Last weekend a friend and I found a girl collapsed outside a loft entrance gate. It's haunted us ever since. This story is inspired by that experience.
Their voices are so far away. Muffled, as if I were underwater. Am
“Ma’m, do you need help?”
Do I need help? I parse the question, searching for meaning in the component parts.
“Ma’m!” My eyes open. Startle. Reflex. Sound. So sharp now. She’s staring at me intently. Blue eyes. She has blue eyes.
“Can you talk?” I open my mouth, paste lining the inside. I breathe in. Nothing comes out.
I close my eyes. Running. I was running.
“Ma’m, do you remember what happened to you?”
I remember Harrison’s. Sitting at the bar, Bruce averting his eyes as he sometimes does.
A different voice. “Do you remember—?” Eternal pause. “She’s not responding. Do you think we should call 911?”
Did I forget to shake my head? Yes? No?
Shots. Different kinds.
“What if she’s just high—or drunk?”
“She needs help. I’m calling.”
Who are they calling?
I lift my arm. Dragging weightlessness. I am underwater!
Billy shows up. Wanting money. Twist of arm, push out door. “Bitch! You lie!”
I don’t lie. Slow night. Crack. Something cracked.
Bruce saw it.
No, that was earlier.
Seasick. If you are under the sea, you get seasick. Something’s in my throat. I can’t breathe. Hands. My head turns and spills its contents.
“I didn’t lie!” My hands ball into fists. I raise one.
He doubles-over, laughing.
Someone is wiping my face. Holding it out of the sea. I will my eyes. Open. Blue eyes. Another pair. Dark brown. “You are so kind, my husband is kind, you are so kind…”
Bruce. Through the door. “Billy, go home.”
He’s going home—with me.
The gun. By Bruce’s side. Raised.
I’ve seen this once before.
The gun, to the ground.
I pick it up. It’s heavy. So heavy.
“Shhh…it’ll be okay.” A voice is singing to me.
“They’ll be here any minute.”
“They’re sending an ambulance?”
An ambulance? No! I can’t go to Grady! I need my husband.
“Did she say something?”
“I need my husband!”
“I think she said she needs her husband.”
The singing voice. “Honey, where is your husband?”
I hit something. The wall.
The men have white faces.
“Pamela, give me the gun.” Bruce.
I turn, point. “Leave my husband alone.”
“Pamela, we’re going home.” Billy reaches for the gun.
One lone firework.
“No, we just found her here, sprawled right outside the gate. We were scared she’d been assaulted. Seemed traumatized.”
“Ma’m?” I open my eyes. Different eyes. “Do you know what day it is?”