Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Short Story: Why Me? Part II

Part 2 of the short story. I hope you like the continuation. Once again, it's not over. There's one last part, so hold on.

Why Me? Part II

I was at the coffee shop where I'm a waitress. Just like I always am at that time on Saturdays. I was just refilling a customer's order when he came.

He was pale and haggard looking. There were dark rings under his eyes from lack of sleep and overworking. The name on his badge read John Jones. A common enough name, but one that will forever stick out in my memory from this day forward.

When he gave me the news, I dropped the mug I had been refilling. I didn't even hear it shatter as it hit the floor. Didn't see the pieces shoot out in all directions, covering the floor in spinning, razor sharp bits of glass.

I grabbed at the nearest table with my left hand, trying to get a hold of something that would give me support. The wild, jerky movement sent dark brown liquid sloshing over the rim of the almost-full pot of coffee that was in my other hand and all over the tweed jacket of the customer I was serving.

After swearing colorfully, the man yelled at me and grabbed for some napkins, hastily trying to clean up the mess.

All I could see was the flashing red and blue lights of the cop's car. It filled my vision, blocking out the rest of the world. Why, when we had so little, would God take away what little we had?

I gripped the table so tightly that my knuckles turned white. The customer with the tweed jacket was still yelling at me. John Jones, who had been standing by twirling his police hat nervously, finally stepped in and told the man to shut up, or he would incarcerate him.

“Does... does my husband know?” I asked, my whole world spinning crazily.

“I sent an officer to inform him at his work.” John Jones said, looking hesitantly at me as if I was a bomb about to explode.

Then the tears came. A tidal wave, a tsunami that could not be held back. “Take me to her!” I cried.

The ride there was short, but to me it seemed like an eternity. Each second was more painful than the last. It dragged on and on. Black dots danced across my vision, threatening to completely overwhelm me. I dearly wished to succumb to the darkness, but it was not the time for that; my family would need me.

I rushed through the halls, trying to get to my daughter. Everything was a blur of white, gray, and that sickly green color that nurses wear.

I burst through the double doors and into the emergency room. I was immediately descended upon by strong arms dragging me back. I was vaguely aware of lots of noise, but I could not comprehend any of it. My whole being was zoned in on the motionless figure that lay on the operating table. Zoned in on the blood, the color of it: the scarlet that shone almost like metal. There was so much of it.

It was like I was seeing the whole scene through a long, dark tunnel. Everything was surreal. I was pulled out of the room and thrust into the warm embrace of my husband's arms. I didn't even comprehend it. I was staring in complete unbelief through the small windows that looked in on the horror that was going on inside.

Doctors were rushing back and forth, with nurses handing them instruments and utilities as they asked for them. There was so much blood. My daughter's hair was covered in that thick, viscous liquid.

When the man in the blood-stained white coat told us that our daughter was dead, I didn't even acknowledge him. I had known it would be true when I first set my I eyes on her seemingly lifeless body.

Awhile later I regained control of myself somewhat. I was sitting in the emergency room–red eyes swollen and sore–on my husband's lap and in his arms, when my son came bursting through those same double doors that I had earlier.

His hair was plastered to his head in damp tendrils. His chest was heaving with exertion, sweat rolling down his face. He had apparently run here all the way from the library where he had first gotten the news.

In his hand he held the book Watership Down, a personal favorite of both him and his sister. He stared wildly at his dead sibling, his dead world. His eyes were large orbs of disbelief. Then he looked down at the book in his hand, and threw it with all his might across the room.

Turning and letting out a hoarse yell, he punched the wall. Then he punched it again, and again. I leapt to my feet to stop him, but my husband grabbed my wrist, preventing me.

As I looked at my son, purposefully putting himself through pain, I felt a searing pang go through my heart. It was as if a sword of cold steel had run me through. How would my son go on, when his sister had meant more to him than the whole galaxy?

When he had finally finished with the wall, there was blood all over his knuckles, and crimson streaks ran across the white paint. The splashes of color stood out in sharp contrast from the plain hospital dullness.

He turned, looking at me and his father. His eyes were completely blank and emotionless. It was as if a shutter had been dropped, blocking out the universe and everyone in it.

“How,” he gasped out, “could she do this?” his whole chest was heaving with emotion that he was desperately trying to contain. “How could she– LEAVE ME!” the last two words came out in a scream.

With one last display of anger, my son kicked over an empty cot, and sprinted out the door. I rose to go after him.

“Let him go,” my husband said.

“We need to comfort him, need to look after him! He could kill himself!” I was hysterical, and desperate to take care of my son.

“He knows we're here for him, and when he's ready, he'll come. But for now, we need to let him deal with it in his own way. If we try and stop him, he'll hate us for it. He won't kill himself, he knows his sister would not want that.”

I went and grabbed the beat-up copy of Watership Down. Rising I stared desperately at the double doors which were still swinging. The double doors that my son had disappeared through. “Will he ever recover from this?” I whispered, to scared to speak the words louder than that.

My husband was also staring after our son. “I don't know, I just don't know.”


  1. Once again Thani, definitely an attention grabber, I loved it. Incredibly powerful story, with such concrete descriptions. I also thought it was interesting how you switched perspectives between daughter and mother. I cant wait (with even more eagerness than last time) to read the continuation.

  2. Again, very good. The way you capture the emotion, especially in the first half, is superb. You attain the perfect mix of concrete physicality (we know where we are and what's happening) and psychological turmoil. Very nicely done.