Where Circles End

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Who is she? Where is she? What is she?

Submitted: October 30, 2011

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Submitted: October 30, 2011

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Ana slammed on her brakes and came to a skidding halt inches from the white line. She exhaled slowly and counted the beats made by the windshield wipers. By the time she got to count seven, blood had returned to her knuckles and her foot began to relax. Count ten brought oxygen back into her lungs and twenty steadied her frantic heart. The light blurred from red to green and Ana lifted her foot off the brakes slowly. She tentatively pressed down on the gas, easing into the intersection. Suddenly she was spinning, the wipers scraping against shards of glass. She felt something pinch her right side and she lost all feeling in her left. Her legs burned for a short moment, and then it was as if they were gone. Her head hit something, and pain jabbed through her neck, her arms, and her chest. And then her world went black.

It was like watching a movie. Blurry images, lights zooming by, sounds reaching her ears as muddled messes. Yes, very much like a movie. Or perhaps a dream, a dream where shadows and light converge. Where all is everything and everything is nothing. From where there is no escape. No in, no out. No up, no down. No, not a dream, a new beginning.

She grasped at the space around her, but found nothing. She opened her mouth, but no sound was made. She tried to open her eyes, but found they were already wide. Her lungs expanded, trying to suck oxygen out of the air. Only there was no air, there was no light. There was simply nothing. She reached up to her face, but she could neither move her arm nor find her face. It began to dawn on her that maybe she WAS the nothing. It was not that she wasn’t anything, that she didn’t exist. She did exist. She was very much indeed something. It was that that thing was nothing.

Hurried voices and lights continued to blur past her. She turned her head and saw two figures. One came closer and she felt something on her forehead. A deep, comforting sound erupted from the shape. The sound cut deeply into her body and she began to relax. She tried to concentrate on the sound, catching bits of the words. “... Leave me ... Need you ... In there ... Alright ... Promise ... Don’t leave ...”

A pinprick of light circled around, as if taunting her, or searching in the abyss for something that didn’t exist. She tried to blink in attempt to clear her vision, but nothing happened. The dot continued to circle. Circle and search, circle and search. She realized it was ever so slowly beginning to get bigger. Searching and growing, the light seemed to tease its victim. What the thing was, she hadn’t the faintest clue, but it was something. A something to reach out for with her handless form. A something to look at with her eyes of nothing. A something that was seeking out her in this void of nothing. Time seemed to pass by as if time itself didn’t exist. Still, the thing spun and grew, torturing her with its laziness.

“Ana?” She heard the questioning word and struggled to find its source. Thrashing against her restraints, she tried to cry out to it, to beg it to come closer. She found her whole body unwilling to move and she realized she couldn’t feel anything. Her voice couldn’t find her throat and her movements went un-obeyed. She rolled her eyes around in their sockets, relieved to find them still working. There, to her left, stood the voice. Tall, brown hair, blue eyes, goatee, maroon polo shirt with a nametag. The tag read “Keith” and she combed her brain, searching for the meaning. She found none and moaned, startling herself with the sound. The voice began to speak again and she focused on its mouth. “Ana, it’s me, Keith.” Its eyes darted across her face, looking for something. She frowned and looked away, concentrating on the search in her brain.

She was nothing. She had accepted that fact. But if she was nothing, who was something? The light was something, but who was the light? What would happen when they met? It’s said that opposites attract. But don’t opposites also cancel each other out? The light grew closer and closer, and her panic grew higher and higher. She scrambled backwards, but realized there was nowhere to go. She was going to die, wasn’t se? No. She wasn’t going to let that happen; she would fight. But, with what? The void shifted, wrapping its protective arm around her, drowning her in its embrace. She sighed in relief and relaxed. The nothing would protect her. After all, she was the nothing. Wasn’t she?

The voice had started talking again, that strangely familiar yet unearthly voice. She had concluded that it was a male’s voice, but which male she was still unsure of. She rolled her eyes again towards his face, studying every feature, every hair, looking for something, anything that would trigger her memory. He obviously thought he knew her, and had even given her a name. Ana. She liked the sound of it. Her eyes were still scanning his face when another voice reached her ears. A lighter, higher voice, this one more soft and gentle than the male’s. She looked in the direction of it and found herself looking into yet another face. This one had no hair around its mouth, and the eyes were brown. The skin was a darker tone and the hair reached down past the neck, and it was black. A smile appeared on the slender lips and they began moving, but she lost the sound before it reached her. The figure was wearing a purple shirt, lighter in color than the male’s. She was also wearing a nametag, although its style also differed. They must be different things, these two figures that continued to talk to her. One was rough where the other smooth. One was pale while the other dark. One was called Keith while the other Carissa. Yes. Very different. Opposites, really.

She relaxed under nothing’s arms, snuggled peacefully in its embrace. Her world was beginning to become natural and not so disorienting. She was even beginning to enjoy it. She didn’t miss the embrace of other people. Who would when they have the embrace of nothing? She giggled silently and snuggled closer to her protector. The light was long gone, out of sight, out of mind. If she had a mind.

She blinked her eyes open and stared at the ceiling for a few seconds. With her eyes finally focusing, she turned and searched for Keith, the man with the nice voice. She found him sitting in a chair, asleep. She felt her lips curl into a small smile and she tried moving her hand again. She frowned in frustration and held her breath, struggling to lift just a finger. Her lungs finally gave way and she gasped for air. Panting slightly, she realized Keith was beginning to stir and hoped that he would wake up. She heard him get up and tuned her head to look. His face held a mixture of relief and concern as he walked over to her. “Ana?” He took her hand in his, but she felt nothing. Looking down at their entwined hands, she studied them. “Ana? Can you feel my hand?” She shook her head slightly. He removed his hand and looked at her face again. “Do you know what happened?” Again, she shook her head. “You were in a car crash.” She didn’t respond, but instead turned away, trying to make sense of his words.

The nothingness cradled her in its arms, whispering its own version of a lullaby in her non-existent ears. She thought briefly of the dot of light, but Nothing’s tender grip tightened around her mind. She quickly focused on her precious Nothing and how they had met, trying to get comfortable yet again. Her mind wandered to the timeless past and she vaguely remembered a world of color. Utterly confused and troubled by the image, she brought herself back to the now, the embrace of the void.

Keith continued to talk, trying to regain her attention. “We’re losing you, Ana. You’re dying.” She jerked her head back to his face. She caught a tear running down his cheek as it landed on the bed and noticed his chin was quivering. “You’re dying. They can’t fix you.” His voice was shaking and his face turning red. “They’ve tried everything, but your heart is too weak.” She looked down at her chest, just now noticing the tubes and white pads that covered it. She looked back at Keith, her mind reeling with the information. She stared deep into his bloodshot eyes. This was Keith. Her Keith. The love of her life, her soul mate. She strained against the invisible restraints, wanting nothing more that to tell him she loved him, that she remembered him, that she wouldn’t leave him here alone. She wanted to reach up to him, touch his face, feel his hand, tell him it was going to be alright. She opened her mouth, screaming silently against the clutching hand on her throat. She could see Keith trying to calm her, but it wasn’t working. She was dying and leaving him.

Death. It wasn’t Nothing that cradled her now. It was Death. It had always been Death. She had willingly given herself into Death. She thrashed against its cold, icy grip, screaming as she lunged forward. But Death held on. She tried retching herself from its iron claws, but the chains didn’t break. Her mind raced, searching for a weakness in its hold.

“I don’t want to die!” She finally managed to scream at the world. Keith still stood above her, crying. She realized she was crying too. “I don’t want to die, Keith. Save me. I love you!” She thrashed against Death’s grip. She could feel its claws of ice reaching out beyond the void for her soul, deep in her body. She moaned and arched her back in pain, willing her body to fight the cold hand. She faintly heard someone yell “she’s crashing!” before she lost her grip on reality and relaxed; looking into Keith’s breaking eyes.

 

It had been one year to the day that she had crashed. The man that had hit her had died on the scene. She walked along the cold path, the wind whipping around her and tugging her to let go. The cloudy sky threatened to wash her away, but she kept walking. She began reading the stones as she passed them. So many lives lost for one reason or another. Some took it themselves, a waste of their own breath. Others had it stolen from them. Still others willingly gave theirs up to save another. She nodded gravely at each stone, respecting its owner and their family, remembering what it was like to be alone in this world. She stopped in front of his stone, frozen as she was momentarily brought back a year. The markings read Randy Web. 1970-1998. Son, Brother, Friend. She stood, staring at the cold marble, silent. This was the man that had done it. Randy Web. How she longed to tell him how she felt, what he had done, but she didn’t. She stood perfectly still, tracing the outlines of the white rock with her eyes. Time went by and the shadows shifted their pointing. She noticed a man walking by and she began to follow him, recognizing him as a regular visitor. He was walking slow, weighted. He was tall and had moppy brown hair. Under his black duster, a maroon collar showed. In his left hand he loosely held a bouquet of white carnations, his normal gift. He glanced at Randy’s stone and his face hardened, but he didn’t stop. He moved on, stopping at a stone four plots down. He stood still for a few seconds before falling to his knees in defeat, shaking with remorse. She moved behind the stone and watched him, silent. After several long minutes, he looked up at the marble, laying the flowers on the ground in front of it. His eyes were puffy and from his lips ran a thin layer of drool. His cheeks looked flushed and his features old and worn. On his chin and jaw-line was several days’ worth of stubble, half of it grey: too grey for a man his age. She studied him, an emptiness welling up inside her. He stood up and looked her direction. His eyes lingered on her for a moment, but then focused behind her. His lips parted and he began to speak. “I miss you, Ana.” He took one more glance at the pale stone, and walked away, leaving her silently watching the love of her life fade into the horizon of a world she would never know again.


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