So I realized a long time ago that the majority of what I write is in the first person. This obviously happened to me because I spent so much of my life writing in journals. It’s what comes naturally to me, but I needed practice writing in the third person. A website I went to gave some exercises as a way of practicing, and one such exercise was to write a short story about one of your friends, or a family member. Write from their point of view, but make it someone you are close enough to that you could do so easily. So that’s what I did. I wrote a story about a moment in my best friends life and I hope I did it justice.
This is a story about my friend Krista, who experienced something I wish I never had the ability to write about. Since I took the liberty of writing about her life, anyone who reads this story should read about the tragedy first hand at her blog: www.wordstohealthepain.wordpress.com.
The Love Story of Lillian and James
Can a 4am phone call ever bring happiness? Can it ever bring someone the news they’ve been waiting their whole lives to hear? When that loud, piercing, noise that so clearly doesn’t belong enters a house at such a quiet time, can it ever be good? When the world is effectively and desperately shut off for another day, can the discord that disturbs this silence ever bring the bearer peace? There are a few scenarios, one supposes; A late night birth, a lost pet found, a long lost relative reunited. But in most cases, these kinds of phone calls, they can only shatter. They can only break.
The day Lillian received her very own deafening phone call, she barely had time to prepare herself for what was at the other end. The screaming ring shook her from her fitful sleep. It seemed even louder in her empty, quiet home than usual, despite the time, because her head was already pounding. She thought she had stuffed out all access her body had to the senses. Ensuring she wouldn’t smell anything too strong, see anything too bright, or hear anything too loud. Her migraine had only just allowed her to fall asleep not minutes before the cry from the other room, demanding to be acknowledged, wanting nothing more than an answer. And she was too angry at the caller, even in their anonymity, to consider what was coming, to realize just how out of place it was.
- Lil……..Lil…….is…..is that you?
- Molly? What’s going on? Are you ok? Is everyone ok?
- Lil…..Oh God Lil…I can’t do this…..
- Please…..Molly, what is it?
- Lil….oh God….it’s Jimmy….Something….something’s happened. I don’t…I can’t….It can’t….We’re on our way to you, we’re in the car already. Stay where you are. We’ll be there as soon as we can.
Deafness filled the air around her. Nothingness but her own internal screaming. No! No! No! Not my Jimmy! Please no!
- Lil? Lillian? Are you there? Oh God, please talk to me!
- We’ll talk as soon as we get there ok?
- THAT WILL TAKE THREE HOURS! TELL ME NOW!……please.
- ….please….I need you to say it…please…please…just say he’s alright…tell me he’s hurt but he’s alright…I’m begging you…please…please…please.
- He’s not alright baby…he didn’t make it…it was a car accident….oh god…I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
- …I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I’m sorry
She hung up the phone and sat further up in her bed. She waited. Ever patient, she did exactly as she was told. She began to experience the numbness you hear about in the wake of a tragedy. Loss of feeling, loss of everything. But it wasn’t quite how she remembered reading about it. When you hear about this numbness, it is described as a loss of all feeling; body, mind, and soul. But that’s not what she felt, and she was definitely still feeling. Her body was certainly numb. Her head right down to her toes. But her brain, her heart, they still were in perfect working order. They could still feel the magnitude of everything. And they could feel it exemplified, as though she was feeling it twice as hard because her body had stopped responding.
She sat on the couch and awaited news. She awaited the sounds of movement. She awaited the moment when Jimmy would come home from his friends with that huge and amazing smile that was always ready for her, and hear him shout “well, I sure did miss you kiddo,” before planting a wet one right on her desperately waiting lips. And while noises of the early morning did come and go, what Lilian was waiting for most never did. Never would. Never could.
A knock on the door only half an hour after the call nearly knocked her off her chair. Hope welled inside of the fear that was already on high alert. He just forgot his keys. Mistaken identity, it happens all the time.
- Ma’am? Ma’am? Are you home?
Her internal mirage faded into nothing at the sound of the strangers voice, and fear was replaced with the dreaded thought that she needed to compose herself for the official at the other side of the door.
- Hello ma’am. Are you Lillian Murphy?
She gave only half a nod, so her head stayed firmly to the ground. His eyes would surely bring the truth and she was not composed enough for the truth.
- Ma’am, we have been informed that you co-occupy this residence with one James Edward Brentcliff? Is that correct?
Nod. Barely. Steeling herself for what is coming.
- Are you his girlfriend ma’am?
- I’m afraid to tell you there has been an accident over on Pine Road. James and the driver of the car have been taken to the hospital.
Desire trickled through her very veins. They are at the hospital! She finally believed it would be safe to look into the officer’s eyes but was instantly met with his grim and pitying stare. He might as well scream death at her. She was beginning to understand the truth.
- Now ma’am, I’m afraid that until his parents or a legal guardian arrive, no one can see him. It is my understanding they have been informed?
Oh, it’s a question. Nod.
- Ok ma’am. Are you alright if I go? Do you maybe have someone you could call to keep you company until your family arrives? Ma’am? Can you hear me?
Oh. Fuck. Nod. Nod again.
- Sorry officer. It’s fine. Yes I will call a friend. Thank you. Good night.
The door finally closed, and she was alone once more. Apparently, a police officer trumps even a devastating 4am phone call. She realized upon his departure just how real he has made this entire situation. It’s real. It’s real. It’s real.
Alone in their house at 4:37 in the morning, Lillian Murphy collapsed loudly and quickly to the ground.
It was here that Molly, Ted, and their daughter Dani found her three hours later. Sobbing, shivering, barely breathing, alone.
Ted picked her up and put her on the couch. His eyes were bloodshot too. From lack of sleep, from crying; the combination of the two made his eyes appear drained of any moisture that once gave them life.
Molly busied herself in the kitchen. Put on the kettle and called Dani to help make hot tea despite the increasingly warm weather. After a few minutes, they set mugs down in front of everyone on the empty coffee table. Soon the steam stopped rising, but the cups remained untouched.
Lillian knew she should say something. Their loss echoed hers. It was in it that they were now forever united. But she couldn’t. Every word seemed trivial, every sentence a wasted breath. Finally, Ted spoke:
- So, we’re supposed to be allowed at the hospital soon. You know….to…see him. To make sure…well…anyways…we should go soon. We don’t all need to be there. Lillian, Dani, why don’t you two stay here and try to rest a bit? Me and Molly will go, come right back
- I’m going
That was Lillian. She knew she had to go. She needed to be closer to him, or she needed to witness the colossal mistake first hand, most of all she needed to be there when Jimmy came running through the hospital doors screaming his apologizes at her as he grabbed her for the biggest and longest hug of their lives. I’m sorry he’d say. I fell asleep, he’d admit. I’m so sorry I put you all through this. To her he’d say I’m here, I’ll never leave. No, she definitely had to go.
Without any arguments everyone ambled out to the car and with an exhausted effort made the short drive the hospital. A flurry of nurses came next, one to welcome them, one to sign them in, one to direct them, one spouting her unwelcome apologies. It’s too soon for that. What are we even sure of yet? Surely, nothing warranting these ill-timed condolences. Finally, they were in a waiting area. It was decided Ted and Molly would go in first. Make the call. Lillian was warned against entering after, but she insisted.
This is it. Whatever hope I have left lies in that room. Baby, it’s all up to you. Please don’t be in there baby. I’m begging you. Don’t let it be you. Let this be over now. Please. Please.
But the next second the loud cries and audible tears that obviously belonged to Molly confirmed what Lillian already knew. It was her Jimmy. And he was gone. Really, really gone. Hope shattered her life into a million painful shards.
If she could just hold it together long enough, keep her composure just enough to convince the nurse of her ability to cope, she could be with him again. Just five more minutes.
- Honey, you really don’t need to do this. It’s too hard. Please.
- I have to. I’ll be quick. I just need to say goodbye.
Her voice didn’t crack. She was good. They would take her to him. They would be together again.
The nurse opened the door but she went the rest of the way alone. She stood in front of him, though he was still covered in a thin white sheet, just like in the movies. Her shaking hands betrayed her and she was glad no one was watching as tears poured off her face. Quick like a band aid or slow and sure? She didn’t know which would be less shocking, easier to take but her body chose for her. It wouldn’t move quickly for her anymore. Everything at a somber pace. It felt like hours, outside of time, but within seconds they were together again. She almost screamed for all the sorrow running through her but managed to control it before raising an alarm. She can’t lose her time with him, her final time. She looked down. It’s you. It’s really you. You’re really here. Why? Why? Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
She felt herself getting closer to him. Instinct. Impulse. Fear. She wasn’t sure. My Jimmy, my Jimmy. She climbed atop the table next to him. My Jimmy. Why Jimmy? Why? She felt herself curl up against him just exactly as she always did, exactly as she always should. Come back Jimmy. Don’t leave me here. I can’t do this life without you. You know I can’t. Her eyelids were starting to get heavy. Beside her lover, what better place for sleep? She succumbed to the best sleep her now splintered soul would allow. Here with her wounded other half.
She slept peacefully for hours. An oddly perfect sleep. When she awoke, things seemed different. Someone must have moved her, of course they had, but she couldn’t quite place where. Upon sitting, she fully opened her eyes and looked around. She wasn’t at home, but it was familiar. And she wasn’t alone, she could hear someone in the bathroom. She walked to the window and was taken aback by what she saw. Of course, I remember now. Jimmy, you brought me here. We had the most romantic vacation up here in our little cabin in the rain. In the middle of a gorgeous tropical forest, it just rained and rained. We read to one another while we took in our beautiful surroundings. It was the most perfect anniversary Jimmy. We always said we’d be back. Are we back Jimmy? Did you bring me back here?
The door to the bathroom opened and Jimmy walked out, full smile as always.
- Jimmy! You’re here! You’re here! It was a dream! But how did we get here?
Sobbing, Lillian ran to him and wrapped herself around his entire being. She was as close to him as she physically could be. Breathing in his smell. Certain never to let go.
- Kiddo. It’s ok. I’m here. We have all the time in the world. It’s ok. It’s ok.
He hugged her back. Tightly. Tighter than usual. This troubled her a little, and he hadn’t answered a thing. She reluctantly let go of her tight grasp ever so slightly so she could really look at him. He looked just the same as always. He felt just as real. But something was different, something she couldn’t quite place.
- Was it a nightmare, Jimmy? Have we never even left our little cabin in the rain? Have we been here this whole time?
- Of course we have baby. I know it’s confusing, I’m sorry I can’t help with that. Just feel that I’m here with you. Always. I will never leave you ok?
- What are you talking about? Jimmy, all that other stuff, that was just a nightmare. This is what’s real. You and me. Here. I’ll stay here forever to prove that to you.
But something was tugging at her already and she knew before the words left her mouth that she couldn’t stay forever and that it wasn’t all just a dream. This was the dream. This is the part she had to wake up from.
She pulled him to the bed they once shared on that magical vacation, the vacation where she finally knew the truth. Not just the truth that she loved him, she had always loved him really, but the truth that he was it. He was that special person to her, the one that people search the world for. It was them, together. Always. It was here in this cabin that all those things became clear. So she would hold onto that feeling forever. She would never be able to willingly let it go. She held him tight and he held her back with all the force he could. Maybe they could become one. Perhaps they could merge into one being so she’d never have to worry about being without her other half. She breathed him in, her hands all over him, she refused to blink so as not to miss a second of his presence. She felt him with all of her senses in every possible way. But the tugging was still getting stronger.
He kissed her so hard, more passionately than any earthly kiss could ever allow. The kind of kiss that shows just how much love could inhabit two bodies, just how much need and desperation could overtake them. They needed one another and this was their last chance to be together. The pull. The pull was tearing them apart.
- It’s time kiddo. We have to say goodbye. At least we can say goodbye.
- No! Not goodbye! Jimmy, I can’t! I can’t!
- I know, baby. I know. But you don’t belong here, neither do I.
- We’ll make it so we do belong here, I can’t say goodbye.
The site of a tear in Jimmy’s eyes made Lillian know just how close they were to being separated forever. Jimmy never cried.
- You’re gonna be great, Lil. You’re gonna do great. I’m sorry I can’t come back with you, but I’ll always be with you ok. Always. It just won’t feel the same as it once did. It’ll be a new kind of love. A different kind of together. Ok? Just try to remember that, ok? Promise me Lil. Promise you’ll try to remember that. Lillian? Are you listening to me? I can feel it. I can feel you fading already. I’m sorry. I thought we’d have longer.
Lillian looked around the room. Objects were slowly disappearing. First small things, books, pillows; then plants, chairs, it was all evaporating as if in a cloud. She knew she had seconds. She grabbed Jimmy, her Jimmy, tight. As tight as she could.
- I love you! I need you! Stay with me! Please!
- I love you baby. I’m sorry!
- I’ll always remember this! I’ll always remember our final goodbye. I love you. I love you . I love you.
She closed her eyes tight, willing her God to finally listen to her prayer.
- Please…Jimmy….come back Jimmy…please…please…please.
Lillian awoke to Molly’s sobs, to Ted prying her off of their son. Please. Please. Please. They took her out into the waiting room and set her down on an uncomfortable plastic chair. She looked up at the clock and saw she was only in there with him for five minutes. It felt like so much longer. She remembered a dream. Were you there Jimmy? Were you waiting for me in my dreams? Minutes went by in silence until Ted finally spoke.
- We can go now. All the paperwork is done. Lil, you’ll come stay with us for a while. We’ll stop by your place on our way out of town to grab a few things. Ok?
She nodded. Or she thought she nodded. Something was drawing her back to that room. She knew Jimmy was not really there anymore, but it felt like she was forgetting something already. His smile? That beautiful light in his eyes? The way he always made sure she was ok? The way she always felt safe and protected with him? She could never forget how amazing he was. If only she could have just said goodbye.
Molly and Dani were walking ahead and Ted held back, walking purposefully slow beside Lillian as she continued to stare back at Jimmy’s room. Gazing longingly at her lost love.
- He’ll never leave you Lillian.
This rather abrupt and unexpected admission caused Lillian to stop walking, she turned to Ted with a look of confusion as he continued.
- I just wanted to tell you. I know it’s still so fresh. But I know he’d want you to know. He won’t ever leave. No son of mine would leave his girl. He’ll be with you forever, maybe even now. Just in a different way. Try to remember that ok?
A shiver of familiarity ran through her entire body I’ll always remember. But it was gone just as quickly as it came. She nodded. She felt as if this small nod was all she would be capable of now. Her beloved language already lost to her. What use could she have for words?
So Lillian walked. She walked towards the car with Jimmy’s family. Alone. Thinking already of everything there was to do. She had to call her family, her friends. She had to make sure Jimmy has the send off an amazing soul like his deserved. But there would be time for all of that. In this moment, she need only remember to breathe. She need only remember.
Stay with me jimmy. Stay close. I need you with me. I will always need you with me.
Forever kiddo, forever.