….Bound by a dark act of hate and despair, high school freshmen, Andrew and Kiernan, learn that their untimely deaths did not bring an end to their pain, but only began the suffering of those left behind. While his lost memories return, Andrew must master seemingly impossible feats, both spiritual and physical. As a dark spirit stalks Kiernan through the borderlands of life and death, he must also face the pain his actions have caused his loved ones. To save both their souls, Andrew must convince Kiernan to return to life and open his eyes to the love and beauty which had always been there.
Pain welled up from deep within, overtaking him, boiling forth from his every pore. Every injury from his past, both real and imaginary, manifested at once, overwhelming him, leaving him a tortured thing without a name, lost in a mysterious land at the outer edges of possibility.
Then the voices came, rolling through the sands like tremors from a quake. “Run!” they cried. “It comes! Damnation comes! Beware its path! Damnation comes!”
Kiernan’s feet hit the ground and he ran faster than ever, until his burning lungs and throat failed to draw further breaths and his heart, hammering inside his chest harder than ever, refused a further beat. He sank to his knees, all feeling in his mind and body departing—his emotions and hopes deserted him.
He sank inside himself through the fabric of his strange new reality into the real world, where he could see and hear the hum of fluorescent lights, respiratory machines, and monitors in a bright white room, within which rested his unmoving body, wrapped in white sheets and blankets. He stood invisible to the living, near his mother, but on the opposing side of his comatose form.
He saw the tears running down Kylie’s tired face, the exhaustion pouring forth from her eyes, her hand gripping his body’s hand tightly, and he realized that she had become his only anchor to the living world. He wanted to tell her it was all right, to let her know he was there, but she spoke first.
“How could you do this to me?” She cried. “To your brother? You promised me you’d never hurt him.” She took a deep breath and sniffled. “You promised!”
I trotted into the area of the Intensive Care set aside for my family, glancing briefly around, slurping the last of my soft drink through a straw, irritating every nurse around I am sure—I was seven—but I froze with a start for a second and dropped my forgotten Styrofoam cup, scattering mostly ice and a bit of watered down cola across the floor. I had seen my brother simultaneously in two places, and that is a lot for anyone of any age to wrap their heads around.
He was lying in the bed of course, motionless except for his breathing, which was handled by the Life Support System, but at the same time. I clearly saw him standing close to our mother, Kylie, or at least a shimmery version of him and he was looking back at me, appearing as perplexed as I was.
I shuddered, shaking my head in denial of what at that time, I assumed was impossible, and slipped in beneath my mother’s arm and sought a hint of comfort, as I snuggled against her. “Mommy, let’s go to the church room,” I pleaded. “You know, that one room with the pretty windows and candles.”
A quick glance revealed no further evidence of the apparition and I eyed the laboring machines with discomfort. “It’s quiet,” I murmured. “And no ghosts there,” I added too quiet for my mother to hear.
Kylie brushed my bangs to one side, but as resilient as any child’s unruly hair, they slid back, covering one eye completely. I really needed a trim, but caught up in our family’s catastrophe, such a need fell, like so many other things, to the wayside.
“What if your brother wakes up?” she retorted, “and no one’s here? He’d feel helpless—so alone. No idea where he’s at. Why he’s—”
I pulled away from my mother, interrupting. I was hurting and feeling rather neglected at the time. “Mommy, I have to tell you something about—”
She reached out cupping my hand and made a feeble effort to draw me back to her. “Maybe you’re just too young to understand,” she said distantly. “You are only—”
I whipped my hand free and took two steps back from her, saying something I regret even to this day. “So, if I have an accident like Kiernan, hurt myself like he did, then maybe you’d start caring about me again.”
My mother returned for a time—the mother that had always loved and protected Kiernan and myself, swept me up into a tight hug. As we both cried, she patted my back and made gentle soothing sounds. “Never think that,” she said, kissing my forehead and sighing, torn between her two sons, both of us needing her for very different reasons. “A visit to the chapel, even a short one, will help us both I think.”
We separated and just looked at one another until she reached out and offered me her hand. I forgave her fallibility and accepted, holding her hand against my cheek. My tears fell over her fingers and we just stood there, beginning to heal one another of wounds neither of us realized we had endured.
Moments later, we exited, hand-in-hand, together. The ghost of my brother watched us leave and looked with longing one last time upon his own comatose form.
Twitter: E.L.Reedy@AuthorELR & Ann@keysmomma
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