A short story excerpt
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
The woman signed her name with a shaking hand, pushing the pages away as soon as she was done. She could feel the tears sting at the corner of her eyes as she fell back into a chair. It was hard for her to speak or even breathe as nurses and the doctor flitted around the bed like crumpled pieces of wrapper in the wind. They pressed buttons and turned switches; none of it made any sense to the woman who had to bear witness, but she refused to leave.
Kara held Charlie’s wrist, taking deep breaths as they neared the gate of the city. She found her body growing heavy with fear of the unknown, her steps coming harder as she stumbled a few times. Charlie kept her on her feet, walking her ever closer to the end of her dream.
Her hands gripped the rabbit’s furry elbow tightly as she took in breath with large gulps. Kara’s brows furrowed as images passed through her mind. All this time the beauty and stillness of this place had calmed her enough to forget.
The night was dark, so black it was as if someone had painted it with ink. The hail had caught the light like tiny stars as they pounded against her windshield. Blinding light poured in as she gripped the steering wheel with tight fingers. Nothing was still, nothing was calm. Her tires screeched, and the sound deafened her; she could feel the crystals of glass as the windows shattered and burst beside her.
Kara paused, causing Charlie to double check she hadn’t grown weary enough for a rest once more. But her eyes were trained on the small gap in Euphoria’s gates.
She smiled, slipping out from the rabbit’s grasp. She patted his furred shoulder, letting her fingers enjoy the luxury of his soft pelt before she looked to his face.
“I’m not going home, am I?” she asked, tears stinging her eyes and blurring her vision. The rabbit shrugged gently, saddened by the pain he saw in his friend’s gaze.
“Dunno,” he answered honestly. Such answers would never be given to him.
“But you don’t think so, do you?”
Her questions were hard; they made his heart ache right along with hers. He shook his head gently, a sadness overwhelming the usually boisterous being.
“Cans’ only know whats you know, my Kara.”
“Because you’re not real,” she murmured, the reality of the remark finally sinking in. The rabbit was a figment of her imagination, a friend she had played with as a child. He could know no more than she did.
“Yous lonely when come ‘ere. Yous be needin’ company. I’s come for yous.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, reaching forward and squeezing his delicate wrist. She turned from him, aware that although he was something she conjured from the recesses of her mind, her childhood friend still could not follow.
The woman cried, the machines slowly shutting down as tears rolled down her cheeks. She was forgotten for the moment as the doctor looked to the body, waiting for the second hand to pass firmly before he shut off the respirator. She wanted to scream the girl’s name, to wake her up; but she was so still now.
Kara felt the warmth of the gate, like rocks left out in the sun. She turned, looking to the fixture of the odd creature she had left behind. She waved to Charlie with a smile she hoped seemed braver than she felt. The rabbit looked to her, his nose ever twitching as he nodded solemnly. She knocked on the side of the walled city, wanting to delay further so she could just sit and stare at him, but something within her protested. Some internal alarm clock rang, and Kara knew that she couldn’t remain any longer. She slipped past the gate into the city, the postern closing with a deafening boom behind her.
The woman lifted her coat to her lips, muffling the racking sobs and screams as the last of the machines flatlined. The doctor turned to the nurse at his side, looking once more to his watch as he matched it with the clock on the table. “Time of death 1:3o pm,” he recited grimly.