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Everyone in the room grimaced, confused, as I lifted my fingers and waved towards the sunlit window. Nobody could have known who I was waving to. To them, there was nobody. Who I waved to didn’t exist. Well, not to anyone else in this room. Bidding farewell as they left the room, they only existed for me, in my reality.

Everyone in this room, they’re more concerned with my wellbeing. The doctor, the nurses, my mother, they all speak in astonishment of how I faced Death and won. Yet, they will never know of the courage I had to find.

My mother says, “Oh, sweetheart, we’re so glad that you’re back!”

Nurses dab at my forehead, cooling away any fever that lingers from my battle. The doctors taking notes from all the beeps and such.

My father is gone. He’s not in the room, but my mother’s here. Of course they wouldn’t be in the same room, I would think it much to hope that either of them would be able to set aside their differences for the life of their teenaged daughter. I mean, we go through hell as it is. Figuratively, that is.

My father had picked me up for my biweekend visit. He had been acting funny lately. All parents do, as soon as they have an inkling that the other parent is winning their child over. The battle solely between them. I love them both with all my heart, but I like them each less and less as the battle rages. Their love for me has felt more and more like a competition. Each of them with their flaws as they point the opposite’s out to me before, during, and after my father’s visits.

This has gone on as long as I can remember.

My father’s accusations became more intense as my mother has announced to the world via social networking that she and her boyfriend are expecting.

I’m excited. My father not so much. To him, it just concretes the idea of another man permanently in my life more than he is allowed.

“How many daddies do you have, Tasha?” This question has existed in my life as long as I can remember.

“Just one, Daddy.” My answer is now thoughtless and robotic, coming out at the cadence of his question. Thought process no longer needed.

“And who is that?” Daddy asks.

“You, Daddy.” Beep, beep. Boop, boop.

These questions routinely play out during my biweekend visits. This one is no different. Well, not entirely. You see, my mother and her boyfriend have moved to the next town over.

“It’s not right, ya know. Me having to drive thirty minutes out here to pick you up. Then thirty back to my place. Then thirty minutes early to get you home Sunday. That’s an hour out of our visits, Princess. Your mother, she doesn’t help me out for nothin’. Can’t meet me halfway or nothin’.”

The struggle carries on. Me, I’m stuck right here in the middle. More like the back seat at the moment. I’m not sure if it’s my father’s conversation or the speed that he rounds the mountain curves, my stomach is amidst its own battle.

“You need to man up, Princess. In the sense of a woman, I mean. Start acting as an adult.”

“Daddy, I’m thirteen. I’ve already had my first period. A long time ago.” Sometimes, the only way to end a conversation is by making it uncomfortable.

“I don’t want to hear that, baby doll. That’s stuff for your mother, not me. And especially not her boyfriend. You better know that you can’t trust that man. I don’t care how nice he is. You can trust me. And maybe your mom. Things you need to learn, Tash’.”

Sometimes, awkward does nothing.

My dad had been drinking. I know this because he honked instead of knocking at the door and helping me with my bags. That’s how he hides the smell from my mother. He can’t hide it from me, though. He talks a lot when he’s been drinking. Can’t hide the stench doing that.

His rules of life are always squeezed out of a shampoo bottle; lather, rinse, repeat. Always. Trust no female. Trust no man. Learn who you are so that you may trust yourself, whether good or ill. There are no such things as friends. To them, your financial worth matches your friendship’s worth.

When these rants appear, I tend to drift into my own thoughts. All of my beeps and boops and bops involuntary as blinking. I also enjoy the ride better in the back seat of my father’s SUV when he drinks. I hate the smell of liquor. I hate slamming the imaginary passenger brake pedal. I hate watching him swerve back and forth much more.

I read a lot. Reading distracts me, a lot. I’m a big fantasy-fiction fan. A huge nerd when it comes to random facts about it. Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s favorite English phrase was ‘cellar door’ and his son listed him as ‘Wizard’ on his army application for the Second World War. Things like this interest me aside from their novels.

I searched my backpack for my current book, avoiding eye contact with my father in the rear view. He had a tendency to keep that eye contact, only looking back towards the road when he created drumrolls with the perforated edge of the asphalt.

My father growled, “Are you even listening to me?”

I looked up while saying, “Yes, daddy,” reassuring him that I really was. I kinda wasn’t, though. In retrospect, I wish I had paid him more attention. I wish he had drank less.

While peering over the front seat, my search for my book continued. My nausea also made light of my stomach as his swerving is worsened.

J.K. Rowling first wrote the names of her famous school’s houses on an airplane sick bag. Empty, mind you.

That’s when something tumbled onto my lap and down by my feet. As I looked down, a dingy, wet tail whipped underneath my father’s seat. I’ve never been scared of lizards and such. I even caught myself a garden snake once, but had to free it on the count that my father said no. Mama and Daddy, always saying no. If I say no, my books would burn. I would burn.

Insects and reptiles intrigue me. They have a fantasy lore to them. I wanted desperately to catch the creature and show my father. To change the subject, really. So I unbuckled myself and hunched over, attempting to see it. But it’s tail only twitched away further. The sound of small wings fluttering left dust scooting the floor.

“What are you doing back there?” My father asked. I had knelt down behind the front seats, getting as low to the ground to find the creature, and capture it.

I felt my father palming my sweater and pulling it, trying to get me to take my place. But as he was grumbling at me, I felt the SUV jerk and pull. My father’s grumbling became shouts and curse words. Horns blared outside.

In one of the pulls of his SUV, I heard the tires squeal. Asphalt and dirt being kicked up under the truck violently. I all of a sudden felt as if the SUV was in contact with nothing. Then in contact with everything. The windows began spraying glass shards. The roof caved in. I was trapped on the floor, pinned between the seats. The SUV was rolling. Toppling. Tree barks crunching from the impact. Daylight became darkness.

I don’t remember dying. Maybe because I hadn’t yet.

Neil Gaiman said, “Trust dreams. Trust your heart and trust your story.” They say we always dream when asleep, but I don’t remember any dream. With no dream, it’s up the universe to trust my story.

I was coughing up warm liquid as I blinked myself awake. I rolled onto my side as I gagged. I placed my hand on the ground, pushing myself onto my hands and knees. But the ground wasn’t solid. It was beach-like. The water was winter-warm.

I gasped all the way to my knees and sat back, resting upon my heels. I whipped my dripping hair away from my face. It was nearly pitch dark, and I had no idea where my father was. I was lying on the edge of some pond. The water was swamp murky.

It felt as if my father and I wrecked, but I don’t remember any details, really. Maybe I’m scared of them or just don’t want to know them. The truth is easier taken with eyes closed and ears plugged.

When Stephen King nearly died in a car wreck, he had ordered his homecare workers to not tell a single “Misery” joke.

I felt stuck in a joke as I looked to the sky, seeing the stars controlling the heavens as there was no moon. The stars, they seemed different. Illuminated but without any twinkling. Just floating there. Just as the air, not cold nor warm. Not breezy nor still.

I decided to get out of the water before pneumonia sets and I get scolded by either of my parents. My hands splashed underneath the water as I pushed up. The ripples ceased immediately, as gelatin. There was a moonless reflection in the water. The stars polka-dotted the surface, in a stale wave. My face glistened with the stars.

My face. It wasn’t my face. Even with the swampy reflection, that was clear. My hair was straight and dark as the universe, as opposed to my brown curls. My face was pale. Porcelain as a Geisha. My hazel green eyes now darker than my hair. My pupil owning my entire visible eye. Above my black eyes, marker streaks acted as my eyelashes. My nose, nonexistent, as are my nostrils. My mouth, a lipless, white sliver which enclosed a blackened tongue. Teeth, redundant with my coin sized mouth.

I couldn’t believe it. I shook my head, the reflection followed. I tilted and turned my head, the reflection obeyed. Out of frustration, I slapped the water. My hands, as white as my face. My once, summer tanned skin was also porcelain. My nails, black. I was no longer dressed. My bare body luminescent. My female anatomy no longer. Asexual. Nothing to cover up.

I panicked and crawled my way out from the pond. The mud sloshed and dripped off my paper white skin as I thrashed away. I kneeled against a tree stump, choking back tears. I just wanted my father. Drunk or not.

Then a rustling somewhere on the other side of my stump paralyzed me.

“Daddy?”

The rustling stopped as I hopped up to my knees. I scanned the darkness. There were tree stumps scattered as tombstones.

Collapsed trees and abandoned stumps surrounded the body of water. Next to the stumps, trees laid on their sides, abandoned to the muddy gloom. What trees did stand were littered with leaves. These leaves though, they sparkled. They sparkled softly as if commanded by the stars to match their luster. A stella reign.

In spite of the starlight, the air was misted with rusty ashes that neither rose nor fell. They remained still.

The rustling picked up within the shimmering branches of one of the trees ahead, then stopped.

“Daddy? Is that you? Come out. Please. I’m scared.” My voice shook as I made it to my feet and crept towards the tree. My heart beat behind my eyes. My breaths stuttered as a crying toddler. I stopped just before going underneath the branches and leaves.

As if playing hide and seek, I noticed a silhouette peeking over one of the branches. As I took another step it pulled back. But another silhouette peaked from a lower branch. I stepped backward, startled. I didn’t know what they were or what harm they were capable of.

My reflection was long forgotten. Then they giggled. A high pitched giggle that neared human, but, no. The branches rustled again. I leaped back, eyes locked in their direction. Unfocused of my environment, I tripped on a rock or something and stumbled to my bottom.

The rustling became louder, then stopped. All that was left was a fluttering. I crawled to my feet, trying to run but to no avail. Stumbling over my bare white feet, black toenails and all.

“Shhh.”

Someone was creeping closer behind me, shushing me, sending an electrical short through my body mechanics.

I turned my head, peering over my shoulder. They stood midair. Wings fluttering as a hummingbirds. But they were no hummingbirds. Not birds at all for that matter. There were two of these creatures. Floating. Fluttering. They had arms and hands as humans, but miniature.

One’s skin was a muted burgundy, silver scars mapped rivers from its neck down to its ankles. Its eyelashes silver and long, feminine, but its beauty absent. Its eyes were silver as mine were black. No hair, just braided horns that peaked to a solitary point at the back of its head. Its head thin, stretched forward to its nose, looking as exaggerated overbite with its lips underneath. Its ears pointed north as an elf’s. It had no need for clothes being as asexual as I was. A silver tail remained waving in the back as if caught in a breeze. Her wings veined with silver.

The other looked extremely similar. The skin on this one root beer brown, dirty green stripes scarred around this one. Its eyes solid moldy green. Its face was round, with a chin that pointed south as a goatee. Masculine. Braided horns as well. No eyebrows, but no nose at all. Ears pointed to the stars. Its tail moldy. Root beer veined his wings.

They both fluttered motionless, grinning. Fairies. More like horrid sprites, all fictional lore destroyed. Both their scars shimmered.

The feminine one lifted its forefinger to its lips, “Shhh.”

The masculine one giggled, turning and pointing to the opposite side of the pond.

I turned, nervously, not knowing what to think of these horrid sprites. All I noticed were the stumps and trees behind the pond.

Then the female sprite buzzed next to me, gently taking my chin and shifting it to the right. She pointed towards a break in the dimly lit trees I had failed to see. In that break, off in the distance, were building silhouettes. An ashen skyline.

I looked at the grinning sprites. Behind them, trees off in the distance were brightening. The sprites’ beastly grins faded into curiosity as I pointed behind them.

They turned, concern creeping across their faces. The female’s hands grasped mine. She looked at me, panic had glazed her silver eyes. I knew something ominous was at bay.

Her wings buzzed as she tugged me behind her, the male led the way. The female had released my hand as the three of us maneuvered over and around fallen trees and lonely stumps. They flew gracefully. I moved clumsily.

Plants were crushed on our scurry. Oversized Venus Flytraps with eyes that worked on the roof of their mouth, as well as the exterior when closed. Cacti lined a path we steered clear from, their needles pulsated with a beat and oozed a tar like substance. Red pinstriped black mushrooms dotted the roots of the brilliant trees, emitting a cabernet colored mist. Black bulbs opened as I rushed by, exposing an ultraviolet mouth, dust particles nearby emblazoned midair; its teeth flickered as like light bulb filament. The male sprite tugged at my arm, his actions cautious, its expression fearful.

Roald Dahl loved to write in a shed within his garden, but I highly doubt he would have written here.

The sprites ducked behind a bush with no dismal aura. I followed.

As I knelt there, I peeked through an open space in the bush. The trees’ glow kept a lucid pace. As a tree would dim, the following tree brightened in cadence. I could hear the breeze whisper through the leaves as the dimming and brightening neared. My damp skin sensed no breeze. But the trees shuddered, speaking to each other. Warning each other and any creature around.

Another starlit silhouette appeared in the distance. It moved beneath the trees and through the ominous garden, gliding darkly. The illuminating leaves followed the human form. Leaves dimmed as it passed.

The human form smacked at some of the branches. It was as if they shriveled upward as it passed, attempting to veer it. The leaves crumbled in its wake, leaving a glittered dust plume falling cowardly to the dirt before fading away.

Another rustling in a bush a few meters away produced an infant looking critter. I squinted my dark eyes, focusing. It was a baby in the buff, crawling across the large brute’s path. As it cooed and cawed, I leapt in its direction. My only thought was to save the baby. The sprites only thought was to stop me, shoving their hands over my mouth as I grunted, pulling me back to our position.

The baby’s features became clear. It’s pasty skin covered with soot from toe to head. Its face was hidden. Straps wrapped around to the back of the head, holding an infant-sized gas mask over its face. The missing lens revealed two silver eyes within its desolate face. A single canister rested apocalyptically beneath the open lens. It crawled slowly, mechanically as an antique wind-up toy baby.

There was nothing to be done. The glimmering leaves paused brightly above the infant. And so did the brute. It had weathered grey hair that floated as if underwater. Its face was of rot iron steel. Its eyes were shaped as glowing copper coins. A dirty grey sash cloaked its body as a sleeved robe. Ashen fingers protruded from the sleeves, snatching the baby.

It lifted the infant, exposing its black mouth. Its teeth lurked, unseen. Its jaws opened as a snake’s, ready to feed. The baby’s left arm jerked in, then ripped away by the shadows of the beast’s mouth. The baby’s wind-up movements steady, mechanical. The blood authentic, everywhere. It shrieked as a feverish baby, in relentless pain. Then the other arm. The hideous brute fueled by the dark of man. But it was no man. More like Death.

Although the sprites’ hands were clamped over my mouth, I still shrieked involuntarily. Death turned its head in our direction, ripping away the front half of the baby’s face with its mouth’s darkness, ending the crying. The wind-up crawling ceased. Death tossed the ragged body to the side as a useless toy. Then, it floated in our direction.

H.P. Lovecraft loved astronomy and was inspired heavily by his night terrors. This night terror, though, was mine.

My lungs ceased actions. My heart ricocheted within my chest. My feet kept pace with the sprites’ humming wings. As we rounded a tree, its root peeked out from the dead looking soil, tripping me. My knees and hands rashed open from the pebbles and stickers. My ribs cracked as knuckles as other roots broke my fall. The tumble broke my breathing wide open as a near drowning experience. Me, I was on a full speed near Death experience.

More animals creeped out like alarmed neighbors. My Oh Lords and my Oh My Gods acted as sirens. Shrill sirens. The neighbors, they were just as hideous as me, my sprites and the baby.

As I kicked myself to my feet, a solitaire eye wrapped around the tree trunk, before showing me its teeth within the same eye. The sprites pulled me back to speed.

A human form swung from a branch of another tree. Its body was a bloodied brown. Its face was as white as mine, save for the apple cider shade that drew from teardrop hole on either side of its head to the other, eyelid to chin. It had no expression of fear or help as it swung. We ran faster. It rotated its gaze from us to somewhere behind us.

I looked over my shoulder. Tears streaked sideways on either side of my face, witnessing the mouthed eyeball we had just passed fall into the grip of Death. Death dragged the wormlike eyeball on the ground. Death’s coined eyes focused on us, he placed the eyeball in its mouth, clenched its darkness, and dropped the eyeless figure to the ground.

I shrieked.

The ashen skyline was getting closer, clearer. Although, it felt as if it were another county away. I’m not sure what was there that was to save us. I didn’t care. It felt safe, the idea.

The ground was illuminating. The strobing leaves were gaining ground. Just as I was peeking over my shoulder for any assurance, I was yanked to the side. I flipped and slammed and spun and tumbled down a hill. My mouth full of grimy mud with the consistency of custard, I slammed into a rock wall. Each breath painful, my ribs tearing at my lungs.

A humming pulled at my arm, yanking me round the corner of a faded white, cobblestone building. There was no door, but there was a window-like opening that the female sprite hummed into. I toppled in, the ground taking away my whispers for an eternal moment.

We must’ve been closer to whatever town we headed for with the discovery of this building. It wasn’t a skyscraper by any means. It was dimly lit with the outer stars, but I could see its simple shape. It was a cobblestone outhouse of sort. A safe cell.

The female sprite lifted me to the opening. The leaves luminescence approached steadily atop the hill.

I whispered, “Where’s the other sprite?”

She swiftly shushed me and pointed.

The male sprite peeked over the edge of the hill. The leaves surrounding him illuminated his life, his death. Death remained dark in the leaves’ light, gliding up on the sprite. Its arm lifted grotesquely. Its fingers like shadowed branches, wrapping around the sprite. Death’s jaw dropped, closing over its head, quenching its missing soul.

Again, I shrieked.

Death’s beady eyes locked on our safe cell. I dropped to the grimy floor. The female sprite floated above me, upside down in the crook of the ceiling. Her calloused hands sealing my mouth yet again.

My shriek shall be the death of me.

Our dimly lit cell brightened slowly. The cobblestone walls still foul and repulsively white. A sudden movement startled me. Maybe I shrieked again, maybe not.

A headless human silhouette rushed towards us from a corner of the cell. Its midsection rocked aggressively with each leap as a grandfather clock. Turned inside out, it’s skin dripped tarrish oil as it clawed out of the window. It made it out, but no further.

A horrid death deserves a scream, or grunt, an acknowledgment of the life that was to end. This was just oily splatter. Black spots dripped from the ceiling. Dripped off the sprite and down the cobblestone wall. The cobblestone was clearly lit. They weren’t cobblestone at all. They were skulls.

Skulls, alien to the shape of my home realm. Every single one, uniquely shaped from the others. They all bubbled. Some getting larger while others shrunk. They boiled, interchanging sizes.

Lewis Carroll suffered from a disorder that caused hallucinations and the size of visual objects. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Well, this was no Wonderland. This was no cell. No outhouse. No quaint school room. It was a skull structured ossuary.

My heart lead me for once, not the surviving sprite. Hearts tend to be wrongly right from time to time. I bolted, running away from the single window where we watched the male die. I ran towards the back wall. Compared to my fear, it was weak. Fear can also be a great leader. I raised my forearms, caging my face, and barreled through the skull.

The sound of skulls led me to damp, ashen air. And buildings. Pulling at my ribs, I ran for them.

Before turning into the first trash laden street I came across, I looked back for the female sprite. I knew what to expect. I knew I should have kept running strong. Death was stepping out from the ossuary through my exit. Out of its mouth dangled two silver-scarred burgundy legs. The female sprite was gone. And so was I.

I ran next to the buildings, searching for life. For some sort of hiding. All the doors were ominous, though. Nonexistent. Where I am accustomed to enter a quaint building, there were only bricked dead ends.

I noticed Death turning onto the block as I was rounding another intersection. The roads were more like paths in between buildings. Paved isolation. The buildings war-torn, matted stucco and molded wood exposed, but no openings. No windows or doors. Just brick boxes.

Death appeared every time I managed to glance back. Determined, I turned another block. The buildings stood higher. An apocalyptic downtown.

Then it appeared. A building unlike the others. Not war-torn, but near perfect shape. Anonymous perfection, with a door. I skidded into it, panting. I tugged and pulled to enter.

Nothing.

I kicked my fear and frustration and panic into it.

Nothing.

Then the door swung. Not left to right, nor right to left. The door swung from the top and directly over my position. As I ran out of the way, I felt a blow to my head, causing a dizzy spell. I stopped and looked back, only to see what the door falling had exposed. A ragged wall without opening.

I stepped onto the door, touching the wall. Cold and splintered. My hands ran to the sides. The siding was false. An alluring tin pall over this deadened downtown structure. Hopeless and defeated, I kicked at it, hearing it shudder to the end of the building. It rocked and swayed, loosened from the bottom.

I looked down the street, Death was gaining ground. I pulled the tin away from the actual building just enough to squeeze in between. I sidestepped further and further into the tight darkness. My hands pressed against the wall to spare my face. As my hands caressed the chapped wall, I sensed an opening.

Mortar dusted away as my fists pounded hollowly against the bricks. I looked back where I came from and saw the two beady eyes glowing. Shallow breaths filled with the powdered mortar, but I was able to knock one of the bricks in. Then I tore the rest to my feet, one by one.

The opening was large enough to squirm through. After kicking my feet through, I thudded against the splintered floorboards. My rib shifting in and out from my soul, my lungs blazing. Still dizzy, I focused on my environment.

The room was duskily lit. I crawled to hands and knees, scanning the walls for the opening, assuring myself Death did not follow as close as he seemed. Nothing. Four walls, no windows. Next to where I crouched was a hole. The same hole I had just climbed through was now on the floor.

In my scan of the room I had noticed a door. I sprinted to it, hoping it led to some form of safety. But the door was jammed. I pulled and tugged. Nothing. Then, I realized I hadn’t been turning the knob. My stupid intelligence. Even then, it took some effort to pull it open. I entered the doorway with intentions of running full speed. If it wasn’t for the wall a few feet in I would have. An empty closet.

I stood in the doorway, whimpering as I dropped to my knees. The sound of tin waving in a breeze stood me back up. I scanned the room once more, for any other opening. For Death. Nothing. My only option was clear.

I tumbled into the closet, slamming the door shut behind me. Dust filled the thin air as I scurried to a corner. I slowed my stuttering breaths to near nonexistent. There were no leaves to forewarn me of Death. I had no idea if he were outside the door which concealed me. No idea if he were to ever find me. Who am I kidding? He will. Death always finds us, whether today, tomorrow, or tomorrow’s tomorrow.

The sound of toppling bricks filled the void outside my door. Death had arrived.

I sat there, in high pitched silence. A dim sliver of light crept in from the bottom of the door. A shadow moved back and forth through the light sliver.

Scrape.

In one of the movements, Death scraped the door.

Whether Death was toying with me or not, I did not know. I cried. I whimpered as an emotional sleepless toddler. I was just as tired, I knew that. I also knew that I was tired of running scared. I was running from Death who meant to impose just as much. I was always running from my mother on my father’s weekends. I ran from my father when his weekends were over. I ran from education and my future. Everything. Always running scared. Terrified of admitting my fear. Tired of fear of my past, present and future.

Tired.

Scrape.

Another movement in the shadow, another tease. Death teasing my life. Waiting to take it. Take my moment. Be the center of life’s attention.

Somebody always steals our moments. C.S. Lewis died the same day as JFK was assassinated, but who would remember that?

I couldn’t allow that. My fear had humbled me. My breathing boosted to a boxer’s pace. Resentment towards myself, my family, my Death, this stood me up. I couldn’t be terrorized right then. Evermore. I leaned back against the wall, and waited.

I waited.

A pendulum’s shadow on the floor.

I waited.

Scrape.

The sound didn’t do as much as startle me or induce whimpers and shakes anymore. No, it induced fury. Filled with rage, my foot planted swiftly against the door, booting it wide open.

Death stumbled backward with the blow. A stumbling, floating gait. As I stepped out from my cell filled with confidence, Death was swift. My arms were pinned at my sides without thought. Its grip bear hugged my arms into my ribs.

My breaths were wheezing in slowly. And out slowly.

Crack. Crunch.

Death brought me slowly near its mouth, holding me there. Waiting. Opening its jaw. The pops and snaps and stretches echoed as its dark mouth dislocated as wide as I’d seen before with the baby.

I was tired. He was not stealing my life.

“No,” I yelled. My ribs crunched a little tighter.

Its jaw snapped to a halt. I was staring my death straight in the throat.

“You cannot hurt me,” I blared. “My life is not over. I do not fear you,” I belched with a last wheeze.

It opened its jaw, brightening like the leaves by the pond. The light emitted by Death brightened and brightened with every split second. The room became the surface of the sun as sound broke free.

A thunderous boom exploded. My consciousness exploded. Darkness.

Cries.

Cries filled my ears. They were not mine, though. A sliver of light creeped into my vision. Am I in the closet? Am I dead? The light flooded my vision.

“Oh, thank God!”

I recognized my mother’s voice.

I blinked the return of my vision. My mother stood over me sobbing. A nurse rushed, recording my vitals. Her assistant rushed away to call the doctor.

I lifted my hands, noticing tubes connected to my arms. I was in a hospital gown. My skin tone, the natural freckled tone I had before.

“Mama? Where’s Daddy?”

“Baby, you were in coma for a few days. Don’t overexert yourself and your mind. Okay?”

I seemed to be back to my normal self. Normal, a made up word to differentiate ourselves, while rejecting those who do not fit one’s mold. We’re all defected somehow. We’re all weird. Only the normal are not normal. They are power hungry and insecure. I am hungry for truth.

“Mama? Tell me. Where’s my Daddy? I want to see my Daddy.” My voice quivered, but there was no more crying to be had.

“Baby, you and your father crashed over the side of a mountain. If it wasn’t for you being pinned tight between the seats by the roof, you wouldn’t have made it. I’m sorry, Baby, but your father– he’s gone.”

Daddy was dead. Somehow I had known. The truth hurts more when you hear it. Tears crept out the corner of my eyes as the doctor rushed in with the nurse’s assistant. My mother, the nurse and the assistant stood at the corner of my bed, near the window. The sun poured in, their features lost in their silhouettes.

The doctor rechecked the vitals routinely. He affirmed to me that I was going to be okay besides broken ribs and some scrapes and bruises.

His words were clear, my mind was lost. Lost in the world I had dreamed of, that I survived. My shriek was the life of me. My mind lost with my father, who I lost in the wreck. I felt lost.

There was a plastic tree that stood behind my mother and the nurse and her assistant, its leaves seemed to embrace the sunlight from outside. They brightened.

Behind the trio of women, something fluttered. Then, as my eyes widened, two figures rose with the sunshine.

The bodies were clear, not drowned by the light. One was burgundy, the other green. Both brightly scarred uniquely to the other.

The sprites.

Their grins contagious, I smiled as they rose above the women. They kept their positions as they waved.

Everyone in the room grimaced, confused, as I lifted my fingers and waved towards the sunlit window. Nobody could have known who I was waving to. To them, there was nobody. Who I waved to didn’t exist. Well, not to anyone else in this room. Bidding farewell as they left the room, they only existed for me, in my reality. My mad world.

Owner of Dedman Productions, a small production company that focuses on bringing entertainment in both fiction and film.

4 Comment on “Mad World by M. R. Tapia

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