threw over his tattered jacket and made his way to the door with his car keys tightly grasped in his palm, stopping only as he heard a piercing scream come from the bedroom, the thrashing of bed covers and creaking of the bed. His keys fell to the floor with a metallic clatter as he burst into the room, his eyes tearing. “Alexia?!”
~*Chapter X*~ The Absent Child
He stood there as quiet and unwavering as a statue, hiding all the emotions that rose up within him, causing his heart to overwork itself against his silent heaving chest, had she awakened? The only sound he heard now was the constant dripping of the I.V packet and the respirator assistant. So odd, she had thrashed only moments ago and thrown her eyes up in a blood curdling scream as if trying to shield herself from the crash that had occurred no more than a year ago this day. Now she lay silent. “Not again… not another year, don’t make me wait another fucking year!” He fell to his knees in one last poised emotion, burying his face against her comforter-covered legs. His tears soaked the pure, white sheets until he felt her legs pull back in a jittery jerk, causing him to sit up quickly and look directly to her face. However, he did not see that smile that he had been searching for those 365 grueling days; he saw not even a slight reminder of their happy past in her eyes, he saw fear. Slight whimpers came from her chaffed lips as she began to claw at her face and pull her own hair, holding her knees tightly to her chest as tears dripped slowly down her cheeks. His hands shot out and quickly grasped her wrists, looking at her with astonishment, his emotions so mixed and sundry that he was not sure whether he should be afraid, happy, or relieved. “Alexia!” he cried out, holding her tightly to him, but he was speaking on deaf ears. She drooled and spat as she innocently grew more afraid of this overbearing man. His eyes scanned the wall behind her with a perplexed look as he rested his chin on her shoulder, holding her against his warm chest. “Don’t you remember me…? It’s Drake… Please…” It was beyond futile, begging her to remember who he was, it was pathetic, but what else could he possibly do? He had replayed the day she would awaken and fly into an embrace with him over and over in his mind, but not once had something this awful come in his mind. Her lips parted as she spoke, but God it would have been so much less painful if she had never said a word for the rest of her days: “Hot…” She pat her hand against his back childishly until he finally pulled back to examine her pseudo facade, this was not Alexia, not his Alexia. Her head bobbed in a moment of childish jubilee as he allowed her some room to catch a breath of fresh air and let her body cool. “She wouldn’t do this, she wouldn’t break a hug to ease her slight discomfort..” he whispered as he looked directly into her eyes, speaking as if she weren’t there at all. He stumbled off the bed, landing clumsily on his feet, his eyes never leaving hers as she broke out in a giggle, and leaned forward, placing a finger on his nose. His face winced and his eyes shut tightly, squeezing a tear past his eyelids as he felt her soft finger graze his flesh, the pain was too hard to bare. She would never be the same, nothing and no one could help her. He would have stayed by her side for the rest of his youthful years and watched over her resting body, but this broke and ravished his heart, leaving it beating only to torment it every time he laid eyes upon her. “No crying!” she said with a pout, bringing a muddled up a pathetic smile and expression of grief to his face as he shook his head, the tears free falling as they wished now, he found it harder and harder to hold them back as the pain became unbearable. Could her learn to love this child? Could she grow up to be the women he loved again? Or was everything gone like her memory? She didn’t remember anything, not the first time they kissed in the dark, not the time he shielded her from the rain with his favorite jacket, not the puppy that had been given away in her time of demise because he could not stand to look upon its nostalgic face, not him… No he couldn’t relive his life and lead her in any direction that the past had shown them before. She was gone, she was dead, and this was a child. A feeling of heat grew within his stomach as he looked at this poor girl, she seemed so idle, she spoke but she did not think. She did not know, nor was she aware of life, pain, or feelings… right? He spun around, his back facing her as he soon was unable to lay his eyes upon this shell of a woman that once cased his wonderful girl friend. These feelings and thoughts went through his stomach, stinging and ripping at his insides until he came to a final question: ‘would Alexia want to live like this…? Does this… little girl… want to live?’ Slowly he shook his head as if answering his own thoughts; his fingers unbuckled his belt and slid the leather strap from each belt loop.
~*Chapter XI*~ Escape to Peace of Mind
He held his make shift noose tightly in the palm of his hand, his eyes watering as he glanced to the idle face of his once lover, the tips of her toes pressing against the floor as a small gleam of light reflected off the saliva present at the corner of her mouth. Would she miss him after… after… ? In a quick step he lunged forward and strung his black leather belt around her neck, pulling it tightly until the length of the strap grew stiff with tension, one hand holding her neck just above the strap to keep her body from being pulled in his direction. His vision grew blurry in a matter of seconds as he let out sudden spasmodic cries of dismay and despair as he watched his own hands execute his lover right before his very own eyes. He could not stop now, even if he had changed his mind there was no turning back, it was the ultimate act of mercy, if not to preserve the life of his one true love, then to ease her present suffering of having to live as less than a handicap. All he wanted was to make it swift, his knuckles turning white and the belt shaking as he pulled even harder, the young woman’s hands scraping at his hand and her own skin as she convulsed the threw her body around in response, shrieks turning into breathy groans and her eyes rolling back in their sockets, Jesus how awful it was. “Please” he whimpered out as he continued to weep unlike he had ever done so before, “just let it go, rest. Please!” he leaned forward and placed a loving kiss on her forehead, only pulling harder on the belt until his eyes shut in a trance. He wanted to hear a snap; he wanted his sin to be rewarded with the gift of disgust and revulsion. Bu there was none, there was only rustling of clothing against the bed as she began to die right before him, but alas, there it was; not a snap, but a crunch as her larynx crumbled under his belt. His stomach raised into his throat as he fought back vomit of transgression, his body heaving as he let go of the belt slowly, unable to look upon the ghastly face of the sleeping child, only able to slide to the floor and sit against the bed with his back to her. The images of what he had just done replayed frenziedly in his mind even without the shutting of his eyes, would the images ever stop? Hadn’t it just been ten, no, but five seconds ago since the fault had been committed? How times would this haunt him for the rest of his life if only seconds seemed like a sick eternity. His body had given all the tears it could share to the room as he slowly stood up and trembled toward the dresser, finding a pen and paper he began to write with passion unknown to any human, for he was no longer a part of their race. A soiled peace of paper now covered the gruesome deceased face of Alexia, hiding her new guise from the world.
Was it foolish or arrogant to believe that he could escape all this tormenting hell by driving down the rain soaked, winding road? Honestly, he did not care, nor could he. He could be legitimately classified as being insane, but in reality there was no classification for what he was now. His smoky eyes scanned the road as he spoke to himself quietly “Familiar, isn’t it?” His gaze cut through the windshield, past the concrete of the road, and into the black beckoning waters. Without warning, he launched forward and slammed his head against his steering wheel, the front of his car burying itself into the vehicle in front of it. Warmth washed over the side of his skull as a trail of blood paved a small river to his cheek, his hand trembling as he opened the door and stepped out, his steps shaky as he his body had become quite jolted from the accident. He was not startled, nor did he wipe the aggravating trickle of blood from his face, he only walked down the middle of the road, only to realize it was no road, it was a bridge; The Bridge. There was where he first stopped that long time ago to see if his vision was mocking his mind when he had first seen a woman in the rain, there is where he tried to light his cigarette, and there, where his foot now mounted, was where he had first seen Alexia suspended like over the bridge face like he was now. The ran danced on the surface of water below, it was hard to see that far down, but not impossible. What was he doing there on the bridge? How did he even get there? Before he could even analyze these sensible questions his legs were on the wrong side of the safety girders and he was leaning forward to peer down at his watery tomb. One finger rose from the safety bar, leaving only nine more for support to keep him on that last peace of ground. And then another finger rose, his arm shaking as the weight of his suspended body began to show, his muscles twitching. But something that sounded so distant caused him to turn; it was the voice of a woman, the woman he had collided with only moments ago. “Hey, what are you doing!” he cried out once more, jumping in enthusiasm as he had sincere fear in her eyes. “If… if this is about the car reparations, please, we can talk this out.” It was truly heart warming to see someone as gentle as he in this town, but she could never understand, and he told her so. “Not a step closer. You don’t understand, you can’t, and you won’t be able to.” Glazed orbs which had once been his eyes seemed to peer through her as if staring at something behind her, his pupils not shifting once. He was living in a different time now, as if his brain was giving one last show from the past. The woman bit her bottom lip tightly and fought back her fear from showing, “I’m Megan, please, come down and tell me your name.” She requested in a gentle voice. In a soft voice he gave her the polite response, “Drake Murphy, but my friends call me Dray.” She let out a sharp breath of relief as she felt that she could now talk him down, the same way he felt not but three years ago, right here. “Please, if you come down, I’ll buy us a cup of coffee. My treat”, she offered in a sweet voice with a glimmer in her eye. A small droplet of blood mixed with the rain and fell from his cheek to the deep abyss below them. Something incredible happened next, a smile played upon his lips as he said in that gentle voice he used to posses. “I don’t drink coffee, but if it were tea, I’d love to.” And in one final moment, Drake had come back; it was in his eyes, his smile, his very being… as both of his hands removed themselves from the bar.