Two words make one broken heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Anthony has been so absorbed in his world, he couldn't see who's was crashing down on them.

Submitted: October 26, 2018

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Submitted: October 26, 2018

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‘Anthony? Anthony!’ I heard faintly. Everything was a blur and every feeling and every spoken word felt like it was coming from a distance. I was being shaken but it seemed like my mind took ages longer to process what my body was experiencing. Then I heard it again, ‘ANTHONY!’ and that time my trance-like state broke and I surfaced back to consciousness.

I’d been in bed, asleep, in the darkness. When my eyes adjusted to the piercing brightness of my overhead tube lights I saw my sister, Thea. She was clutching onto me for dear life. I saw the worry in her eyes and sensed timidity in her shaky hold of me. I had to wonder why she held me like that and what she was doing in my room so late. I glanced at my wall-clock. It was almost 3am

With curiosity reaching an instant peak I felt inclined to ask: ‘What’s wrong? Are you okay?’

Thea released me and retreated to the foot of my bed. To give me more breathing room, I suppose. Her perfectly pressed white nightie brought out the dimmed shades across my crumpled sheets.

‘Me? I’m fine. I’m worried about you. Look at yourself. You were having another night terror.’

Terror. That word shattered something in me. Then, in that moment I became fully aware of myself. My breathing was higher than normal, almost like I was out of breath. Goosebumps pimpled my body as I realised my bed sheets were cold, but what was odd was that they were moist, very moist as well. In a panic I dabbed my hands on my face and chest. They were drenched in a fresh coat of sweat. Not again! I thought. I’d been having nightmares for a few nights now. Well, nightmare is more accurate. Nightmares, plural, implies that they were different variations. No, that isn’t accurate, for I saw and did the exact same thing in each nightmare. I would wake up to the sound of vicious growling in my closest. My family didn’t own a dog so I’d always instantly feel the anxiety creep up on me like I was the mouse to its python.  I’d lie there in fear until I mustered up the courage to get up and do something.  I’d draw back my bedsheets and slide out of my bed. Weirdly, I always knew it was a dream because when I’d call out for my parents and Thea, there would be no answer.

But, there was something about that growling. Something about its tone and intensity that made me second-guess which phase of reality I was in, for it made me feel a sensation that blurred the lines between dream and real life, like having sleep-paralysis but also the ability to quiver when you see your demon. The closer I’d step towards my wooden closet door, the closer the fear would step to my body. Each step grows shakier, each breath more icy and choked, and each thought darker, imagining what would be on the other side: A beast? A dog? Or nothing? My mind couldn’t decide on what it was. Another part of me asked why I had to know. I don’t know, but I do know that whatever was in that room drew me like a magnet.

Then, as my hand clasps the circular handle, my breathing stops, as does my heart, for a second only. I’d open the door and nothing would be inside, always.

 I forgot that Thea was staring at me, waiting for some sort of response. I had none. I just clutched my knees and began staring blankly into them.

Thea reached for me and embraced me again, this time more tenderly, like a fragile babe. Then she said to me:

“You’re not spending the night alone anymore.’ She said and smiled warmly. ‘I’ll sleep beside you for protection.”

I chuckled. Thea was older than me, but she was only 15 at the time. “And what exactly would you do if a monster burst in from my closet and charged at me?” I asked her incredulously.

She shrugged and played along with my sarcastic tone. “Moi?” she asked, luxuriously placing a palm on her chest. “I’ll throw myself ahead of you and block its path. Anything that tries to get to my little brother has to get through me.”

She leaned over and gave me a little nuggie after that, which actually made me feel that much more secure. Thea was always like that, though, looking out for me, even when I didn’t want it sometimes. So, like when we were little, I let her spend the rest of the night in my room. We swopped my sweat-laden bedsheets for dry ones and I laid down to rest with Thea by my side.

*

 

*Claps of Thunder*

I woke up, in a start, to claps of thunder. Wisps of air burst into my room in intervals, making my curtains flail wildly, like a frightened horse. The cracks of lightning illuminating my windows prevented my room’s pitch blackness. Though, that wasn’t enough to see my surroundings clearly. I couldn’t make out Thea’s figure so I frantically felt around, for some indication, any, that she was still with me. No, she wasn’t and I quivered when the realisation sunk in and my heart started racing.

Before I could internalise it all, I observed a peculiar occurrence. The noble war in the sky had stopped, like the heavens had called an armistice. The winds were tame and my room became a vacuum. The only sound that could be heard appeared to be coming from my own breathing. A part of me, a small one, wanted to believe that this was the aftermath of the storm but no, an even larger part of me was convinced that it was the calm before it. The latter was right. Without warning, the growling started, the very same violent machinations of my sub-consciousness.

I tightly clenched my fist as a shockwave of fear spread through my body. I felt it hold me and held me, indeed it did. Though, it also drew me. My moves were timid and motivated with a force I knew not of. I wanted to stay on the soft confines of my bed but my limbs wouldn’t comply. I drew back my sheets and found myself standing, facing the epicentre of my anxiety.

The icy chill of floor tiles didn’t bother me. My focus was on one thing only. I had to know what was in there! As my steps progressed, as did the malignity of my predictions to what I was going to meet.

*Step*

It’s a beast!

*Step*

It’s a demon!!

*Step*

IT’S THE DEVIL HIMSELF!!

Upon contact with the knob my room became a vacuum again. The growling stopped, as did my heart. Lines of cold faded into being, on my face, where my tears were running. I turned the knob, opened the door and froze. Not because it was empty but because it wasn’t.

“No, no, no” I mumbled. “Thea?”

Her face was towards the dark environs of the closet, which stretched inside like a deep hallway. Her hair was all over the place, her skin pale and dress crumpled. What was most odd was what she was doing. From where I was it was as though she was talking, no, mumbling to herself. I approached to hear her better.

“They don’t like me” She said when I could hear her clearly.

She didn’t notice me as I came close to her. I put a hand on her turned shoulder, “Who, Thea?”

She swivelled round to me like she was voice activated. But when she did it was like her appearance changed. Looking at her face to face, her dress was perfect, as was her hair. Her pale complexion switched to a golden radiance befitting that of an angel and her smile was flawless.

“Oh, hey Anthony, can I help you?” she asked enthusiastically.

Puzzled, I just stared at her a moment. “You sounded sad, what’s wrong?”

She just shrugged with her artificial smile, said “I’m fine” and swivelled back to face the darkness. As she did, her form reverted back. This time, her hair was a touch darker, wilder. Her skin pale and around her, I observed, came the sudden acrid scent of dampness.

She started speaking again, with a more striking intensity. “They don’t even care! And it’s my fault, mine! All because I’m….I’m not—”

“Thea!” I grabbed her shoulders and spun her around to face me but the result was the same as before. Her features changed to those more pleasant to the viewer and it was topped off with her unconvincing, troubling smile.

“Oh, hey Anthony, can I help you?” she asked enthusiastically.

“Thea, what is wrong with you?” My dejected eyes stared into hers but saw no trace of the S.O.S. she kept signalling out to me.

She shrugged again, saying “I’m fine” and retreated to her position away from me. As she did, this time, her hair was died pitch black, her skin mouldy and character stained with the hue of deceit. She started sobbing, and then bellowed like a banshee. Between these bursts of outwardly driven sadness I deciphered her speech.

“Maybe everything will be fine if I….” And she picked up a bodkin from her side, eyeing it with a prisoners delight at seeing their tool of freedom.

I sprung forth, slapped it out of her hand and beheld her face to face again. It didn’t change this time, the façade had worn off, I suppose. The most haunting thing about it was the look of her face. Her mascara ran miles down it and her eyes told the tale of someone on the brink….

In a tone, half sob-like, half broken, she whispered: “Help me”

 

*Thunder claps*

I woke up in a startle. I ignored all sensory familiarisation with my surroundings to check on Thea next to me. In the dark, turned away from me, she was crying quietly, undoubtedly trying to hide it. I turned her over so she knew I was awake.

“I’m fine” She insisted.

No bodkin by her side. I was relieved that I still had time. “No, you’re not” I said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 M.M.Chatsala. All rights reserved.

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