© Gemma L. Holliday
My breathing is regular, almost too regular. Something doesn't feel right as I struggle awake. My thoughts are clouded, yet I know I am totally alone.
This time as I awake, consciousness comes quicker, although I wish it hadn't. The pain is almost unbearable, my body broken and battered and my heart rent in two, yet I cannot remember why.
I don't know how long I have been drifting in and out of consciousness, in and out of the land of the living. Now that I am fully awake, the pain is less than I remembered. The physical pain that is. The emotional pain is still almost too much to bear. The full force of what is missing comes crashing down on me like a ten tonne weight. She is dead. My Sara, the love of my life… dead. I can't hold the tears back, even if I had wanted to, and so, heart wrenching sobs echo throughout the quiet hospital room. The beeping machines a horrendous reminder of my loss.
I am no longer slipping in and out of consciousness; my body will live, even though my heart has died. Sara and I have been together for twenty-six glorious years. I love her with everything I have. She means the world to me, and now she is gone. I am alone, for the first time since we met. For the first time she is not here to hold my hand whilst I recover, and I will never again nurse her through an illness. I feel the tears coursing down my cheeks again as I think of what I have lost. A gentle voice breaks through my pain, "….To you."
With great difficulty, I force my voice to work. It sounds dull to my ears and creaky like that damn floorboard I've always meant to fix. "Excuse me?" I hadn't caught all of what the nurse said.
"Miss Mercator-Weinberg, the Police are here to talk to you." She replies patiently as she wipes the tears from my face. I fight the tears back as I watch her. If Sara were here, we'd be joking about a threesome or some such thing. But Sara isn't here, and all I can feel is a black chasm where my heart used to be.
"OK." I manage to croak out. The nurse nods before she leaves, holding the doors open for the police to come in. There are two: a lady who couldn't have been in uniform more than four or five years, and a man who looked like he'd been on the force since the Tyrannosaurus Rex was top of the Most Wanted. They both smile reassuringly at me, but I speak before they can. "Are you here to arrest me?"
"Good lord no, Ma'am, we're here to tell you that the driver of the other car is to be charged with three counts of murder. He killed both his passengers and Miss…" He pauses and does a macabre double-take. "You were married?" He sounds surprised.
I nod dully, "Aye, and then I killed her." I wish I could turn back the clock. If I hadn’t had that drink, I might have been able to avoid the car careening towards us. I might have been able to control what happened, and Sara might still have been with me. Not lying cold in the morgue. Idly, I wonder if her parents have formally identified her, or if, as next of kin, they were waiting for me to do so. I can feel hysteria building up in me. The dam is close to breaking.
"No, Jill. You are not to blame." The woman spoke as she crossed over to my bedside. She shoots a questioning look at her superior, who nods slightly at her, so she carries on. "You had one drink, five hours before you got into the car. You were clear of drugs, not even a paracetamol. You are not to blame, in any way, shape or form."
"The other driver, however, was so far over the limit that he must have consumed an entire brewery." The man's voice held nothing but contempt for the other driver.
"It will be all right, Jill." The woman tries to soothe me as she brushes the tears away with a tissue. "You are not to blame, and you will survive."
That did it. That broke the fragile wall holding my emotions in, as great wracking sobs shook my body. How could it ever be all right again? Sara was dead. I had been driving. It was my fault she was dead. It would never be all right ever again. I was vaguely aware of the man leaving and then returning with the nurse. The woman tried to calm me down, but it wasn't until after I felt the needle pierce my skin that I eventually began to calm, the drugs working their magic once again.
I am grateful that Sara's family has formally identified the body. Selfish as it is, I really don't want my last vision of my love to be as a bloodied and battered corpse. My nightmares are bad enough without knowing the reality. Every night, the dreams are the same: we are chatting amiably, teasing each other, promising a night of tender loving passion, when suddenly Sara stops speaking, and shields her eyes from the dazzling headlights. I am momentarily blinded and I remember her saying, "Stupid wazzak, doesn't he know enough to dim his lights?" Then all I can remember is the crash as he collides into me, the crushing pain enveloping up my body and then blissful unconsciousness.
Every time I close my eyes I see those damn headlights baring down on me, like a manic demon. Every time I close my eyes, I know that it's all my fault. I was driving. I should have been able to do something… anything... to stop what happened.
I left the hospital today, on our wedding anniversary. Everyone has been so kind and understanding, but it hasn't been enough. Sara isn't here, and I feel her loss even more keenly as I am wheeled out in my shiny new wheelchair, both legs shattered, their condition reflecting my heart.
I don't think I've stopped crying when I've been awake. The doctors have given me some drugs to try and help me through my loss, but I'm not going to take them. Nothing will help me through this. There is no other side to my pain. I am dead; my body just doesn't know it yet.
People have been coming and going for weeks now, taking me into the hospital for my check ups, feeding me, keeping watch on me. I haven't been left alone. Even when I sleep, I am watched. Not that I sleep much. The nightmares see to that.
They want me to take the drugs. To help me sleep. To help me forget. But I can't do that. I will not forget what I did to my Sara. I cannot forget that I was driving that night. I cannot forget that I survived and she did not. I will not forget the love of my life. I will remember her and what she meant to me… until the day I die.
Finally, I have been left alone. I don't know when someone will come back, so I must do what I need to quickly. The note simply reads:
I can do it no longer. I loved her with all I had. I died when she did; my body just needed help to realise it. I'm sorry.
Probably a little over dramatic, I smile sadly as I sign it, but it's the truth.
A knife in the heart should do the trick. I always keep my knives razor sharp. The joys of having a brother who is a professional chef. As I twist the knife around in my hand, I admire the play of light on it. It's strange how, all of a sudden, I am appreciating the little things again.
For the first time in months, I am happy. I will be joining my Sara in death, as should have happened all those months ago. We should have both died, not just her. Not just my Sara. I'm not equipped to live alone. I just can't do it alone. I can't. I need her.
The tears are falling again, the pain of my loss almost making me drop the knife.
I don't think about what I'm doing. I've thought about it so much that I know exactly what to do. I plunge the carving knife in quickly, and then wait.
I can't feel the pain I should from what I've done, just joy. I've helped my body realise what my heart and soul know. I am dead.
My breathing seems regular, but rasping and shallow.
I am nearing my end and, thankfully, there is nothing anyone can do about it.
I am slipping, my lungs grasping against the knife thrust into me.
My time has come.