As The World Falls Down
As the sun rose, I woke with a start, my nightclothes drenched in sweat, my heart pounding rapidly.
I only knew the dream had been terrifying but remembered nothing of it.
The battery-powered alarm clock atop my bedside cabinet informed me it was five A.M.
It wasn’t quite time for me to get up, but with the remnant adrenalin of the nightmare coursing through me, there was no point trying to go back to sleep. Rising wearily, I stretched my arms wide, my spine cracking as though I hadn’t moved in days. After a brief massage of my neck muscles to soothe the painful crick, I made my bed and dressed quickly.
Before leaving the room, I reached into the top drawer of the cabinet and retrieved a small white envelope with the name ‘Rebecca’ written neatly across it. My fingers traced the lettering as a wave of sadness caused my heartbeat to falter. I swallowed down my emotion and clutched the letter close to my chest.
You can do this, I told myself, repetitively chanting it like a mantra in my head.
Taking one last glance around my bedroom, I shut the door as quietly as I could, then crept across the lounge and into the kitchen.
The remnants of our last meal together were still on the dining table, so I set the letter down against a wine bottle where I was sure she would find it.
On tiptoes, I crept back into the lounge and toward Rebecca’s bedroom. The door was ajar enough for me to poke my head through the gap and look in on her. She was soundly asleep, so swaddled up in her duvet, all I could see were the long tendrils of her dark hair spread out over her pillow.
I blew her a silent kiss. “Goodbye, Rebecca.”
Outside, the sun rose higher into a cloud-strewn, pink and orange sky. As the rays broke through the clouds and touched my skin, I tilted my head back and closed my eyes, savouring the warmth.
The twittering of a sparrow brought me out of my reverie. The little bird sat on the thickest branch of a nearby apple tree, flexing its mottled black and brown feathers as it chirped and sang. It gave me a brief glance before it took off and flew southwards, to the ocean.
I planned to head that way myself. It’d been so long since I’d seen the sea that the thought of being able to watch the waves crash onto the shore filled me with a sense of elation. Still, it wasn’t quite enough to subdue the guilt welling in the pit of my stomach.
As I made my way around to the garage to collect my backpack and bike, the worries and doubts began to circulate in my mind again. My hand hovered uncertainly over the door for a few seconds before I took a deep breath and twisted the handle.
You can do this.
I conjured up an image of the ocean and closed my eyes, trying to recall the sounds of the tide coming ashore—the roaring whoosh of the surf, and the clank of rolling pebbles as the sea dragged them into its belly.
Like the irresistible song of a siren, it called to me. Pulled me. Whispered to me.