It was ever so dark. Darker than the inside of my eyelids. In fact, I could not tell if my eyes were open or closed. If I was dead, could I even open my eyes? I was dead, wasn't I? If this was death, then it wasn't so bad. I was in no pain. I had no feelings at all. However, I did wish I could see where I was. And as though someone had heard my thoughts, the blackness began to fade and shapes emerged. The first things I checked were my hands. Yes, they were still there. Ten fingers on each hand. I blinked, my eyes still adjusting to the sudden light as I tried moving my joints around. I felt unusually light. I decided to test my legs and got up with ease, only then realizing that I'd been lying on the ground. Finally, I looked around at my surroundings and my breath caught in my throat.
I was in a forest. And it was stunning. Tall weeping willows were shrouded in a silver-like glow cast from the moon. Their long branches reached out towards me like arms and I felt enthralled by their beauty. Many other trees stood beside the majestic willows and they emanated the same ghostly silver. I looked down to see many bursts of white covering the ground. Moon flowers, I realized. I wondered what this place was. It was so still and I had the odd inkling that I was the sole living creature here. It felt surreal and again I had a feeling that I was not on earth.
I needed to move, so I began picking my way through the flowers. I moved deeper into the woods. It was so quiet but it didn't bother me. After more than ten years I felt truly at peace. I wandered beneath the willows - I had no destination in mind but some force urged me forwards.
Suddenly I came up to a cast-iron fence. It stretched up as far as I could see. It looked so foreign amongst the natural beauty of the forest. I wanted it gone. I reached up and touched the metal. Abruptly, I felt the need to get to the other side. Now I grabbed the bars and shook them with all my might. The trees with which I was once awestruck now appeared to be laughing at my weak struggles. My knees gave out and I sank to the ground. For the first time I felt horribly alone. I closed my eyes and huddled against the hard gate.
The call came at 2 a.m. The ringing woke me up from a deep slumber. At first, I tried blocking out the irritating noise with my pillow but after a few seconds of silence, the phone persistently started ringing again. Whoever it was wasn't giving up. Grudgingly I removed my warm blankets and looked over to where my sleeping husband lay. I swear the house could be burning down and Michael wouldn't so much as open an eye. Sighing, I got out of bed and hurried downstairs to where the phone was still ringing.
"Hello?" I answered groggily, still half asleep.
"Yes, is this the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Langon?" The voice sounded official yet urgent and this made me nervous.
"I'm Eva Langon. It's two in the morning. There had better be a good reason for this call." Turns out there was, and less than ten minutes later Michael and I were hustling out the front door.
"Tell me again what the man on the phone said," Michael asked as we sped off towards the hospital.
"Only that your sister was in the hospital with Chloe. He said that there had been an accident. Chloe's okay but Susan is still in critical condition." Michael was quiet for the remainder of the trip. I was scared. Scared for Susan and Chloe but also for Michael. He hadn't handled the death of his parents well. I worried this might be too much for him.
John and Gina Langon had been 80 and 84 respectively when they went. John died after suffering from a massive cardiac arrest. Gina followed her husband within 18 hours. They said it was a broken heart that killed her but I thought that was a load of BS. A broken heart doesn't kill anyone. Her family knew that Gina also had a weak heart. I think it's pretty safe to say that a heart attack took her as well. Either way, their unexpected deaths took everyone by surprise. I really felt for Michael. Losing both one's parents in the span of a day is something I hope I'll never experience.
For the next few weeks after the funeral, Michael spent a lot of time with Susan. I understood his need to be with family, but I felt somewhat left out. It took a while before I could connect with Michael again on an emotional level. He'd felt things that I couldn't understand. Nor - I'll admit - did I want to understand. Thankfully that was all in the past but now I feared history might repeat itself. The Langon family seemed prone to tragedy.
As we pulled into the parking lot it had begun to rain. We sprinted into the hospital covering our heads but still managed to get drenched. Immediately upon entering the waiting room, I got that queazy feeling. I hated being around sick and dying people. They just seemed to suck the life out of me. I looked across the room to where a small child laid her head on her mother's lap. The woman looked dishevelled but was tenderly stroking the young girl's hair.
Okay, worry about your own problems Eva, I thought to myself. I'm sure we'll have enough on our plate in no time.
"We're here to see Susan Langon, my sister," my husband was saying to the secretary. "We just got a call that she's in intensive care and her daughter, my niece, is with her. We need to see them immediately," he said urgently. I noticed his face looked quite pale but he managed to keep his voice steady.
"Please hurry," I added, once again glancing at Michael's expression. He looked emotionless but I knew him too well to be deceived by this cover.
"Let's go," I said quietly after we were given directions and I grabbed his hand. Pulling him towards the elevator, I noticed the mother glancing at me forlornly. I tried to give her a smile but I think it came out as a weak grimace.
"It's going to be okay," I stated, more to myself as we stood side by side in the elevator. Minutes felt like hours as we walked to my sister-in-law's room. Finally we reached the door but neither of us made a move to enter. I think it was safe to say that we didn't want to confirm our deepest fears. Taking initiative, I knocked and, without waiting, pushed open the door.
Susan lay on the sterile sheets, unmoving. Her eyes were closed and her face remained relaxed and peaceful. She looked to be asleep. I feared that may not be true. Her heart monitor was steadily emitting loud beeps. The noise seemed to echo in the small room. I didn't even notice Chloe at first. She seemed so small, huddled by her mother's side. She looked over at us as we entered. Her eyes were red and swollen from crying. Relief passed briefly across her face, or maybe it was exhaustion. Either way, she look drained. Then I remembered Michael. He was standing completely still, staring at his sister. I gave him a nudge and he moved robotically towards Susan until he was standing beside the bed. Slowly he sat beside Chloe, and gently took her hand. Chloe burst into tears and I watched my husband share her grief. He didn't do much, nor did he have to. I think his presence was enough.
Quietly, I left the room. I'd stayed strong until now but suddenly the wall broke down and the flood waters came. My isolation finally let me release all the emotions I usually kept bottled up. I slid down the door until I was crouching, tears streaming down my cheeks.
Hey everyone, thanks for reading what I've got so far. I'm curious to hear your feedback and which characters you want to hear more from/about.