Love Labor's Lost

volumes of mis-adventures

Crashing Light

on October 19, 2011

I wrote this short story for a class. It’s one of my only attempts at fictional writing. I thought it might be nice to change up the pace on my blog and see if anyone has any comments. Let me know what you think.

Crashing Light

The sun has set. The world is still on a Sunday evening. It is 7:45 PM.

My eyes open, people stand around me. The girls’ faces I recognize, the people I do not. My body aches, my movement is constricted.

The nurse comes in adding an IV.

The policeman comes in and takes my phone.

The phone rings and my dad is on his way.

I hang up and hear my mom’s voice, “don’t worry everything will be OK.”

My friends leave, their whispers permeate the room.

My head seems frozen.

I take a couple pills, my head throbs.

I can’t move my shoulder; my leg is bruised; my face is distorted. I sit up.

My eyes ache. The room is spacious, but it seems constricting. I can’t move. The pain emanates from every pore of my body. The doctor says I’ll be fine; I’m not fine. I’m scared. The fluorescent lighting is harsh as if a ray of daggers attacks my face, piercing small holes in my survived shape.

I want to get up.

I want to leave.

I want to go home.

Where is my dad? Why can’t I stand up?

I’m outfitted in worn scrubs of mismatched shades of blue. There is a dark stain on the bottom left side of my shirt. I feel unclean. The clock on the stand keeps blinking abrasive red numbers. It is 2:45 AM. The walls are blindingly void of color. My silver phone lies flat near the clock; dried crimson streaks design the silver body. My legs and arms are covered with black and blue shadows of collision. Translucent tubes run from my mid-arm to sacks of fluid on a cold silver pole. The door is open. The world is still. I am alone.

Like an animal in anticipation, my ears perk up from a mere whisper in the hallway. A sturdy man arrives. With round spectacles, a pointed nose, eyes overpowered by puffy shadows of a day with too many hours, he looks weakened. My dad walks in with a brittle, yet hopeful beam, and a terrified stare.

Before I could get up, I needed to sit down.

I put on my shoes.

I had no socks.

The air was cold.

My skin was warm.

The elevator left, as I stood waiting for it to arrive.

The car door opened, I sat inside. I couldn’t grab the seat belt. I was not safe. The lights were blinding.

It is dark outside. It is 3:45 AM.

Before we leave the hospital, we arrive at my apartment. The space is dark and uncertain, shadows of the day start crawling on the floor. My room becomes alive, as I begin to fade into slumber. My father lays me down in bed. The covers are tucked in at my sides. After swallowing the Vicodin, the pain starts again. The throbbing in my head is a constant heartbeat of memory and confusion: the past eight hours did happen.

At the weekly Sunday night chapter meeting, the girls sit in ten rows of chairs in front of their Executive Board. The room is painted lime green in the hopes of creating a warm and enthusiastic environment. The walls are lined with photographs from past events and composite pictures of the members of years passed. Always with expressive smiles: porcelain white teeth at the focus of every perfectly framed scene.

In one picture, five girls wearing the same periwinkle t-shirt with a brightly yellow colored giraffe, precariously detailed with a seductive gaze, replete with long eye lashes and red lips, embrace each other while their skirts sway in the day’s breeze, exemplifying what could only be understood as “sisterhood” in that particular context. In another picture, the girls are construction workers. With their backs to the camera, tools in hand, hammering and screwing nails into the sides of scaffolding. An out of focus sign in the back reads: Habitat for Humanity. In a different picture, the girls are standing in a circle. As if taken from a cloud hovering above them, candles ablaze fill the frame and illuminate their small pale faces. A couple girls hold flowers, as one girl, lost in thought, looks directly at the lens. She seems to be unsure of the purpose. In all the pictures, there are always a group of girls. In all the pictures, the girls could have been strangers. But the girls had become family; a home away from home. That’s why the disinterest of the girls in the room at the time was false. The meeting was a lesser representation of what they all really stood for; where they all fit into each other’s lives. The girls are all strangers, and yet one cohesive unit. Through their differences they bond, and because of their diversity they became one unit.

The light fixture at the center of the room seems mesmerizing. The shadows play on the walls, nearly glistening, and detracting from that meeting’s agenda. Leah seems to be distracted, her pupils dilating ever so slightly the longer she stars at one shimmering strand of light after another, getting lost in the whirling disco ball like pattern on the wall. Leah had a problem concentrating lately. She didn’t know her purpose. The light seemingly mirrored her disillusioned state. She felt like she was dancing around what she was supposed to be doing, constantly changing her focus and shape. The school year had barely begun, and she was already lost in a sea of uncertainty for what that year’s goal should be. Her father’s voice constantly probed her mind. “Тебе Нужен цел.” You need a goal.

She joined a sorority.

She joined the staff of a student magazine.

She joined the executive board for Hillel.

She is a sophomore. She is a Biology major. Leah does not know herself.

The meeting ended, Leah walked out, saying good-bye with a fake smile to the girls she passed, but to no one in particular. The building was on Market Street across from a brightly painted convenient store, with a blinking neon red and yellow sign reading: “Kum & Go.” A smirk cracked across Leah’s face. It was already dark outside, but the late September air was fresh and brisk making the evening seem alive. Some trees were showing signs of the oncoming winter months, more bare than usual. The leaves were bright orange, red, and yellow. Many had sprinkled to the ground coloring the immediate world. Grabbing her bike, Leah mounted it with the ease of a seasoned cyclist, as the leaves roared like a symphony of crackles, shuffles, and crunches.

Leah lived about three miles off campus, and for the most part she was grateful for the short escape from the world and its people. Whizzing down the street as the wind blew past her ear sounding like an uproar of thunder, melting the day away, and bringing the natural world into focus and then swiftly passing over, around, and through her, as she made her way back to her sparsely furnished one bedroom apartment. She sighed in anticipation of the work and problems she would have to face when she arrived home, but for a brief twenty minutes, biking home she would escape everything. Entering in and out of spotlights that played on the ground like a theatrical lighting technician anticipating her movement. Leah continued down Main
Street taking a left onto Church.

Every year, around this time Leah and her family attend synagogue for the High Holidays. This year, she would be away at school and contemplating whether or not she needed to attend at all. The tradition, the prayer, the meaning of the Holy Days had been planted in her being long ago, and has been watered every year. Leah was a sturdy tree of knowledge of her heritage, but blossomed with leaves of doubt. This year those leaves were given the option of taking hold, without wilting; possibly ignoring a long standing tradition.

Long white candles, held in matching holders: sleek wrought iron designed, brought over from the old country, were used every Friday night to bring in the Sabbath. Leah’s mother always set up the candles on the left side of the kitchen table and handed Leah the matches. The spark of each match reminded Leah of a tradition which only she could maintain. If she didn’t light the candles, no one would. The spark of each match reminded Leah that she was connected to a bigger tribe. The spark of each match reminded Leah that despite her challenges another week was coming to an end, and new one beginning. She could start anew. The spark of the match lit the wick, sprouting a vibrant flame, reminding Leah of the doubt she had that any of this mattered.

The Sabbath came every Friday, and every Friday Leah lit the candles alongside her mother. Her father would bless the wine and the Challah. The family would sit and eat dinner together discussing the week’s happenings and any accolades of their three children. Leah felt like a spark that never quite caught onto the wick’s cotton core. Her religious beliefs, while constantly questioned, seemed to be the one thing that set her apart from her over achieving brothers. She knew the blessings. She knew the traditions. She knew the etiquette. She didn’t know why she needed it to define her. Why was it so important to maintain a semblance of belief when her core continued to spark and then putter out, never completely catching.

I looked both ways.

I skillfully turned on Church St.

I pedaled backward, in the hopes of moving forward.

My phone rang, illuminating my pants’ pocket: “Dad.”

Before I picked up, I hung up.

I remember thinking I should be careful. I remember thinking I should be on the sidewalk. I remember thinking how absurd it was that there were no stop signs. I remember the blinding light. I remember the stream of blood oozing from my frontal lobe. I don’t remember why I didn’t stop in time.

Leah was wearing a royal blue hooded sweatshirt with a screen print of her high school mascot and an emblem of the girl’s swim team. She was wearing khaki capri-pants as the weather was not yet brisk enough to warrant pants. She was wearing light blue bikini styled underwear, which she never imagined so many would see. She was wearing a nude colored bra, she would never see again. Strapped to her back, she was wearing an Addidas draw stringed sack filled with a few of her possession, including: a tan wallet, a couple papers from her meeting, and a pen. Leah was a light packer. She wasn’t wearing a helmet. She wasn’t wearing fluorescent colors. She didn’t have reflectors on her bike.

A dim four by four pick-up truck, with a monstrously roaring engine, and wheels that raised it to gargantuan heights was heading West on Church St. His headlights blazed like all seeing and knowing eyes. His music was blaring. The hat he wore cast a precarious shadow on his face, accentuating lifeless sockets where his eyes should have been. With a cankering disposition for the hour of evening, and ignorance to the multitude of possibilities, he sped down the street. Not slowing down he turned left. A shadow cast over the front hood of his car for a second and then was gone, followed by a heavy thud, denting, and a shriek. Seemingly simultaneous and separate. The engine died, he sat in his car. Time stopped.

The light approached from a distance, like a train through a small tunnel; concentrated and powerful, on a forward mission of destruction, yet too far to be aimed at a specific target. Leah was going East on Church St. The fresh brisk autumn air filled her lungs with life just as the light took the life away from her.

Before I could open my eyes, I closed them.

I hear the sirens, I see nothing.

I feel the blanket of warmth; I don’t know the hand of compassion

The tears stream down my face. Before I can feel pain, I am numb.

The red and white sirens of the ambulance blared down Gilbert Street into the intersection. A circle of residence had cluttered to see what had warranted such chaos. A bike lay in the distance, bent so out of shape, one could barely see its purpose. The handle bars are detached, the wheel has no rubber lining; the wheel is shaped more like a square than a circle. In the center a girl of twenty in a royal blue sweatshirt, and khakis lays unmoving, except for the twitch of her eyes. The fear of what would happen if she opened them? What would she see? She lay still.

My shirt was cut down the center.

My pants were cut up the seams. My mother gave them to me for my birthday two weeks earlier.

The oxygen in my nose stifled my breath. My head pounded. My arm throbbed. I couldn’t feel my leg. My eyes didn’t want to see. The paramedic asked useless question. He wouldn’t answer mine. Where is my dad? Please call my dad.

“Mercy or University?” “She’s a student. We should take her to the University Hospital.” “Mercy is closer.”

The room was blindingly void of color. Before she woke up, she wanted to go to sleep. Leah waited in a room, where her belief finally sparked. It is 3:45AM.

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