Loved to Death
The sun hung high in the midday sky. Family and friends had gathered under a large canopy tent to attend the grave-side service for Jonathan Hill's mother. The pastor conducting the service was reading from John 14:27, "Let not your heart be troubled..." when his words began to trail off, leaving him staring toward the back of the tent.
"Can I help you?" The pastor asked a man, a doctor, standing just at the edge of the tent. The doctor was garbed in his surgical scrubs from head to toe. Those in attendance, including Jon and his father, who sat at the front nearest to the open casket, turned to look down the aisle at the sudden arrival.
"I would like to say a few words," the doctor stated as he made his way down the walkway toward the front of the gathering. He stopped at the casket and positioned himself behind it, facing the family.
"I'm so sorry... there wasn't anything more I could do..." he said, shaking his head from side to side.He then reached into the casket, pulling from it slowly a slimy, bloody, screaming new born baby girl. He held it toward the two.
Jon shot upright from the couch. His breathing was deep, and beads of sweat dotted his forehead. "Just a dream," he breathed easily. The same dream had been plaguing his sleep ever since the move.
"Change is healthy. It'll help to start somewhere new, somewhere to make new memories," His father had told him.
"Help who?" He wished he had asked him then. It was hard enough for a fifteen year old to cope with the loss of his mother seven months ago, but to ask him to up and move, leaving behind everything he'd ever known? That was too much.
Jon knew better, though. He knew the move was more for his father; he had been looking for a way out long before his mother's death.
Jon could still hear their late night fighting in his head, his father going on about how this wasn't the life he wanted and his mother calling him a coward, among other things. Nevertheless, no matter what had been said, screamed, or thrown, his mom would always come into his room after the situation had settled, sometimes her eyes red from crying or her voice hoarse from yelling, but she would assure him the same thing every time: "We'll always be a family," and would seal it with a kiss.
There was a boom of thunder and a flash of lightning that sent Jon jumping out of thought. The storm had been raging on all night and showed no sign of letting up. From upstairs, he could make out his baby sister, Melissa, crying, likely brought on by the weather. Jon looked at the clock on the wall. "Nine-seventeen; Dad should be home soon," he reminded himself thankfully. Like most teens, he despised babysitting.
Jon sprang off the sofa and headed to the staircase near the foyer. He reluctantly began to ascend the stairs, and with every step he took, his sister's crying became more and more audible over the unwavering storm outside. Just as he reached the second floor the lights cut off, freezing him where he was, only to flicker back to life a moment later. He breathed a sigh of relief as he continued into the hall towards his sister's room.
Standing at Melissa's door, her shrieking became even worse: the kind of noise that made your teeth hurt like nails to a chalkboard or dry sand crunching beneath your bare toes. Jon reached for the knob. "What the..." He wondered, puzzled as to why the door wouldn't open. He tried the knob the other way then both ways again but with a bit more force. It still didn't budge. The door was locked. "But how?"
Just when he thought the situation couldn't get any more difficult, the lights cut out once more, this time without powering back on. In the pitch black, things seemed heightened, silence twice as quiet and the slightest of noises amplified. His sister's crying was no exception, going from ear throbbing to ear piercing. Jon had to get to her for her sake and his sanity's. "The window!" The thought crossed his mind. There was a trellis under the window that he could climb. It seemed to be a good enough idea to a fifteen year old boy at least.
|Cameron Bright||as Jonathan Hill|
|Charlize Theron||as Jon's Mother|