To Live a Life That is Not My Own
By Suany Cañarte
The lights shone through the dark windows. Red to blue to red and black to blue. They caught one another sometimes and on the splintered bark in front of me they turned a deep violet. These colors were so wrong, so out of place. They weren't the same colors I had seen just a few moments ago. I couldn't truly remember why the minutes before now seemed so vague or the reason that I expected everything to have the odor of salt-water, but it surely didn't. I could hear Heidi weeping violently and at first I thought it was because the glass had torn into the skin of her cheeks and forehead so deeply. The blood flowed so ceaselessly down her face, arms, and chest that it held my breathing. My lungs begged for air but I couldn't concede, not knowing that she was in so much terrible pain.
A tapping noise broke the stagnant air; it was followed by a loud metallic screech. Heidi's door fell away and four unfamiliar arms lifted and dragged her out. I reached for her, but soon four other arms were doing the same to me. I could hear people speaking, but couldn't understand a word they said. I thought at some point that they were asking me questions. I tried to focus my eyes on them. And then, they were gone: the men, the car, Heidi. The last thing that slipped through my eyes was the faint blue light and the feeling that my lungs were being forced to receive something I had previously refused to give them.
The darkness was very inviting and I became somewhat disgruntled when I was torn away from it into brightness. It was blinding at first - white and without end. It took so long for my eyes to focus that my ears took advantage and came around first.
"It looks like he's waking up," I heard a man's voice murmur. He sounded important. When my eyes finally caught up I was able to read the room I was in. It seemed that everything was either in shades of white or silver. A small, plump, dark man held a metal clipboard in his hands. His thick glasses distorted his eyes into a strange shape. He glanced over at me with a smile and spoke in an accent that I didn't recognize, "It's good to have you back with us Mister Trent. How are you feeling?"
I felt my face wrinkle as my thoughts flew backwards remembering what had happened.
"Heidi!" I gasped and tried to jump off of the white bedding. The sharp pains that shot up my arms and through my spine halted me for a moment. The doctor had thrown himself at me, pinning me down. I struggled a little but the ache subdued me.
"I can assure you that Miss Lawrence is doing well!" he yelped a bit cautiously. His words were a little strained. "You have to stay in bed, Mr. Trent. You suffered a severe injury to your lower back and it needs to heal."
He straightened his shoulders and shoved the glasses back up the bridge of his nose. He smoothed his hair down and tugged firmly on his long white coat to undo some of the newly acquired wrinkles. He frowned disapprovingly at me, and I couldn't help remembering all of those times I was scolded at school when I was found dozing off in the back of class. I would wake up from the strangest dreams and see the disapproving scowls of my teacher. They always tried to make it sound so much worse than it was, like telling Oliver, the man who took care of me, that I had been running around the classroom spitting out some nonsense about mythical beasts or landscapes that obviously weren't in the room. I cringed when I remembered Oliver's name. I wasn't sure why, but his name always made my heart stutter.
I couldn't really remember him, even though he took care of me until I was 18 years old. That was when I met Heidi, she convinced me to live with her and her family. She didn't trust Oliver very much and would often ask me what he was like when we were alone. I couldn't tell her, though, and she would get mad. Truthfully, I couldn't remember very much about Oliver even when I lived with him, just that his name made me shiver a little. The only memory that I could think back to was of one day leaving school, I was 8 years old, and I remember him standing by the door leaning against his car and waving. A crooked smile was plastered on his face, but it was as if his face had melted off. I couldn't make out any other features, he didn't have eyes or a nose and even his hair color just mixed in with the blurriness of the memory.
The doctor's voice cut through my thoughts, "Is everything okay Mr. Trent?"
"I want to see Heidi." I tried to whisper, but my voice felt so coarse and dry.
He sighed, "I'm sorry Mr. Trent but she has requested that you be kept a distance from her for the time being."
The lights flickered a bit, and the room grew a little colder. I thought of asking the doctor to fetch me a blanket, but the weight of his words slowly began to sink deeper into my mind. I watched him with bemused panic as the rims of his glasses melted into the sides of his face. The lenses turned a sallow shade of green distorting more wildly the eyes beneath them. A wind slipped in from one of the windows, gentle and quiet at first. Suddenly a gust burst through, blowing away all of the walls, the machines, and the bed beneath me. The man's frock sharpened at the edges and began to resemble sharp wings. His nose hooked forward changing into a golden color. He was no longer a man: whatever this beast was, he was hiding something very dear from me. I knew that much. I couldn't quite remember at this point what it was, but that didn't matter.
I threw myself through the snowy wasteland. The bird creature threw itself at me and I twisted my arm violently, attempting to pry him off. The sharp talons dug into me but I was able to throw him down with force. I rushed on, hearing the muffled screeches. Silvery winds were biting at my arms, chest, and back. I felt the sharp curdles of pain swell up, but I had to find her before the other beasts found me. I was right to rush - soon enough there were more of them howling with anger, probably due to their fallen comrade. They jumped at me but I dodged some and plowed through others, breaking free.
Far off in the distance I noticed a small hut, buried almost entirely by snow. I ran to it knowing I would find her there. The beasts threw themselves with more fervor, but they weren't any match for me. I ran closer and closer, and upon reaching the hut, wrenched the door open with the last of my breath.
There she was, the beautiful princess, sitting on a thin greasy cot, her eyes fixed on the ground. I stepped forward and they lifted up towards me. My bones suddenly felt more like pudding and I fell to my knees. The crash burned, and an icy jolt exploded through my back. The light in the room flickered. Her eyes widened when they met mine - they were so beautiful. I lifted my arm a little and tried to reach to her, but something was holding it down. It wasn't one of the beasts, in fact there wasn't any visible reason as to why my arm wouldn't go higher and I struggled to fight this invisible enemy. I dragged my body across the floor to her.
The ambush had been so unexpected that my body gave in easily. I had been able to fight off the beasts so well before, but now there were so many of them and my body was starting to fade away. The room grew dim again and I could barely make out her face as they dragged me away. One of them had sunk a thin claw into my forearm. I could feel the venom seethe inside of my veins. The world grew darker, and as all of the light flickered out I could have sworn that I saw a man at my side - a small, plump, dark man with thick broken glasses. He seemed familiar, and so did his voice when I heard him say, "the poor girl must be horrified. Bring him downstairs to the ward before he can attack her again..." and then everything faded away.
- - -
My name is Suany Cañarte and I am an aspiring Speech-Language Pathologist. My work has been previously published in the 2010 Prism Literary Journal and in The Legendary. I also write and draw a webcomic named Pyraliss, found at www.Pyraliss.com.
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