Don't Panic

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a twisted story about a person who has been in a car crash and is trying to come to terms with it. It could probably go further but I'm not sure how, so I just uploaded it as it was.

Submitted: July 06, 2008

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Submitted: July 06, 2008

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 I woke up to the sounds of traffic, and the light that managed to filter through my ineffectual blinds. I rolled with some effort onto my other side to look at my bedside clock: 8:14AM. I didn’t see any reason to rise, so I fell into a fitful slumber for another hour. The sounds from the street had died down by this time as I imagined people getting to work, settling at their desks, having a purpose in life. I pulled myself up and reached for my chair. The first and one of the only physical exerts of the day; this manoeuvring from my soft mattress to the slippery leather of the wheelchair. I don’t look down anymore than I need to. Then the crossing of the hallway, to the bathroom where the sink has been modified to accommodate my condition. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, studying with detachment the figure in the mirror.
 His hair is thinned and greying slightly at the temples, the rest of it dark brown and unstyled. Travelling down, the forehead and cheeks have a dull greyish tinge, and the skin no longer holds taut across the face. The lips down turned at the corners in a permanent anti smile. The eyes are the most haunting, because I can still recognise some vestige of the old me in him. I spat out my mouthful of toothpaste and dropped the gaze of my reflection.
 Day time TV is rubbish; those who have never spent long periods of the weekday house bound cannot appreciate this enough. People go on about special needs for invalids; building a better quality of life and whatever the fuck else but there’s one thing they don’t think of right there – the sheer mind numbing qualities of the screen during daylight hours that does nothing to nurture our already deprived brains. I know this because in the first months since the accident that’s all I did: watch the box. Now I try and keep my screen time to a minimum. I read a lot.
 Today was to be slightly more eventful than the usual, as I had my weekly counselling session to attend in the afternoon.
 Dr. Nicola Hatch; a blonde wisp of a woman in her early thirties, with a penetrating blue gaze that betrayed the force of her personality. She was probably the type I would have gone for, before the accident. One of the billion things that changed; all women now looked straight through me - whether through politeness or in quiet revulsion the offshoot is the same. So it’s nice to be looked at by her. I won’t delude myself though. These sessions would cost me a sizable chunk of my weekly wage, had I one.
“So Ian, how are you feeling this week?” She smiled her patient quizzical smile, the one where one side of her mouth turns up. I think I could fall in love with Dr. Hatch. But I just shrugged and said
“Yeah. Alright I suppose.”
“That’s good to hear.” She brushed a piece of hair from her cheek and turned to my file. “Now, last week we made considerable progress. I’d like to pick it up from there, if that’s alright with you?”
“Sure.” I don’t know why she asked. I suppose in the beginning, that silent screaming blur of days in the aftershock, I might have been more uncooperative.
“Close your eyes and slow your breathing.”
 I obeyed. I let my hands find the edge of my chair, careful not to touch my legs. When my eyes are closed it feels like someone else’s flesh, too close and unknown.
 
 “Now, what happened after you left the house, Ian?”
 
 I stumbled on the lawn, nearly regained balance, then felt myself inevitably tipping towards the dark wetness of the grass. It didn’t hurt; I was floppy as a rag doll and almost as brainless. I could hear laughter somewhere in the distance, then a door slamming and voices close by.
“Get him up.” A pair of strong arms found my own and hauled me dizzyingly upright.
“You alright?” It was Dave, his dilated pupils a few inches from my own. I pulled back instinctively.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just fell over. Slippery, you know?” He laughed louder than was necessary, I thought.
“Like fuck it is. You’re messy.”
“So are you.” I grinned back, still feeling the tingling warmth in my limbs despite the cold outside “Where are the girls?”
“They’re coming; come on we’ll wait in the car.”
 I sat in the front seat, Dave in the driver’s and we put on some sounds.
 Sounds.
 The throb of the bass reverberated throughout the car.
 I don’t know how long we sat there, just listening to the sounds.
 
“Ian. Ian – are you alright?” The office swam back into focus and Dr. Hatch was looking intently at me. I realised my hands were gripping the sides of my chair tightly, too tightly, and the top half of my body was shaking slightly. I resumed my breathing pattern.
“I’m okay. I don’t know what happened…”
“We knew reliving these – memories – wouldn’t be easy.” Her eyes slid away for the briefest second, as if she was trying to remember something herself, then locked back on mine. “But I believe it will be beneficial. It might stop the nightmares. Your unconsciousness may be trying to unlock what you are suppressing.”
 I just nodded. I didn’t know what to believe; all I had was blind trust. Being an invalid will put you in that situation a lot.
 Its funny that word: invalid. I am of no value.
 “So can you try and remember what happened next?”
 
Dave’s face glowed in the light from his cigarette. He was looking back towards the house, foot tapping not to the beat but in impatience. I could tell he was coming down and this cold shell of metal with only me for company was no place to be. Me, I was still blissed out. It goes like that sometimes; you never know the quality of the gear you get till you neck it. I was building a cocoon around myself using the music, envisaging a couch, a blanket, a joint and a warm body curled next to mine. Back at Dave’s all would come to be.
“Come on, where the fuck are they?”
“Don’t panic, they’ll be here. Saying goodbye - you know how those two are.” I thought benevolently of the girls, Madeline and Ash. The four of us had formed quite a tight group. I wondered who I would end up crashing with tonight.
“That’s it, I’m doing this now.” He pulled the wrap from his pocket and tapped out a generous pile onto the dash, deftly scraping two lines into being with the skill of the accomplished coke head. I looked dreamily past him as he bent down, saw the door finally open. They looked like angels in silhouette. I bent my head to the proffered line and by the time they got to the car Dave’s mood was magically restored.
“We were having the best time” said Mad in a dreamy voice that spoke more of chemical love than the reality of the party.
“They were a bunch of wankers, Mad. The night is yet young. The real party starts at mine.” Dave was wired, crunching the car into gear and performing a three point turn out of the driveway at high speed. We hit the main road, ours the only pair of headlights that gleamed back from the slick tarmac.
 The girls had their heads together in the back, giggling about something. I rested against the headrest and enjoyed the acceleration force; coupled with the pulsating music and the flickering of passing streetlights the car became our space ship. Dave was the captain, I the co- pilot and the girls the crew. We were a team, blasting off to greater heights, or maybe we had already reached them.
 
 I stopped. Dr. Hatch looked up expectantly from her notepad.
“So there were four of you in the car, Dave was driving. Can you remember what happened next?”
 The panic started to rise in my throat and I fought it back, and searched frantically for images, sounds – anything – but my brain was a total blank because I simply couldn’t remember what happened next. Not even darkness, because darkness is a colour; its black and dense like when your eyes are closed except I don’t remember closing my eyes, I don’t remember anything.
 The notebook snapped shut rather suddenly, though her voice stayed low and even.
“We’ll leave it there for today.” I can only nod, wishing I could see. Glad I couldn’t.
 
 
 The night brought its own recollections. Blood splattered faces, contorted limbs, organs slyly poking from within exposed white shards. The things the living should never see.
 I woke up drenched, heart thudding sickeningly in my chest but already slowing as I became conscious of it. For most people it ends here; the nightmare is over and the dread dissipates. I know it will never leave me.
 


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